Everyone these days is constantly checking their email box – so why is email marketing so hard? Let’s take a look at the challenges. For one, it is important to understand that email marketing is a very legitimate form of advertising. This is not the 90’s where SPAMMERS were pervasive. The FTC regulated the industry with the CAN-SPAM act of 2003, and a number of state laws that are more restrictive must guide your commercial emailing efforts. A deep understanding of email compliance requirements has to be your first step. Email compliance requires transparency, ethical messaging, and providing a consumer the ability to opt-out of receiving more emails. It also requires monitoring Publishers for compliance. Every legitimate mailer follows these compliance requirements, but knowing how to avoid publishers who try and game the system and who can get you in trouble takes years of learnings. It is also important to have the technological tools to monitor your campaigns to avoid problems or bad actors.
Reputational risk is another concern companies have with commercial emailing. They perceive that consumers do not like to be emailed, and while true with a tiny percentage of people, most of us understand what the delete button is for. Frankly, if you are emailing compliantly and honoring consumer opt-outs, consumer complaints really are not much of a concern. Many people appreciate being introduced to new products and services, or the response rates would not be what they are. After deploying several hundred million emails a month for a variety of Brand advertisers, the complaints we receive annually are minimal. Let’s call it 2-3 a year, with half of those being from professional litigants who opt-in everywhere, and then use the lesser known state laws to try and extort a few dollars. Not having a firm hand on compliance however can yield much worse problems. The benefits and ability to scale your business however, far outweigh the perceived risks which are minimal and easily addressed. Again, experience counts here, because an understanding of how to navigate through these problems is critical for both peace of mind and cost savings. (more…)
Let’s face it. Nothing has changed our lives more in the past 20 years than the Internet and email. We receive emails delivered to our computers and phone wherever we are, 24/7. In addition to work and personal emails, companies we do business with (or companies who’d like to do business with us!), utilize email to communicate. We have all gotten used to checking our email regularly, and hitting the “X” button to delete the myriad of messages we don’t have an interest in. Email can be used for communicating with existing clients, re-marketing to clients who have already discovered you, or to acquire new, fresh hand-raisers who have an interest in your product now! Emails that pique our interest by introducing us to new products play a significant role in driving our economy.
Millions of leads and sales are generated daily from this advertising medium. In fact, E-mail Marketing has effectively replaced Direct Mail as the preferred method of driving new business.
So why are so few companies marketing this way?
For one, it’s hard. Most companies fail at it. After working with a lot of well-known brands, the stories we hear about their efforts prior to our engagement are relatively consistent. They have tried it, but the sales metrics did not back out, traffic fraud was pervasive, their forms did not convert and so on. Traffic was not only hard to find, policing it for compliance was even harder. Identifying mailers with the the right Demographic lists and who can also “inbox” are also a challenge. Managing your domains or a couple consumer complaint can be daunting. As with all things, experience and good contacts matter. But for every challenge, there is a solution…
“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.)
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:
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.
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.
I’ve run a number of sales teams in my career, and even spent some time in the mid 90’s training automobile dealers on how to create an effective sales process working Internet leads – at the time, it was the antithesis of their traditional sales process. In fact, it 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 very 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?”
Because it’s rarely the leads, that’s why.
As a lead generator, I’ve worked with thousands of forward and reverse mortgage lenders and brokers over the years. I’ve had the opportunity to share processes with these lenders and aggregate best practices. Some of these clients have seen tremendous ROI and consider our 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? The leads are effective as you are. Process, positioning, and competitiveness matter. 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. What top sales people do tend to have in common, however, is a better sales process, a better pitch, the ability to connect with people, and personal drive (defined as work ethic), in which excuses are just not acceptable. They hold themselves accountable and find ways to succeed, not excuses as to why they fail. Again, the leads are as effective as you are; the deals are in there.