Application of Social Media Types in the Sales Process

By Schuldt, Barbara A.; Totten, Jeff W. | Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Application of Social Media Types in the Sales Process


Schuldt, Barbara A., Totten, Jeff W., Academy of Marketing Studies Journal


INTRODUCTION

Today companies "are using social approaches not only to communicate better with their customers, but also to share knowledge with their suppliers, business partners and, perhaps most important, their employees" (Cortada, Lesser Sc Korsten, 2012, p. 1). According to Schultz, Schwepker, Jr. Sc Good (2012, p. 179), "Gaining technology acceptance by salespeople is critical in modem organizations. Sales technology is an integral tool for enhancing customer-related information management." Metz and Hemmann (2011) argued that social media would be a critical tool for salespeople to use in building relationships with clients. Saxena and Saxena (2013) "propose a strategic approach to social media use in sales call" (p. 145). Andzulis, et al. (2012) discussed the use of social media in marketing and sales. They argued that "social media, when properly adopted, makes the concept of transactional marketing obsolete. By definition, there is now a relationship" (Andzulis, et al., 2012, p. 310). The authors also assert that "every step of the sales process (. . .) now has a role to play in social media" and looked at "how social media could influence every step" (Andzulis, et al., 2012, p. 311). Andzulis, et al. (2012) then discussed potential roles that social media might play in the steps as listed in their Table 1 (p. 312). Based on this table, the purpose of this exploratory study was to measure to what extent salespeople have integrated social media types (Linkedln(TM), Twitter(TM), etc.) in the various steps or stages of the personal selling/sales process.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Moore, Hopkins and Raymond (2013, p. 51) noted that "Relatively little research has appeared in the selling and sales management literature that focuses specifically on social media while these technologies are becoming more omnipresent." They also provided a very good summary of social media history and current usage (see pp. 53-59). In their extensive study of social media usage by both B2B and B2C salespeople, with regard to use in stages of the selling process, they concluded that "Salespeople appear to use these technologies most for prospecting and making the initial contact and then for post-sale follow-up" (Moore, Hopkins & Raymond, 2013, p. 67). They also found that "A greater proportion of B2B salespeople utilize professional networking sites (i.e., Linkedln) as opposed to B2C salespeople who tended to use social networking sites (i.e., Facebook and Myspace)" and "B2B salespeople utilized relationship- oriented social media significantly more often for prospecting, handling objections, and followup and after sales service" (p. 69).

Schultz, Schwepker, Jr. and Good (2012, p. 176) assessed "a model of important B2B sales relationships regarding the impact of social media usage on sales outcome performance." The authors looked at the impact of age, social media norms and customer-oriented selling on B2B salespeople's use of social media, and the impact of that usage on performance. They found a negative relationship between age and social media usage, and greater salesperson use of social media when there's usage by supervisors, customers, competitors and colleagues. A positive relationship was also found between social media usage and higher sales outcomes (p. 185).

Rapp, et al. (2013) studied the interaction of supplier salespeople's use of social media and retailers' usage and, consequently, retail customers' usage. They found that the more social media is utilized by supplier salesperson, the more social media usage by the retailer occurs, and this relationship effect is passed on to consumers' usage of social media. These relationships are affected by brand and/or retailer reputation and customer-orientation of the supplier as well as the retailer (Rapp, et al., 2013, p. 558).

In an IBM study of over 1,100 businesses, IBM found that "the number of companies expecting to use social approaches to generate sales leads and revenue will increase dramatically" (Cortada, Lesser & Korsten, 2012, p. …

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