The Success Tracking Difference (1) : Single Score

In this mini-series, “The Success Tracking Difference“, we are focusing on the differences between the new discipline of Success Tracking and traditional analytics / business dashboards.

The single score is probably the most far reaching difference.

Compare the following images, one of a typical “business dashboard” the other of a single score success tracking program.

A business dashboard tends to feature several data visualisations without enabling the viewer to see a summary of everything in one go. It is designed with “monitoring” in mind – the idea that you are always watching the monitoring dashboard in case something goes wrong.

bad dashboard
A typical business dashboard layout with several graphics competing for attention

A success tracking program, such as the LinkedIn Social Selling Index, on the other hand, is designed for regular check-in and focuses attention on a single number.

Screenshot 2017-07-17 10.12.39

 

There are many benefits of tracking’s single score approach:

  • Simple to understand – everyone can appreciate a single number
  • Fast personal comparison – you can quickly see if things have changed (gone up or down)
  • Easy to communicate – you can send a single score via SMS text
  • Embeds priorities – you can add another layer of intelligence to the tracking by weighting different metrics and so prioritising some over others
  • Enables peer comparison – you can benchmark and rank yourself against others

The main disadvantage of the single score is that it takes time to design a good one. Working out the relative importance of different metrics is never straightforward. it is the job of the score designer to embed their own expert biases in the weighting. That means each “score algorithm” should be adjusted for the local context and business priorities.

This also means that just taking an “off the shelf” index such as that provided natively by companies like LinkedIn with SSI above, is not a good strategy.  Using someone else’s weighting is unlikely to deliver as great returns against your business goals as if you created your own single score weighted to your business preferences.

Selling B2B? Why you need a social selling success tracking program.

Social Selling, the use of social media like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn by sales professionals, is a great buzz phrase. But does it really work?

IBM seems to think so – their social selling pilot in 2012 saw a 400% increase in sales on top of massive increases in reach. LinkedIn agree, their research in 2016 found that sales people who share content are 45% more likely to exceed quota.

Many other professional services firms have since followed suit – often by buying LinkedIn Sales Navigator licences for staff (e.g. Ernst & Young).

Certainly “social selling” is now  dominated  by LinkedIn with its 200 million strong professional user base, and now backed by Microsoft, it is set to maintain its dominance.

However social selling can and will happen on other tools and sites:

  • Quora questions and answers can deliver very targeted leads
  • Twitter provides a fast moving environment for breaking news
  • TED talks can strengthen existing thought leadership positions
  • Presentation decks on Slideshare can keep presenting for you long after the original talk
  • Blog posts can provide the space to make an argument effectively.
  • Sector focused Facebook groups can be lively and engaging
  • Whatsapp groups can trigger rapid responses among business people.

New sites can pop up too, like Gartner’s new cloudadvice.com platform that offers a forum for experts while tools like Blab.im can pop up and go away in just a few months.

For some businesses, they may also run their own online social platforms – whether multi-stakeholder such as the business2community.com blogging community or a corporate focused one such as CapGemini’s Expert Connect.

Then of course there are geographically localised sites that may offer more profitable prospecting in specific countries, such as Xing in Germany, Viadeo in France or Weibo in China.

The lesson is that when it comes to B2B social selling there is unlikely to ever be a single site that covers all your needs for all your sales focused staff.

Analyse that!

This then presents a problem when it comes to analysing what works. Whether from a management point of view, asking “is our licence money well spent?”, or from an indvidual point of view, “where should I invest my time?” – having so many different options brings a struggle to create a cohesive strategy.

One way to decide, is to use a data driven approach: look at the results of activity and link them back to success. Do more of what seems to work and less of what doesn’t.

Many platforms offer their own analytics which do go some way to providing the necessary feedback loop. They offer  scores based on your activity – whether specific metrics, e.g. number of tweet impressions or a more sophisticated, composite index such as Klout or LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index. These are what are termed native analytics tools as provided by the platform.

However, most native analytics tools are biased towards usage rather than value.

Take LinkedIn’s SSI for example. One LinkedIn trainer, Andy Foote, who looked in detail at how the score algorithm is calculated said:

“Frankly, it looks like a checklist for how to become an aggressive LinkedIn pest.”

It’s true. Every analytics package always has designer bias built in. In LinkedIn’s case it makes complete sense that the metrics should prioritise getting people to use LinkedIn over other priorities. Even something as simple as the order in which analytics are shown reflects the preference of the designer, yet the viewer will instinctively treat the first metric as more important – it’s simply the way we’re wired.

How can I bias the analytics towards business value for us, not the platform?

