Guest post by Monika Götzmann
As a business practice, social selling has grown significantly in recent times and is taking on a much more prominent role within sales training and employee development programmes. Yet, according to research from CSO Insights, world-class organisations are two years ahead of the rest when it comes to leveraging the power of social media.
In terms of actually carrying out social selling activities, LinkedIn is by far the dominant platform of choice and it also includes its own built-in Social Selling Index (SSI), which provides you with a score, based on how effectively you are using the channel for social sales purposes.
Here, we take a closer look at what this score tells you and how you can improve it.
LinkedIn SSI: Explained
The basic concept behind the LinkedIn Social Selling Index is to provide a means of measuring social selling effectiveness and how well users have embraced the concept. Users are given a score out of 100, with higher scores indicating the profile has been optimised and used to better effect than those profiles with a low score.
Ultimately, the main use for SSI is providing salespeople with real-time analysis of where they currently stand in terms of social selling efforts, which aspects they are getting right, where improvement is needed and how they compare to others in their network. It can, therefore, also be used to inform employee development.
In fact, research from LinkedIn shows that SSI scores are directly linked to business outcomes. Social selling leaders create, on average, 45 percent more opportunities than those with a low SSI score and are 51 percent more likely to make quota. Moreover, 78 percent of social sellers outsell peers who do not leverage social media.
Improving Your SSI Score
Your LinkedIn SSI score is determined by a formula which looks at the following four key areas:
• Professional Brand – Whether the profile is complete, how much rich media has been added, etc.
• Finding People – Effectiveness at identifying prospects, use of advanced search features, etc.
• Insight Engagement – Amount of content shared and engaged with, amount of conversation generated, etc.
• Relationships – Number of connections made, links to key decision makers, etc.
With this in mind, the following four steps can help you to improve your SSI score:
1. Take the time to fully complete your profile
The first and easiest step towards improving your SSI score is simply to complete every possible aspect of your LinkedIn profile, leaving none of the optional elements blank. This also means adding all of your work experience, education information and job descriptions, and creating a custom headline and summary.
Additionally, you should upload a professional photograph of yourself, and add rich media elements to your profile if at all possible. Examples of rich media elements include videos, images and PDF files.
2. Make use of the advanced search function
One of the most important aspects of how you use LinkedIn, in terms of defining your social selling score, is how effective you are at actually finding or identifying prospects and forming connections with them. After all, relationship building is the single biggest benefit of social selling.
To achieve this, make strong use of the built-in search function and experiment with the advanced search settings. You should also make use of the LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lead Builder feature.
3. Engage with your contacts regularly
Social selling strategies fall apart if salespeople are too reluctant to engage with contacts and your LinkedIn SSI score will also suffer, reflecting this. Engage with your social media contacts regularly. One of the most basic ways to do this is to comment on the things they post.
However, you should try to use your comments to educate or demonstrate expertise, rather than posting low-value comments. You can also engage with content by using the ‘like’ and ‘share’ functions.
4. Share useful company and third-party content
Finally, it is also essential that you use the platform to share useful content with your audience. This content can be company content, which has been produced in-house, content which you have personally created, or even third-party content, which is completely unconnected to your business, but which you think will be useful to people.
Sharing content helps to establish trust and enables people to see you as a useful source for information. Personally created content also has the added benefit of helping a social seller to establish their own unique voice. Of course, if people comment on the material you share, you should continue the conversation and engage further.
About the author: Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales and customer experience training company helping organisations achieve sales success through dynamic training programmes and consulting.