Contractors’ Questions: Should contractors use LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI)?
Contractor’s Question: My company and I keep reading about LinkedIn’s SSI, is this something I should be taking notice of or is it just for sales people?
Expert’s Answer: The first thing to tackle here is your misperception -- contractors ARE sales people!
Or at least, anyone who is running their own business should have some sales activity in play, otherwise, how will they get any business?!
One of the mistakes independent professionals make is focusing solely on ‘doing what they do’ rather than spending at least some time ‘selling what they do.’ The cold reality is that contract professionals ought to spend at least a fifth/20% of their time wearing a sales and marketing hat, to have a realistic expectation of securing the sort of work they want.
And that brings me to LinkedIn’s SSI, which is short for Social Selling Index.
For its part, LinkedIn describes the SSI score as a way of measuring your social selling effectiveness across four key pillars:
- Building your personal brand
- Finding the right people
- Engaging with insights
- Building relationships
On their website, LinkedIn quotes Paul Sowada, market development manager at Binocular. He describes social selling as follows:
“Social selling is taking out the pitching component of sales. You’re creating conversations about your product and services which organically can produce sales conversations.”
So let’s look at the four pillars of social selling individually:
Most companies put some effort into cultivating their brand -- they think about how they want their market and customers to perceive them, and formulate a strategy to achieve this. Their corporate identity is not an accident, it is deliberate.
Independent professionals ought to do the same. Your chances of winning work hinge upon not just your ability to deliver your services, but how key people in your market perceive you, not least, your potential and existing clients.
Finding the right people
Any business development strategy starts with deciding who you are going to target.
Well, I’m guessing most contractors know who their potential clients are (!), so let’s jump straight to how LinkedIn allows you to reach out to those targets.
Firstly, LinkedIn’s business premium and sales navigator licences allow you to run powerful searches based on any criteria you can think. Once you’ve searched for and found (in a list of search results), your target audience, you can simply connect with them and subsequently communicate with them about you and your services. Obviously there’s more to it than that, but this is the basic concept of sales activity on LinkedIn.
Engaging with insights
The concept of social selling is about building deeper connections with people you want to sell to, and LinkedIn allows you to gain intel about potential clients that you can leverage when reaching out to them.
You can find intel by ‘following’ target organisations or people, and as a result of you following them, you get to see their activity in your LinkedIn feed. When you message people to build a relationship and sell to them, try to reference some piece of information which you have gleaned. Something you’ve picked up from your ‘follow.’ So that your approach to them feels informed, and warmer than a cold call.
Hopefully a section on ‘building relationships’ doesn’t need much explanation if you’ve been reading my articles for ContractorUK!
For the avoidance of doubt, building relationships is crucial to succeeding in any business, and no less important for contractors. The more positive relationships you have, the more likely it is that you will thrive. This is why having a networking strategy is a crucial piece of the jigsaw for all types of independent professionals and business leaders.
So to summarise, your LinkedIn SSI measures how good you are at all the afore mentioned activities. The higher your SSI, the more likely you are to succeed!
Finally, some stats…
LinkedIn claims the following:
- Social selling leaders create 45% more opportunities than peers with lower SSI.
- Social selling leaders are 51% more likely to reach targets.
- 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media.
So it’s fair to say that there’s a strong case to develop a social selling strategy, and that your SSI gives you a yardstick for how well you are performing.