Update Your LinkedIn Sales Navigator Best Practices

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be a great tool. But you may be sabotaging the chance to start conversations with prospects. Misconceptions about Sales Navigator best practices are causing many to sabotage their diligent efforts — resulting in fewer conversations started with prospects.

LinkedIn Sales NavigatorLinkedIn Sales Navigator can be a great tool. But you may be sabotaging the chance to start conversations with prospects. And it’s not your fault.

Misconceptions about best practices are causing many sellers to sabotage their diligent efforts — resulting in fewer conversations started with prospects. A “best practice” depends on many factors. Mainly this one:

By time it’s considered “best” it is no longer best. Because everyone is doing it results are weaker!

How are sellers using LinkedIn Sales Navigator to set more and better meetings? Here are a few emerging best practices you need to know about.

Building a Target List

The most effective sellers use Sales Navigator as:

  • their only research tool to target & identify companies & target contacts … to develop a list from scratch
  • a primary tool — adding profile data from various other sources (e.g., purchased lists with email and direct-dial phone information)
  • a secondary research tool — using purchased data or proprietary “house” lists as primary… supplementing with LinkedIn profile data (to qualify leads)

Beware: The days of using LinkedIn for sales prospecting, at no cost, are gone. You no longer have choice. Since acquiring LinkedIn, Microsoft has clamped-down on free users … hard. I’m not a fanboy, so here’s why purchasing LinkedIn Sales Navigator is required:

  • Search filters. You need them. Sure you’ll get a few using the free version of LinkedIn. But you’ll be hard-pressed to make LinkedIn’s database search filters spit back quality leads for you. For example, need to search for companies based on their size? Yup. You’ll need to invest.
  • Access. LinkedIn Sales Navigator is required if you need unfettered access to LinkedIn’s database of prospects. Truth is, if you want to search for prospects and view profiles, for more than a few hours, you must pay to play.

LinkedIn restricts free users ability to search for and view profiles. It’s called a “commercial search limit” and believe me you’ll hit it … quickly. You’ll be stopped and asked to invest.

In pre-Microsoft years it took a while to get cut-off from searching companies and viewing contacts’ profiles. Today, LinkedIn demands you slap down a charge card in short time.

Want to search the database? Want to view profiles of your targets? Do so using the free LinkedIn. But believe me … take your credit card out of your wallet. Set it on your desk. You’ll be reaching for it.

Investing in Sales Navigator is no longer a decision-point for sellers using LinkedIn. It’s mandatory. Sorry! Of course, there are other very good data sources to consider investing in too.

The Truth About InMail

Decision makers are less-and-less receptive to receiving messages on LinkedIn.

Still, most sellers use InMail and connection requests as a primary communications tool. However, this is no longer a best practice, not recommended in most B2B sales environments. InMail is best applied as part of a multi-pronged approach. (email, phone/voicemail, InMail, direct mail, etc.)

Thus, InMail is not a big value-add, nor why sellers invest in LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Nor is it a secret weapon to get more and better conversations started with prospects. InMail can be used productively but it has serious disadvantages to consider.

Overall, Linkedin is weakening as a communications platform — all while the company builds an image as the premier “social” sales tool.

This weakening isn’t my opinion — it’s the accumulated experience of our customers. People like you.

My sales team (and our clients’ teams) report decision-makers becoming less-and-less responsive. In all B2B industry sectors? No. In most? Yes.

Increasingly.

Some blame the “Facebook-ization” of LinkedIn.

Bottom line: Decision-makers are increasingly less receptive to receiving messages on LinkedIn. Quick analysis of LinkedIn’s public discussions about user base stats and you’ll see it too.

Access to the LinkedIn database (and use of targeting filters) is the primary reason to invest.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Your CRM

Most organizations (large or small) use their CRM to track “Navigator sourced leads.” This helps you understand how many deals flow from contacts leaning (fully or partially) on data found on LinkedIn and Company profiles.

Beyond this simplistic level of tracking most organizations do not track a hard ROI on Sales Navigator; instead treating it as a cost of doing business. (a line item expense)

Buying Navigator is like buying any other kind of list to call from. (except this is on a subscription basis) However, many organizations do wish to understand how many leads are being pulled from LinkedIn’s database — and how many of those leads actually close.

This helps one understand quality of leads from LinkedIn overall … assuming a level of sales rep proficiency, of course.

