[Posted by Colin Daymude August 20, 2015]
Recently LinkedIn opened up their Social Selling Index (SSI) to the general public, meaning that you don’t have to pay to get your score. Even though LI does say that you can boost your SSI by 20% within six months by paying $79.99 a month for Sales Navigator. One of our “young” Sales Executives, Chris, who has been using LI for just a few months has racked up a Top 1% in category score of 86 out of 100 all on his own with simple engagement techniques. He has the same score as the CEO of FRONTLINE Selling, Mike Scher who has a professionally managed account.
It’s interesting that Chris and Mike have almost identical profile distributions between the 4 categories. Makes me go hmmm because I know that their individual results vary dramatically. It’s also interesting that Mike and Chris each have scores 9 points higher than one of the top sales coaches and social selling experts (name omitted for obvious reasons).
Offering up the SSI was a smart move on the part of LI because it’s a great lead generation offer and that is exclusively their motivation. LI will get exponentially more returns and engagements on their site. It’s the same reason that Facebook is free. But the big question is whether it is the right activity for your sales team to be focusing on?
The SSI plays on the psychology that people want to compare themselves to others for belonging and get an ego boost out of it. Cornell University researchers Amy Gonzales, PhD, and Jeffrey Hancock, PhD released a study in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking a few years ago which showed that college students who were asked to look at their own Facebook page got a boost in self-esteem compared with a control group who either looked in a mirror or just sat in a room for the same 3 minute time frame. LinkedIn knows that sales reps everywhere will now have the need to boost their score through more engagement on LI while also comparing themselves to their peers.
Great marketing, but like all new bright shiny objects in the Sales Acceleration space, I need to see a direct correlation to sales before I jump on the band wagon.
And therein lies the missing link.
LinkedIn states that sales reps who exceed quota get 74% more engagement on their posts than those that don’t exceed quota. As with all of their statistics, I don’t see a direct correlation to sales. They are using abductive reasoning to create the hypothesis that sales people who make quota do so because of social selling. Their inferences are not logical.
Like the SSI, there are a plethora of new tools on the market to help companies accelerate sales. The question is whether you actually know what sales reps should be focusing on in the sales cycle to optimize conversions from lead to opportunity and ultimately to a closed deal and increased customer lifetime value?
The Social Selling Index is made up of the following equally weighted categories:
The top sales person (by leaps and bounds) at FRONTLINE Selling enjoys a full 20 points less on their total index score (66 vs. 86) and is no where close to Mike’s (CEO) or Chris’s (newbie Sales Exec) ranking amongst their sales peers. How can that be LinkedIn? And if each category has equal weight, does that mean that each category gives me an equally strong probability of success in creating new opportunities that will turn into sales?
I’m not questioning whether having a social profile with great content and regular engagement is likely to help in the sales process. I actually think it will. But there is an opportunity cost associated with that time spent. Our top sales people know exactly what to do to create opportunities that turn into closed business and that’s where they spend the majority of their time. Social media is something they do because they feel they have to keep up with changing times; it’s professional peer pressure 101.
Another LinkedIn statistic is that 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media. That statistic doesn’t prove that better sellers are that way because of social media. 100% of all Presidents Club winners drink water on a daily basis. That doesn’t create a direct correlation to closed business either.
Again, their logic is all marketing positioning. Seth Godin said it best in his book, All Marketers are Liars. His book is about telling “the most believable lie” (we call those stories in marketing) and LinkedIn will get a big boost in engagement because of their statistical inferences. Right now I think that the best sales people use social media to enhance their profile for credibility and a get little ego boost for good measure.
My recommendation is that sales reps should focus on the specific activities that have a direct correlation to closed sales until they are hitting quota or have a strong enough pipeline to get there. Limit social selling to the basics and resist the temptation to boost a SSI just to appease the desire to fit in and get some validation.
Find the fastest path to the biggest cash and stop guessing.
I don’t do this very often but it is so relevant in this situation that I can’t help myself so prepare for the shameless plug from this marketing pro. FRONTLINE Selling has studied 1.8 million outreach efforts and created a technology and methodology called Staccato that can predict, not guess, through specific activities, pipeline growth and accelerated sales. Whether you use Staccato or another methodology, make sure you can draw a direct line between activity and results.