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Archive for February, 2010

LeadsCon 2010 – Well Played

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

SPOILER ALERT – This blog post is going to be self serving so stop now if you don’t want to know why Leads360 rocked LeadsCon 2010.

Mirage Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas Nevada – Leads360 and 50 other sponsors of the 3rd annual LeadsCon show proved that the lead generation industry is thriving. About 2000 attendees spent two days learning about lead generation, lead scoring, and lead management among other topics.

Leads360 had a strong showing with over ten representatives bouncing from session to session, panel to panel, interview to interview and at our corporate booth, managing a swarm of interested people until the closing bell. Our marketing approach was simple, thought leadership, best practices, and brand. Of course I’m biased, but we nailed it. But I’m not the only one; Greg Coleman from LeadQual, who provides lead qualification and live transfer solutions, said “…wanted to congratulate you guys for your efforts at LeadsCon. Definitely a lot of buzz about you guys. Clearly Leads360 is positioned as a leader in Lead Management…” – ask just about anyone at the show who made a splash and Leads360 will be top of the list.  We certainly were not the only company to have a good show as we know that our friends at TARGUSinfo, DoublePositive and many other companies we’re thrilled as well.  Big thanks to Jay and Michelle @Leadscon for making it all happen.  Here is how it all went down:

Day 1 (Tuesday) – I joined a panel of industry leaders including Matt Tillman from Adchemy, Mark Fowler from LendingTree, Sheilin Herrick from AIS, Segev Tsfati from Walden University, and half a dozen from the DoublePositive team to discuss the benefits of Hot Transfer Leads, which was a widely discussed topic at the show. Everyone knows the importance of calling new leads quickly, but Sheilin Herrick from AIS made it pretty clear that the easiest way to call in 5 minutes or less was to use a 3rd party call center for live transfers.  AIS uses DoublePositive, of course. Tillman and Fowler both commented on how Leads360’s lead management platform is critical to a successful live transfer program and Joey Liner from DoublePositive reinforced that statement when he explained how his best clients use Leads360 as the “quarterback” for their entire lead contacting strategy.

At noon on Tuesday the exhibit hall opened – there was a mad rush to the Leads360 booth. We had to scarf down our lunch to get back to our posts and field all the questions from clients, partners, and prospects. Ryan McClintock must have given no less than 50 demos on our flat screen and Rob Rokoff funneled in enthusiastic referrals from our network of lead provider partners. The whole exhibit hall was packed and that didn’t stop after happy hour started; the only thing that changed was that both sides of the table had beers in hand as they exchanged strategies and best practices.

Nisheeth Singh, our Director of Strategic Intelligence, was on hand doling out knowledge he’d uncovered from analysis of our 20+ million leads.  Leads360 has been working hard to leverage our very large database of leads and conversion data. Because we have such a large client footprint (of which many where at the show), we can provide industry trends and benchmarks based on key metrics and data points. This is a big part of our thought leadership strategy and it was very well received. In fact on day 2 Nick Hedges was part of a LeadsCon panel that Jay Weintraub put together called “End of the Funnel” where he shared some of the most powerful findings from a recent analysis project (more on that in a minute).

That night the strategy didn’t end. Leads360 hosted another one of our famous dinners where the most successful clients, thought leaders and other industry gurus gathered to swap knowledge. In attendance was Clarissa Shen of Apollo/University of Phoenix, Neil Kaplan from Vantage Media, Phil Baltazar from America Funding (aka the Godfather), Mel Guymon from Google and 20 more influential people in the lead ecosystem.

Day 2 (Wed) – We got things started with a 9AM session called “Extreme Lead Management” where we broke the mold for sponsored sessions.  Over 120 people watched intently as I demonstrated three common, but frequently dysfunctional sales situations.  We created three videos depicting office situations that just about everyone could relate too (watch them on YouTube, click here or the image below).

I’m going to re-record the full Leadscon session as a webinar, which will be available on our site in the near future for those who couldn’t make it to Leadscon or for those that couldn’t wake up. This session was a perfect setup for Nick’s panel that followed just after. It was clear people were hungry for data. They were hungry for best practices. They didn’t want to re-invent the wheel; they just wanted to know what worked and what to do. We made it a priority to do the work to answer those questions in time for the show.

