Use LinkedIn to Solve Problems and Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jan, 23, 2014 @ 10:01 AM

Consumer insights on being "nice"


This post is for all those folks who think LinkedIn is just for out of work executives as well as those senior executives who do not empower their employees by trusting them to use social media for the good of the company and the good of the customer.

If you're not actively using LinkedIn (#linkedin), you're missing a valuable opportunity to solve problems, save your company money and generate revenue.

As my former employer was reducing overhead, they asked me, the director of marketing, to take over responsibilities for operations as well. This included procurement.

First up was the contract with our telecommunications provider -- phone and internet.  Having two different providers offered an opportunity to save by bundling the services.

I posted a query to the local LinkedIn business executives group that I was a member of and received between 15 and 20 recommendations of firms to consider. I submitted an RFP to the top three and selected one which saved the company about $350/month ($4,200/year).

Next up was the lease on the multi-purpose copier.  Same scenario, same result.  Similar savings.

My former employer manufactured wastewater treatment systems imported from Ireland.  I needed to find a resource who could assemble fiberglass tanks in the U.S. since it is much less expensive to ship unassembled tanks -- less air.

I joined a fiberglass group on LinkedIn, monitored the conversation for a couple of weeks and then posted my query for a fiberglass assembler and found one within 90 miles of our facility with very competitive rates.

The most unusual, and successful, sourcing opportunity was for spent mussel shells.  My employer had developed an odor control technology in which the calcium carbonate in spent oyster, quahog and mussel shells was used to neutralize the rotten egg (hydrogen sulfide) smell in waste air streams.

The technology was selling so well in Europe that the supply of mussel shells from Denmark would not be able to meet the projected needs in the U.S.

I had to find our own source of mussel shells. 

Given this, I joined a group of seafood professionals on LinkedIn and found people in China, New Zealand, Germany, Canada and Illinois with spent mussel shells.

Ultimately, the source in New Zealand had the best quality shells for a lower price than we were able to buy and ship them from Denmark and Ireland.

I later learned from my boss in Ireland that the 10 person procurement group at my parent company had been looking for alternate sources of mussel shells for more than three years.

LinkedIn provided a half-dozen sources in less than three weeks.

How have you used LinkedIn to solve problems, improve business performance and accelerate sales?

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Tags: empower employees, accelerate sales, referrals, innovation