While most marketers tend to spend a lot of money on advertising goods and services on mass market social networks like Facebook or Instagram, salespeople know that LinkedIn is where the action is. When I present on social selling, I am still surprised as to how many sales professionals have not heard of the LinkedIn SSI, or LinkedIn social selling index, which is a number is available for free for anyone to access.
Let’s take a look at the SSI and how it is useful to primarily sales but also marketing and any other professional looking to grow their personal brand on LinkedIn and build their network.
What Does Social Selling Mean?
Strictly speaking, social selling is the practice of using social media as a sales tool. This can include the use of any social network, though the network choice is dictated by the sales target. For most people, the term “social selling” usually refers primarily to LinkedIn use within the B2B sales space. It makes sense, because this is where personal relationships and thought leadership are the most valued.
Besides B2B sales, social selling is also valuable within relationship heavy areas of B2C sales. For instance, real estate agents work with large amounts of money and the most personal assets of most families. Similarly, insurance salespeople leverage personal relationships to acquire and keep customers.
What is the LinkedIn SSI (Social Selling Index)?
LinkedIn developed the Social Selling Index for users of – and as a way to promote – its Sales Navigator premium accounts. It is a score between 1 and 100 that tells you how effective you can be at LinkedIn based sales efforts. Here, they aren’t talking about the traditional conversion rates and effectiveness at making quotas. Rather, the LinkedIn SSI is focused on your network building and engagement factors for LinkedIn. There are four factors that go into the score:
1. Establish your professional brand
Remember, branding isn’t just for companies. It’s for professionals too. In this segment of the LinkedIn SSI, you are graded on how well you’ve built a brand on the platform. This includes the extent to which you communicate your job skills, expertise, education, and more. You also enhance your personal brand by demonstrating thought leadership with content.
2. Find the right people
You can also call this “networking acumen.” For this part of the LinkedIn SSI, they look at your success at finding the people you need to work with in order to sell something in your industry. That can mean the decisionmakers themselves, or someone on their staff. Search and research tools are your key to success here.
3. Engage with insights
This part of the LinkedIn SSI measures the extent to which you find industry news and insights, then share them. For instance, I might post an article by another marketer that highlights something I’ve been talking about on my blog. Or, it might be a study which sheds light on more efficient marketing methods. Either way, engaging with insights allows sales professionals to demonstrate that they’re aware of the latest trends.
4. Build relationships
Finally, building relationships is key to sales success in any industry. In fact, many people prefer to buy from sales professionals that they know. Failing that, knowing someone who can refer you to the decisionmaker is also valuable. Especially in business, trust is everything.
Why is the LinkedIn SSI important?
Recently, it has become obvious that the LinkedIn SSI is more than just a sales tool for their services. Rather, LinkedIn studies have shown that among the social sellers on their site, having a higher SSI equates to 45% more sales opportunities than among lower-ranked peers. In addition, they are 51% more likely to make their quotas. Furthermore, their estimates conclude that, among leading social sellers, 78% do better than their peers who aren’t on social media.
How to Find Your LinkedIn SSI Score?
Finding your LinkedIn SSI is pretty easy. First, log into your LinkedIn account. Then, you can follow this link to get your SSI:
Not only does the link give you the score, but it shows you comparisons with other professionals. One comparison is with your industry, while the other is within your network. This way, you can see where you’re falling short.
What is a good social selling index score on LinkedIn?
As I said above, your LinkedIn SSI is compared with other people in your industry. Keep in mind, it will always assume you are in sales, so non-sales people who use LinkedIn for job hunting will probably have a lower score. With that said, there’s no “cut score” that determines if your SSI is good or bad. Rather, the goal is always to be in the top 10% of your industry.
How Do I increase my SSI on LinkedIn?
The best way to increase your LinkedIn SSI is by working on each of the four factors which LinkedIn uses to generate the score in the first place. Changes in your score can take place pretty quickly as you improve your profile. Each area requires different techniques for improvement.
Establish your professional brand
LinkedIn states that your first goal is to make a profile while keeping your customer in mind. One of the best ways to do this is by completely filling out your entire profile. However, there are situations where you can make a choice about what information to include. You’ll want to pick the most relevant information in this case.
In addition, experts always recommend that you have a professional photo on your profile. While this isn’t always possible, you should try to have one with a professional background. Think of your LinkedIn as an online job interview.
Finally, becoming a thought leader can be easily achieved by using LinkedIn as a blogging platform. Your best bet is to publish some things on LinkedIn Pulse as appropriate. This will not only introduce people to you as a knowledgeable person, but also encourage them to check out your profile.
Find the right people
Next, you can increase your LinkedIn SSI by finding the right people. To identify better prospects in less time using their tools, consider using the Advanced People Searches. Some of these options are only available with premium accounts, but they do save time. Also, you’ll want to use all of the filters to narrow down your results.
If you have LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you’ll want to use the saved search feature. This way, you won’t have to put the same variables into the search form all of the time. Just select the search you want to run. For even better results, use the Sales Navigator Lead Builder. This functionality lets you find people based on an account, a company that fits certain criteria, or key decision makers. Of course, other LinkedIn tools can be helpful sometimes, as well.
Engage with insights
Sharing insights using LinkedIn is relatively easy, and doing this is wonderful for building relationships. That is, if you interact with insights that are relevant to your network. Relevance in this case is measured by whether or not it shows up in your feed as something that your network has posted or interacted with already. In other words, be part of relevant ongoing conversations.
Your next task is to post relevant content that you’ve chosen yourself. That includes, for example, finding articles in trade publications and posting them as a status update. This demonstrates that you’re keeping track of current market trends.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to follow relevant hashtags. Doing so lets you see content from outside your network. So long as you choose topics that are relevant to your profession, interacting with that content helps boost your LinkedIn SSI-and your exposure. Who knows when someone will connect because of something you said.
Remember, the idea behind building relationships is strengthening your network by finding decision makers and getting them to trust you. This means that you are always looking for new opportunities to meet people on LinkedIn. Maybe you have someone in your network who can make a key introduction. Or, it could be that profile visitors reach out. Never be afraid to follow up on 2nd and 3rd degree connections who engage with your content, either. All of these are opportunities.
Another way to build relationships is by following the decision makers in your industry. This can involve a simple “follow” on their profiles, but you really should go further. Don’t be afraid to engage with their content and build personal relationships with them. You never know who they might introduce you to, or when they might need your professional opinion. Either way, this is one of the best opportunities for lead generation on LinkedIn.
Unless you’ve been in sales for a while, you might not know much about LinkedIn SSI. Social selling, both on LinkedIn and elsewhere, is a relatively new phenomenon. Fortunately, by using the SSI tool you can excel at sales and marketing activities on this network. At the same time, you’ll develop the kind of good habits which can be adapted to other lead generation forums.
Hero photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash