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Archive for January, 2010

Cultivation Marketing

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

We’ve talked about the great importance of personal attention, nurturing, and follow up before the sale, but what about the importance after the sale?

In the fast paced environment of sales, usually we are focused on closing the next big deal, generating and purchasing the best leads, and constantly trying to outdo ourselves. This is a good practice to follow, but it is still vital to make sure that people who we have already closed, (the ones paying our bills) are completely happy, especially when there is a chance for a resale or a referral. This notion seems pretty straight forward, but let’s face it, investing time and money on things that can’t really show a blatant quantifiable return, is tough to swallow.

At Leads360 we recently undertook the task of doing some “cultivation marketing,” a term I coined that really encompassed what our ultimate goal was. For a second, imagine that you are a farmer who grows a type of plant. You first have to prepare the soil, plant the seed, and the nurture it to get it to grow. Once the seed turns into that plant though, there is much to be done. You have to make sure weeds don’t overtake it, insects don’t destroy it, and that is gets adequate water and light. Finally after all your hard work, the plant bears fruit. I am positive that you have heard this tired analogy to the sales process before, but bear with me as I take it a bit further. What happens after you have harvested all the fruit? Do you neglect the plant and let it die, now that you have enjoyed what it has yielded you? The farmer understands that although the plant may be initially finished with providing, if maintained, more fruit can be taken next year, and more importantly the plant can spread its seeds ultimately creating new plants. Going back to the sales process, this means that “cultivating” the existing sale can help secure another sale from them in the future, and increase your chances of that company referring you to a friend.

Next week, I’ll explain how Leads360 is taking on this challenge, and talk about the important considerations that should be taken when committing to cultivation marketing.

Leads360 Now Provides Integrated Lead Scoring & Address Verification From Targus

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Integrated Scoring from TARGUSinfo

Leads360 is pleased to announce our partnership with TARGUSinfo, the industry leader in real time lead verification and scoring services. Using On-Demand Lead Verification can significantly increase the contactability and conversions of online leads by automatically verifying and enhancing leads prior to distribution.

How Does it Work?

TARGUSinfo will instantly indicate any linkage between the name, address and phone of each lead and provide you with actionable information on whether to accept or reject that lead. Ultimately, you can distinguish between the good and bad leads and drive more conversions. Clients can also enhance their leads by appending alternate phone numbers or addresses, household level demographics and household property data.

You can leverage TARGUSinfo’s lead verification services automatically when new leads arrive or trigger using an action. Here are a few use cases:

  1. Automatically verify and prioritize calls - When new leads arrive they will be automatically given a “verified” or “not verified” category which can be used to prioritize call queues. You can create a custom “My Report” that will immediately list “verified” leads at the top of your view leads list. You can also automatically post them to your dialer if you have one.
  2. Route “verified” leads to top sales people - Create a distribution program that automatically assigns “Verified” leads to your best agents and set short recycle times to ensure calls are made quickly.
  3. Improve quality from your lead providers - Setup an XML trigger to report unverified leads to your lead sources in real-time. Use this information to request credits and help lead providers refine their marketing to provide better leads.
  4. Find hidden opportunities from existing leads - Run a batch to post old leads to TARGUSInfo and have contact information appended. Prioritize the newly verified leads in your nurture call campaigns.

Leads360 and Google Take Mortgage Lead Generation to New Heights

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

I’m excited to report, finally, that we are officially collaborating with Google. Frankly it’s a bit of a relief as we’ve had to keep quiet about it for many months. We started working with Google long before the introduction of their new Comparison Ads feature, which, if you haven’t seen it, is incredibly slick (more on that later). Google acknowledged and appreciated that we had a wealth of knowledge in the mortgage lead management space, and through our strategic relationship over the past few months, we’ve been involved in the exciting development of AdWords Comparison.

As I said, if you haven’t seen Google Comparison Ads for mortgages, you can check it out here. Essentially you can run mortgage pricing scenarios on-the-fly and compare lenders. Nick Hedges has a pretty thorough review of the functionality on his lead blog.

For Leads360 this is big news.  We know that customers that use our lead management platform perform better with internet mortgage leads. For companies that want to try Google leads they should know that Leads360 has a turnkey integration with Google so leads will be received in real-time as inquiries are made by prospective customers.

