Boost your social selling on LinkedIn and grow your business
Social selling on LinkedIn – talking with your current and prospective clients, plus uncovering new leads – is fast becoming THE way to gain new commercial insurance business, without the travel expenses and time-wasters. How up-to-date is your insurance agent LinkedIn profile?
Emails sent through LinkedIn are opened SEVEN times more
than regular emails – Hubspot.com
Did you know that with LinkedIn, you now have access to your competitor’s address book? Just think of it: you can find your top rivals’ connections in LinkedIn and contact them directly, offering them a new product, faster service or better deal! It’s easy – and we’ll show you how.
How important is your insurance agent LinkedIn profile?
We heard it again just the other day, from an agent who should know better: “Social media is a waste of time.” Insurance producers with active, professional social media profiles all around the country are proving him wrong. For starters, note these social selling numbers from International Data Corporation’s Social Buying Study 2014 (IDC is a global market intelligence company.)
- 75 percent of B2B buyers and 84 percent of C-level or vice president executives surveyed use social media to make purchasing decisions – crucial if you sell commercial lines.
- Social buying correlates with buying influence. The average B2B buyer who uses social media for buying support is more senior, has a bigger budget, makes more frequent purchases, and has a greater span of buying control than a buyer who does not use social media.
Here’s IDC’s conclusion as to the importance of social selling:
Sales professionals who are not active social media users are missing an important opportunity to connect. Salespeople have long leveraged offline social networks for recommendations, referrals, and revenue because the strategy is so successful.
All things being equal, people prefer to buy from those they know and trust. Now, sales professionals selling high-impact products or services (e.g., complex, expensive, important to the buyer) need to replicate their networking strategy online, because social media is where peer conversations are happening.
Related: How to market your insurance agency
How LinkedIn works for B2C social selling
Admittedly, LinkedIn doesn’t have the same results in B2C selling (important for personal lines producers) as it does in B2B (commercial lines). According to Marketingland.com, LinkedIn brings in 21 percent of B2C leads and nine percent of sales. However, LinkedIn has a much more affluent and educated user base, so if you’re targeting owners of high-end homes, autos or boats, don’t overlook this medium.
The fact of the matter is this: whether you sell personal or commercial lines, if you’re not using your LinkedIn profile to help you nurture existing clients and prospect for new ones, you’re falling behind. Significantly.
Sign me up for more sales!
So how do you get started? Glad you asked. Here are six quick steps to get you started with social selling on LinkedIn more quickly. Note: LinkedIn has a premium option called Sales Navigator that we’re not exploring in this post. For more information, follow this link to their site or to this Forbes article on Sales Navigator.
Stand out as a Subject Matter Expert on your products.
1. Revise your profile. If your profile reads like a resume, you need to revise it. Your clients and prospects aren’t interested in what you’ve done, but what you CAN do for THEM. Write with your audience in mind. Think of the elevator pitch you created awhile back: answer succinctly the question, “Why should I listen to you?” Change your headline from just your title – “Account Executive” or “Vice President” or “Marketing Rep” to something more descriptive, like “Connector of Business Clients to top-rated Insurance Carriers.”
In your description, provide a one-sentence overview of what you do; then use the remaining space to list success stories for how you’ve helped clients succeed in their business by saving premium dollars, mitigating risk exposures, helping in the event of a loss, etc. Everyone loves success stories.
Oh yes, and one more thing – add a professional photo. Not one of you and your significant other in party mode.
2. Start posting. Here’s a rule of thumb: add six industry education tidbits and news updates for every salesy post. Why? No one wants to listen to your sales pitch all the time.
Can’t think of what else to post? Sign up for a free subscription of Klout. In the Explore section, add such topics as insurance, specific lines of insurance, sales, small business, customer service, etc. Klout will provide the latest articles posted online that you can re-post, with a quick comment. (Actually, Klout doesn’t offer LinkedIn yet, but you can post to your Twitter, Facebook or Google+ account and then copy the post onto LinkedIn. Still easy.)
What else can you post? Product updates. Client success stories. Thank-you quotes from clients. Photos from satisfied clients. Safety tips that relate to the products you sell. Regular status updates using helpful, not self-serving information, increases your ability for social selling on LinkedIn – as well as on Facebook or Twitter.
