Take a look at the pie chart. It reflects the sources of Bennett’s sales leads. If you’re a freight agent, you may be thinking there’s nothing unusual about this pie chart, and you would be right on. There isn’t anything that stands out, but if you dig deeper and analyze the data underneath, the picture can look a little different.
Everyone knows that a warm lead is always the easiest sell. Referrals made up 39% of Bennett’s closed deals last year because they are easy! All it takes is one customer to brag about you, and before you know it, your pipeline is full. Website leads for Bennett came in at 26%, but the real question is what drove the leads to the site. SEO? An unknown referral? Luck? All of the above are true, but many of them were generated by LinkedIn
On paper, data shows that LinkedIn generated 20% of Bennett’s revenue. However, based on some of the web leads we closed, which happened to be within one or two connections of me, I believe LinkedIn played a much larger role and generated a much higher percentage of leads than the data was able to accurately reflect.
If you could generate $1 million with a net profit of $200,000 by simply working your LinkedIn account – would you? I think you would. Now let’s understand more about what it takes.
So how do freight agents maximize the value of LinkedIn?
There are steps you can take to get started. First, let’s take a look at your profile. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who does not know you very well and ask yourself honestly, how are you coming across? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is your profile picture current and professional?
- Do you have a background photo on your profile that displays something unique about your skills or expertise that you want your customers to know about you?
- What does your summary say about you, your passion, what drives you and the value you bring to your business?
- Is your contact information populated? Will it be easy for customers to get in touch with you? Do you want customers to reach you or not?
- Did you fill out the Experience section? Did you share where you’ve worked and what you accomplished at each organization while you were there?
- Did you provide samples of your work or links to websites where more information can be learned about you and your contributions to the field?
When revising your profile, put some thought into what you want to tell a potential customer about you and your experience. Don’t just list your responsibilities under each organization. Show metrics if you can. Make the effort to show how you impacted the business, came up with a solution, stepped up and solved a problem, or led an initiative that improved a situation. You need to appear as an absolute expert in your field. If your profile doesn’t illustrate that, you have work to do!
Got that profile polished? Here’s what you do with it…
Now that a potential customer can take you seriously – how do you know who to call at a new customer? While referrals are always the best source of a warm and future won deal, that’s not always possible. Here are a few ways you can improve your access to the right contact:
- Grow your connections! No one takes a LinkedIn profile with 24 connections seriously. Remember, you are the expert with lots of people waiting for that nugget of wisdom and experience. Be the one to give it to them!
- Don’t ignore invitation requests just because you don’t know the person. Check out their profiles. If their past or present experience shows that they could be helpful to you in any way, ACCEPT! However, if it’s obvious that the person is just looking to grow their own connections but not even from a field you wish to tap into – feel free to ignore.
- Join LinkedIn groups – there is a group for every industry. What are your customers interested in? For example – if your niche happens to be agricultural machinery, join the Agricultural Machinery & Product Manufacturers group. They have more than 1,700 members with whom you can connect and have conversations. LinkedIn enables you to email and connect with people in the same group.
- The more connections you have – the more access you will have to the people that you need for new sales.
About the Author
Lisa has been in the transportation industry since 1980 when her elementary school started a kindergarten intern program. Not really! It’s just that she doesn’t feel old enough to have been in this industry for 37 years.
Positions held by Lisa in the course of her career range from log clerk to vice president of agent development. For Lisa, sitting in the same department for too long was rather boring, and she sought new challenges every few years until she was assigned to work on training and development of agents. That’s when Lisa discovered a passion for working with agents and her niche in the industry, where she has served for 14 years with no plans to ever leave.
Lisa holds her Certified Transportation Broker’s certification and has been active with the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) since 1985. Lisa serves on the Board of TIA and co-chairs the TIA Women in Logistics group. She is an active lobbyist on transportation regulation issues impacting the industry, visiting Washington, D.C., annually to meet with industry proponents in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
When not supporting small businesses, Lisa enjoys her empty nest with her husband Todd in Atlanta, GA, cooking, shopping and reading.