20 January 2023 2076 words, 9 min. read

Expert opinion: the 4 main shortcomings of the Social Selling Index

By Pierre-Nicolas Schwab PhD in marketing, director of IntoTheMinds
The Social Selling Index is a score developed by the platform to improve the performance of its users. It aims to increase their awareness, establish more professional relationships, or embellish their branding. However, it has often been questioned by the […]

The Social Selling Index is a score developed by the platform to improve the performance of its users. It aims to increase their awareness, establish more professional relationships, or embellish their branding. However, it has often been questioned by the most attentive network members. We contacted and talked to 4 of them to better understand the source of the problem. They detected 4 major problems with this Index: its nature, its calculation, its targeting, and its relation to real life. Here are the details of our interviews: the opinions of 4 LinkedIn experts summarized for you.

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What is Social Selling Index?

On LinkedIn, the Social Selling Index (SSI) is a tool for users to track and improve their sales success. This Index is divided into four parts, which assess a user’s ability to:

  • build relationships
  • build their professional brand
  • find the right people, i.e., network well
  • and to interact and engage with insights

The Social Selling Index then judges users based on these criteria to get a score out of 100. in each of these categories. The Index is designed to help vendors optimize their presence on LinkedIn. Ultimately, the platform wants to be seen as a sales tool in its own right. In addition, the Index is free and accessible to everyone on LinkedIn’s B2B platform.


4 problems with the Social Selling Index

To better understand the ins and outs of the Social Selling Index, we interviewed 4 experts in the field. Their vast knowledge sheds light on the concerns of this score. From our exchanges come out 4 major drawbacks in the Social Selling Index:

  • its nature
  • the secrets of its calculation
  • its target audience
  • and its disconnection from real life

problème 1 SSI LinkedIn

Problem n°1: it is a usage indicator, not a performance indicator

According to the experts, the Social Selling Index is not used to improve user performance. It would be more about assessing a user’s activity rather than judging their business efforts.

This is not a performance index but a LinkedIn usage index. – Bruno Fridlansky

Thus, this Index does not confirm or deny the effectiveness of the marketing strategies of registrants. This is when LinkedIn considers the user’s relationship to the platform’s various features. In this way, the Social Selling Index increases when:

  • the user has a large network
  • the member is as active as possible on the platform, even if the reach of their content is not always there

I sometimes feel that LinkedIn prioritizes having an extensive network over qualifying it. – Gregory Mancel

Gregory Mancel, LinkedIn & Social Selling Expert

Gregory Mancel Social Selling Index

A renowned LinkedIn trainer, Gregory Mancel has a rich experience in social selling. His motto is clear: ” take an interest and be interesting before being interested. ” He regularly posts via the hashtag #eclairemoigreg, which is full of instructive advice on daily improvement on LinkedIn.

In the end, we understand that what matters is to keep the features of LinkedIn manageable. Only a qualitative network will allow the professional network members to prospect better, sell more, and above all, embellish their address book! No, better than that: we need to step back and think about the real impact of these tools.

The magic is in the package: high-level personal branding, a consistent network, and relevant content. – Tom Baeten

problème 2 SSI LinkedIn

Problem n°2: the opacity of the calculation of the Social Selling Index

Second, experts detect another concern with Social Selling Index: its calculation. It needs to be clarified. Yet the Index previously proposed more information about the method used. This is no longer the case. The 4 scoring criteria are known to all, but unlocking the secrets of the Social Selling Index remains very complicated. Thus, you have to assess what could work or not to boost your score.

I haven’t been to this SSI for years. Linkedin has greatly reduced the information it presents, there used to be a lot more, and today we need to know what is being measured. – Bruno Fridlansky

However, we know what helps increase the SSI score: owning a Sales Navigator license. Indeed, let’s keep sight of the fact that LinkedIn is a business company like any other. It would like to sell services. So, users who want to improve their SSI propel sales of the Sales Navigator offers. Elisabet Cañas explains it well, demonstrating that the exposure of the SSI is not random: Rather than the LinkedIn network, the Index is prominently displayed on the LinkedIn sales solutions page.

From a critical perspective, what is the Social Selling Index? It’s a “carrot” to get us to sign up for the Sales Navigator program. Just think about the fact that this Index is not actually on the network but on the “Sales Solutions” page of LinkedIn. – Elisabet Cañas

Elisabet Cañas Cortés, LinkedIn trainer and coach

Elisabet Cañas Social Selling Index

Based in Catalonia, Elisabet Cañas Cortés is a specialist in personal branding and social selling. She has extensive professional experience and helps her customers get the most out of LinkedIn. She is also an academic speaker at the SPEGC and Ramon Llull University.

However, there is no need to insist on increasing your Social Selling Index at all costs. Indeed, you don’t need to have a very high score to have a deep impact on your network. In the same way, a high index does not mean that your publications will get more impressions on the platform. Many examples confirm this, as Tom Baeten tells us:

I know some influencers who have a lot of impact while having an average Social Selling Index. – Tom Baeten

problème 2 SSI LinkedIn

Problem n°3: A measure of little use to seasoned salespeople

The Social Selling Index serves a network performance purpose. In other words, it must ensure that a high score correlates with strong relational and business performance. This is not the case. Renowned LinkedIn trainers are convinced that the Index’s usefulness is moderate for any experienced salesperson. Also, this score shows limitations once scores of 50-60/100 are reached.

