You cannot manage what you cannot measure.
In sales and marketing, keeping an eye on KPIs, attribution, and performance are a crucial part of success.
With social sales enablement, KPIs often take the backseat. Yet, thoughtfully selected metrics will be your key success factor; measuring day-to-day activities and adoption will help focus on activities that work for your company and for your reps.
Having data and regular reporting is the key for keeping this activity in view of managers and sales leaders - meaning getting more stakeholders on board. It will give your teams more visibility company-wide, encourage competition and drive motivation.
Who doesn’t want to be the top performer of the quarter?
My team and I spent quite some time testing metrics, collecting data, and figuring out what metrics help us manage sales performance and focus on things that really work for the business. And we made some discoveries and developed our approach on the way:
Sales metrics must be scalable
One downside of many approaches - they rely too much on self-reported data. Sales reps have to do so much data entry, so adding one more task should be avoided. This is a sanity check for any metric you might want to include: do you need sales reps to share it with you, or can you simply access it via an analytics tool of your choice? Inbound messages, decision-makers that you connect with or engage, views on posts - if it won't be possible to get all of these, however great they would be, remove them from your plan!
Be careful not to violate privacy
Keep in mind that people mainly use LinkedIn for job hunting, so you want to be extra careful with what data you measure and request. And transparent about what you will collect and what you will never collect. For example, in your reporting dashboard on LinkedIn Sales Navigator - you can see messages sent, but those are only messages sent via Sales Navigator and not LinkedIn (confusing, right?). Making sure all sales teams know what is visible to the company and what is not is part of my enablement program at all times.
Careful with pure numbers: they can be gamed
Have you ever used scripts that go through a list of LinkedIn profiles and automatically send them connection requests? Then you'll understand that there is a huge difference between 100 connections made by a bot, vs 10 connections made from meaningful conversations, prospect qualification, and research. Yet some of these bot actions can get KPIs to the moon (also will get LinkedIn profiles suspended or banned).
So here's how to develop your own social selling KPIs
If I was to summarize my approach to social selling measurement in one line, it would be: measure adoption and show value with stories.
What metrics to collect
Social media is a powerful sales tool. Metrics that measure meaningful activities on social media will show how consistent the teams are with social selling and also what knowledge sticks.
- Messages (you can only see messages sent via Sales Navigator). This shows how much 1:1 engagement is happening with existing connections.
- Saved leads and accounts. Saving leads is one of the benefits of Sales Navigator and one of.
- Connection growth.
- SSI and its change: increase/decrease in SSI.
- Smartlinks created and Smartlink views. If you are on a Teams or Enterprise Sales Navigator license - this is one of the great features to use, when sharing content with prospects.
- InMails. This is very optional! Gone are the days when InMails got attention from prospects. I would only include InMails if there is a strategy behind InMails and there is a campaign, supported by marketing.
- Searches/profiles viewed ratio. This is more of a reference metric that shows research activity.
Tip from a data nerd: if you are exporting data from Sales Navigator, make sure to always store data files you export if you think you might want to look at the whole year. With change of licenses, you won’t have consistent access to historical data.
Of course, there is much more to KPI reporting than just pure numbers and data that you collect.
Always report a trend
When you show a stand-alone number to a sales manager, you can be sure their next question will be - is it good?
Yes, it is possible to set benchmarks and see if your sales reps are above or below it, but trends will show you so much more. Quarter-to-quarter or month-to-month trends will show you if post-training knowledge sticks, if your knowledge enforcement activities work as they are supposed to, and if there is any seasonality inactivity.
Tell the story about how social selling is adopted! Compare teams and have leaderboards for your key KPIs.
Wait, where is revenue?
Social media is only one channel. For most companies, it will be next to impossible to measure direct attribution from social selling to revenue. So, my approach is: measure adoption and show value with stories.
Always tell stories of success, they will create a blueprint of what works and what doesn’t work, get your teams to be creative, and try new things.
These stories can be used in training, onboarding, and internal communications. And if you ask me, stories will be more important for your sales teams than numbers: so if you need to choose one method of measurement, pick success stories!
Let’s talk about SSI
I managed to only briefly mention SSI here, and it is one of the most popular metrics for social selling! Because it is just one number (with four sub scores), it is very difficult to connect it to business outcomes. And of course - can be easily gamed. You will sometimes see sales reps who have a very high SSI and over 5K connections in their network yet are on the verge of losing their jobs due to very low performance.
SSI is a good, easy metric to use, especially when you look at some sub scores - I focus on consistency or growth of SSI scores to get the most value out of it.
How to start with social selling
If you are convinced, then...
- Find your first success stories. A call for submissions will not only give you stories to share, but will be a soft launch for the social selling program.
- Get access to the Sales Navigator reporting dashboard and collect numbers. Set a baseline on where you started and plan a simple visualization of key metrics. Even if you picked 2-3 metrics that you will be tracking, collect as much data as possible to set a baseline for the program. In a year you will be very happy that you have starting point numbers and can easily measure the change.
- Set targets for the program itself. It can be the percentage of sales reps engaging in social selling activities, a number of digital champions or NPS score for social selling trainings.