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TL:DR
New unpublished info on how your SSI is calculated; SSI tries to link certain LinkedIn actions with effective sales strategy, provides LinkedIn with additional attention and promotes (aggressive) LinkedIn activity, (against policy) network expansion and (obviously) Sales Navigator subscription.

BACKGROUND
A survey gave birth to SSI:

“LinkedIn created the Social Selling Index formula (SSI) from survey research and behavioral analytics. They conducted a survey of about 5000 sales reps to get a sample of “top performing” reps and used survey results to understand what top performing reps do on LinkedIn.com.”

Sales Navigator, LinkedIn’s flagship premium subscription for sales pros used to be an additional feature on the main LinkedIn site but was re-launched as a standalone product in July 2014. Individual user pricing starts at $80 per/month. Sachin Rekhi, Group Product Manager recently said that Sales Navigator is part of “the transformation in how you buy and sell products,” particularly when it comes to B2B sales. The old system of cold calling is increasingly ineffective, he said: “Buyers are essentially saying, ‘I want you to find me if I’m the right person; I want you to be informed about me; I want you to go in through a warm introduction.’” LinkedIn made SSI available to everyone on LinkedIn on August 3 2105 (“Get your score free”) and at the bottom of your SSI scorecard “Get Sales Navigator, the fastest path to higher SSI and more sales.”

PILLARS IN A WALLED GARDEN
LinkedIn is clear that SSI only measures activity within LinkedIn’s walled garden. There are 4 Pillars:

WIP

I unearthed a slide presentation dated Oct. 2013 which shows how the thinking on SSI has evolved:

SSI 2013

Check the foot note on the above slide, *Due to member privacy restrictions, team SSI cannot be provided if team has less than 10 sales professionals.” That caution has been thrown to the wind in 2015, apparently we’re all social sales animals now, index me bro – I need to put that sh*t on twitter.

LinkedIn was selling SSI hard in 2013, it’s a panacea – not only will you sell more, you’ll also get promoted.

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How will you get promoted? Simple – you just need to start browsing more people on LinkedIn. I can’t believe somebody created a graphic for this. Viewing is the new selling, apparently.

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WHAT DOES SSI MEASURE?
LinkedIn tells us they use a “variety of data” drawn from your Profile, your connections, your interaction and activities. Here’s the current Help Center page:

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WHAT DOES SSI REALLY MEASURE?
One of my inside sources sent me this yesterday, they’re not sure when/if it will be published by LinkedIn:

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It’s the first time I’ve seen numbers attached to InMail response rate and connection acceptance rate in relation to SSI. LinkedIn have not set the bar very high. Apparently Sturgeon’s Law applies to InMail. Frankly, it looks like a check list for how to become an aggressive LinkedIn pest. Want a high SSI? Do all of this stuff daily. Are you joining LinkedIn Groups? Great! You can join 100 of them now, but please use them to share “valuable information”. Why is “Are people viewing your profile?” being measured? Shouldn’t that be “Are the people you view return browsing your profile?”. Yes, I get that SSI was originally designed for sales folks but how does connecting with 2nd & 3rd degree connections square with the policy of only connecting with people you know on LinkedIn? It doesn’t.

What hasn’t changed is that all of my friends who earn a living in sales still think that SSI is a giant red herring (seemingly plausible, though an ultimately irrelevant, diversionary tactic). They think that LinkedIn is missing the bigger picture by not being part of the social selling process nor complementing the other available sales tools. A few choice quotes about SSI from people who may know a thing or two about selling in the real world:

“I’m not questioning whether having a social profile with great content and regular engagement is likely to help in the sales process. I actually think it will. But there is an opportunity cost associated with that time spent. Our top sales people know exactly what to do to create opportunities that turn into closed business and that’s where they spend the majority of their time. Social media is something they do because they feel they have to keep up with changing times; it’s professional peer pressure 101. My recommendation is that sales reps should focus on the specific activities that have a direct correlation to closed sales until they are hitting quota or have a strong enough pipeline to get there. Limit social selling to the basics and resist the temptation to boost a SSI just to appease the desire to fit in and get some validation.”Colin Daymude, August 20, 2015

“The Social Selling Index measures raw activity — not quality of prospecting activity. Sales managers measure performance based on quantitative numbers — new calls made, appointments booked, emails sent. No matter how experienced you are with LinkedIn, invest time in what matters most — setting more appointments and bringing leads to close, faster. Avoid wasting time with vanity metrics like the SSI. ” Jeff Molander, September 4th, 2015

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Something else I’ve noticed – most people I know, myself included, have their lowest score in the Insights section. I don’t think this is a coincidence, I don’t think LinkedIn have made this the lowest scoring section on their ABC Co’ slide by accident. I think LinkedIn Publisher, InMail and Groups are what LinkedIn is pushing hardest. These are key operational areas they’re concerned about and want us to do more of.

Want to know your Social Selling Index score? CLICK HERE.

Please add your thoughts in the comments section.

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By Andy Foote