What LinkedIn’s ‘Social Selling Index’ Really Measures: I Know How Your SSI Is Calculated

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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New unpublished info on how your SSI is calculated; SSI tries to link certain LinkedIn actions with effective sales strategy, provides LinkedIn with additional attention and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.

LINKEDIN CONSULTING
If you liked this article, you’ll love my LinkedIn coaching. If you need help with your Summary, Profile or LinkedIn strategy, I can help.

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By Andy Foote

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18 Responses

  1. 1. If you aren’t using Inmail, the best you can get on the Engage with Insight is 20 points.

    2. SSI is a diagnostic measure & not causal.

  2. Miles Austin says:

    Thanks for digging this up Andy! A red herring indeed!

  3. Good article Andy. Thanks for pulling this all together sir.

  4. Andy,

    Great research digging all of that stuff up! The one pillar that bugs me the most is how they measure the building relationships and needing to have a large percentage of your connections as senior executives. What if your target market isn’t senior executives and those aren’t the people you’re selling to? Why does someone have to have a VP or C in front of their title to be deemed a valuable relationship? My target market is financial advisors. The vast majority of them are independent contractors who are essentially the CEO of their firm. BUT they don’t use the title CEO because people who are looking for them are looking for “financial advisor,” “financial planner.” etc. So, if you’re connected to hundreds or thousands of your target market, aren’t those the types of relationships you should be building? I think that measuring the quality of the network is important to being an effective social seller, but seniority title alone does not indicate the quality of your network. If they really wanted to measure that, there should be a hidden profile field where you can identify the titles of your target market (like those that you can identify in the paid advertising) and they can measure the quality of your personal network to that.

    • Andy Foote says:

      Exactly! I guess they would argue that focusing on senior people makes sense because they’re usually the decision-makers but as you say – this rationale doesn’t apply to your market or tie in with your experience. Thanks for commenting Crystal.

  5. Thanks for sharing great information, Andy, and I agree that SSI doesn’t not necessarily correlate to generating revenue.

    LinkedIn’s agenda is understandably different.

    Appreciate your insights.

  6. Jason Myers says:

    Andy–great article, and I think your talk about Social Selling being a Red Herring for sales people is spot on. It eludes to a bigger issue which is that experienced sales people cost a lot of money–and you have to wonder whether or not their time is best spent on chasing down connections on Linkedin? Maybe–but probably not.

    Part of the problem here it is now marketing’s responsibility to do much of this prospecting and social selling to generate some of these interactions. Not that salespeople shouldn’t do their own prospecting, but applying outdated prospecting techniques simply won’t work efficiently in social media selling. It’s Marketing’s role to figure out where their prospects are, what types of content they’re interested in, and produce content that actually sparks sales conversations digitally.

    That’s how today’s buyer requires it. We don’t want to be disrupted, we don’t want to talk to sales people, and we don’t have to–because I can find everything I need online. Make me curious, however, and I might respond with questions.

    It requires a change in mindset, but I can tell you that as the head of marketing for my company, I have a quota for producing leads–and those leads need to turn into sales conversations for them to be valuable to the company. So no more marketing campaigns for branding and awareness sake–that’s now only a side benefit of the real mission for marketing which is to generate leads that turn into relevant, qualified conversations for sales people. This is the greatest help that marketing can provide to sales in 2016, and companies that aren’t embracing this difference will fall behind their competitors quickly.

  7. Hi, thanks for this great piece of information! Can you as a LInkedIN expert tell me how fast the SSI performance can realistically be improved over time? Like e.g 20 % in week or so? In my experience Sales people love these kind of challenges. 😉 Thanks for your feedback! rgs from Munich! Meike

    • Andy Foote says:

      Thanks Meike. I can’t tell you how to improve SSI over time, I don’t spend any time on my SSI – it’s irrelevant to me and what I do!

  8. Pete Potsos says:

    Andy,

    I enjoyed the article! While I can see your point about how this could be a Red Herring, when you are battling day by day to hit your quota and targets. However, I do believe it is important to build your own professional brand while helping to promote your current employer. I happen to work at a social media focused company that begins with our CEO.

    As for you, I really do not think you need to focus on SSI, since you are so active and knowledgeable about LinkedIn and social selling. However, for the rest of the world, especially those in your network that have an average SSI of 55, I think this is a great way to track progress and give some sense of direction on where to focus their efforts. Now getting to a score of 100 may have diminishing returns after a certain point.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  9. Fes Askari says:

    Hi Andy, I agree LinkedIn’s agenda is obvious here, but that’s not to say the metrics aren’t sound within a sales environment. I think some of your contributors thinking is outdated, e.g. time spent on outbound calls. Inbound marketing, the area in which I work, improves the effectiveness of sales teams. Making them less reliant on traditional cold calling, thus freeing some time to work on nurturing leads through social selling. It’s definitely the future for any business looking to deliver reasonably complex (high value) sales with faster closing rates. Just my two cents!

  1. June 1, 2016

    […] Wer seinen eigenen Score sehen möchte, der kann auf folgende Seite gehen: hier. Der Score ist initial nur für jeden persönlich sichtbar und wird nur dem Ersteller angezeigt (Wer allerdings auf den Link „Teilen“ klickt, macht es natürlich öffentlich). Die Zusammensetzung wird in der LinkedIn Hilfe erläutert, wer unabhängig davon mehr erfahren möchte, sollte sich bei LinkedIn Insights umschauen. […]

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