Has anyone told you that you have good “phone”? That’s a good start when it comes to the sales communication skills needed for successfully working leads. But how good is the content of your voicemail? Or your follow-up email? Those are the areas where we’re now going to focus on our path to finding success with leads instead of making excuses as to why they fail – now that we’ve already tackled sales culture and contact time, and how to sell your company.
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 customer 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. 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 use something like this:
“Hi <customer name>, I’m following up on the Internet Request you made today for more information on a <product> (confirms their request and personalizes). Based on the preliminary information you submitted (reaffirms their request), I have some great ideas and information to share with you, but I need to have a few additional questions answered so I can provide you all of your options and the information you requested (we need to speak). (Next, provide a benefit): You may be aware that a <product> allows you to… End the message by advising the client to look for your email, provide your contact information, and be sure to use the consumer’s name a second time and that you will be calling again. Repeat your phone number two times slowly. I look forward to providing you this information <name>! (more…)
“It’s not the leads, it’s you!” If you’ve been with us for some time, you know that that’s CEO Bill Baskin’s battle cry when it comes to handling complaints about leads “not working.” We’ve already discussed sales culture and contact time while working leads, but there’s much more when it comes to strategizing how to make successes out of leads. Now we move on to:
Sell yourself and your company
On your initial call, 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. Why your company and its fulfillment process is better to work with than your competitor. In other words, how the experience you or your company provides is different than other companies they may be speaking with. Why your process is easier. Think about these things and differentiate yourself and be the product expert. Let me give you an example.
I sold Mercedes Benz cars for a period early in my career. The leads we received were from customers over an hour away. They had to drive past three competing dealerships to get to mine. How did I overcome this? Well, I developed a script to overcome this frequent objection and nip it in the bud, the conversation went like this:
Me: Have you had a chance to speak with your local dealer? (more…)
Whenever I hear someone complain about leads, my tough talk, signature comeback is: it’s not the leads it’s you. I promised I’d come back with a foolproof strategy for better success with leads, so here we are. Let’s start with sales culture and contact time.
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 and focused effort, supported by a great sales process. The deals are in there, the question is can you earn them? At some point, the consumer raised their hand and expressed interest in your product. They expressed a desire to learn more.
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 (more…)
I’ve run a number of sales teams in my career, and spent some time in the mid 90’s training automobile dealers on how to create an effective sales process working Internet leads that was the antithesis of their traditional sales process. (This was with the very first Internet lead company, autobytel.) Managing my own consumer fulfillment sales teams since those times, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that “the leads were not good,” I’d be a rich man. My response has always been: “Then why is so-and-so consistently making $20k-$30k a month working the same leads you are?”
As a lead generator, I’ve worked with thousands of advertisers over the years. I’ve had the opportunity to share processes with and aggregate best practices. Some of these clients have seen tremendous ROI and consider leads the best thing since sliced bread, yet a few don’t see success using a subset of the very same leads. Why is that? Because: the leads are only as effective as you are. Process, positioning, and competitiveness matter. Engagement with the consumer also matters…a lot. A microcosm of this is why most sales organizations consistently have certain sales people at the top of the board, the middle of the board, and those who should seek other employment.
The top producers are not necessarily more talented than anyone else. (Although that is a small part of it.)
Orange County, Calif. – February 5, 2016 – EPath Digital is excited to announce an expansion of their multi-year Agency of Record relationship with Optima Tax Relief. This extension builds upon the past two years where EPath has developed a performance email marketing channel that has significantly contributed to Optima’s new customer acquisition volume.
EPath has successfully scaled email marketing for Optima during a period in which Optima has risen to become the nation’s leading tax resolution firm. “In Epath, we have a partner that shares our commitment to excellence and delivering great results,” say Harry Langenberg, Optima Tax Relief’s managing partner.
Optima was named the fast growing financial services company in 2015’s Inc. 5000, a recognition that EPath is proud to have played an important role. “Optima is a case study in how we help our clients attain their ROI and growth goals,” says Jeremy Buttke, president of EPath.
