Business development is a critical skill for lawyers, to win new clients while maintaining the relationships with existing clients in a highly competitive sector.
We are therefore extremely grateful that we have been given permission to republish David J. P. Fisher's article on 'How the SSI helps you fulfil your social selling goals?'. David is an international author, speaker and coach and a catalyst for many on how to create relationships that drive business and revenue through LinkedIn.
What is social selling index - SSI?
Let's talk about the Social Selling Index (SSI). Introduced by LinkedIn alongside Sales Navigator, it's an attempt to quantify someone's use of LinkedIn for social selling.
Whether that attempt is successful or not really depends on who you ask. Some appreciate that it creates some sort of guidance/framework for those who are just diving into social selling for the first time.
Others point out that its really geared to activities that are easy to track/quantify, which isn't necessarily the same as activities that actually lead to selling success (especially in a complex and nuanced relationship/consultative sale).
I'll admit that I lean to the latter, but over the past year I have started to see the value in giving sales professionals guideposts that will help them start using LinkedIn more effectively.
I knew I should put together an unpacking of the SSI that acknowledged the pluses and minuses of using it as a coaching and training tool, but it kept getting pushed down in my writing priorities.
Calling in another expert perspective
Luckily, my LinkedIn connection Antti Leivo wrote a series of LinkedIn posts that were simple, straightforward, and super-effective at laying out how sales leadership and individual sales professionals could judge their efforts with the SSI.
Even luckier, he agreed to let me share the highlights with you here.
As he writes, "Here's what I think - The SSI is a valid, if limited, tool to measure overall activity on LinkedIn over time. It measures multiple parameters and gives a high level view on whether someone is putting in the work or not.
An SSI of 80 will not prove that you are getting value out of LinkedIn (though at that level it's likely) but an SSI of 40 will almost guarantee that you are missing important things.
So for the rest of this piece, I'm going to highlight the key takeaways from Antti on using the SSI to guide your social selling activities.
Take it away, Antti!
1. Establish your professional brand
The branding score is very stable. The fastest and most sustainable way to build it is to boost your profile and get the branding component to 20 and beyond. This should take an hour at most.
Your profile is your landing page. Make it count, and you get a nice boost to your SSI as a bonus. There are tons of resources online about how to build your profile so I won't get into that here today.
I have never seen branding scores change for any other reason than profile editing/updating: Officially the tooltip says "Complete your profile with the customer in mind. Become a thought-leader by publishing meaningful posts." Yet whether I publish 15 posts a month or 0, the score does not change. Maybe my stuff just isn't meaningful enough.
21.9 out of 25 is the highest I've seen and confirmed from official data (corporate users only, 2020 onwards).
2. Find the right people
This behaves completely differently from the branding component.
"Find the right people" is based on using LinkedIn's search capabilities.
I would expect that this is easier to increase with Sales Navigator, because there are more functionalities to leverage. And using some of those could decrease its volatility as well.
The highest score I've ever seen is 20 out of 25. And unlike branding, this score varies quite a bit week by week, and will be heavily affected during downtime (holidays, etc.)
When people speculate that there is a cap in SSI scores for people without Sales Navigator (which I'm not convinced of), the finding component could be part of that. Maybe using standard search can only get you so far.
It's also an interesting metric because not everybody will need to constantly be running searches to be effective at #digitalselling, which brings us back to why a very high SSI score does not always mean that much. If you are focused on thought leadership for your own audience and do not try grow it proactively, you may have a lower score here.
However, if you use Sales Navigator you should always save searches around your customer base and also save targets as leads in order to follow them. This will keep your score up even if you don't constantly run actual searches.
Whether in sales or marketing, in very few cases can you actually justify "not ever needing to find anybody new". Because that's just complacency. Or laziness. Or both. Now, if you don't have Sales Navigator and you've already identified a huge chunk of targets and you follow them / have connected with them, then I could understand a permanently low finding score. But that's a very extreme case. If I see people in hunting roles pretending to use LinkedIn but with a score under 10, something is badly wrong.
3. Engage with insights
This is extremely ambiguous in its wording, and also in my experience the most difficult component to get to 20, let alone 25.
