Unfortunately for those of us in email advertising, trying to work with top-tier performance email publishers is like trying to find a wife in Alaska. There are so many of us and so few of them, and they know it. So what happens? Only the most attractive offers survive. Those are the offers with no caps on traffic, no schedule restrictions, higher payouts, etc. If you won’t give it to them, they are on to the next offer, and very few offers can take uncapped traffic at a high payout with zero restrictions.
In an article titled “How to Negotiate with Powerful Suppliers” from the Harvard Business Review Magazine, this kind of difficulty in getting publishers to work with your needs is due to the fact that the good ones are scarce. There are only a handful of top-tier quality email publishers that can really drive traffic at scale at any given time. Therefore, their services are in high demand and they gravitate to the offers that make them the most money with the fewest headaches.
So then, as advertisers, are we totally powerless? No. Luckily this article is titled, “How to Negotiate with Powerful Suppliers.” We have four options:
- Consider playing hardball. Good luck with #1. Remember, these publishers have buyers lined up, and there is no leverage in trying to withhold your business. That just won’t work.
- Acquire an existing supplier or create a new one. That sounds great, but the hard part is that email publishers come and go. There are many stories in this industry of large purchases being made only to have the mailer’s IPs go down the next day. Creating one is probably a better idea, but no simple task. Hiring an expert to create one may be just as expensive and just as risky.
- Consider whether you can change how you buy. You could consider changing how you buy, but in our industry, you probably have already done this. Other forms of media, such as Search and Social, can produce great traffic. But most advertisers look to email traffic only after saturating other opportunities.
- See if you can help the publisher realize value in other contexts. Bingo! This is the strategy that has been extremely successful for me. If I have an offer that is limited because of restrictions on the amount of traffic it can take, days it can be run, etc., I know that the best way to overcome that is to build ancillary value for the publisher into the offer. This can mean different things in different situations, but an example may be to test creative extensively until the conversion ratios from the open of the email through the acquiring of the customer are at a level much higher than existing offers. With that accomplished, the offer will make the publishers more money per email drop, and they will be much more willing to adhere to my requests on volume on scheduling. Another example would be to test CPM mailings. This may take a good deal of trial and error, but the top mailers will usually be willing to mail any offer on a CPM basis because they are guaranteed to meet their revenue targets. As a result, the advertiser has control over the size and timing of the email drops.
It’s amazing how people disregard any leads that aren’t brand-spanking new. If treated right, they can lead to significant customer acquisition. But you can’t skip a single beat. Back to my favorite saying: It’s not the leads, it’s you. But don’t despair, follow this step-by-step guide for major results. It includes both email newsletter and calling (with my favorite strategy), because remember – email for show, dial for dough! Both are crucial components.
Working aged leads: trickle email marketing. Consumers will come to you in various stages of the buying cycle. Some will have noticed a few bullet points on an advertisement and want to learn more but are not in a position to move forward, while others will have done their research and be ready to transact.
- I like Constant Contact for these campaigns.
- Only email to leads you purchased or generated. Review the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. Avoid spam complaints at all costs by following the FTC’s guide on the CAN-SPAM act.
- Never give sales people authority to send bulk emails, or you will become the biggest SPAMMER on the web! Have a dedicated admin manage all campaigns.
- Ideal email creative would be stories on how a reverse mortgage changed a borrower’s life. Think real testimonial stories, educational material, articles.
- Frequency: weekly or bi-weekly. Goal is to not be identified as SPAM, and over-delivery is a common error.
- Be consistently in front of the prospect, so when they decide it’s the right time, you are the lender who earns their business. You will generate business from leads that are even years old over time.
Last week, the LeadsCouncil introduced the new board of industry leaders at LeadsCon New York 2015. In a presentation to the audience at LeadsCon, the LeadsCouncil board shared its plans to chart a new course for the industry and LeadsCouncil members. The plans include a larger role in advocating for the lead generation ecosystem in Washington D.C. and support with the establishment of standards, self-audit, and remediation with both buyer and seller members. During the presentation, the board called for the industry to join LeadsCouncil in forwarding the mission of extending their influence in the rule-making process for the lead-gen ecosystem. Click here to view a video with more details from Board Chairman Gregory Gragg.
The New LeadsCouncil Board of Directors consists of:
- Gregory Gragg, Blue Chair LLC – Board Chairman
- Bruce Cook, Tree.com
- Erik Josowitz, All Web Leads
- Ethan Ewing, Bills.com
- Joe Marinucci, Digital Media Solutions
- Michael Ferree, Anomaly Squared
- Joe Laskowski, Higher Ed Growth
- Cory Smith, Access Intelligence
- Bill Baskin, Epath Digital
LeadsCouncil Mission Statement: To educate and advocate on behalf of the buyers and sellers engaged in all forms of lead generation, ensuring that all participants deliver value and follow ethical as well as federal and state guidelines when conducting their business. (more…)
We’ve already accepted that when sales and marketing aren’t going great it’s not the leads, it’s you, worked on sales culture and contact time, and dipped into the crucial world of communication. We also covered adapting your sales organization to effectively work Internet leads, contacting the borrower, creating an effective sales pitch, how to create an effective email, and how to leave an effective voicemail in Organizing: Understanding Reverse Mortgage Leads. Now I want to get a bit more granular with understanding call priorities and strategies for squeezing more revenue out of your advertising spend as your leads age.
It is important to remember that the Internet allows consumers to “hide” behind their computer screen. Since you often do not have the chance to meet with them, the way you present yourself over the phone is more critical than ever in earning the business. The old adage, “smile before you dial” still holds true.
