Social sites not really helping B2B marketing

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on April 14, 2009

Social media tools such as Jigsaw, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo, Facebook, Hoovers and OneSource may be useful for many purposes but - contrary to general expectations - many of them are not actually helping sales teams close business-to-business (B2B) deals, according to a study by ES Research Group and TAS Group.

As a result of a research study into the use of social media by sales and marketing teams, the company reports that other sales methodologies used in conjunction with customer relationship management (CRM) systems are often far more effective.

The survey report, entitled 'The new social media: Do they enable B2B selling?', noted that only Linked-In (86%) and Hoovers & OneSource (61% when combined, due to their great similarity) were used by more than half of respondents in their B2B sales efforts. These were followed by Facebook (50%), Plaxo (48%), Twitter (31%), and Jigsaw (26%).

Of the respondents who were actually using these tools in sales campaigns, Hoovers and OneSource were the only tools helping more than half (54%) win B2B sales either "sometimes" or "often". Linked-In was next (42%), followed by Jigsaw (35%), Facebook (15%), Plaxo (13%) and Twitter (13%).

"This suggests that, with all the hype and buzz, most social network tools aren't helping sales teams sell more yet," said Dave Stein, CEO for ES Research Group. "For example, Twitter has not yet come into its own as a salesperson's tool. It is presently a marketing tool that can potentially contribute to the generation and nurturing of new sales leads but, for now, the use of sales methodologies integrated with CRM systems and other sales enablement tools are proving more successful at driving sales."

Other key findings from the study included:

  • Linked-In is the clear favourite among the B2B salespeople surveyed;
  • The established for-pay information services (Hoover's and OneSource) are the second most popular;
  • Free and low-cost information sharing services (such as Jigsaw) are expected to rise in popularity over time;
  • Twitter is an anomaly, being expected to have a high degree of uptake but in a very narrow niche market. Marketing teams will probably find it much more valuable than sales teams for the foreseeable future, and it doesn't yet present a valuable mainstream medium for B2B salespeople;
  • In the short term, Facebook is better viewed as serving mainly the personal side of life rather than the business community.

Highlights of the survey have been made available for free on TAS Group's web site (click here), and the full report is available for purchase from ES Research's web site (click here).

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