Why B2B social selling will never cross the chasm for experienced sales reps

Despite technological advances, experienced sales reps know personal relationships are critical.


Tony Hackett


a B2B sales rep in a suit and tie is crossing a social selling chasm
a B2B sales rep in a suit and tie is crossing a social selling chasm

B2B social selling uses social media platforms to identify, connect with, and engage potential customers in a business-to-business (B2B) context. It involves building relationships with decision-makers through consistent engagement on social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. This approach can be an effective way for sales reps to reach out to prospects that are otherwise difficult to reach through traditional methods.

However, experienced sales reps may not see B2B social selling as a viable option because it requires significant time and effort before seeing results. Unlike traditional sales techniques like cold calling or email marketing, which can generate immediate responses, B2B social selling requires patience and consistency over an extended period. The time investment may outweigh the potential benefits for business development professionals already well-established in their industry.

Blogs have become essential tools for businesses engaged in B2B social selling, as they provide valuable content that helps attract potential leads. Blogs provide informative content about products or services businesses offer while positioning them as thought leaders in their respective industries. By providing relevant information via blogs, companies can establish themselves as credible sources of information within their industry - something that can help them stand out from competitors when it comes time for decision-makers to make purchasing decisions.

The Chasm: Why it’s difficult to cross

The chasm represents the gap between early adopters and mainstream buyers. Crossing the chasm in B2B social selling means convincing experienced sales reps to abandon their traditional methods and embrace new technology. However, this is easier said than done. The status quo is a powerful force that resists change, especially if it threatens established routines and ways of thinking.

Experienced sales reps are more concerned with understanding their buyers than adopting new tools. They believe personal relationships are crucial to closing deals and that technology can never replace face-to-face interactions. To them, social media platforms may help gather information about prospects but are not a substitute for human interaction.

In summary, crossing the chasm requires more than introducing new technology; it involves changing mindsets and behaviors by addressing early adopters’ and mainstream buyers’ needs and preferences. Experienced sales reps may be open to trying out social selling techniques. Still, they will only do so if they see tangible benefits in improving their ability to connect with buyers and close deals.

Experienced Sales Reps: Resistance to change

Experienced sales reps often resist change, especially regarding new technologies and selling methods. This is true in B2B markets, where relationships and personal connections are valued over social media engagement. The sales organization can also play a role in this resistance by not providing proper training or incentives for adopting new techniques.

While social selling has gained popularity in recent years, it may only partially cross the chasm for experienced sales reps who have established networks and processes that work for them. These reps may view social media as an unnecessary distraction from their tried-and-true methods of building client relationships. The complex nature of B2B sales requires a deeper understanding of customer needs and goals than what can be gleaned through social media interactions alone.

Despite these challenges, there are ways for companies to encourage their experienced sales reps to embrace new technologies and techniques, such as social selling. Providing training and education on the benefits of these tools can help break down resistance while also offering incentives for those who incorporate them into their sales strategies. It will require the entire organization’s patience, persistence, and support to overcome any obstacles to change.

Personal Relationships: Key to successful sales

While marketing efforts and a repeatable sales process can help generate leads and close deals, the personal connection between the salesperson and the client seals the deal. Experienced sales reps understand this and prioritize building solid relationships with their clients.

In B2B social selling, there is often an overreliance on technology and automation to generate leads and manage relationships. However, these tools cannot replace the importance of face-to-face interactions, phone calls, and personalized communication tailored to each client’s needs.

Despite technological advances, experienced sales reps know personal relationships are essential to successful sales. They prioritize building rapport with clients by getting to know them, understanding their unique problems and challenges, and tailoring solutions for them. This approach results in more closed deals and fosters long-term partnerships built on trust and mutual understanding.

Time Constraints: Social selling is time-consuming

One of the biggest challenges for experienced sales reps regarding B2B social selling is time constraints. Social selling requires significant time and effort, which can be difficult for sales reps juggling multiple responsibilities and priorities. To succeed, reps must dedicate daily time to building relationships, sharing content, and engaging with prospects on social media platforms.

Another factor that makes social selling challenging is the diversity of B2B buyer types and customer segments. Each segment has unique characteristics and preferences regarding communication channels, content preferences, and buying behaviors. Sales reps need to take the time to understand these differences to engage with prospects and executives more broadly on social media platforms.

B2B social selling can be an effective way for sales leaders to build relationships and generate leads, but it requires significant time and resources. For experienced sales reps already stretched thin, this may make it difficult or even impossible to embrace this approach. As a result, B2B social selling may only cross the chasm for these individuals if they are willing or able to devote additional resources to this activity to speed up the buying process.

ROI Uncertainty: Measuring social selling success

One reason B2B social selling may need help to gain widespread adoption among experienced sales reps is the need for strong leadership and guidance on its implementation. Without clear direction and support from upper management, sales teams may not see the value of incorporating social media into their selling strategies. Cold calling has long been a staple of B2B sales, and many experienced reps may be hesitant to abandon what they know works in favor of a newer approach with uncertain ROI.

Another factor hindering social selling adoption among experienced reps is the difficulty of measuring its success. Compared to more traditional metrics like the number of calls made or meetings scheduled with the customer base, it can be harder to pinpoint precisely how much impact a particular social media post or interaction had on closing a deal. This uncertainty can make sales managers and reps uneasy about investing time and effort into something that may not yield tangible results. However, with the right tracking tools and methodologies, it is possible to measure the ROI of social selling efforts and show their value to even the most skeptical sales team members.

Conclusion: Social selling is a useful tool but not a replacement for traditional methods

While social selling can effectively reach new leads and build relationships, we should not view it as a complete replacement for the traditional sales cycle. Experienced sales reps who have built strong networks and established rapport with their customers cannot rely on social media to affect buying decisions and close deals.

The effectiveness of social selling may vary depending on the size of companies and the resources available in their marketing departments. Smaller firms or those with strong marketing teams may need more support to leverage social media channels for sales. Larger companies with more resources to pursue strategic opportunities may successfully incorporate social selling into their overall strategy.

While social selling can be a valuable tool to add to a salesperson’s arsenal, it should only partially replace tried-and-true methods that have been proven effective. Sales reps should continue honing their skills in face-to-face interactions and using other traditional methods alongside social media platforms to create a well-rounded approach that maximizes results.