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The Social Selling Index: Understanding sales on LinkedIn

Business · 5 mins

The Social Selling Index (SSI): Understanding sales on LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index is designed to help you improve your sales game on the platform. Discover everything you need to know to boost your score and make connections that pay off by selling on LinkedIn.

As an e-commerce business owner, you probably already know the power of social media platforms to boost your sales. From influencer marketing on Instagram to Facebook ads, social media sites are your entry point to reach a global customer base of millions – and usually for free. Messaging apps are also entering the game – with “conversational commerce” on the rise, it may not be long until you can sell to your customers via WhatsApp.  

But what about LinkedIn? Predominantly a networking platform, it may have been a little further down your list of sales channels to prioritize, but the opportunities there are ripe – particularly for B2B sales reps. As the B2B sector digitalizes and face-to-face interactions move online, sellers should be investing their time on platforms such as LinkedIn that can facilitate prospect searching and relationship building. 

If you’re already selling on LinkedIn, how can you be sure your efforts are making an impact? Enter LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI) – a dedicated tool that measures how businesses’ social selling activities on the platform add up. Once you have your score, you have a benchmark to guide you to improve. LinkedIn claims social selling leaders create 45% more opportunities than peers with lower SSI scores1 – impressive stuff.   

Launched in 2014, the Social Selling Index was developed by identifying a group of top-performing sales professionals, using their behaviors on the platform as a formula to create a guide for others. It uses data collection and algorithm magic to show businesses and sales reps how well they’re performing in comparison.

How does LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index work?

The tool uses four factors to measure a business’s SSI score:

  • Establishing a personal brand
  • Finding the right people
  • Engaging with insights
  • Building relationships

Each is worth 25 points, with a perfect score reaching 100. By breaking down the SSI into specific categories, businesses can gain clear and in-depth insights into exactly which areas they need to improve in.

Yet, there is a catch. The tool is free up to a point, but essentially acts as a sales driver for LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator service – a paid-for subscription designed to help businesses (and individuals) find the right prospects. But even if you don’t want to invest in this (of which more, later), getting your SSI score as a starting point can be hugely beneficial. When you know your weaknesses, you can improve.

Where to find your LinkedIn SSI score

There are two simple steps to find your SSI score dashboard:

  1. Log in to your LinkedIn account. 
  2. Navigate to https://www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi

How is your LinkedIn SSI score calculated?

As mentioned, LinkedIn uses four metrics to calculate your SSI score, and the results will be displayed on your dashboard. Let’s take a closer look...

1. Establishing a personal brand

First stop is your prospective customers’ first stop: your profile. As their first interaction with your brand, you need to make a good impression. Is it complete? Professional looking? Have you got a cover photo? The SSI also measures page views and followers, and for this you’ll need to take the time to create and publish engaging content.

92% of B2B buyers are willing to engage with a sales professional who is known as an industry thought leader

LinkedIn also mentions “thought leadership” at this point – something which should be a natural progression anyway if you’re posting interesting content. Thought leadership is the expression of ideas that show you’re an expert within a particular sector. If you’re a small e-commerce business owner, it can be a powerful marketing strategy to establish yourself – and by association, your brand – as trustworthy. Our exclusive guide includes some tips to guide you down this path.

2. Finding the right people

This metric has a big focus on Sales Navigator, meaning if you don’t have it, your score will be limited. Sales Navigator is a fully customizable advanced search tool which promises to help users find better prospects in less time through features including lead and account recommendations, engagement tracking, and the ability to see who’s viewed your profile in the last 90 days. Sales Navigator offers free trial periods to new users so consider giving it a go.

Businesses that use Sales Navigator to connect with decision makers achieve, on average, +42% larger deal sizes

If you don’t want to invest in Sales Navigator, remember that finding the right people on LinkedIn is as much about quality as quantity. Are you reaching out to people who work in your sector? Thought leaders in your industry? People you buy from or sell to? These are the connections that count.

3. Engaging with insights

Sales reps who exceed quota get 74% more engagement on their posts than those that don’t exceed quota

This is where you need to be a Content King to score maximum points. LinkedIn explains this metric as “Discover and share valuable information to initiate or maintain a relationship.” Sharing and reposting popular content that attracts lots of views, comments and likes is the aim, and will raise your business’s profile amongst the platform’s community. 

4. Building relationships

Arguably, what LinkedIn is all about: networking. Are you reaching out to people – contacting prospects or those who can connect you with prospects? And how successful are you? Are you taking the time to build and nurture the relationships? You can’t be a successful business owner without taking the initiative to create sales leads this way.

87% of B2B buyers said they would have a favorable impression of a salesperson who was introduced to them through someone in their professional network

How can you use your SSI score to become better at selling on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn’s SSI tool is there to empower salespeople with the knowledge they need to set social selling KPIs. By knowing what your weaknesses are, you can research and execute measures to improve.

What’s more, the SSI tool automatically compares your profile to others in your industry. Much like a competitor analysis, this will give you valuable insights into industry best practices, and help you identify gaps in the market where customer demand isn’t being met.

Final takeaways: tips to boost your LinkedIn SSI score and reach a wider audience

  • Remember to keep your profile customer-focused. What might prospective buyers need to know about your products/service? Ensure your page provides the answers.
  • Quality of connections count. Use LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Advanced Search to help your find the right audiences to target.
  • Check-in regularly. Dedicating just 15 minutes a day to networking and sharing content will keep you visible.
  • Research your prospects. There’s plenty of information that you can pull out from their profiles to help you sell to them in a more personalized way.
  • Use LinkedIn’s additional tools – there are lots to choose from that will help you search, filter and target prospective customers better. Get researching!

1 - LinkedIn Sales Solutions

2 - LinkedIn, March 2021

3, 4, 5 - Social Media Today, March 2021

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson Discover content team

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