The most effective sellers also do not use Sales Navigator as a CRM itself beyond temporary storage of leads. Most sellers choose to move contact and company profile data sourced within LinkedIn into their CRM or sales automation tool of choice — then pursue the lead.

Other Worthwhile Research Tools

Research is truly LinkedIn’s most valuable deliverable to you. That said, data on LinkedIn is supplied by users. Thus, it’s accuracy is only as good as the user provides.

Navigator’s “Business Insights” feature is a popular way to monitor useful news & info about target contacts & companies. Thus, this best practice remains. While Google Alerts and other services offers similar monitoring LinkedIn’s Business Insights feature brings this into a centralized stream within Navigator.

“Headcount growth by function” and “Total job openings by department” are two very useful Sales Navigator data sets. These allows sellers to see where within an organization current investment (budget growth) activity is taking place—and is planned to take place in immediate term—from a personnel perspective.

Research is LinkedIn’s strongest value to sellers.

What do you see changing lately? What best practices do you experience as being ineffective these days? And which are emerging as a better practice?

 

LinkedIn Ought to Be ‘LinkedOut’

I have moved up the emotional scale from mildly irritated to pretty angry. I even considered a New Year’s resolution of dumping LinkedIn.

The first time it happened, I thought it was just an error caused by my chunky fingers hitting the wrong keys or clicking my mouse with too little respect for the useful creature. But, as it has continued, and LinkedIn has been impervious to requests for an explanation of whether what’s happening is intentional or not, I have moved up the emotional scale from mildly irritated to pretty angry. I even considered a New Year’s resolution of dumping LinkedIn.

Here’s why.

What would you think if you got this message in your inbox?

LinkedIn notification for Peter Rosenwald
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

Like me, you might be complimented that people are searching for you for business, for pleasure or for anything. And you’d certainly be curious about who these clever searchers might be. So, just as I did, you would click the box. Right? And here is what you would get.

LinkedIn search notifications for Peter Rosenwald
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

That’s funny. I distinctly remember that LinkedIn told me (in the opening personal email from “Notification. No reply”) that I had appeared in three searches this week. Did the other two searchers get lost?

Only a week or so later, Liz, at LinkedIn Sales Solutions, tells me my 90-day fan club, albeit over an overlapping period, grew by 400 percent.

linkedin sales solutions notification for Peter Rosenwald
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

WOW. I really want to see who those folks are.

The only problem is that to see these 13 people, I have to sign up for a 30-day “Free” trial to Sales Navigator Professional with a negative option paid subscription after the 30 days if you don`t notify

LinkedIn credit card notification for Peter Rosenwald
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

them you want to quit. And to get the free trial, I have to give LinkedIn my credit card and lots of other data. Why? Helpfully, there is a very smoothly written explanation promising “a seamless subscription experience.” But, despite these assurances, when even the CIA and NSA can’t adequately protect their data, can LinkedIn?

The playwright Tom Stoppard has one of his characters say famously, “There is an art to the building up of suspense.” LinkedIn seems to have mastered the art, taking the curious (or not taking him) to find who is really interested in his profile.

And if that weren’t enough, here’s what came next.

Important LinkedIn notification for Peter Rosenwald
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

I know I flunked math at school but, despite a serious effort, I couldn’t figure out where the 267 number came from.

It’s obvious that like many of Silicon Valley’s progeny, growth in number of “subscribers,” paying for the premium service vs. taking it free, is the key KPI. That would help explain the rather over-the-top switch-selling which so annoys not only me, but lots of people who value the LinkedIn service — but not the hassle.

“Get them to sign up” is a standard digital mantra. And as LinkedIn is now owned by Microsoft, its bean counters are no doubt focusing on this and the data that each sign-up brings. Writing for Forbes, Grant Feller said of LinkedIn: “It knows where people work, their skills, ambitions, who they went to school with and what interests groups people share. LinkedIn knows about people better than Microsoft does.”

It is now virtually impossible to get a sense of whether this strategy is paying off. After Microsoft paid a cool $26.2 billion in late 2016 for the essentially profitless company with its tanking stock price, its figures are no longer available. At the time, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was quoted as calling the deal the centerpiece of its “cloud services and software” strategy. And it also makes Microsoft a major player in the increasingly competitive social network Olympics. But does this justify such a hard sell?

The question is: Should we all be LinkedIn or Out? That’s something to consider for your next New Year’s resolutions.

