Exploring Social Media in B2B Sales


Exploring Social Media in B2B Sales: Usage, Challenges and Remedies


Bahar Ashnai, PhD
Prabakar Kothandaraman, PhD
Ki-Hee Kim, PhD


Researchers explored the question of how salespeople used social media to advance their B2B sales goals; what was the interplay between individual and company-level social media efforts; and what challenges, sales people faced in social media usage. They provide diagnostic tools to assess companies’ and salespeople’s social selling preparedness and suggest remedial actions to improve social media usage in B2B sales. Principal findings and recommendations

  • Static, reactive, and proactive were identified as three approaches that sales people used in B2B sales. The approaches differed based on the extent to which salespeople involved prospects and customers while using social media as well as whether their social selling platform promoted discussion about the market, industry trends and changes, etc. The approaches were integrated with appropriate stages of B2B selling process to provide a framework to be used by salespeople in the field.
  • Companies and salespeople also faced several challenges in embracing social selling. To help companies overcome these challenges, a set of self-diagnostic tools were developed based on the research findings. The Social Selling Skills Index(SOSSKI) relate to salesperson’s individual skills while the Social Selling Support Index (SOSSUP) captures a company’s support for social selling.
  • Recommendations to companies include, among other things, articulating clear social media strategy and policies, adopting effective sales people recruitment and training strategies to advance social selling competencies and improving communication between sales and marketing. Salespeople should focus on building a personal brand and showcase social media success stories to get sales management support for social selling initiatives. BPPI researchers recommend that companies use the toolkit to identify their existing social selling preparedness and consequently seek appropriate remedies. Companies may contact BPPI for customized recommendations.
  • NJ state policy makers may take note of the potential gap in social selling skills at the individual and company levels and encourage industry associations such as the Commerce and Industry Association of NJ (CAINJ), the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) etc. to work jointly with NJ universities in developing and offering certificate programs in social selling.
  • Market participants tend to amplify the effects of positive ESG disclosures upon risk as evidenced by subsequent reductions in stock betas and cost of equity. However, there is no effect on risk in the case of negative ESG disclosures. BPPI researchers recommend that managers need to adopt a nuanced approach to designing and reporting ESG related communications to the financial community.

Webinar Date(s)

Thursday, February 2nd, 2016
4 pm