The tooltip is: "Discover and share conversation-worthy updates to create and grow relationships" - This would imply that reading news, sharing them and adding connections would be the key to increasing the score, but it isn't. As far as I know, your network has no influence on this. Posting seems to help, as does commenting. But even that only gets you so far.
I have a hypothesis that engaging with Sales Navigator alerts could help push this further, because not even daily posting/commenting will get you even close to 25. And it is possible that shares (which most content creators avoid because of low reach) help the score further and are counted separately from posts.
From a #salesnavigator usage perspective, this is a difficult metric, because you could be using sales nav search and listening capabilities to their fullest and blast InMails left and right, yet still have an Engagement score of 0 because you avoid the actual social aspects of LinkedIn. Frankly, I think not engaging with people here is a huge waste, so I try to push people to improve this score.
Like the "Finding" component, "Engagement" is also frequency-based so after a couple of weeks of low activity you will see your score drop heavily.
In addition, as with SSI in general, it does not really measure the QUALITY of engagement, and you can get your score up in the same way both by regurgitating company blog shares or writing your own analytical posts.
Engagement is fairly easy to get to 10+ as long as you are active, but ridiculously difficult to get to 20. By far the hardest score to improve in my opinion. 17.5 is the best I've ever seen.
Since even people like LinkedIn engagement superstar David J.P. Fisher (I had to leave this in, thanks for the love Antti) are stuck at around 17, I think this component is in need of serious recalibration. But feel free to teach us if you've ever gotten to 20+ on this.
As long as the 4 SSI components keep behaving in violently different ways, the value and meaning of the overall score is more difficult to understand.
4. Build relationships
The last component is easiest to understand, simplest to max.
"Strengthen your network by finding and establishing trust with decision makers."
This number grows as you grow your network, both in quantity and in quality, and somewhere around 2,000 connections you should hit the cap of 25. I have no idea about how LinkedIn measures quality exactly, but the interconnectivity of your connections as well as their seniority and industry do play a role.
This is also a component that has a proven and demonstrable impact from #salesnavigator (unless you hit the cap naturally, in which case Sales Nav does nothing). An Enterprise Edition of Sales Navigator with TeamLink Extend will add up to 10 bonus points to every single user until they hit 25.
On the one hand, the network component is the easiest 25 to hit and the most permanent, on the other hand if you start from scratch it will take time to build, as LinkedIn actively discourages you from adding too many connections or "people you don't know".
Please be mindful of the invitation limits (100/week) and avoid sending invitations that are likely to get rejected, because this will put a dent into your connection efforts and in the worst-case scenario, spamming connect requests or opening 100 tabs of user profiles will get you banned (because LinkedIn will think you're a bot.)
So patience, proactivity and a systematic approach are needed when growing the network score.
Unlike other components where I've never seen someone at 25, I can name hundreds of users with a 25 in "Network".
Overall, the best combined SSI for all the corporate LinkedIn users I've ever seen will only reach 82-83. And anything beyond that is definitely not worth the extra effort. Aim for a long-term average between 65-80 and you should start focusing on other things. That's as far as the SSI will get you, unless you want to have a high number for its own sake or to one-up a colleague.
So what should you do about your SSI?
David here again.
As I said, Antti's analysis is pretty complete and relatively nuanced. I appreciated that he was looking at it from an organization view. So unlike the small business owners like myself, he was able to approach it from a broader perspective.
After reading through this, my takeaways:
- Sit down and decide what your goals are on LinkedIn and what activities will drive you towards those goals.
- Connect those activities with the relevant pieces of the SSI score. And be OK with the fact that some of the activities might have very little impact on the SSI. That doesn't mean they aren't important activities.
- Do the work.
- Check in with your SSI every once in a while (between once a week and once a month), and use it to help you calibrate.
- Don't let a number get in the way of doing good selling!
Thank you again to Antti for letting me share your ideas with everyone.
Author: David J. P. Fisher and Antti Leivo
If you are looking for more ideas on how to leverage LinkedIn to create connections and relationships with prospects, clients, and partners, check out the #1 best-selling Networking in the 21st Century on LinkedIn.
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