How Microsoft Motivates, Educates, and Empowers Its Sales Team to Win With Social Selling

Learn how Microsoft became an industry leader in social selling by focusing its measurement, accountability, and enablement on the Social Selling Index.

November 5, 2015


When we were kids, Report Card Day was an occasion for celebration or dread, depending on how the school year was going. We knew our parents would want to see the report card as soon as we got home. Much as we might want them to forget, or not take an interest, our GPA was too important for them to ignore. Those grades measured what we were learning, how we were adapting to school, and in some ways our chances for future success.

Like a GPA in school, LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI) shows how your team is progressing as social sellers, and whether or not they are adopting the right skills to succeed.

We based the SSI on a survey of thousands of sales professionals, comparing the social habits of the most effective and the least to see what made the frontrunners successful. As a result, SSI is highly predictive. Our research shows those with an SSI over 70 see two times the new clients approached, meetings secured, and opportunities gained than those who lag behind.

For her Sales Connect 2015 presentation, LinkedIn’s Senior Insights Manager Lauren Mullenholz invited Microsoft’s Philip Amato and Brian Galicia to discuss the results of their SSI initiative. Microsoft is leading the tech industry in social selling adoption, largely because they made SSI a key component of their initiative. Read on to learn how they did it.

It Starts with Executive Buy-In

“If I’m going to ask my sellers to do it, I have to lead by example,” Amato said. Microsoft’s social selling initiative began with executive adoption, to generate the enthusiasm and support the sales team needed to get on board. They found that a high level of executive buy-in correlated directly with better results for the team on the ground. 

The Three Components of a Successful SSI Transformation

Microsoft’s program is built on three central components: measurement, accountability, and enablement. The three are interrelated. “If we didn’t have the measurement, we couldn’t hold them accountable. If we’re holding them accountable, we have to provide the tools and coaching they need to be more effective,” Amato said.

Microsoft made SSI the key metric for measurement because they believe it is the strongest indicator of the behavioral change that drives social selling success. They can track each team member’s SSI through Sales Navigator, comparing their performance against others in the industry and against their fellow team members.

Integrating Sales Navigator with SSI into their CRM program enabled Microsoft to track team members’ activity and hold them accountable for improving. The CRM calendar shows enablement activity alongside the team member’s social selling activity and changes in SSI. With all the data in one place, it’s easy for team leaders to see who is succeeding and why, or who needs extra help.

For enablement, Microsoft uses LinkedIn certified coaches to train salespeople one-on-one in LinkedIn and social selling best practices. Webinars and team-wide promotions help ensure each team member has a clear idea of how to get the most from their time spent on social.

Microsoft’s Results

As the tech industry evolves, as many as 60% of decision makers are on the business side rather than IT. SSI leaders have increased connectivity and account penetration, which means they are more likely to be connected with the entire buying committee.

Microsoft’s SSI leaders get 34% more profile views and connect with 74% more decision makers than others. This increase in connectivity leads to more opportunities, faster sales cycles, and bigger deals overall. Amato found that for every ten point increase in SSI, his team sees an average of 4.3 more opportunities.

The Takeaways

Microsoft’s SSI transformation is ongoing, but has already enabled their sales team to achieve amazing results. To recap, Microsoft used the following best practices to motivate, educate, and empower the sales team:

  • They secured executive buy-in to encourage adoption
  • They used SSI as a predictive, quantifiable metric
  • They held the team accountable by tracking progress in an integrated CRM system
  • They enabled success with coaching sessions, webinars, and other training

For the full story of how an SSI-centered program gets results, watch Mullenholz’s entire Sales Connect 2015 presentation below:

To help your team move to the head of the social selling class, download How to Cross the Chasm and Capitalize on the Social Selling Trend.