2 Fatal Mistakes You’re Probably Making on LinkedIn

By the math, LinkedIn can be worth investing in at any level. But make sure to ask yourself the right questions to ensure LinkedIn pays you back. Using LinkedIn connection requests and/or InMails as your first point of contact is a losing strategy. While you may have some success, it will remain limited compared to the potential.

Locked cloudLinkedIn Sales Navigator is now all but required if you are prospecting new customers by:

  • Searching LinkedIn’s contact database
  • Contacting potential buyers using InMail

Whether you’re spending $500, $50,000 or even $500,000 on LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you’re forced to ask yourself: Will Navigator be worth it?

How can you be sure? By the math, it can be worth investing, at any level. Make sure to ask yourself the right questions — to ensure LinkedIn pays you back.

However, using LinkedIn connection requests and/or InMails as your first point of contact is a losing strategy. While you may have some success, it will remain limited compared to the potential.

If you are getting responses you’re likely not advancing toward discussions or setting meetings. Worse, many of my students have invested time in LinkedIn’s training — and still aren’t getting anywhere!

Why Most Sellers Fail to Start Conversations

Contacting prospects inside LinkedIn can happen in two ways:

  • Connecting to prospects and messaging freely
  • InMail-ing potential buyers

Easy right? Well, yes-and-no.

Easy to send a personalized request and/or InMail message. Not easy to earn a response, let alone a qualified conversation. Especially using connection requests, even when personalized.

These are two ways sellers sabotage themselves. Beware — when trying to meet new customers, avoid making first contact using connection requests or InMail.

This may have you thinking, “Molander, where are you going here?! What other way is there to establish rapport on LinkedIn?!”

Answer: Not on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn: It’s Not “All That”

Despite the hype, LinkedIn and social selling isn’t “all that.” LinkedIn is nothing more than a database of prospecting leads.

Got a phone? Use it. Today’s most successful sellers are.

Got another database? Supplement it with data from LinkedIn.

Got a trade show list? Use LinkedIn to gather intel on prospects — make an informed approach.

Sellers with the highest social selling index often aren’t making any scratch on LinkedIn.

Sellers making the most money using LinkedIn work it using multiple tools — not just LinkedIn.

Why InMail Alone Rarely Works

It makes sense to start within the walls of LinkedIn when using LinkedIn to prospect, but in general, you will get more conversations started by making first contact outside of LinkedIn. Use InMail as a last resort — or later in your messaging cadence.

Use standard email and phone/voicemail first. Supplement your cadence with InMail.

So why invest in Sales Navigator at all? Because you’re forced to. No investment in Navigator? No access to LinkedIn’s database. Period.

Beware. These are just a few reasons why you should not start with InMail as a “first touch” when prospecting. InMails:

  1. Give you no ability to determine subject line strength (open rate)
  2. Are limited to maximum 30/month
  3. Are expensive!
  4. Don’t facilitate following-up well enough
  5. Rarely perform better than standard email

If you are sending emails to prospects without knowing your open rate … STOP. You’re wasting time crafting and then re-crafting messages that aren’t being seen. If you want to judge effectiveness of your message you must, first, inspect open rate — the effectiveness of subject lines.

Don’t be fooled into believing your perfectly good message is the problem — when it’s actually your email not being opened (because of a weak subject line).

Today’s world requires you to be tenacious and persistent. Don’t expect to send 10 individual InMails per week and get four to six responses! Unless you’ve got a dynamite communications technique, it’s not going happen.

Don’t rely on InMail. I’m shocked at how many people I meet are. The most effective sellers I know follow-up with every tool they have — not just LinkedIn.

In 2007 it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes eight attempts. Time to get to work!

Never Forget LinkedIn’s Core Market: Recruiters

LinkedIn makes money in two ways:

  1. Selling access to its database (to sellers and recruiters)
  2. Selling media (page views)

LinkedIn wasn’t built for sales, nor sales prospecting. It is an online resume database that just happens to have executive decision-makers within it. It is also a social network.

LinkedIn was birthed to serve recruiters — not sellers.

One day LinkedIn realized, “hey … sellers are in here trying to find buyers.” Didn’t take long for the company to coin “social selling” and claim their leadership position as the place to shag down buyers.

Think of it this way. Like buyers we’re chasing, employed professionals don’t want to be bothered by recruiters. Thus, InMail (with its limitations) is a good match. Similarly, InMail is a good match for sellers.