At 11AM everyone filed into the main hall for the “End of the Funnel” session moderated by Mike Ferree (aka LeadCritic) and featuring panelists Nick Hedges from Leads360, Sheilin Herrick from AIS, and Jessica Manna from Residential Finance.  Nick started it all by reviewing the results of our most recent round of data analysis on the performance of millions of leads.  We found important best practices call frequency and speed-to-contact. There is much more to this study and we’re in the process of packaging it like our Six Call Attempts Study which can be downloaded for free here. Look for the call frequency study soon on Leads360.com. More than 300 people packed the room listening and frantically scribbling down on paper what was being shared by the panel.

Following the panel, the exhibit hall opened again and there were no less than ten people in front of the Leads360 booth at any one time. Seriously, it was inspiring – both for our industry, but also for our company. People came up and said “I’m not sure I need your software, but I want to figure out a way to work with you.” The videos from my session where a big hit; people came by to congratulate us and were so excited about the impact they made. There was another company called 360Media who was compelled to come by our booth because they had so many people coming to them saying how much they appreciated our sessions and panel – they had to stop them and say “I think you’re looking for Leads360…”

We had a great show. If you were there; I’m sure you did as well. We’re very excited about the state of our industry and the growing interest in the lead generation space. That’s good news for Leadscon and all of the sponsors, Leads360 included.

If you were at the show and didn’t get to meet us, drop us a line because we would love to work together. That’s our bag. Even if we can’t sell you Lead Management software (although we’ll try), we want to be a useful resource for you, whatever that means.

How Can You Make Your Product More Enjoyable? - This is a MUST watch video

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

At Leads360 we focus heavily on UI design, but this great video from G4 and Jesse Schell will make you realize that there are always deeper ways to improve the way that your product connects with your users.  Thanks GigaOm.

Everyone Loves a Quick Close

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

The path to a successful sale is fraught with obstacles. Not a few of which are inside our own heads in the form of assumptions and erroneous beliefs.

Before we wave our fingers at the salespersons’ tendency to favor the quick close and not follow up on leads well, let’s first acknowledge that this behavior is commonplace for a reason. It makes sense. And in a world without a dedicated Lead Management Solution, it may actually be considered a best practice. What behavior am I talking about specifically? Salespersons are ‘hooked’ on the quick close. If one lead in a hundred is the one that is going to close quickly, why would you spend time on the phone with the ones that aren’t? Since the salesperson’s skill set and experience equip them to recognize when they have a lead on the line that they can close, why wouldn’t they just keep burning through calls, until they get that feeling that they have a ‘live one’ on the line? Wouldn’t you? Choosing a path other than this would mean that the ‘live one’ winds up on the line with one of the other salespeople.

Three obvious problems with basing your sales approach around the quick close are:

  1. There is a margin of error. The lead may be a ‘live one’ that can be closed, but the sales agent can’t see it
  2. It ignores the fact that 40-50% of leads will eventually close, even if they don’t close right away
  3. Slow closing leads represent 77% of total sales

If those pieces of data are not persuasive enough, consider one even more critical fact: It’s not necessary to choose one or the other. With Lead Management Software, salesmen do not have to choose between chasing the quick close and nurturing leads. By using Lead Management Software, Salesmen can turn and burn calls, while funneling leads that are not quick closers into a nurture cycle.

A lead nurture cycle serves as an automated bidirectional reminder.

  • It sends emails to the lead: “Don’t forget about this company, this sales agent, when you’re ready to buy, we’ll be here!”
  • It sends reminders to the Salesman: “Don’t forget about this lead, when they’re ready to buy, you have to be there!”

Research in neuropsychology shows that one way the human brain organizes information is by retracing the steps that lead to a desired result and trying to replicate them. Your sales agents have for so long gotten positive results by working according to the old rules: Burning through calls as fast as they can to get to the one they can close. And Lead Management Software doesn’t require that sales agents ‘learn a new way to work’. Instead, it harnesses the sales agents enthusiasm for connecting to new leads while automating the more easily overlooked tasks of following up with leads that are not immediate closers.

The new lesson that salespersons are learning while using Lead Management is this: There are a lot more deals to be closed outside of that fish that just flops into the boat.

LeadsCon Reminder!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Reminder! Come see the two sessions we are participating in!

Extreme Lead Management: Tomorrow at 9:00 AM


End Of The Funnel: Tomorrow at 10:45 AM

#leadscon Sound Off!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

The LeadsCon turnout is HUGE this year. See below for what people are saying…er I mean tweeting.

