I recently finished a full day training the support staff, sales force, and leadership team of Oswald Companies, an independent insurance brokerage firm based in Cleveland, OH, with offices in multiple states. I have to say that I am truly inspired with how they have embraced the power of LinkedIn and are working to leverage it in ways rarely found in corporate America. Essentially, they are creating and leveraging a company-wide LinkedIn network that can be accessed by the business development staff.
I first have to mention that as powerful as this strategy is, it will not work for all companies. It is a strategy that is highly dependent on a strong collaborative corporate culture and high levels of trust in the company leadership. Companies that use head to head competition to motivate and incentivize their sales staff are not good candidates because there likely is not a significant amount of trust between employees.
One component that really makes this strategy work for Oswald Companies is that non-business development staff earn bonuses when they play an active role in introducing or opening the doors to potential clients if the deal closes. Therefore they have a true personal incentive to connect with the sales staff and to continue to update and add to their LinkedIn network.
Connecting is obviously the first step. The sales staff must be connected to both the support staff as well as the leadership team. More importantly, the leadership team needs to be especially diligent in adding all of the new people they meet into their LinkedIn network because those connections are most likely to include connections with the decision-making authority that you would want if they are a prospect for your company. Additionally, you want to encourage the administrative staff to actively add connections. This may be difficult because employees in these positions are often not as active in networking and meeting new people in professional settings. However, the new “blood” in the network is crucial for the strategy to continue providing new prospects.
The second step is for the sales staff to develop custom searches and run those searches at regular intervals to uncover the new prospects that have been added into the company-wide LinkedIn network. The searches will uncover how the sales person is connected to the prospect – internally and/or externally.
The final step is for all pertinent employees to work together to develop the most effective strategy leveraging the strongest and most valuable relationships. When possible, take advantage of connection paths that go through the leadership team. I simple phone call or email message from someone at that level can quickly open the door and then they can turn things over to the appropriate sales person.
Interested in developing this strategy for your company? Feel free to contact me and we can schedule a conversation to explore it’s feasibility and likelihood of success.
Crystal Thies has been known as the LinkedIn Ninja since founding her company, Crystal Clear Buzz, in 2009. Although well versed and experienced in all social media, Crystal specializes in the utilization of LinkedIn for sales and business development. As a past financial planner, Crystal is one of the few social media strategists with expertise to work with those regulated by FINRA, the SEC, and IIROC. She is the co-author of “The Social Media Handbook for Financial Advisors” published by Bloomberg Press.