But recruiters don’t rely on InMail — and top performing sellers don’t rely on it either.

Remember … using LinkedIn connection requests and/or InMails as your first point of contact isn’t working for most sellers. While you may have some success it will remain limited compared to the potential.

Sellers making the most money using LinkedIn work it using multiple tools — not just LinkedIn.

What has your experience been? Is it different?

3 Questions to Ask Before Investing in Sales Navigator

Wondering where your LinkedIn Advanced Search is? Poof! It’s no longer part of your free LinkedIn user account. If you want to search for prospects on LinkedIn you must buy Sales Navigator. At roughly $500 annually for individuals — and as much as $200,000 for teams — sellers are under pressure to make the investment pay off. Here are three must-ask questions to be asking yourself — before investing (or continuing to).

Locked cloudWondering where your LinkedIn Advanced Search is? Poof! It’s no longer part of your free LinkedIn user account. If you want to search for prospects on LinkedIn you must buy Sales Navigator.

At roughly $500 annually for individuals — and as much as $200,000 for teams — sellers are under pressure to make the investment pay off.

Forget about your Social Selling Index. Sellers need new customer relationships, not vanity metrics. Here are three must-ask questions to be asking yourself — before investing (or continuing to).

  1. What are people saying about Sales Navigator? (is it worth it?)
  2. How, exactly, will my investment pay for itself?
  3. What can I do to make sure Navigator works for me?

What People Are Saying

The most common feedback I hear is how target-rich LinkedIn’s database of prospects is, however, the support provided (to make use of these contacts) is poor.

The No. 1 reason sellers cancel Sales Navigator won’t surprise you: Lack of response from prospects they’re approaching using LinkedIn InMail. Sellers find it increasingly difficult to start conversations with potential new buyers. This causes some to cancel their Navigator account.

However, LinkedIn’s recent move forces your hand. Do you need to research LinkedIn’s database to find business leads? You must pay-to-play. Previously, you could prospect LinkedIn’s database throughout the week — and avoid the “commercial search limit” on the advanced search feature.

Not so today.

Behind closed doors this is what I hear most often about LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool:

  • I wish LinkedIn helped me effectively contact prospects — not just use the tool.
  • LinkedIn’s database of contacts is large, growing and rich with profile details.
  • Some decision-makers are hiding their authority (due to overzealous sellers).
  • The company’s support team does not provide email or phone help.
  • I love Sales Navigator’s ability to help me monitor my prospects & companies.
  • LinkedIn’s training webinars aren’t helping me start conversations with customers.
  • My sellers’ Social Selling Index is not correlating to sales productivity.
  • LinkedIn’s guidance on using InMail is confusing and contradicts itself.
  • The automated leads Navigator sends me are not fitting my target criteria.

How will my investment pay for itself?

Many sales teams investing in Sales Navigator are not seeing returns needed. Some teams are pulling out — looking elsewhere for prospecting data, or returning to pre-LinkedIn sources.

It’s common for teams to invest from $10,000 to $200,000 annually on Sales Navigator. Individual sellers, paying $79 a month (roughly $500 annually), also struggle to justify the investment. What if a team of 25 sellers could go from $19 million in new client quarterly revenue to $70 million? (using Sales Navigator)

Sounds good, right? But only if we:

  • Increase number of reps actively prospecting (it’s got to be fun/productive for them)
  • Increase sellers’ ability to start conversations by a mere 10 percent

It’s true. I’ll work out the math for you. Prospecting success on LinkedIn boils down to:

  • Finding appropriate, new prospects (Navigator does well here)
  • Starting conversations with targets
  • Bringing conversations toward closure

It’s the last two where people most struggle. This is where the gold is.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator: By the Math

Here is how the math comes together — for teams of sellers. For sake of example, let’s use a three-month scenario: February to April 2017. A projection.

Let’s say you have a team of 25 sellers. Most are not prospecting much. They don’t like it. Here are the assumptions:

  • Seven reps (who are prospecting) targeting an average of 20 new clients per week each = 140 potential new discussions
  • This means 50 conversations are being started (average of two per rep: 36 percent success rate)
  • Thirty-eight new clients will likely be closed (78 percent) valued at an average of $500k annual revenue
  • Net new client revenue $19M (achieved in February-April)

But let’s say we:

  • Convinced just six reps to become better at earning conversations with Navigator
  • Increased these six sellers’ ability to provoke discussions better — by just 10 percent (and become effective at securing good meetings faster)
  • Keep close rate flat and unchanged

Here’s what that team’s performance would look like after investing in a method to effectively start conversations with prospects via LinkedIn.

