1 Deadly, False Assumption About LinkedIn Social Selling

What constitutes social selling on LinkedIn? LinkedIn answers with [trumpet blare] The Social Selling Index. (SSI) It’s a measure of a social seller’s effectiveness. Effectiveness. It’s what sales is all about. You either open discussions with prospects and close ’em — or you don’t. But that’s not how your marketing team may be seeing it.

There is too much emphasis being placed on not prospecting with LinkedIn to engage in “social selling.”

Not selling in order to sell.

I’m referring to the idea of “sharing valuable content” as a means to “become seen as a thought leader” by leads and, ultimately, somehow, sell something.

Personally, this strikes me as an idea cooked-up by an artsy brand marketer — as opposed to a scientific direct response marketer.

Cold calling coach, Kraig Kleeman says the SSI, “encourages people to re-post already regurgitated content that is largely irrelevant.”

The net effect, says Mr. Kleeman, “is that our news feeds are being overwhelmed with unhelpful and unnecessary content that is hindering sellers from being productive.”

Mr. Kleeman says sellers investing in this marketing-like form of social selling risk spending needless hours weekly scanning through irrelevant data.

“LinkedIn continues to monetize its community at the expense of intellectual integrity,” says Kleeman.

Measure Your Team’s Use of LinkedIn This Way
“If you want a measure that helps tie social selling to actual deals, capture how a lead becomes a prospect and across what channel that engagement happens,” says Mark Birch.

Birch says knowing the source of leads is not enough. We should understand how a lead (whether bought list, trade show, targeted account list, etc.) was engaged in a certain way. This can be compared to outbound prospecting methods.

“From an inbound perspective, tag content links with UTM codes that tie back to shares via sales reps. SSI is a fun vanity metric, nothing more, nothing less,” says Mr. Birch.

Bottom Line: Should Sellers Use LinkedIn?
“Social selling is a myth created by so called sales experts,” says Simon Marley, CEO of Growth Logik. Marley spent the last year researching LinkedIn for sales prospecting data and intelligence. He says it’s an invaluable resource.

However, “After trial and error we came to the conclusion that LinkedIn is only good for two things: Research and InMail,” says Mr. Marley.

I agree. Sales people tend to be expensive. Having them spend their time sharing content strikes me as a pretty expensive broadcasting mechanism.

Think about it this way: Do you run out the door to buy a new truck after seeing an ad during the football game? Of course not. Then why are you expecting someone to come running to you with a purchase order after sharing content on LinkedIn?

You might reply, “I’m not, Jeff. I’m a) soft selling by b) staying on-the-radar of potential customers and c) listening for signals that prospects might be in ‘buying mode’ soon.”

To which I would ask, “What’s your process to make that happen?” or “can you prove to me this will be an effective use of your time — with numbers?”

What do you think? Is 80 percent (or more) of “social selling” pushing content in order to stay-on-the-radar of potential customers?

Author: Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc., where he built the sales team. Today, he is the authority on effective prospecting communications techniques as founder of Communications Edge Inc. (formerly Molander & Associates Inc.) He's been in sales for over 2 decades. He is author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.Jeff is a sales communications coach and creator of the Spark Selling technique—a means to spark more conversations with customers "from cold," speeding them toward qualification.

5 thoughts on “1 Deadly, False Assumption About LinkedIn Social Selling”

  1. Great blog post, Jeff. I’ll be curious to see if anybody is able to prove a correlation between their LI prospecting/relationship building work and sales.

    I advise clients that when they create content they should distribute it in multiple channels (including LI). It helps to increase brand reach… period. Limiting marketing efforts to the LI channel with fingers crossed that it’s the magic bullet, is just naive.

    1. Hi, Carolyn. Well, there are a lot of people convinced of the causal link. I see people I respect a LOT falling all over themselves to participate in gamification of SSI and Leader Boards. Many fully admit it’s a vanity metric and point to a causal link between productivity and activity. I’m just trying to offer levity. Ok, maybe sanity 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Thanks Jeff for sharing my strong opinions on the subject. To be clear, I do see social selling as a valuable channel for engagement, just not in a way that most of the gurus suggest. Sharing content is really just another mechanism to create more noise, it is rarely targeted and purposeful and tied to real metrics. As you put it in one of your posts recently, SSI is simply a vanity metrics. As I say, it is the Money Metrics that matter, and SSI ain’t one of them.

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