One way to do this is to create your own social selling score and composite metrics instead. You can then order and weight metrics according to your contextual priorities, not those of the underlying communications platform.

Creating a meaningful social score for your staff need not be difficult or expensive: using a spreadsheet you can import raw usage data from any of your sales navigator staff from Linkedin, you can download data from twitter analytics too. Combine it all together and you can create a social selling composite report for each sales rep that reflects your priorities as a business (and your experience of what works in your sector). Then email out the score to each rep and you can get them engaged and motivated to focus on the right social selling behaviours.

Of course if that sounds like too much work to do each week, then you can of course use Rise to take away much of the heavy lifting. Rise will pull in the data automatically where possible, process it and calculate a score. Rise will then share the results to each sales rep via email or in a personal online dashboard.

If you’d like to try Rise out (for free) then we recommend a simple RiseFuse implementation. This app uses Klout scores as a proxy for more detailed metrics. It means you can be up and running in half an hour. Or if you’d like to take your time then contact us and we’d be happy to walk you through what’s possible.

Investing in Sales Navigator licences? Put some budget into success tracking too.

I think the key takeaway for me is that if you are spending in the thousands to give your staff sales navigator licences then you should spend in the hundreds to make sure that investment is giving you value (management reporting) and personal feedback so that your staff  can optimise their behaviour to give them value (personal reporting).

Why Rise uses a network model

One question I am occasionally asked is why we chose a public cloud “network model” for Rise instead of a private cloud, “single instance per customer” model for our technical architecture.

It’s certainly something worth thinking about as it affects all Rise customers whether players or managers.

First of all lets compare the two approaches:

  • In the public cloud model – everyone has just one user account – my profile on Rise is the same profile I use for all the different boards I play in – whether those are internal social selling boards or external influencer boards. The scoring system and data for each board is different but all boards share my social profile connections.
  • In the private cloud model – everyone has multiple user accounts – one for each board they play in. The advantage of this is that no data from one board is shared with another – from a managers point of view as it means their view of the player is always the authoritative one.

Most enterprise software companies choose the latter model, the private cloud, that’s because the paying customer is the manager and they like the maximum amount of control over their data, including player records.

Most social networks choose the former model, the public cloud, really because none of the users pay and they monetise via allowing others to advertise to their customers.

However we are seeing a new breed of services emerge which is something of a hybrid.

Chief among these is LinkedIn Sales Navigator.  LinkedIn is a public cloud, social network model (each person has just one LinkedIn account) – yet LinkedIn also sell a CRM tool (for managing customer records) called Sales Navigator. This sits on top of the wider social network. Data about clients (meetings, notes etc) is kept private but the client records themselves are owned by the client themselves and shared with everyone who uses LinkedIn.

Rise operates in much the same manner as LinkedIn Sales Navigator – each player record is owned by the player themselves but board data is owned by the manager.

What does this mean for Rise players?

We see individuals requiring feedback on their activities from multiple sources, both internal and external. This means they need a single account per player to manage all the programs they participate in – hence the social network architecture.

For example a sales rep may want to get internal comparative feedback on sales progress and get external comparative feedback on his social media usage for example, from a company like Hootsuite.

What does this mean for Rise managers?

The key is to come to a clear understanding from the get go of what data you have control over and what you don’t. This also affects functionality that you build on top of  a Rise board. After all the raw index is often just the start of a new business, HR system or marketing program.

Since we are not private cloud, single instance per client – you don’t have the ability to extend the code for just for that instance – most enterprise software allows this, and is absolutely normal for 99% of CRM systems (basically all CRM’s except LinkedIn). Instead you only are able to configure the existing platform which is why there are so many powerful configuration options on Rise, and we keep adding more.

All new features built into the platform are instantly available to all customers – for example last week we produced a feature for multi-tag releases (the ability to release multiple relative rankings from a single leaderboard). This was needed by a large customer but is now a feature we can deploy to anyone. The cost of providing that feature is born solely by us.

Since Rise is a public cloud, social network we proivide an open API and themeable Player User Interface. This allows you to build your app or leaderboard on top of our platform but tailor it exactly as you want it.

Different customers interface with the platform at different levels. While one customer might use the API only, another may choose to theme the player interface with their own skin, while another may create their own scorecard but use the existing player interface as it stands. It all depends on the scale of ambition and the development capacity of the customer.

powered-by-rise-full

In all cases though, they are still using the network model and they are still showing that their results are powered by Rise using the powered by Rise logo. That way everyone can trust the results and that private data is being shared in a controlled and appropriate manner.