  • Thirteen reps (plus six) prospecting, targeting an average of 30 new clients per week each = 390 potential discussions
  • We are now getting 10 more targets called per rep/week
  • This means 180 new conversations are started (average 8.5 per rep, 46 percent success rate)
  • 140 new clients closed (78 percent) valued at an average $500k annual revenue
  • Net new client revenue equals $70M (achieved in February-April)

What You Can Do to Make Sure This Works

Ignore LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index. Instead, strengthen your and your team’s ability to start conversations “from cold.” Get good at attracting customers to talking with you.

It’s not about buying — it’s about what it will take for them to buy, eventually. Issues. Challenges. Or even the status quo. Challenge it.

Being able to consistently spark conversations with potential buyers will increase your:

  • Email response rate
  • Voice-mail response rate
  • Appointment setting rate
  • Number of customers closed per month

A Fundamental Misconception About Sales Navigator

Your potential buyer values more what they ask for. Buyers value less what you offer them. It’s human nature. Getting meetings with prospects doesn’t require Sales Navigator. It requires you to help prospects feel an urge — to ask you or invite you to talk.

Sales Navigator is nothing more than a tech tool. It is not a prospecting magic wand. As obvious as this may sound many who invest in Navigator treat it as one. Take your communications technique more seriously than you take LinkedIn. LinkedIn is merely the cost of entry.

Yes, LinkedIn’s tool set will help you:

  • Find new people to call on quickly
  • Discover knowledge about targets that can be used on your approach
  • Find “hidden” prospects in your territory that are currently being overlooked
  • Contact potential customers directly (InMail)

But your ability to earn customers attention — and request for a meeting — is the game-changer. Just look at the math!

Why You Must Stop Believing Social Selling Exists

“You need this revolutionary new social selling now or you’ll be left behind. What? You don’t know how to use [insert new technology] to zoom sales? Buy my book, attend my keynote. I’ll show you the way forward!” Revolution they cry! Problem is, the sales revolution they’re selling is marketing — broadcasting on an interactive platform, the Internet. There is no revolution, only evolution.

Who Moved the Sales? Why marketing attribution is so crucial to track, yet so hard to doSocial selling does not exist. Believing it does trains you and your sales force to fail.

Sure, LinkedIn and countless self-appointed “social selling experts” say social selling is a wave — catch it.

But have you noticed their tone lately? Many of these folks talk down to you.

“You are not doing it right, you are not taking it seriously enough.”

Or perhaps more accurately:

“You need this revolutionary new social selling now or you’ll be left behind. What? You don’t know how to use [insert new technology] to zoom sales? Buy my book, attend my keynote. I’ll show you the way forward!”

Revolution they cry!

Problem is, the sales revolution they’re selling is marketing — broadcasting on an interactive platform, the Internet.

There is no revolution, only evolution. Believing there is a new selling paradigm risks your team’s ability to adapt.

Are you willing to risk it? Are you risking it right now?

We Should not Name This a “New” Strategy

There is nothing new about sales — other than customers having better access to information, more quickly and easily. There is no need to invent a fancy new name for sales as it evolves.

“But Jeff, you’re wrong: Giving this new strategy a name could help explain this new skill set in sales operations internally, to management. Especially if the company is still a bit behind in evolution when it comes to sales approach.”

But are you behind? Behind in what? Knowledge of how to work the tool?

Working a new tool like LinkedIn or Twitter is not making anyone successful — despite the marketing claims of companies and expert gurus who have a stake in the game.

Using the term “social selling” is, so far, most helpful to those selling tool-focused education or rah-rah cheerleading fodder themselves. These are the instant experts whose qualifications rest on “I use LinkedIn a lot.”

Literally anyone can be a part of this club.

Here’s my beef with this situation: In the end, I’m witnessing less emphasis on sales techniques that work for sellers, and more emphasis on how to use tools.

I suspect this is because the people involved don’t have (or practice) good, traditional sales skills!

The result: A lot of sales people practicing marketing on LinkedIn. Farming with it. And failing to start conversations. They’re pushing posts, updates, comments, etc.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator: Deciding if It’s Worth It

Is LinkedIn Sales Navigator worth it for sales prospecting? And how can you measure the investment — and end it if it’s not? I’ve consulted my most trusted resources — and clients — on the answer. Because what we need is an honest answer from people who are interested in growing their business — not just LinkedIn’s! Here are the results I’ve found in guideline format. The consensus seems strong. In 95 percent of cases you may not need a Sales Navigator or Premium level account.