With extensive experience servicing advertisements to targeted demographics, EPath is looking forward to helping Optima attain even higher goals in 2016 and beyond. “No company is better at solving people’s tax problems than Optima,” says Buttke, “and EPath’s efforts are going to ensure an ever-growing number of people who need Optima, find Optima.”
OK, one more to wrap up my series on the importance of generating your OWN leads. In the previous two posts, we discussed some big reasons to start building a channel for generating internet leads internally (driving free inbound phone calls, and generating a more targeted lead for more profit). This time we are going to talk about the “B word.”
Using your brand. First let me be specific here: by “brand” I mean what makes you a better choice for the consumer than your competition. I am not talking about promoting nebulous tag lines, color schemes, or building name recognition. Lead generation is for generating sales – period. It is critical that you do not sacrifice direct response principals that are proven to work in an attempt to promote brand elements that will not influence consumers to take action now. Specifically, by “brand” what I am talking about are the elements that are unique to your company and can convey the positive customer experience you have already built with your client base.
- Real testimonials. The FTC has disallowed fake or general testimonials in advertising, which means that only advertisers that work directly with consumers can use them. Consult the guidelines on this, but actual testimonials specific to your company can add credibility and improve conversions considerably.
- Third party verification. This could be your BBB accreditation, any awards you have won, any associations you belong too, etc. Icons and logos from these sources used on the landing page send a signal to the consumer that you are established and trustworthy.
- Information specific to your organization. If you have a big number of clients, or have transacted a large dollar amount, or something similar, this can be powerful information for consumers trying to discern the difference between all the services they are researching at the moment.
- Your phone number (see my post “1 Big Reason to Start Generating Leads Internally”). Having your phone number on the page seems simple enough, but many lead generation sites don’t have one. It will not only drive “free” calls to you, but will also add some credibility vs. sites that are lacking a call-in number.
Although I stress not trying to use your lead generation campaign as a way to build your brand, you can certainly stay within your brand elements such as colors and fonts. Also, branding is about customer experience, and what better way to generate positive customer experience than generating more customers? And as I always say, if you are not set up to generate leads internally because of technical and/or media buying resources, but still want to take advantage of benefits, maybe consult an online direct response agency (like us).
Yes, shameless plug. But as a direct response marketer I just couldn’t help myself!
Last time, I wrote about one big reason to start generating more leads yourself: driving “free” inbound calls. Now, in this article, we will look at another big one: targeting to your key demographic. This results in, yup, more profit. I have sold leads for 15 years, and there are definitely big advantages to buying leads from lead generation companies, such as cost and the ability to scale quickly. But here is one advantage that generating internally can give you.
Create more expensive leads and make more profit. One of the most successful campaigns I ever managed was priced at more than $450 CPM and required a contract north of $4,000,000. The lead cost on this was very high, but what it produced was a large volume of the right kind of lead for my client (in this case exclusive, excellent credit, mortgage refinance leads). Those types of leads were simply not available from lead aggregators, on an exclusive basis, with any volume at the time. So, despite the big price tag, the campaign was very successful. At times it was even too successful: the 200+ agents were not able to get to 100+ inbound calls an hour because of the lead and call volume the campaign generated.
Lead generators typically can create high quality leads at a lower cost and provide the ability to scale. But, one disadvantage in selling leads is that very high quality leads may be too expensive to generate at the price point dictated by the lead buyer market. Here are a few ideas that may create more expensive leads, and produce a big return on your investment:
I’m not saying you should stop buying leads altogether from lead generation companies – in fact, I sell leads myself. Buying leads typically allows advertisers both cost advantages and the ability to scale up quickly. However, if you are a lead buyer and have not (yet) invested resources to generate a large volume of leads internally, there are several reasons (including targeted leads for more profit) that you should seriously consider building this channel – sooner than later.
