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.

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.

LinkedIn Social Selling IndexEffectiveness. 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. More importantly, the number of qualified leads in the pipe and close rate is not how LinkedIn expects you to measure effectiveness at selling using their tool set.

Do I have your attention?

This ‘Best Practice’ Isn’t
I see one deadly, false assumption being made by sellers when “social selling” on LinkedIn. Worst of all, it is being sold as a “best practice.” But, increasingly, savvy sellers and sales managers say it’s not.

Here’s the rub: Most sales reps are being told (by LinkedIn and “experts”) to maintain a strong LinkedIn Social Selling Index — connecting with prospects and regularly sharing valuable content to generate leads.

However, investing time in this “social selling” strategy often leads to uncovering fewer leads and closing fewer sales.

I say “social selling” because frankly I don’t believe the term has merit — beyond serving gurus and LinkedIn as a marketing gimmick.

The Problem With the Social Selling Index
“SSI is purely a marketing tool used by LinkedIn for selling LinkedIn Sales Navigator,” says Mark Birch, managing director of Birch Ventures, a seed stage investment and enterprise sales advisory firm.

“It does not provide even one, single useful data point other than to say you have lots of connections, have a completed LinkedIn profile, and share a bunch of stuff on LinkedIn … none of which has to be content that you create,” says Birch who doesn’t mince words.

More importantly, Mr. Birch sees a huge flaw in LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index.

Sellers cannot establish a causal relationship between SSI and actual revenue generation, quota achievement, size of deal, length of sales cycle, or any other relevant measurement of sales capability.

Even though LinkedIn says it’s possible. The company often claims SSI is linked to performance — not just activity.

In response, Colin Daymude, director of sales at Frontline Selling, is pushing back. For example, when LinkedIn says 78 percent of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media, Mr. Daymude has a thoughtful response.

“One hundred percent of all Presidents Club winners drink water on a daily basis. That doesn’t create a direct correlation to closed business either,” says Daymude.

“The top sales person (by leaps and bounds) at my company enjoys a full 20 points less on their SSI score and is nowhere close to my CEOs or newbie sales rep’s ranking among peers. How can that be, LinkedIn?” asks Daymude.

The Problem With ‘Sharing Valuable Content’
The SSI’s practical use is simple, according to LinkedIn: Measure “how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships.”

The SSI is composed of four categories.

  1. Establish your brand (be a thought-leader by publishing meaningful posts).
  2. Find the right people (identify prospects faster).
  3. Engage with insights (share “conversation-worthy” updates to grow relationships).
  4. Build relationships (“finding & establishing trust with decision-makers”).

That said, here’s the problem.