One of the unique benefits of using Leads360 is that we have built-in de-duplication management which may be useful when working with Google Comparison Ads. Essentially, if you receive more than one inquiry from the same person, you can instantly identify and merge leads so your loan officers are more efficient and provide a better customer experience, which everyone knows is Google’s #1 goal and will be increasingly important over time as Comparison Ads grow in popularity and competitiveness.

Currently Google’s mortgage-related Comparions Ads beta is open to a select group of lenders. If you want more information or if you are an existing Leads360 Enterprise customer we may be able to help you get into the beta. Contact your Client Success Manager for more information.

Join Our Lead Management Panel At LeadsCon!

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

On February 23-24 in Las Vegas, Leads360 will be sponsoring and participating in the 2010 LeadsCon conference. No matter what you do in the online lead generation industry, there will be something for you at this conference.  If you would like to attend, please use this link to get up to $200 off your registration.*

Learn about the enormous amount of potential and opportunity from industry leaders while also sharing  your own thoughts and experiences.

We were attracted to this opportunity because we like the direction and focus that the conference is trying to promote. The landscape in the online lead industry is constantly morphing, and the way to stay competitive and continue to grow, is to collaboratively come together and walk into the next stage of the industry as one entity. At Leads360 we like to not only think of ourselves as a business, but as thought leaders as well. Every day is a learning experience, and we want to share as much of what we learn as possible. Helping others do well can increase the overall health of the industry, and when that happens, we all win.

Seminars we are participating in:

End Of The Funnel - A View From The Bottom

  • -Comparative study of both sides of the funnel
  • -Discover the tactical elements for lead conversion
  • -Uncover the sales secrets for maximum ROI

WHEN: Wednesday February 24, 2021 @ 10:45am-1130am

WHERE:  The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas Nevada

Extreme Lead Management - Five Innovative Use Cases You Don’t Know About But Should

  • -Dramatically improve performance through the day
  • -Implement complex lead strategies
  • -Learn what progressive companies are doing today

WHEN: Wednesday February 24, 2021 @ 9:00am-9:45am

WHERE: The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas Nevada

Remember that discounted registration is available here.*

*Discount rate good on new registrations only. Credits or refunds cannot be issued on previous registrations.  Discount rate good through February 6, 2010, prevailing rate applies after that.

Preparation Is Key In The Booming For-Profit EDU Industry

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Recently, LeadCritic posted an article regarding the enormous growth in the For Profit EDU sector, and how although business is good, forward thought and preparation is going to be very important. Like LeadCritic mentioned, with access to internet ever increasing coupled with the fact that the work force is actively looking to get ahead and stand out, growth is moving as fast as a freight train.

From our vantage point at Leads360, we have watched the industries we serve experience the same lifecycle again and again. We know all too well how the Mortgage industry was effected and especially know how quickly things can go from good to bad, and then to worse. Over-saturation is a common fear in growing industries, and smart companies know that even when potential business is booming, they need to prepare to weather the times when it isn’t. Companies should embrace the bountiful period, but never take anything for granted.  The point of this warning is not to scare anyone, but to bring about a call to action. This cyclical nature can be looked at as good thing, de cluttering said space, and allowing for the survival of the fittest.  The separation of the “men from the boys” can allow companies who have prepared and are following best practices to establish themselves as industry players, and can create an environment for them to continue to grow and flourish far down the road. The keys for this preparation are fairly obvious. Make sure your company is not fooled by the tremendous growth by letting standards slide. Be sure to contact leads quickly and concisely, don’t allow for precious leads to be stranded by the wayside, and utilize current technology to stay ahead of the curve. Although you may find some things unnecessary at the moment, teaching your sales force how to embrace new technology before the storm, allows for an easy transition when your company needs it most. Take heed, but enjoy the ever expanding market.

How Marketing Companies Are Failing Lead Management

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Michael Ferree is an expert on online marketing and lead generation and his most recent article on imediaconnection.com highlights the necessity of strong Lead Management Systems like Leads360.

Most notable, is Michael’s reference to a Leads360 study that we conducted that shows that only 57% of lead conversion can be attributed to the quality of leads, while a whopping 43% comes down to smart and efficient lead management.  This means that success in sales cannot rely completely on one method or the other, as both are necessary to maximizing ROI and finding a systematic approach for consistent success.

