Tracking her way to world number 1

michelleThis is a guest post by Michelle Sandford from MicroSoft telling the story of how she tracks her rank and score on her way to online success.

I’ve always loved Linkedin. As someone working in tech, the idea of a CV – a static piece of paper that is out of date the minute it’s printed, is somewhat distasteful to me. I imagine mine buried in a stack of 200 other such documents, all black and white, Times New Roman, similar template, similar details. Indistinct.

But Linkedin was never like that, even from the start you could put a photo on it – which added some colour and personalised it. But now – it is so much more than a live résumé.

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It’s the Articles that I love most. It used to be that you had to be someone famous to write Articles on Linkedin. You had to be “An Influencer” already. But now – anyone can do it, and I believe it is the articles more than anything else that have been building my Tribe.

In the beginning, I was a bit timid – afraid that people would read what I wrote and judge it unworthy. Now I realise that was foolish, because of course, when you start writing Articles no-one is reading them. But once you get into a habit, and are writing them once a month, or even better, once a week – you will start to build a following.

The other thing that I do, is I don’t try to come across as some mighty intellectual. I do not fill my articles with language designed to make myself sound smarter than those around me. I talk as I do in real life. I think many people find my manner child-like and somewhat endearing. But I know the simplicity of my language is what adds value to my blogs. Anyone can read what I write and understand it, it makes sense to them in the context of their lives. I’m not trying to be a “Thought Leader” by demonstrating my superiority to anyone. I am trying to make sense of all the crazy data and help the people around me through it.

Recently the guy who runs the Microsoft Social Selling Program told me that I was the number 1 Microsoft Social Seller in Australia and Number 3 in the world. He said with a tiny bit more engagement – commenting on other people’s posts, a few more connections – and I could become the Number 1 in the World! Which is interesting because I do not work in Sales, or even in Marketing. But I have the widest reach! I had a look at my own personal hero – Mark Russinovich – and he has 3,777,043 Followers. I have 2,510 Followers. How is it possible that I have a higher Influencer Score? The answer I think is that he doesn’t write Articles on Linkedin!

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Now there are a lot of people who tell me that “Social media just isn’t my thing”, which I think is insane in this day and age. Social Media is free! I can engage with people across the world. I can build influence and connection while I sleep! There is a permanent record of my personal brand across the interwebs.

When I go to events or meet new customers – it is rare that someone hasn’t heard of me. Many of them will say “Wait, what is your surname? Hey, I Follow you on Linkedin!”. I do not need to establish credibility anymore, it’s been established in advance and I can go straight in to talking about more interesting stuff. It is a tremendous time saver. It’s a relationship accelerator. It’s a connector.

I am a little bit anxious in big crowds. I am afraid of using the telephone. I get imposter syndrome when introducing myself to executives. But I have built a Tribe on social media and they have my back. They make me strong. They make me credible. The world knows who I am without me having to “elevator-pitch” myself to everyone I meet. And it’s better. Way better. Why don’t you give it a try too?

Michelle Sandford is a Tedx Speaker, Tech Girl Superhero, Microsoftie and one of MCV’s 30 Most Influential Women in Games. She is the Vice Chair of the Australian Computer Society in Western Australia and she is currently the #2 Social Seller on Linkedin for Microsoft in the World! Follow her on Linkedin and on Twitter @msandfor and if you like video, check out her YouTube channel.

If you’d like to see your own social influence score head over to the Online Influencer Rise Board and sign up to join, each week you’ll receive an email with your score and rank as you track your own way to online success.

Rise can also be used to track and rank LinkedIn activity and SSI scores if your team have sales navigator licences, email us for more details.

 

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).