3. Link to your company’s LinkedIn page. After reading what you have to say, your clients and prospects will want to check out your company, so make it easy for them: link to your company’s LinkedIn page if they have one, and always link to your company’s website.
Spread your net using your insurance agent LinkedIn profile.
4. Connect with your clients and their key staff on LinkedIn. Just add this as an automatic to-do after every time you meet with a client, to ensure you’re connected to all of them.
You can also find them yourself on LinkedIn: On your profile page, search up top using the search bar. To the left of the search bar, click on “People” in the drop down and then type in their name. Is this a commercial prospect whose name you’re trying to discover? Use the “Advanced” blue link. On this screen, you can type in the title, company name and location to find their contact.
5. Join groups and be active. In the search bar up top, click on “Groups” and then start typing names. You might start with your city name, and then search all the groups.
Now join a few – not necessarily the largest ones, where your voice is just one among many thousands. Which should you consider joining? Click up top right on the gear icon to view group stats, such as where they’re located, their job roles and their seniority.
Once in a group, your goal is to provide value and add to the conversation – NOT to try to sell to the group as a whole. Provide constructive feedback in discussions. Ask for advice. Say something a bit controversial to prompt responses.
Now grow your network.
6. Find new prospects and nurture current clients. Now the fun begins. You can search for both your current clients and prospects with LinkedIn’s advanced search option. Using the same advanced search screen I just mentioned, sifting through your contacts using search criteria such as second or third connections, group members, specific areas such as Atlanta or Orange County, CA, business size, a specific business title such as CFO or Director, and so forth.
You can select someone you’re already networked with, view all his contacts, choose a few (or a lot!) of the most appropriate ones and then send a LinkedIn invite to connect with select ones. Just don’t start off with a hard sale. You can also select your arch nemesis competitor and view all his contacts as well, but there IS a catch: you first must be connected. (Hint: there are ways you can do this by issuing an invite and being accepted, but I’m not going to spell that out for you. You can figure it out yourself, based on what you’ve just learned here.)
Email 1: Here’s a sample message to start with; be sure to send all of these via LinkedIn email. Remember: emails sent via LinkedIn are opened seven times more often than regular emails.
Your name came up on LinkedIn as someone I should connect with, so I wanted to reach out and introduce myself. Let’s connect on LinkedIn and explore ways we may be able to work together.
Email 2: If you don’t hear from them within a week, reach out with a second message:
As I mentioned in my contact request, I think it makes sense for us to explore ways we can connect now or in the future. (Mention something you know about their business or an industry update or event, etc. such as) Are you by any chance planning on attending the XYZ event in (City)? Perhaps we can meet up there briefly.
I also have Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon available for a quick call. Let me know the best way and number to reach you.
Email 3: When you finally connect, offer something of value to them (hint: it’s not your product sheet).
Thanks for connecting with me. I value new connections and the opportunity to share powerful business information with each other.
I saw this article, which based on your background I thought you would find valuable to your work, since it discusses (something pertinent to their business or industry; include the link). I’d love to hear your thoughts on the article, so that I’m getting a 360-degree-view of the topic. I know you can provide valuable insight, and LinkedIn is great for this.
Email 4: Asking for a phone meeting, if you weren’t successful before.
We’ve been connected here on LinkedIn for almost a month, but we don’t really know each other. As great as being connected is, I still like to actually get to know who I’m connected with.
At my company, (company name), we specialize in helping business owners like you find the best (specific product) insurance solutions, along with always looking for ways to lower your rates by lowering your risk. I think there are several possibilities for us to do business together.
Would you be open to a call? Let me know if this week or next week works best for you.
Besides warming them up as a prospect and nurturing your new relationship, your goal is to get their contact information including phone and regular email address, so that you can add them to your CRM and continue to nurture them right into becoming a client.
Each week, follow the same steps with new contacts you’ve established in LinkedIn, viewing their network, selecting the ones that may be the best prospects, and opening a conversation with them.
It all starts with a great LinkedIn profile. Sure, it takes some time to get it right – but it’s well worth the investment.