Does your Social Selling Index matter?
When we talk about social selling, one measure sales people and leaders talk about is the “social selling index”. During any social selling or digital selling training, it is a term mentioned frequently, in fact with companies who have integrated social into their sales strategy it has become a metric. This is no surprise, as case study after case study is proving the benefits a social selling program is bringing to companies.
So does your social selling index really matter?
All measures in sales are helpful to a lesser or greater degree. However most of measures of activity, such as phone calls made, webinars delivered, and presentations given etc The Social Selling index is a measure of “influence” a person has on the social networks, mainly LinkedIn. I believe companies will devise their own scoring or SSI to account for a sales persons reach across multiple social networks. As companies implement sales transformation programs towards a socially connected business, then yes, an SSI could be the most critical measure for buyer engagement.
For now, a social selling index is for many sales people, a measure exclusively for LinkedIn on their activity based around four pillars of social selling (although I believe there are actually six pillars to social selling), and scores them on a 1–100 scale index. It measures a person’s effort in 1) establishing a personal professional brand, 2) engaging/connecting with the right audience, 3) engaging the target with insights and 4) building and deepening relationships. So it works on the premise that the more activities one has on LinkedIn which relate to these four pillars, the higher the social selling score will be. So in effect, the score is a means of highlighting how companies (at this point mainly sales people) connect and engage with audiences.
While the SSI only publically relates to LinkedIn, it is however a good measure in that it raises the awareness of the power of social selling and if nothing else it gives sales teams a benchmark to start with. From a sales leadership perspective, the scores of the individual sales people helps monitor the team’s to benchmark your score against peers and competitors.
I encourage sales people and sales leadership, to think of SSI as a bigger measure of a company’s social reach and level of influence across multiple social networks where leads generated could also be included as part of the scoring.
A Few Tips to Boost Your SSI Score
It is worth mentioning, that each of the current four pillars of social selling index score are worth 25 points. So to raise the score, each pillar will require spending time and attention.
Credibility: AKA Establish Your Personal Professional Brand
Creating and cultivating a strong personal brand across the social network sites is the path to “Social Credibility” which builds trust in the mind of buyers. The focus is not on selling, promoting or plugging, but sharing and giving. I call it Be Seen. Activities that help establish someone as a trusted source or a thought leader. We all like to engage with experts, (according to LinkedIn 92% of B2B buyers will engage with sales professionals if they are viewed as industry thought leaders). So here are a few ways to build your credibility and be seen as someone worth listening to on the social networks.
- Ensure all your social media profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc ) are 100% complete, including photo, images, articles, background info, personal/business summary.
- In the ‘Summary’ section, relate your content to your target customer or Ideal Customer Profile.
- If possible, try to use a variety of media in the ‘Experience’ and ‘Summary’, sections including Slideshare presentations, articles and even video.
- Always include skills plus get recommendations from existing customers, other influencers and work colleagues.
Connections: AKA Engaging with the Right People
Social networking (selling or marketing) is about building a network where people want to engage with you or your brand, and you want to help them on their journey. This is the power that drives social media. Connections are about social reach and this is why it is important to connect with the right people. LinkedIn monitors how well you engage and then analyses the value of the connections made. Leaving the SSI score aside, connecting with the right people is worth getting right, not just for the score but for your sales performance. Start with influencers, existing and past customers, business relationships then focus in on your Ideal Customer Profiles as you research potential prospects.
- Look up existing and previous customers or business contacts. Develop two, three or even four ideal customer profiles that you wish to attract. Don’t forget to connect with current and past work colleagues and alumni,
- Create a list of companies and people to follow.
- Using your ideal profiles, find five to six influential people in your target companies.
- Review who has viewed your profile or activity daily. Engage with them.
- Always check out who shares, Likes and Comments on your own posts or posts you are adding value to.
Content: AKA Share Insights
Follow this manta, Be Seen, Be Found, Be Useful and Be Valuable as a route to social selling success. It is all about attracting and engaging with potential customers at every opportunity which means every day. The four Be’s listed above create visibility and visibility over time will create opportunities.
So when it comes to the Be Found, Be Useful and Be Valuable, it is critical to have a constant flow of quality content (created and curated) to attract and build relationships. Surveys show that well over 60% of B2B buyers appreciate content shared by a sales person which provided insights about their business.
With a steady stream of content to offer up valuable insights and information, you will intrigue buyers and build your credibility across the social networks as a whole.
- Create a content library, topics list and calendar.
- Join relevant groups and follow relevant people.
- Post content consistently that reinforces you as a trusted source of industry insight.
- Mix up your own company created content with curated content from experts.
- Be Found — Liking, Sharing and Commenting on posts.
Conversations: AKA Building Relationships
According to Dunbar’s number, you can build a network with as little as 125 connections. Conversations on social media are not about selling but rather a meaningful series of interactions that build your Credibility. So for social selling to be really effectively, we must understand it is about assisting prospects first, being valuable second and then the sales event third. Buyer’s today want to converse with sales people that can solve business problems and who are genuinely interested in building trusted relationships. You are sure to see sales success this way.
- Engage your connections with useful and valuable conversations.
- Converse with all your contacts, not just target profiles.
- When reaching out, only ever send personalized invitations including context.
- Solicit referrals from colleagues and connections.
- Stay in Touch via Birthdays, Work Promotions, Anniversaries and congratulate on new jobs (trigger event selling).
- Use Social Listening to tune into questions or challenges a prospect may be experiencing and needs help.
Social influence or an SSI score does not equate to quality or mean a sales person will see a return on the time spent on social media. I see it all too often, sales people trying to be useful and valuable by sharing low quality content and posting generic, vanilla flavoured conversations. Yes, your SSI score will rise and maybe sales management will be impressed. But at the end of the day, social selling should be measured not by SSI but KPI’s like leads generated or sales closed. SSI scoring is definitely a helpful tool for sales people and mangers to improve their selling techniques on social media. View it as the first step in determining your social selling success, but then it should be only one measure with others such as leads, appointments, presentations and revenue as a result of social influence being higher up.
Also, as I stated previously, the term Social Selling Index is limited to LinkedIn. However, you can still take the pillars of social selling (credibility, connecting, content, conversations, conversions and consistency) and score them across all your social media activity. A well thought out social selling strategy will cover several networks, including Twitter; Facebook (for business and consumer selling), Quora, Instagram, YouTube etc. Also don’t forget the multitude of industry specific networking sites and forums.
So readers, that is a hopefully straight forward guide to what is a Social Selling Index and why it matters. Yes it has its shortcomings (but so does measuring calls attempted), however if put in context, the SSI can be a wonderful tool to act as a platform for change not just to help sales people fine tune their social selling techniques but to help a business become more social. I suggest we use it as a good 1ststep to reap the benefits that this new age selling strategy offers.
So remember, Be Seen, Be Found, Be Useful and Be Valuable. Learn, understand and train on the 6C’s of a social selling strategy. Use SSI and other scoring measures. Because the reality is buyers are self educating like never before. The prize is great for any business that understands this and empowers their sales people to help buyers along their journey online.
Originally published at www.thedigitalsalesinstitute.com.