The first area where lead management shows its value is in speed to contact.  Studies have shown that calling within the first five minutes will allow a sales staff to make contact with their lead 100 times more often than calling within the first half hour.  Internet leads move quickly, representing people who are actively shopping around and who will look at at least 2-3 different providers before they’re done.  The highest level of success will come from contacting that person immediately, while they’re still online and shopping, and before a competitor has reached them.  Lead Management Systems like Leads360, will increase the speed to first call for these leads and give a sales staff a much better chance of calling within the critical first five minutes.  What’s more, Lead Management Systems will also help with another key problem for teams dealing with internet leads: a failure to even contact the lead at all.  The same studies have shown that 37% of leads are never contacted even once!

The second key element that Michael explores is the number of call attempts made for each lead.  It should come as no surprise that persistence is a key element of success in converting leads, and a Leads360 study confirms that multiple call attempts will dramatically increase the chances of success.  A second call alone will increase the chances of contacting a lead by 87%.  Despite this fact, a shocking 50% of leads don’t receive a second call.  More interesting though is the fact that the metrics we collected indicate that there’s an ideal method of calling and number of calls, and calling too many times won’t increase the odds of contacting the lead.  By calling six times and varying the time of day with each call, sales teams can ensure that they contact leads and give themselves the best chance at converting.

Michael Ferree is a leader in the industry and it should come as no surprise that he’s familiar with the necessity of a solid Lead Management System.  A Lead Management System will isolate inefficiencies in your sales process and find solutions for them based on the data Ferree references.

Four Stages of The Sale

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Traditionally there are four stages of the buying process that prospects must go through before they become customers; they are: Awareness, Consideration, Research and Purchase. As B2B, and to some extent B2C, marketers, we must do our part to help prospects navigate the chaos they are likely to find in each of these stages. The more effective we become at guiding prospects through this process, the more likely they are to become our clients and not our competitors’ clients.

The first stage, awareness, may at first seem like a piece to the puzzle that we have no control over. We think the prospect themselves must come to the realization that they have a need. This of course does happen sometimes, but we do ourselves a disservice to not try and get involved early on. Think of it, if your company is the one that helped the prospect have the “ah-ha” moment, when they realize, wow, here’s my problem and I need to find a solution to it. That’s powerful. To be effective at this stage you have to throw a wide net because prospects need to find you that aren’t really looking for you.  You need to show up in places they are already at. You need to create and distribute content that is useful to them. You must become a voice; one that they just happen upon.

Once a prospect is aware of their need they start to think about solving it. They may consider a whole suite of solutions, from doing nothing or building something internally, to finding a partner or buying a competitor. The possibilities are endless and it’s your job to stay top of mind and help prospects understand the pros and cons of each path. You’ll need to decide how pushy you want to be at this stage. If you already have a communication channel opened, you can push hard and try to convince them they want to look at solutions like yours. Or you can be more passive and let them figure it out for themselves. Our experience is that the latter works better. Ultimately you may lose a few more deals, but those you get tend to stick longer. If you’re in the business of retaining customers like us, that becomes pretty important. If you just sell widgets one time, well, maybe not as crucial.

At the third stage the prospect probably has narrowed down the types of solutions that they want to look into. They begin searching for solution providers like you to help them. Hopefully you nailed it in stage one and two and they’ve already reached out to you. Don’t worry if they contact your competitors too, in the long run this help because your competitors reinforce the need for a solution like yours. As long as you have good competitive intelligence and a smart sales process, you should be able to win those deals (that may be a topic for another post). Now, as prospects consider you and your competitors you must help them realize value. We do this with a business case to help them see if working with us is going to be a fit; in other words, will it be a win-win relationship, because if it’s not, then someone is going to lose and that doesn’t work.

The final stage is purchase, woohoo! Yes, here is where you make the money, but don’t forget this is also the stage the client gets a problem solved. If you are solving their problem from stage one, then you shouldn’t have to give your product away. You’re providing value and that’s worth something. Part of your value may be your price. Maybe you offer a cheaper solution than your competitors. Or you might have a better product with more comprehensive service and you charge more for that. Whatever your strategy is, stick to it. Finally, remember to deliver. Too often deals are closed then companies forget to give the client what they sold them. Sounds sill, but it’s all too true. They are on to the next sale. Incidentally, if you’re on a “buyer” reading this post, don’t forget to ask about that. Ask the sales person, how do you ensure you give me what I’m buying from you? They better have a good answer for you.

As a buyer going through all this, it’s a useful exercise to assess where you are at in the process. This post is written for the sales and marketing professionals, but the insight is as useful to buyers as much as it is to sellers.