Our API only customers value the platform for four reasons:

  • provision of sophisticated leaderboards i.e. scoring system flexibility and historic recording
  • provision of employee / company data broking environment – i.e. employees can share personal data (e.g. linkedin activity) with their managers via a trusted third party broker
  • provision of external data (i.e. maintenance of social data apis, handling data procurement etc)
  • the relatively low cost of the Rise service compared to other suppliers

Major technology firms across the world build on Rise because they get an attractive value proposition from the maintained and improving Rise stack – maintaining social data connections for example is something we deal with daily on your behalf.

If I build on Rise who owns what?

In terms of intellectual property (IP) rights, the app / platform relationship also makes this clear.

Anyone building an app or template on our platform owns all the IP for their board (whether that’s just a scorecard design, a template, a custom theme or a standalone app). Board data ownership is shared between players and managers. Rise owns all the platform IP. A combination of legal policies such as the Terms of Service, privacy policy and Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) manages the intricacies of data ownership between us all.

One final cautionary note is that like most social network platforms we can’t give you exclusive rights to particular functionality, a particular sector, theme or app and we may also choose to close your app/board if we feel it breaks the spirit of our service or the specifics of our terms of service. This lack of exclusivity cuts two ways – if you want to create a better version of one of our default templates or boards we’ve created ourselves and promote that, then that’s great too.

How do I become the industry standard leaderboard?

Becoming an industry standard is more than simply publishing an index on Rise – you also have to engage players and the wider audience. I’ll cover more on techniques for how you might do that in the next post.

3 answers to Gamification and Big Data questions

Gamification and Big Data often go hand in hand. It’s worth asking a few key questions as to why and how:

1. Why is gamification a critical component of any data strategy?

Because gamification provides the context and reason for data sharing between player (e.g. consumer) and manager (e.g. company). i.e. loyalty programs are primitive examples of gamification – you exchange your data (shopping at the supermarket) in return for rewards (redeemable points).

2. “Manage Data like a stream not an ocean.” What does that mean in a Rise context?
With big data you cannot and should not be storing everything in the hope that it will one day be valuable (the data ocean / data lake approach) – this is a waste of resources. Data isn’t that valuable, it is tricky and expensive to store well and you’ll probably never use it. Instead you should be planning ahead, processing the stream as it happens and act at the time, using it to kick start other processes.
For example, Rise processes 90 days of social data into online scores for sales reps wanting to become better at social selling. Each week we create a ‘release’ which summarises the previous week. In so doing we keep a permanent history of their aggregate scores but delete the raw data.
3. Are data brokers like Rise going to be increasingly needed?
Yes, as data privacy becomes an increasingly complex area between employees, the company you work for and the apps you use – there is a key role for data brokers like Rise who protect and support the data interests of all parties. For example in social selling programs, we allow employees to share Linkedin data with their employer on number of new connections per month but do not allow the employer to see who those connections are.

Rise launches Social Selling Club

iconWe think Social Selling, the art of prospecting and engaging with customers via social media, is absolutely wonderful and we’d love to see more sales professionals use it. The social selling club is an opt in club to track and measure your social selling performance for free.

The Internet, search engines (i.e. Google!) and online digital data (especially social media data) make today’s buyers (both consumers and businesses) hold all the aces in the procurement game. There is general consensus that a B2B buyer has completed 2/3rds of his buying process before interacting with a single vendor. This is why every business needs to embrace social media marketing and social selling. These tools allow you to position yourself so that you are the natural port of call when a buyer decides to talk to a vendor.

Social selling is no different from normal selling, except the conversations and interactions happen on social media – on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogs, etc. The objective of social selling is to post content and contribute to conversations on social media so that your prospective customers get valuable information and advice to help them in their buying decision making. A minimum requirement for success in social selling is to achieve reach (how many people are reading your content/posts), activity (how much content/posts are you contributing on a regular basis) and engagement (are people taking notice of your content by acknowledging your contributions positively and interacting with you in conversations).

You start social selling by tweeting, responding to other people’s tweets, following people, getting followers, making posts on LinkedIn, making connections, blogging. How do you keep track of how well you are doing this week after week, and also relative to other social sellers?

This is where Social Selling Club comes in. We will help you keep track of all these activities and report back to you on a weekly basis, giving you a single score that will be easy for you understand how you are doing from week to week. The score will also show how well you are doing relative to everyone else in the Club. Look at the detailed data every week and you’ll be able to understand what you are doing well and where you need to do better.

And the best thing is that, this won’t cost you a penny since this is a free service from Rise. So, what are you waiting for? Join now and start your journey of social selling success.

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