Understanding Social Selling Index (SSI) - Genius or Total Bunk?

LinkedIn recently introduced something called the Social Selling Index (SSI) as way of making the LinkedIn platform more "sticky", also by adding a gamification, it is designed to make users come back more and more.

LinkedIn's competition, social networks such as Facebook and Snapchat, users tend to be in these applications for about 20 minutes a day, while the average LinkedIn user logs into LinkedIn once a month. (So what you may say, when LinkedIn came to be sold, they certainly realised a lot of value from Microsoft.)

Before we go any further there is a link to LinkedIn's article on what SSI is and how to get your SSI score here

Imagine This!

You are an Olympic Athlete at the Rio Olympic Games. You are at the start line and the countdown starts; 3 - 2 -1 and the gun fires.

At that point you start running you actually know in which position you should finish. Why? You did what all professional athletes do. You got up at 5:00 AM, you ate, you trained, you slept (in an oxygen tent). You got up at 5:00 AM, you ate, you trained, you slept (in an oxygen tent). You went running in the wet, you slipped while running in the snow and not once did you complain. Why? Because when that gun fires you want to win gold. To win gold you know that eating, sleeping and training are the behaviours you need to win gold.

You have probably worked out that this is a metaphor for sales, if we make those calls, make the connections on social, go to the meetings, etc we can win sales gold. There are of course, no silver medals in sales.

Whenever there is a discussion about SSI, my business partner, Adam Gray , always asks the question "what car do you drive?". His logic is this. If you have a high SSI and you are doing well in sales, yes? You must be overachieving quota, therefore you must have a great car. Or of course, you could have a high SSI and just be playing around on LinkedIn all day.

My SSI score? I actually have no idea and that's the point. Neither of us need to know our SSI score, if we are exhibiting all the right behaviours, it does not matter, it will take care of itself.


Where SSI Matters

That said, SSI has it's place as well as other vanity metrics (Klout, Kred etc), that is, as long as we all know why we are using them (in that time and place) it can be useful.

Yesterday I was at the LinkedIn Social Selling conference in London and listened to a great case study from Vodafone call centre in Ireland on how they use SSI as part of their project. SSI is a measure of progress, on how people are integrating the new Social Selling skills into their day to day work and a person that have moved from say, SSI of 50 to an SSI of 65 you can pretty much guess is doing the right things. I say guess, as it's an approximation, but in the early days of a social selling roll out, it is a pretty good approximation.

By the way, Vodafone has an aspiration that all sales people will have a SSI of 70 by 6 months and then a SSI of 80, 6 months after that. Which is a pretty good target to get using LinkedIn as of their day to day work regime.

I'm aware of a company (sorry I have a NDA so cannot mention the name) where they have proved that there is a correlation between high SSI and quota over achievement. Now maybe that sample, will always be high achievers, but being an "A-Player" today, requires one to master social.


What About Other Social Networks?

Anybody that reads my blogs is probably shouting at this point that what about the fact that LinkedIn does NOT equal Social Selling. Your customers are on a whole bunch of other networks and you need to be where your customers are. If you do treat LinkedIn as being the only platform, you are certainly leaving money on the table and opening up more risk of losing deals.

So if I use Multiple Social Platforms for Social Selling, What Relevance is SSI?

For me it has a relevance for the early days of your project, but after a while it falls by the way side.

Bit like a relationship, you start dating, then as your relationship develops you spend more time with each other, then maybe move in with each other. Each change in the relationship means you have different expectations and (hopefully) you behave and "measure" it differently.

How do You Measure a Social Selling Program?

There are many tools you can use (I'm sure), I have personal experience of Brandwatch which we use at Digital Leadership Associates (DLA).

Brandwatch allows us to measure, share of voice (compared to your competition), as well as your activity on Twitter such retweets, retweets by amplification / influence, the subjects you (and your competition) are tweeting about also mentions with meaning. One of our clients recently had a 4000 (4 Thousand) % uplift.

If you are aware of ways to measure Social Selling programs, then please leave a comment below. Always interested in other people's and companies experience.