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Lead Conversion Best Practices, Pt. 2

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Following up from last week’s post, below are 2 remaining key practices that every lead buyer should follow in order to improve their conversions.

III. Earn the Consumer’s Trust

Consumers are going to do business with someone they trust.  There are 4 key components to earning a consumer’s trust:

  • Qualify the customer’s needs
  • Identify the “implications” for those needs
  • Listen for buying signals
  • Obtain the consumer’s commitment

1) Qualify the Consumer’s Needs

In this step you need to ask open ended questions to learn the reason for their inquiry.  Use both financial and emotional qualifiers to pinpoint the reason they completed an online inquiry.  It is likely that there may be some sort of “pain” point behind the inquiry.  If you don’t identify that “pain” point then one of your competitors will.  As a result, they are more likely to get the consumer’s business.  Below is an example of open-ended qualifying questions:

  • “What is it about your current mortgage that caused you to inquire?”
  • “Have you found a house that you are looking to buy that you need the loan for”
  • “Is there a pressing financial need that is behind your inquiry to refinance?”

If you can identify 2-3 solid qualifiers, or examples of “pain,” from the open-ended question process, then it’s safe to move to step 2.

2) Identify the “Implications” for the Needs

This is arguably the most important step of the process because if you can find an emotional response to the needs, the consumer will be able to literally “feel” how your solution will help them.  Some examples of “Implication” questions would be:

  • “What might happen if you don’t resolve the situation?”
  • “How has the financial strain of your current situation affected your stress level?”

Once you have identified the “Implications” of the consumer’s needs, then you may move on to step 3.

3) Listen for Buying Signals

At this point, the consumer will likely begin asking you questions that show their level of interest.  This is because you have earned their trust, identified their needs and identified the emotional and financial impact those needs have on them.  So at this point, the consumer needs you to solve their problem.  Examples of buying signals include:

  • “So, I could achieve this monthly payment and get the cash out of my house that I need?”
  • “What is the application process like with your company?”
  • “What are your fees and closing costs?”
  • “How soon can I get the money?”

4) Obtain the Consumer’s Commitment

There are several keys to gaining commitment.  Undoubtedly any commitment that includes a monetary component is best.  But if that is not possible, get the consumer to commit to receive your “official packet,” whatever that might be.

IV. Recycle Older Leads

Many of your consumers will fall out of the process for various reasons.  Maybe they had a change of heart, or maybe they were overwhelmed by the calls from multiple companies.  However, many of these consumers are still in the market for a product or service several weeks after their initial inquiry, but by then most of your competitors have already thrown that consumer to the floor.

Set up a process to call any consumer that says they are not interested (or any consumer for whom you have left unreturned messages) at 30 days from the point they were removed from the initial call cycle.  Introduce yourself and let them know that they should contact you if they are still in the market for the product they requested.  Repeat this process at day 45, 60 and 90.  LeadPoint has several clients for whom this is one of their more profitable sources of business.

We hope these 4 steps will prove valuable and are confident that if you loyally follow them you will see measurable improvements in your conversions rates and ROI over time.

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Lead Conversion Best Practices

Monday, October 10th, 2011

We have discussed lead conversion best practices in the past, but given their importance they bare repeating.  There are 4 key practices that every lead buyer should faithfully follow in order to improve their conversion rates.

    #1: Be the first to Contact the Consumer
    #2: Be Diligent and Methodical with Your Follow-Up
    #3: Earn the Consumer’s Trust
    #4: Recycle Older Leads

Today we will cover points 1 & 2 and follow up with 3 & 4 in a subsequent post.

Practice #1:  Be the First to Contact the Consumer

While this may seem obvious, you might be surprised by how much of an impact it has.  If your lead provider does not deliver real-time leads, you are already at a disadvantage.  LeadPoint has a call center where we interact with consumers that we have matched with buyers in our network.  Invariably, the number one consumer complaint is that the consumer was not contacted by all of the buyers with whom they were matched.

Thus, not only are buyers not calling on the leads as soon as they are received, many buyers’ sales representatives are not even calling on the leads at all.  Time-to-contact is the key component to success with data leads.  While it is not likely that you will get the deal on the initial call, you need to attempt to be the very first company that the consumer speaks with.

Consumers want to entertain other offers, but being the first to speak to the consumer will help you succeed in Practice #3 (Earn the Consumer’s Trust) and you will become the benchmark against which all other conversations will be measured.  However, being the first to contact is only one piece of the pie. 