One huge reason is having the freedom to drive “free” inbound calls to your sales floor. Call-ins usually represent the low hanging fruit of the buyer base and are typically not a component of leads purchased from a third party. Obviously, there is a 100% contact ratio on call-ins (as long as someone answers the phone). Beyond that, the mindset of someone calling in is better because that person is reaching out to you. Therefore, the close ratio should be significantly higher on these calls and thus an added bonus to the online leads you are generating.
Not sure how to start? Here are 3 ways to drive inbounds as part of your lead generation campaigns:
- Offer an incentive on the confirmation page or “thank you page” for calling in rather than waiting for a call from you. This can be as simple as stating, on the page immediately following the submittal of the lead information, “Thank you, a representative will contact you within 48 hours. Or, to obtain your quote immediately, please call (800) 555-5555.” We once ran a campaign for satellite television where this strategy caused 10% of the leads to call in after they had submitted the lead. These call-ins closed at around 50%, which doubled the performance of the campaign as a whole.
- Put the phone number in a shadow box upon the exit of the landing page. If worded correctly, the exit shadow box can draw on a powerful principal of influence that social psychologist Robert Cialdini calls “rejection then retreat”. Simply stated, when the consumer chooses to the leave the page he/she is rejecting our request to complete the lead form. When we then ask the consumer to please call us instead, we are “retreating” to a lesser request. There is an ingrained societal obligation to comply with the second request. Or maybe some people just want to call instead – I don’t really know. I do know this though: doing this will drive inbound calls and help you monetize traffic that was falling off the page anyway.
Once upon a time, before the National Do-Not-Call regulations and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 USC 227 and 47 CFR 64.1200, business were free to “cold call” consumers to introduce them to new products and services. Those days are long past, and more importantly, cold calling landline or mobile numbers on even your old leads can create tremendous liability for you and your company. Despite these regulations, I still find myself frequently the recipient of such cold calls regarding a mortgage, and when queried, the callers often have never even heard of TCPA. It’s mind boggling! Understanding these regulations are critical for anyone in business given the rash of Federal Class action lawsuits against corporations from professional litigants looking to extort your company.
Background on the TCPA
The TCPA and its implementing rules impose limitations on calls placed to both residential and wireless telephone numbers. The TCPA prohibits telemarketing calls made using an artificial or pre-recorded voice to residential phones, without prior express consent. The TCPA also prohibits making non-emergency calls using an automated telephone dialing system or artificial or pre-recorded voice to a wireless telephone number without prior express consent. If the call to the wireless number includes an advertisement or is considered telemarketing, the express consent must be in writing. Failure to comply with these rules results in automatic penalties ranging from $500 up to $1,500 per unsolicited call placed if you disregard TCPA compliance. Unlike DNC penalties, this is not a fine for the calls you made to the specific complainant, but rather EVERY call you made to anyone’s mobile number since TCPA was updated in Oct of 2013, if the Class is certified in litigation. Even if compliant, the costs of defense are enormous and litigants often file these as a way to extort $50,000 or more from companies, as judgments can be in the hundreds of millions of dollars and take years in court. Calling under the pretext of a “survey” to generate a sales opportunity is also prohibited. TCPA includes uninvited text messages.
On July 17, 2015, the FCC issued new rules regarding TCPA in an attempt to clarify this area of law. While the new rule results in a number of changes to the TCPA, none is more significant than the broadening of the definition of an “automated telephone dialing system” (ATDS). In simplest terms, the FCC now defines an ATDS as any equipment that is actually or potentially able to dial random or sequential numbers – even if not actually used that way, and even if it must be altered in order to be capable of doing so. In essence, your iPhone can be considered an automated dialer in certain circumstances. Given the fact the US economy relies on consumer spending for 70% of total GDP, these laws are not only stifling our economy in my view, but placing undue burdens on legitimate businesses. Bottom feeding lawyers and professional litigants are clogging up the courts with these cases due to the extremely high value of potential judgments.
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.