1. Jump to page-navigation
  2. Jump to content

Archive for March, 2011

Shoot For The Moon

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

In the opening line of Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy states that Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  The same could also be said of companies with successful sales strategies.  There are hundreds of different ways that a sales team can frustrate their efforts and sabotage themselves.  Even the most intelligent, motivated, and talented sales people can still find themselves stymied at times if they don’t have a consistent approach to achieving their goals.  Successful sales teams, though, have most likely found an approach to their business that is consistent and allows them to thrive in all situations.  Few tools are more helpful in honing on this sort of approach than a Lead Management System like Leads360.  The sales automation and organization provided by a LMS is exactly what a sales team needs to build a consistent, workable approach to business that will remain successful over time.

There are some simple methods for achieving consistent success that any sales team can follow.  The first is setting specific goals.  Defining the parameters of success can be a key determining factor to reaching those goals.  Vague goals like “increasing ROI” or “closing more leads” are easy to lose track of, but setting specific benchmarks to reach keep things in perspective.  It’s also important to be realistic and optimistic in these goals.  Set goals that are lofty and difficult, but not so much so that they are out of reach.  Goal-setting allows a sales team to keep their progress in perspective and to hone in on specific methods for reaching those goals and improving their sales approach.  Another element of a successful sales team is to constantly strive towards improvement.  Simply achieving one goal or reaching a desired plateau of success cannot be something a sales manager will accept.  It’s important to continue setting goals and striving to improve even when a sales team is satisfied with their results.  In order to keep ahead of the curve, sales teams need to be constantly vigilant and stay ahead of the curve.  Finally, successful sales teams understand that grit and determination are keys to staying on top of self-improvement.  Changing a sales culture for the better over the long term takes hard work and a determined, consistent effort.  A hard push over a few months that fades away over time won’t get the sort results you need.  Sales teams really interested building a sales culture that is sustainable and successful have to be ready to invest their time each and every day.

When it comes to building a successful culture on your sales team, few tools are as useful as a Lead Management System like Leads360.  Leads360 software allows a sales team to automate their approach while carefully tracking progress so future efforts can be dictated by results.  Leads360 is invaluable to setting and reaching team goals.  Leads360 meticulously records and analyzes metrics from all of the data available from each and every lead your sales team pursues.  Not only is it easier to determine what goals are appropriately ambitious by analyzing this data, but Leads360 can highlight which elements of your sales process need to be addressed to meet those goals.  Instituting these changes is much easier using the sales automation provided by Leads360.  What’s more, Leads360 provides a sales team with the ability to continue striving to improve.  Careful lead tracking and scoring by Leads360 allows a sales team to continue reviewing their sales process and honing in on best practices.  Finally, while grit and determination are crucial, Leads360 is a means for focusing that energy.  It’s one thing to want to improve, but it’s another thing entirely to seek out those tools that will allow you to truly channel your efforts into actual results.

In the end, success in sales and closing more leads can be difficult, but there are simple ways to approach your sales process that will help you find success.  Setting goals, tracking your process, keeping up the efforts to improve, and showing the grit and determination to keep your efforts up are all ways that any sales team can focus their efforts and see immediate results.

Leads360 Lead Industry Report Highlights Those Who Stood Out in 2010

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Highlighting the top efforts from more than 17 million leads in the debt settlement, education, insurance, and mortgage industries, we recently unveiled our inaugural Leads360 Lead Industry Awards for 2010 performance.

Our report focused in on categories including Highest Volume Growth, Highest Qualification Rate, and Highest Conversion Rate.

Given that we receive more than 40 million leads per year on behalf of our clients, we felt the time had come to compile a definitive report, breaking down some of the top markets nationwide and who is making a difference in them. Our guiding principle for writing this report is to provide the most insight we can about what we see in our data and thus we have tried to be objective, rather than placate our customer and partner base; we believe that objectivity is what most advances the lead industry as a whole.

A number of companies made noise in the four industries we analyzed (109 companies were either interviewed or responded to survey questions) including: Clover Leads (Debt); TriAd Media Solutions and All Star Directories (Education); All Web Leads and AgentInsider (Insurance); and Lending Tree (mortgage).

In looking at a synopsis of the four industries:

  • In the insurance industry, increasing quote volume and competition is actually quite good news for the insurance lead generation industry. Insurers are competing harder for consumers who are increasingly looking towards the internet as the place to determine where the best deals in insurance lie, which compels forward-thinking insurers to pay extra attention to online lead generation and purchasing.
  • The economy is recovering, but it is unclear that the mortgage industry is recovering at the same pace. While there is some positive housing data, most believe that rates will rise during the year and hence originations, and in particular refinance mortgages, are anticipated to decline. Will this lead to less leads being sold and converted in the mortgage industry? Our clients and partners do not believe so.
  • In the education industry,  the increased attention on the marketing and admissions practices of private sector schools in 2011 should drive the most high-profile schools to focus their lead generation spending on only the most legitimate and well-known lead providers. Agencies and lead providers are also going to benefit from the growth of traditional schools’ nontraditional programs: adult and continuing education, as well as online programs.
  • When it comes to the debt settlement industry, it is reasonable to expect an increasing number of enforcements to occur in 2011 which will set a clearer precedent for what business models will be sustainable under the FTC regulations. We anticipate that this will have a deleterious impact on the size of the debt settlement industry and make it less desirable to generate leads for debt settlement companies in the long run. Our debt clients expect to buy more leads in 2011 while the debt lead providers are anticipating a reduction in demand.

