This post is part of a series on insurance marketing and training sponsored by Astonish Results.
Since it focuses on business and networking opportunities as opposed to photos and gossip, LinkedIn is sometimes treated as the red-headed step child of social media, and given no attention. However, according to a poll executed in 2011 by Performics, a performance marketing company, 60% of professionals think LinkedIn is the most important social network because of its emphasis on business building. The site is in a class of its own; and while it may not be as ‘fun’ as other sites, as a commercial sales agent, LinkedIn is your most valuable online marketing and research tool. When it comes to snagging leads and prospects, if you’re not using LinkedIn, you’re missing out on rare opportunities to open direct lines of communication. Here is a simple three-tiered strategy to get you well on your way to mastering the power of LinkedIn.
Start by exploring who your friends know. There is often only one or two degrees of separation between a person you know and a prospective client that you want to know. There will be many instances where you realize a friend (called a ‘connection’ on LinkedIn) is also connected to a prospective client of yours. Ask your friend to put in a good word or to suggest the potential client become one of your connections. Introduce yourself to prospects through a message and name-drop the common friend you have. The prospect is more likely to be receptive to you if they see it as a friendly ‘hello’ and not a cold sales pitch.
Know your customer, know your sale. If you have an appointment set with a prospect or you’re planning to cold call, use LinkedIn to research. By browsing through a company’s profile, you can generally figure out who the key insurance decision maker is, what insurance the company will need, and general facts about the company, including the number of employees and locations. Take it a step further and check out the prospect’s personal profile to gather talking points. Stanley Martin said, “Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.” Know your people, find what makes them tick. Does your prospect love Nascar or gardening? Learn his or her interests and attend the meeting loaded with an arsenal of personal and friendly engagement.
Your LinkedIn profile is the same concept as a nametag at a cocktail party. Someone walks by, reads your name and line of work, and decides whether to keep walking or engage with you. Your profile should show off your experience and the niche markets you specialize in so those using LinkedIn to search for professionals in these fields can easily find you. Join groups related to commercial insurance or local business groups and start interacting. Observe your prospects and join the same groups they’re in. Become the commercial insurance expert by contributing useful information, answering questions, and providing informative links. And nothing should be as useful, informative, or helpful as the information they can find on your website. Always direct a lead to your website…not just to fill out forms and stand in line, waiting to be serviced; but to read up on the resources you’ve provided that might benefit your prospective customer.
Before you start engaging or soliciting online, it’s important to create a congruent and consistent personal brand that represents you. As a commercial agent focused on sales and metrics, the time investment involved in building a long-term personal brand may not be in your game plan. Find a digital marketing company that can not only create your personal brand, but can show you how to use it as a deadly force to capture even the hardest to reach prospects. You may also be unclear of which businesses you should target as prospects. A digital marketing company that specializes within the insurance industry can draw distinct bull’s-eyes on profitable leads so you don’t waste time on duds. If you have the right tools and know how to use them, LinkedIn will be a prospecting goldmine with endless possibilities.
About the Author: Adam DeGraide is the Founder and CEO of Astonish. As an Internet marketing veteran and sales guru, DeGraide has spent the past 15 years creating “The Greatest Digital Marketing System in the World.” His company, Astonish, offers a complete digital marketing system built specifically for the insurance industry that combines the best digital marketing tools such as: websites, CRM, SEO, SEM, social media, blogging, email marketing, mobile marketing, and text message marketing, with powerful sales training and agency consulting. Hundreds of agencies across the country are leveraging the Astonish system to increase their revenue. Learn more at www.Astonish.com.