Social Selling is to the sales profession what Content Marketing is to the marketing profession. It’s the one subject that sales experts are discussing in professional circles, both online and in sales meetings. Social Selling is a concept that develops the sales representatives’ social networks – typically via LinkedIn – as a way to connect with potential buyers and position themselves (and their companies) as experts who can solve specific business problems.
It’s about adding value. It’s about thought leadership. It’s about strategic positioning.
And it can be measured. LinkedIn has created an index of your online influence, known as the “Social Selling Index” (SSI). This is derived based on a proprietary algorithm which measures:
The strength of your professional brand
Your ability to get connected with the right people
The degree to which you engage your network with insights
The breadth of your relationships within your network
If your sales leaders are strong, then they already recognize the value of teams with a high Social Selling Index. It means that their teams are working the network. It means they are sharing insights that customers see as valuable. It means they have reach.
How Does It Work?
Here is a snapshot of my Social Selling Index. My “SSI” is an 81 out of 100 today (it’s updated daily). You can see yours by logging in to LinkedIn and then going to: https://www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi
Once you know your benchmark, there are three easy things you can do to improve your SSI:
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and up to date
Use the LinkedIn search function to find and connect with people in your company’s target market
Share relevant content, publish original pieces, and interact with content shared by other people – especially those in your target market.
So Why Is This Important for your Marketing Team?
The primary purpose of B2B marketing teams is to generate qualified leads for the sales channel and help your sales people move prospects through their buying process faster. Yes, “brand and buzz” are important – but the ultimate measures of success are leads and revenue.
The first reason that marketers should be measuring their SSI, is that it gives them a proving ground for testing their content in the market. Marketers who measure their SSI get to see how the content and social posts they think are relevant will actually play with your target audience. If marketers deploy posts and updates – actually participating with your sales teams – they benefit from a real time, data-driven mechanism that measures the effectiveness of the company’s Social Selling strategy.
The second reason that marketers should measure their SSI is about empathy. Marketers often say that supporting the sales channel can be challenging, so by using social media in the way high performing sales teams do, then marketers gain better understanding of the sales rep’s “operating reality”. Understanding the challenges of the channel makes them better marketers.
Sales Reps often “go rogue” – creating their own content, making up their own marketing strategies, and generally doing things that they think marketers should be doing better. But we also know that consistency of positioning is critical when marketing a product or service to a particular target segment. Social Selling is about making thought provoking connections with the right audience. So marketers who participate by measuring their own SSI, gain insight into what works and what doesn’t from a Social Selling perspective.
Get with It!
So what’s your Social Selling Index? Is your marketing team measuring SSI? Are sales and marketing working together to activate the network? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then your company may be missing out on the opportunity to align sales and marketing processes to drive growth.
According to LinkedIn, social selling leaders:
Create 45% more opportunities than peers with lower SSI;
Are 51% more likely to reach quota and
Outsell their peers who don’t use social media 78% of the time.
At Butler Street, we have found that marketing teams who integrate SSI into the marketing metrics dashboard are more likely to be attuned to the needs of the channel. And marketers who are attuned to the needs of the channel execute more robust and successful marketing strategies.
To learn more about how sales teams are integrating Social Selling into their processes, check out our post from June of this year: “How I would Train My Sales Force”