  • Steve_Gottlieb Wifi access at Leadscon is a mess unfortunately…maybe a result of 1,800 people attending, which is amazing. #Leadscon
  • RT @DanielleMorrill: Having some great conversations about how SMS fits with lead generation, impressed to see Facebook here #leadscon
  • revimedia #Leadscon - very positive impressions, great people from the industry and lots of business oppertunities.
  • RT @myl: User experience, high quality content, diversify mktg channels, build brand and watch out for google are early themes @leadscon
  • tomfeary Investor panel best so far at #leadscon. Traffic and Brand = $$$
  • alex_murphy The world is moving from intent based adv (search) to social. Much higher conversions and ROI - Mark Suster #leadscon
  • johnboyle Agreed: “Social will be a major conversion driver in 2010″ -Mark Suster #leadscon
  • tomfeary Great opening sessions at #leadscon. Who will be the first $1B lead gen business? Good question from leaders panel.

B2B vs. B2C CRM: What’s the Diff?

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Our founder and SVP Jeff Solomon, wrote a great article for CRMBuyer, entitled “B2B vs. B2C CRM: What’s the Diff?” I suggest checking it out, as Jeff highlights some interesting points.

See below for an excerpt, or click here to read the full article.

“CRM solutions have a long history of helping B2B marketers achieve greater ROI from their leads. Yet for companies that sell their products and services direct to consumers, CRM solutions frequently miss the mark. A quick Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) search for CRM helps prove this: The search returns plenty of B2B products, but sifting through the results to find solutions designed specifically for the B2C sale is like finding a needle in a haystack.”

Learning from Olympic Gold

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Lindsey Vonn won the Gold Medal in downhill skiing on Wednesday. While she and her competitors skied, commentators gave their analysis of each skier’s strategy, their mistakes, and how viable of a contender each skier was showing herself to be on that given run. During their analysis of Vonn’s run, they mentioned that she uses men’s skis. Men’s skis gave her a longer ‘wheel base’ that made it easier to maintain and control her momentum over what had become a fairly choppy course. This, some have suggested, is an unfair advantage. But men’s skis can be used by any competitor. In fact, Maria Riesch, also competing, tried using men’s skis in some of her training runs but did not end up competing with them. Why? Because she could not handle them.

Some competitors win because they are able to use tools that their competitors can’t handle.

Lead Management Software is the same kind of tool. It is used by those companies who have a desire to step up, right now, and perform. Lead Management Software is uniquely capable of putting the right sales agent in touch with the right prospect within minutes of the prospects inquiry. Companies whose way of doing business involves managing leads by email or with a CRM are choosing to do business more slowly. They are effectively making the choice to get in line behind their competitors who are using Lead Management Software.

Lead Management Software was built around the goals of getting the lead first, and maintaining contact with them if they are not quick closers. Companies that know how important it is to be first are recognizing Lead Management Software as an increasingly essential tool in any competitive market.

Some competitors lose because they don’t use the tools their competitors do.

The CRM/LMS Dynamic

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Yesterday we held a great webinar entitled “Where Good CRMs Go Bad: The Missing Link to Converting Leads into Sales,” and I encourage everyone to check it out here. We felt that the LMS/CRM dynamic was an important topic to cover as the relationship can be quite confusing. Whether we are talking about Internet Leads or any other sort of business, in the age of overkill, there is something to be said about specialized solutions, and this webinar goes into great detail explaining the benefits.

Technology is supposed to make complicated problems and processes easier, but it instead most people will agree that sometimes technology replaces one complicated problem with another more expensive one. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t hate CRM’s, but  instead feel that in most cases a Lead Management System can do a better job than a CRM or significantly enhance a CRM that has already been implemented.

A CRM by virtue is exactly what the acronym stands for, a Customer Relationship Manager. Granted, a CRM does do a good job of managing relationships, but how do you get those relationships to manage in the first place? When we pose this question to CRM advocates, we usually get a few seconds of “dead airwaves” if you know what I mean… The point is, CRMs are not the best way to achieve more business, and in fact, they can actually hinder the process. For the delicate sales process, the heart of your business, you need a specialized tool designed to do one thing well. The one thing WE do well is close more business.

Strength Through Partnership

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

We have always advocated the importance of partnerships and cooperation when it comes to business, and so we want to take this opportunity to congratulate one of our most important partners, QuinStreet. Today marks an important milestone in the history of the company, as they are now trading on Nasdaq after a successful IPO. We look forward to sharing continued success well into the future and are proud to be a partner with a company like Quinstreet.