How to Generate Leads from LinkedIn

How Agents Can Generate Leads on LinkedIn

Jeremiah Desmarais, best-selling author of the book Shift: Digital Marketing Secrets of Insurance Agents and Financial Advisors, and a TED Talk speaker, discusses tips and strategies for using LinkedIn to build connections and generate sales leads. Learn more about:

• The value of LinkedIn
• Targeting strategy to maximize reach
• The benefits of sales navigator
• How to find and make connections
• Messaging best practices
• Improving your LinkedIn profile

Video Transcript

Maggie: Hi everyone. Today Jeremiah Desmarais is joining us to teach our AmTrust appointed agents how to make small business insurance leads on LinkedIn. Jeremiah as an expert sales trainer in the insurance industry, a bestselling author and a TED Talk speaker. Thanks for joining us Jeremiah.

Jeremiah: Great. Thanks for having me Maggie. I appreciate it.

Maggie: Let's get started then. To start off, why does LinkedIn work? I think a lot of people still think social media is not the place to be doing business.

Jeremiah: Yeah, and you know, I'm glad you mentioned that because the misconception in the industry, especially if you're in commercial lines and you're trying to go after let's say restaurant owners or you want to get deals related to work comp or cyber liability or high end personal lines from the owners of the business. The concept of LinkedIn has always been in this space almost like a nice place to put your CV, right? Where and I'm sure seeing even folks who are AmTrust producers or principles inside agencies, they probably just have president of ABC agency and then they have the areas of their focus. And then they have the years of experience and that's pretty much it.

And really this is no fault of the producers themselves. There just hasn't been a lot of the underground stuff that, for example, I talked about in the book Shift where advisors and producers are using simple email techniques to lock in anywhere from one appointment a week to two or three appointments a week using simple hacks.

And what's interesting Maggie, is LinkedIn actually did a study on commercial lines producers not too long ago. And when they interviewed people who were the decision makers for commercial lines products, they found that nine out of 10 of them on LinkedIn had actually used an agent or a broker for at least some of the purchases, which is incredible. Because if you think about it, do you want to spend your time on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, which are all great channels. But if you know that 90% of the people who own a commercial lines policy are on LinkedIn that used a broker, wouldn't you want to spend your time there, right?

The back end of that study, which I thought was really cool, is they went out and they interviewed producers and they asked them, "Hey, when you engage with LinkedIn, are you actually getting results?" It was amazing to me is 52% were able to identify their precise target audience. 43% found a potential client, 43% identified a new opportunity and 31% were able to schedule a meeting. To me those are amazing numbers and we've continued to validate that over and over with our students and advisors who are using LinkedIn with a very smart email strategies in order to get those appointments.

Maggie: It sounds like not only is the audience on LinkedIn where we want to be targeting, but it's also effective. I think for our agents if they want to use LinkedIn as a targeting strategy to reach out to small business owners. The next question is where do they get started?

Jeremiah: Good question. LinkedIn has made it really easy now to get started with that. In the top left hand corner when you're on LinkedIn, there's that little search bar. All you need to do is put in the desired title. I imagine for some AmTrust producers or principals, maybe they want to target the CFO. Others maybe want to go after a controller, maybe others want to go after the CEO or the business owner them self. All you need to do is type that word in and then the city where your prospecting.

I'm not far from Boston. So for example, I would put CEO Boston. And then LinkedIn is going to give you a generous search result of all of the CEOs in the Boston area. And that's really all you need to do to get started. And it's not about connecting with everybody, it's about connecting with the desired prospect that you want. So once you have those results, you can go through a simple formula. And if you're going to use a free version of LinkedIn and get started, I recommend about 50 outreaches a day. And if you do about 50 a day, you'll get about 15% of people usually that will say, excuse me, 30% of the people that will say, sure, I'll connect with you, which will lead to 15 warmed introductions everyday cumulatively after you've been doing it for a couple of weeks.

Maggie: Yeah. And that's quite a higher percentage than using direct mail. It's a much higher success rate. So what about when you're searching? I know different small businesses have different naming conventions. One small business might call someone the owner or the other might call it the CEO. Does that make a difference when you're searching?

Jeremiah: Yeah. I'm glad you brought that up because that's usually where people limit the scope of their searches. When you're looking for the owner, it's really up to the individual to self-identify their own particular title, right? If you and I are working in an AmTrust office Maggie, you might call them the business owner, I might call them the CEO. But we know we're talking about the same person, right?