Is LinkedIn Sales Navigator worth it for sales prospecting? And how can you measure the investment — and end it if it’s not?

I’ve consulted my most trusted resources — and clients — on the answer. Because what we need is an honest answer from people who are interested in growing their business — not just LinkedIn’s!

Here are the results I’ve found in guideline format. The consensus seems strong. In 95 percent of cases you may not need a Sales Navigator or Premium level account.

Key Consideration Points
Let’s keep it simple. Here’s what the average B-to-B sales prospecting person needs to consider. Point by point.

  1. The Free Trial: Is one month enough time to judge?
  2. The cost: When and how will it be recovered?
  3. The yardstick for success: Leads found and qualified faster, not trivial activity.

The Problem With a 30-day Trial
I rarely hear anyone talking about this aspect. Yet I’m not sure why. In most B-to-B sales environments a 30 day free trial is not enough time to judge any sales prospecting tool, tactic or strategy.

Even in today’s fast-paced social selling world LinkedIn’s 30 day trial period is far too short.

One of my most trusted sales training colleagues put it this way: “What sales team wants to commit to a playing field that moves the goal posts every couple of months? If I have a six month sales cycle, please explain what good a one month free trial does me?”

Thus, please understand that the free trial isn’t actually free. It’s a discount on your first six months of Navigator subscription. Because many of us need at least 6 to 12 months to understand if this is having positive impact on the bottom line — finding and closing new clients faster.

Justifying the Cost
The fastest way to understand if the investment might be worthwhile is to examine the benefits — but with a sales hat firmly on. Sales Navigator Professional (for individuals) gets you:

  • InMail: The one perk that everyone knows about.
  • Free incoming InMail: Anyone on LinkedIn can send you a message, free.
  • More search filters: You get an additional eight filters (although some are not applicable at all to sellers)
  • More saved searches: Very handy if you have a set of searches you do repeatedly.
  • More search results: You can see two hundred, four hundred or more.
  • Unlimited profile search: You will not need to worry about hitting LinkedIn’s arbitrary Commercial Search Limit.
  • Introductions: You can send a message to someone you would like to meet through a mutual LinkedIn connection.
  • Who’s Viewed Your Profile visibility: You get more visibility into who has viewed your profile.
  • Automated lead recommendations and real time news insights on leads.

I’m not saying any of these features are good or bad. Rather, we must question if they are worth paying $79 per month to access. In particular, most of my clients find the ability to search an unlimited number of times beneficial. How much so? This varies on individual experience.

And therein lies the tricky part: Generating enough experience with these features to pass fair judgement.

The Yardstick for Success
This is a tricky issue extending beyond the problem with a 30 day trial. It is unclear when significant cost breaks on the $129 per seat Team fee comes into play. This is not publicly discussed by LinkedIn. More importantly, justifying the cost must come in the form of hard numbers.

Sales related numbers.

The vast majority of businesses I’m finding measure soft value when building a business case for Sales Navigator. LinkedIn itself is encouraging this “soft yardstick” via it’s Social Selling Index. (SSI)

True, each category of the SSI is based on a practice vital to success using LinkedIn. They are important to your productivity, effectiveness … ultimately, your success at finding and closing leads faster.

Beware of Vanity Metrics
LinkedIn’s social selling index is flawed as a measurement tool when building a business case.

Because establishing your brand, finding the right people, engaging and building relationships are the basis for the SSI. However, each of these has an (unmeasured) quality component that directly drives business value.

Here’s the rub: When reps have a lower skill set at communicating with prospects they will always have lower success at earning meetings and closing deals with them. You can brand, engage and connect all you want.

In the end, the more effectively reps communicate the more deals get discovered, nurtured and closed.

Yet LinkedIn’s main tool of measurement is based purely on a quantitative basis.

Bottom line: The SSI is a potential indicator of productivity. However, being an active user of LinkedIn does not make you a productive seller.

Sales productivity takes more; it takes qualitative behavior and specific business outcomes. Knowing how to make a sales appointment via email or InMail trumps being able to simply send email!

What do you think about how I’m approaching this? Am I off the mark? How are you approaching building the business case?