Once you reach a certain level, you also reach the limits of the SSI. There needs to be more other data that can help us improve. – Tom Baeten

Thus, the Social Selling Index is aimed not at the general LinkedIn user base but at a novice audience. It does this by providing instant usage performance data. However, the accessibility and minimalism of this Index make it incidental for the:

  • more experienced salespeople
  • frequent and knowledgeable LinkedIn members

As a result, the target audience for the Social Selling Index leans more toward a persona of novice users. The latter exploit the score to motivate themselves and increase their awareness on the platform.

The SSI is a good indicator for someone who is just starting on LinkedIn to know roughly what metrics measure our performance on LinkedIn. – Gregory Mancel

But then, what to do with this indicator? Should it disappear? Change its nature? Should it remain as it is? Opinions are divided on this point. Moreover, in the past, some rumors have already circulated on LinkedIn, evoking the withdrawal of the Social Selling Index. According to some experts, including Bruno Fridlansky, the disappearance of the Index would be a source of positive change for members of the professional network:

It would not be a bad thing if it were to disappear. It would avoid focusing on bad indicators. – Bruno Fridlansky

Bruno Fridlansky, conseiller et accompagnateur sur LinkedIn

Bruno Fridlansky Social Selling Index

Bruno Fridlansky is an author, trainer, and speaker with a wide range of expertise. We find employer branding, influence, or leader & employee advocacy among these. He has been present on LinkedIn for 15 years; he advises numerous customers through his firm Consonaute. His leitmotiv is crystal clear: “the more digital there is, the more human is needed.”

problème 4 SSI LinkedIn

Problem n°4: LinkedIn’s SSI is too far removed from real life

So, Social Selling Index has a lot of technical and decision-making concerns. But there’s something even worse: this Index has a real problem at the core. This social selling metric does not reflect the impact of LinkedIn use on real-world sales performance. Indeed, the professionals interviewed tell us about its distance from the field, from real life. Gregory Mancel sums it up well:

The SSI is calculated in everything we do on LinkedIn, but we don’t have real-life repercussions. The translation of the SSI: it is the ability to sell “potentially” through LinkedIn. – Gregory Mancel

To go further, this is an ‘indicator’ based on the daily activity of a LinkedIn member. Therefore, a high score implies that the holder will carry out many sales in the future. This is problematic because the Social Selling Index focuses very little on user sales! Therefore, some consider the score a marketing automation metric to predict their sales at t+1. It would be wrong to see it that way. As Tom Baeten explains, these technological tools help people but do not replace them:

I understand that automation simplifies life, but when you contact someone, at the end of the day, it’s Men talking to Men. – Tom Baeten

Tom Baeten, trainer and LinkedIn expert

Tom Baeten Social Selling Index

Tom Baeten proposes many services to improve one’s use of LinkedIn: content marketing, lead generation, executive coaching, and so on. He reconciles technology and people to support his customers sustainably. This sales & marketing expert founded Winger Academy in 2017 to support entrepreneurs in their implementation on LinkedIn.

That’s why you must remain cautious with this Index on all occasions. To do so, there is nothing like a clear, detailed marketing strategy with measurable objectives. All in all, our interviews with the platform’s experts helped us understand something important. The SSI gives a boost but will never replace the marketer behind the LinkedIn account.

I recommend using this Index wisely and being clear about your strategy before consulting it. – Elisabet Cañas

Social Selling Index LinkedIn performance

How to improve performance measurement on LinkedIn?

We want to end this Social Selling Index update on a positive note. Admittedly, the Index has many flaws. Nevertheless, the principle of performance analysis is accepted by LinkedIn experts. Their suggestions often revolve around the following:

  • its usefulness in positioning oneself vis-à-vis the competition
  • an additional contribution in data from LinkedIn
  • the creation of new metrics to calculate the SSI.

First of all, keep what works well with this Index. In this case, that means digging into the comparison score with the following:

  • sector performance
  • and the different members of the network

So, the SSI is useless? That’s not true. Among other things, it allows you to compare your score with those of professionals in your sector. – Elisabet Cañas

Next, the platform’s efforts should focus on bringing data to users. With deeper analytics based on broad demographic data, Social Selling Index could be embraced by users. Indeed, the Index should be used as a performance-tracking tool rather than a usage tool. It could provide insights based on quantitative data to help users improve their presence on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn needs to give more data to help us do the right analytics. That would motivate people to buy LinkedIn’s solutions. – Tom Baeten

Finally, Gregory Mancel suggests something innovative. He would like to see a fifth category within this Index: a section based on messaging. Indeed, there are many possible criteria to analyze to judge a person’s ability to create relationships and carry out more sales. The goal would be to see how LinkedIn positively impacts:

  • real-world conversations
  • the signing of new contracts and quotes
  • phone calls made
  • the number of offers sent
  • and so on.

Moreover, Gregory Mancel even has an idea for a name for this category: “Leveraging your email”. Indeed, as he confided to us, “LinkedIn messaging is the last step before real life”.

We need to replace the Social Selling Index with more sophisticated tools. It would be nice to have a tool to see the impact on actual conversations, contracts signed, phone calls made, and so on. – Gregory Mancel

To conclude, a huge thank you to the 4 experts who agreed to participate in this research: Gregory Mancel, Bruno Fridlansky, Elisabet Cañas, and Tom Baeten.


Posted in Marketing.

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