But when we look and say John Smith is the individual in question that we want a prospect, it really is up to that person how they're going to identify themselves. So you actually have to do multiple searches. So what I recommend when we teach our students and advisors is you want to be able to have a search for a business owner, Boston for example, and then you go through that whole list as part of your prospecting sequence. And then you want to have a separate search, which you're going to do called CEO. You might even have another one called president and yet you might have even another one called founder.

The key is when you're getting started or simply, just choose one and then work slowly through that.

Maggie: I know you mentioned there's a free version and a paid version of LinkedIn. What's the difference between the two?

Jeremiah: Yeah, great question. So free is really there to kind of help you get into the whole the LinkedIn ecosystem, right? You can put your profile up there, you can have your summary section. You're allowed to connect with people. As long as you stay under about 50 requests a day, you're going to be fine. You can even message people that you are connected with, which is really where the power of LinkedIn comes in, is being able to directly message your ideal prospects. And you can send several dozen messages for free every single day under a free account.

What I love about Sales Navigator though is for an extra, what is it, 79 bucks a month, you can get a lot more focused and targeted in your prospecting. So for example, let's say an AmTrust office really specializes in businesses that are between the size of 10 and 50 employees, right? They don't really go over 50 and because that's a little too big, but that's kind of their sweet spot. When you get into Sales Navigator, you're able to whittle down those thousands of CEOs and get them to a much more focused search stream. So you can literally select, show me only those that are companies between 10 and 50 for example, or 50 to 200 or 200 plus, which makes it really easy to get a better list. One of the things we always teach our students is quality over quantity. So it's better to have a smaller quality prospect target list than it is to have a big one. And Sales Navigator allows you to do that.

The second one, that is ... One of the second features that we really like about Sales Navigator is the ability to see who's active on LinkedIn. Because there's a search filter you can show that will show you who's been active on LinkedIn in the last 90 days, right? Who's changed jobs in the last 90 days? So imagine if you're a new CEO, your first 90 days are really, really critical, right? As a new business owner [inaudible 00:08:07] great decisions. And probably some of that is looking at the costs of your insurance, because as you know, it steadily goes up, up, up.

Then if you've got great products like with AmTrust and you're able to offer a unique niche, something that perhaps they didn't know about, you can specifically target new business owners or new CFO's are new controllers and create a custom offer directly to them. So I mean there's way more features of Sales Navigator that are available, namely like you can outreach to up to a 100 people a day as opposed to 50. And you can message well over a 100 people a day. They kind of take the training wheels off on Sales Nav and you can just kind of take it to the moon in scale.

Maggie: And when you're using Sales Navigator, can you also search by industries? There's a lot of specific preferred industries and business classes within the AmTrust appetite.

Jeremiah: Yeah, absolutely. You can go by industry and by vertical, so absolutely.

Maggie: I know when people are thinking about LinkedIn, they understand the concept of searching for people and finding people and making logical connections on there. But I think where people get tripped up is then reaching out. I think people aren't sure what to say and they have trouble forming that first communication. What do you recommend?

Jeremiah: Yeah, great question. So in the first connection email, it's really important to not come across sales-y or even share your intention of prospecting. A really simple one. So Maggie, if you were a business owner in Boston and I thought that you might be a great prospect, I would do something like, "Hey Maggie, I just noticed that you've accomplished quite a bit in your business. Congratulations. I noticed we both do business here in Boston. I thought it wouldn't hurt to connect. Hope business is great. Jeremiah." So that would be my outbound message, right?

We actually have over 17 different templates in Advisorist. Some had gotten all the way up to 60% acceptance ratios. But that's just one really simple one. You find a common thing, you give a compliment and you keep it simple. And when you do something like that, your chances of getting accepted to be connected with someone increase dramatically.

Maggie: And then after that initial connection, what's the next step? What are some different types of messaging that you can do to keep that relationship fresh?

Jeremiah: Great question. So instead of going for the juggler right away, "Hey, I have these great products and I think I can help you lower costs and so forth." That is not the most successful approach. I mean, some people do it, but you really got to be tenacious about it and you have to do a massive numbers in order to get results. What we teach our students is to use a go giver type of mentality.

Think about the law of reciprocity, right? Maggie, I'm sure you've had people in your life, either professionally or personally, that they're just big givers, right? Every time you see them, they're either given you a compliment, they're giving you a gift or something like that. And if you don't ever reciprocate, it's kind of like, hey, hey, stop, stop. You feel compelled to give back. That's a law of reciprocity, right? The more somebody gives you, the more you feel compelled to give back to them.