Exclusive Leads: You Should Still Call The Consumer Immediately

Even if you purchase an exclusive lead from LeadPoint you may not be the only company competing for the consumers’ business. After submitting their inquiry with a LeadPoint partner, consumers may continue to pursue other inquieries over the Internet.

Practice #2:  Be Diligent and Methodical with your Follow-Up

Upon receiving the lead, you should do all of the following:

Immediately contact the consumer at all available phone numbers. 

“Preferred” call times (a field that some leads include) are great for follow up, but if you adhere to them for the initial contact then you will be left in the dust.

If you don’t have the means to set up an auto-generated email response to the lead, then have a standard introductory letter that you fire off to the consumer manually, immediately upon receiving the lead.

If the consumer is not contacted on the initial call, then call a minimum of 3 more times per day during the first day (4 calls total), and during the subsequent 3 days thereafter until the consumer is contacted.  Leave a message, however, only on the last call of the day.

Perform the above processes consistently and religiously!

Bonus Tip – Call on weekends!

Consumers are more likely to answer their phone.  They are likely to have all the necessary documentation in front of them.  And they generally have more freedom to speak than they might while at work.

To be continued….

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Providing Lead Feedback – A Sign of a Maturing Industry

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Transparency is a word that is getting a great deal of attention these days, not only within lead gen but within the business world in general.  It was a lack of transparency into the riskiness of loan assets that resulted in the economic collapse that our economy has been emerging from for the last few years. When transparency exists in a business deal both parties are able to make informed decisions as to whether the deal achieves their objectives.

Typically when transparency is discussed in lead generation it refers to buyers having greater insight into how and where a lead is generated.  With this information buyers generally have a greater understanding on how the lead will perform.  Additionally, they can track leads by source and allocate money only to the sources that are performing best for them.  An element of transparency, however, that is not often discussed is the importance of lead buyers providing feedback to the publisher generating the lead the outcome of the lead’s disposition.

As lead gen matures and becomes more of an established form of advertising it will need to adapt aspects of traditional advertising where information is shared more freely between a company and its advertising partner (i.e. its ad agency).

Traditional advertising has its roots back to the turn of the century when companies first started hiring outside agencies to assist them in developing and creating ad campaigns.  Advertising agencies, however, didn’t really kick into high gear until the early 1960’s and the adoption of television by the American public.  Since then, advertising agencies have become integral partners of companies in helping them with their marketing efforts.

Prior to entering the lead gen business, I worked for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) company Clorox.  As with most CPG companies, the relationship between Clorox and its ad agency was extremely close.  In the CPG world the advertising agency is effectively an extension of a company’s internal marketing department.

Clorox uses the ad agency DDB West, a division of the advertising conglomerate Omnicom Group.  Just like Clorox employees, DDB staff working on Clorox accounts received badges to enter and exit the Clorox building at will.  DDB individuals participated in a majority of the product planning meetings with Clorox marketing managers in discussing and formulating each brand’s advertising objectives.  Clorox further freely shared its sales results with DDB so that they could evaluate the success of various advertising creative and methods (print, TV, radio, online, etc.) and make important recommendations based on what tactics were producing the greatest ROI.

The lead gen industry is still relatively new and it understandably has some catching up to match the practices that are utilized by traditional brand marketing companies.  As is common with new industries, there is still a fair amount of consolidation occurring within the sector.  As leading players solidify and the overall industry becomes more sophisticated, it will become increasingly important for lead buyers (i.e. advertisers) to develop a similar level of trust with the companies they receive leads from.

Arguably companies that will be most successful in utilizing lead gen will be the companies that freely share the results of their lead gen campaigns with their lead gen partners (similar to how the brand/product companies do with their advertising partners).  When this occurs lead gen companies will be able to tailor campaigns to get the best results for their clients.

In today’s current model lead gen works in a “one-size-fits-all” mentality where leads have basically become commoditized.  With greater transparency and the sharing of information, lead gen can follow the route of traditional marketing.  In this scenario the company works with its advertising partner to best communicate its products unique positioning and how to effectively reach their targeted consumer with this message.  By sharing proprietary information, a company in effect enables its advertising agency to more effectively do its job.

Lead gen buyers need to do their due diligence and find partners who they can trust with sharing proprietary information.  Once this trust has been established and information is shared, the partner can then tailor campaigns to generate leads that better drive conversions.  When this occurs, the lead gen business will not only have matured, but the results are likely to be more effective and more profitable for all parties involved.

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