A man leans on a counter and looks at an open laptop while using one finger to work the keyboard's track pad. The man is older, with gray hair, and he is wearing a dark gray sweater over a blue-and-white checkered shirt. Behind him, out of focus, are a few steel shelving units holding automotive and mechanical equipment, some small white boxes, and red-and-black cans.
Social selling isn't a LinkedIn-only concept. Salespeople can use any social media platform to develop relationships with and pitch products to potential customers. — Getty Images/Portra

LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool is a paid subscription service that gives B2B sales professionals access to specific tools and features designed to help them find and connect with potential customers. The Social Selling Index (SSI) is a key performance indicator that’s part of Sales Navigator. SSI is designed to show sales professionals the efficacy of their outreach.

LinkedIn reports that sales professionals with a higher SSI create 45% more opportunities than peers with a lower SSI. Primarily, SSI is a measure of how well a sales representative practices social selling: building relationships with contacts on social networks before making a hard pitch. There are plenty of easy ways to boost your SSI and improve your business results through social selling.

[Read more: A Quick Guide to Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator]

How is the Social Selling Index calculated?

SSI is calculated using four factors that are meant to explain how well you are establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with industry insights, and building relationships on LinkedIn.

  1. Your professional brand. This factor is determined by the completeness of your LinkedIn profile, endorsements or recommendations that you've received, articles you've published, and the number of followers resulting from your articles.
  2. Your relationships. This factor includes your connections and the acceptance rate of your connection requests.
  3. Your engagement on LinkedIn. This factor is determined by your activity, such as shares, likes, comments, and reshares; messages sent; response rate; groups you join; and engagement within groups.
  4. Your use of LinkedIn to find prospects. This factor includes people searches, profile views, and days active on LinkedIn.

Each factor is worth 25 points. A perfect SSI score, therefore, is 100 points. According to marketing expert Neil Patel, “A good LinkedIn SSI score is 70+. Between 40 and 70 can be considered okay, while under 40 is poor.”

Scores are updated every day, so there are plenty of opportunities to continue building your LinkedIn SSI score.

Social selling requires sales professionals to be authentic, consistent, and helpful across social media networks.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn's SSI is a measure of how well a company or individual uses LinkedIn as a selling tool. It’s a proxy measurement that aims to show how effective your sales tactics are. But it can only measure what happens on LinkedIn’s platform. The SSI is ideal for professionals who use LinkedIn as their primary prospecting tool.

How can SSI improve your sales strategy?

In reality, the LinkedIn SSI score is just a measure of how well a sales professional is using the platform. You could be the best salesperson on the team and have a LinkedIn SSI score of zero, simply because you’re using an approach that doesn’t register on LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index.

However, the strategy behind the Social Selling Index is compelling. Social selling requires sales professionals to be authentic, consistent, and helpful across social media networks.

“Social selling isn’t for reps seeking quick wins or a silver bullet. To succeed, salespeople must put in the time and effort to engage with their target buyers and build credibility,” wrote HubSpot.

Business owners that master social selling build trust with their customers before making the hard sell. Connecting regularly and forming personal relationships fosters a sense of comfort that is fundamental to moving someone through the sales funnel and extending customer lifetime value.

“Social selling doesn’t aim for impulse purchases. It steadily and progressively builds relationships with potential clients, and it maintains those relationships after they become paying customers,” wrote Shopify.

How to use LinkedIn’s SSI

The Social Selling Indicator can be a good starting point for professionals seeking to improve their lead nurture process. By filling out your LinkedIn profile completely, engaging with other users on the platform, and posting valuable content, you can start to move the needle to increase your SSI. And you’ll start to gain insight on where you can improve your sales approach.

“LinkedIn will often prompt you to take action to improve your SSI score — watch out for those to get more tailored advice and take your SSI scores in the right direction,” wrote Clearview Social.

Use the SSI score to learn how to improve your social selling strategy on other platforms, too.

[Read more: 10 Valuable B2B Sales Tools for Small Businesses]

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