We use a similar technique on LinkedIn where either you can have an asset. Let's say AmTrust has an asset that helps business owners make great decisions. You can give that as a gift. "Hey, thanks for connecting with me. We just released this recent report that shows restaurant owners how to lower costs in five different areas in their restaurants. Hope you enjoy it." That's it, right? So I'm not asking for a sale, I just want to give something of value. Then a couple of days later, maybe a week later, I share an article on Ink or Forbes or something like that that helps restaurant owners. Yet again, I might share something valuable for them. Maybe ask them, "Hey, have you ever given a thought to this?"

And then after a three step sequence of goodwill, where you're just building all this value at the end, you can go for the ask and ask for the appointment. So that's just one of the techniques. We have about nine different door opener strategies that we use via LinkedIn and email, but that one has been proven to work very, very well.

Maggie: What's the timeframe typically from when you send out that first communication until you bring in the sales aspect?

Jeremiah: If you're doing it consistently, which I've seen is the biggest roadblock for most producers is just being able to shut the door, grab your cup of coffee and between 8:00 and 8:30 do the outreaches and the emails every single day. Now there's bots and stuff like that, that we teach our students that can help them out. But that to me is the biggest roadblock to success.

But if somebody doesn't has that and their self-discipline and they're self-motivated and they can get it done. We've seen people within a 45-day window start having one meeting a week with their desired prospect. We had one brand new, fairly brand new producer in a commercial lines firm in an extremely competitive city who was just getting started. But out of the nine producers that we were teaching, he was the one who was actually diligently doing it every day. Within 45 days he was meeting with a CFO of his ideal market every single week. In addition to that, he got invited to be the Chief Operations Officer for a biotech networking group in that same city.

He had prospected, the owner of that group and the person was so impressed with his goodwill sequence, said, "You really know how to use LinkedIn. You should be our COO." Which guess what? Opened him up to many private equity firms, law firms, biotech firms themselves. So he was now able to get a reach where he would never have to prospect again cause all he needed to do is start building relationships with everybody in that group. Now obviously that's like a little bit of a unicorn story. But at 29 years old to be able to crush it like that, was just amazing. And he did that just because he was consistent.

Maggie: When you say to be consistent, what's your recommendation? How much time should people be spending on LinkedIn?

Jeremiah: Probably 25 to 30 minutes a day is enough. But you have to be focused, right? This is not going on LinkedIn scrolling on my feed, liking stuff, reading interesting articles. No. I go back to my search, I continue where I left off, I reach out the connections, then I go to my inbox, I check out who's replied. I add the next sequence. That's really ... In less than about 30 minutes a day you can do this.

Maggie: Great. And I know you've mentioned your book before. If agents are interested in reading that, where can they find a copy?

Jeremiah: Well, thank you for the commercial. This copy is available on Amazon. You just go to write the word “Shift” and then just “Jeremiah.” My last name is pretty hard to spell as you can tell. But you could just type in “Shift Jeremiah” and you'll see that book. We're super proud of the fact that we have over 55 star reviews. Because the way that I designed this book is with templates and step-by-steps. You can even see here on this chapter on LinkedIn, I actually give you the screenshots and show you how to run advanced searches.

If you're looking for a book that's mainly theory, this is not it. But if you're looking for templates and guides and screenshots and scripts and email templates, it's all in here. And we're really excited to be taking the learnings from Shift into the advisor's platform, which we know, sneak preview, we'll be working with some AmTrust producers on this as a special project to kind of work with you all to help bring to life all of the potential that sits right in your own LinkedIn profile as well as email and Facebook and all the other cool digital stuff to fill your pipeline.

Maggie: Thanks Jeremiah. Do you have any final tips before we go that agents should know about using LinkedIn?

Jeremiah: Yeah. Quick little simple thing that you can do right now that will increase your professional presence is instead of putting insurance producer or insurance agent in your professional headline, change that up to I help business owners and then whatever the achieved result you do. I help business owners lower cost through creative strategies. I help business owners to retain employees through whatever.

Change that professional headlines so that when people look at your profile instead of being like insurance agent, there's a little more intrigue, right? And I welcome everybody who's watching this video. Look at my professional headline. I mentioned Ted and Forbes and then I help advisors book appointments on their calendar. So the statement of benefit to the ideal prospect has to be in that professional headline, and that's going to help more people just randomly click on your profile and say, "Hey, I wonder if this person can actually help me."

Maggie: Thank you so much for joining us. Those were great tips.

Jeremiah: Thanks so much Maggie. I appreciate it.