Understanding 3-D communication. People process information 3 ways:
7% words – Email – Kinesthetic
38% tone – Tone – Audio
55% personally – Meeting – Visual
What this tells us is that you email for show and dial for dough! We lose 55% of our edge by conducting an interview by phone instead of sitting in front of them. To compensate, you MUST improve your telephone presentation skills. Excitement, enthusiasm, personality, knowledge… these are the bedrock skills of an effective phone call. By the time you establish voice contact, your emails have hopefully positioned yourself as the loan solution provider. If so, the phone call should be an extension of any already established dialogue.
Be enthusiastic. Sure, you’ve made this pitch a thousand times, but this is the first time this prospect has heard it, so don’t sound bored. Share the borrower’s enthusiasm about accomplishing their goals and solving their problems. As the breakdown above illustrates, what’s critical is not only what you say, it’s how you say it. Emphasize what is important, and make sure you keep the volume where you can easily be heard. Speak to the level and cadence of your prospect. Be prepared, be confident, be the expert! Prospects are shopping for a salesman, not just a product. Try and avoid industry specific vernacular… we all know what “LTV” is, but your prospect may not, so be sure to take the time to explain everything thoroughly, as it proves competence. The most important things is to have a plan as I have detailed in the earlier posts I mentioned above.
When giving advice to sales people who are looking to improve (or are trying to blame the leads), I always first make it very clear that it’s not the leads, it’s you. After starting our strategy with an overview of the importance of sales culture and contact time – let’s dig into the ever-important realm of business communication when working leads.
Sell yourself and your company. Start with a warm and enthusiastic greeting, as it is important to get the consumer engaged in the process and build rapport. Be sure to articulate why you are better to work with and why your company is better to work with… How the experience you or your company provides is different than other companies they may be speaking with… Why your process is easier on the borrower. Think about these things, and differentiate yourself. Be the product expert.
The biggest problem most sales people have is that we like to listen to ourselves talk. I know I’m guilty of this sometimes. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason, so ask open-ended questions about the things a borrower would use the funds for, their bucket list, their needs, and their dreams. Your job is to discover the problem(s) they may or may not realize they have, and to demonstrate how a reverse mortgage can not only solve that problem, but benefit their retirement over time by providing a better quality of life. They will tell you how to close them if you pose the right questions. Qualify, qualify qualify!
These are my basic steps to the sale:
- Develop a relationship.
- Sell yourself, sell your company
- Analyze the needs of the client.
- Educate the client on the product, and use real world stories of how the product was used to buy a business, pay expenses, retire early, travel the world, buy a second vacation home and so on, tailored to each client’s goals.
- Identify and provide a solution to solve the borrower’s specific need
- Earn the borrower’s trust and business by being the “expert,” credible, and compassionate.
- Gain commitment.
- Ask for a referral.
Leaving an effective voicemail. This is an often overlooked, but critical part of the follow-up process. Have a plan or script for this as you often won’t reach a borrower on the first call. Think about how you check your own voicemail. I know I quickly check mine without listening to the entire message. We are all busy. If it sounds like a sales call from someone I don’t know… I delete it before I listen to the whole thing. And so do you. So engage the consumer and leave a positive first impression that relays that you are following up on their request. It’s important when leaving an enthusiastic voicemail to say something like this: (more…)
Now that we’ve been reminded that it’s not the leads, it’s you, we can start to form a strategy from the ground up. Let’s dig into sales culture and contact time first – it’s impossible to cut corners in these areas and still achieve the amount of success you should be striving for. In fact, and you might cringe here, we’re going to talk about working weekends, too. Then we’ll move on to the ever-important communication.
Sales Culture. The first thing a company should review before they buy Internet leads is their sales culture. If you historically generate mostly inbound calls to your sales team, getting them to make outbound dials on Internet leads may prove to be a problem, and working them has different challenges as well. With an inbound call sales culture, many sales people would much rather sit around and wait for the phone to ring then make many outbound dials all day. Working Internet leads takes commitment and significant effort, supported by a great sales process. The deals are in there – the question is, can you earn them?
If inbound calls are your current sales culture, the first thing you need to decide is how you hold your sales people accountable for hitting certain metrics working Internet leads. You should track outbound dials per day, contact rate, total talk time, quotes given, applications taken, loans funded, plus whatever other milestones your company utilizes. I like to start new salespeople working Internet leads only, starting with aged leads, and then quickly providing them with real-time leads once they demonstrate command of the material. Over time I allow them to “graduate” to the inbound phone queue as a reward for good performance working the Internet leads, as calls are expensive, yet not necessarily more effective. Provide your sales team with a script and training for both fresh leads and aged leads, as they need to be approached differently at initial contact. I hold all sales people accountable and ensure their conversion metrics on Internet leads meet their objectives before I allow them to receive the “easier” inbound calls.
Contact Time. Contact time on Internet leads is critical. You want to reach out to the consumer ideally while they are still online and on the form they submitted. At that point, they are actively thinking about a Reverse Mortgage (we call it real-time), rather than hours later when they have mentally moved on to something else. The goal should be to make that first call and send the introductory email within 5 minutes of receiving a lead. Work in sequential priority, and a fresh lead tops the list. Remember, the Internet provides people with immediate gratification… so you should, too! If you do so, you will see much better contact rates, and on shared leads, which are typically sold up to 5 times (we only sell exclusive leads), you will have the opportunity to take the borrower “off the market” before your competitor calls.
I’m frankly surprised that so few companies want leads delivered in real-time on weekends. If you have a smart phone that can receive email, you can reach out to a new prospect who is likely home and available to take your call when they submit the lead. Even sending an email to schedule a Monday morning follow-up call is better than letting your leads sit uncontacted until Monday. Why give the time to let the borrower do more shopping while they wait to hear back from you? Think about working leads on weekends, as it’s an untapped opportunity to improve your contact rate and originate more loans.