The entire Leads360 Lead Industry Report can be downloaded at www.Leads360.com/LIR2010 or click here.

Automatically Transform Web Inquiries into Phone Calls

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Speed to contact is important. It may be the single most important factor in lead close rates. So how is it achieved? There are a few different links in the chain that must be in place to ensure that you are contacting leads more quickly than any of your competitors. In the case of purchased internet leads, competition is a huge factor. The lead has been sold to not just you, but to your competitors as well. The first person on the phone with the lead is the person most likely to close the deal.

In the case of a lead generated of off your own website, competitors may not be as pressing of an issue, but they are still a factor. Let’s say a prospect submits his information to get a quote or find out more about your product on your website. Yours may be the only company they are looking at, or it may not be. The prospect could have heard great things about your company and they only want to bring their business to you, or they could be trolling search results, submitting to you and all of your competitors.

Being the first on the phone with a lead depends on the following chain of events. The lead must be pushed from the lead provider to you instantly. Distributing leads via email is too slow. The leads have to be posted via xml or http post. A lead management software solution takes care of this automatically. A lead management solution that is integrated with all the major lead providers can get leads from the provider instantly. But that is only the first link in the chain. After the lead hits your system, it has to be distributed to the agent most able to handle it. Who is at their desk right now? Who’s got the bandwidth to take on another lead right now? Who has experience selling the exact product the prospect is inquiring about? Lead management allows you to move your new lead to the exact person who is most likely to be able to close it.

So the first two stages of the life of your lead have occurred in under a minute. The lead moved from the provider to your company, and once it belongs to you, it is distributed to a sales rep instantly. So how do you make sure the process doesn’t break down there? That an under-performing sales agent isn’t ignoring his leads? Make sure your lead management system has an integrated dialer. Using this combination of tools will result in a sales reps phone ringing as soon as the lead is assigned to him.

Lead management literally transforms a web inquiry into a phone call.

Like the Drive to Work

Friday, March 18th, 2011

In a certain respect, a sales reps job is the same thing again and again. Obviously it’s always different in that people are different, circumstances are different, and it’s always a fresh challenge to find your footing and connect with the individual in a way that is going to motivate them to buy.  Conditions may change, but the overall approach is highly repeatable. It’s like the drive to work.  Maybe there’s traffic, maybe there’s weather, but you always start at home and end up at your desk. With driving to work, it’s easy to make small iterative improvements to the experience to perform better, to have a better experience. You learn a shortcut. You realize that you always get caught behind someone making a left hand turn at a certain intersection, so now you always approach that intersection in the right lane. Areas of improvement are self evident, and corrections are made without much effort or strategic thought.

Running a sales team is similar in that the same paths are being travelled day after day, but making improvements is not as automatic. Areas where performance can be improved are not as evident. There are so many variable that without proper measurement, it’s very difficult to gain any useful insights from different strategies you implement. It really is all about measurement in a certain respect. Using a lead management solution, all of your key performance indicators are automatically measured and resulting data is presented in a few easy to read reports. It’s easy to make changes that affect your bottom line when you have the answers to pertinent questions at your fingertips. If you buy leads, which of your lead sources is performing best? Which of your lead generation efforts/marketing campaigns are working and which aren’t? Which of your agents closes what kind of leads best? Everything you need to know to make profitable changes is right in front of you. Making a change is as easy as finding a better way to work.

How Much Do You Want to Know?

Friday, March 11th, 2011

How much do you want to know about how quickly your reps are contacting leads?

How much do you want to know about how your sales reps are following up on their leads?

How much do you want to know about the performance of your lead sources/marketing efforts?

Every lead you generate leaves a trail of information as it moves through the sales cycle. Where did it come from? How quickly was it contacted? How often and how consistently was it followed up on? Did it eventually close?

Are you managing your leads in a systematic way that gathers this intelligence from each lead as it moves from new to converted? If the answer is no, it is probably because the tools and techniques you use to manage your leads do not lend themselves capturing this kind of data.

Trying to leverage the information that comes from leads is impossible when the process of gathering the information would grind your sales efforts to a halt. Imagine asking every sales rep if he called every lead within 5 minutes of receiving it. Now log all their responses.  Don’t forget to associate each lead with the marketing campaign or lead source that generated it. Did every agent follow up two hours later? The next day? Keep asking, keep logging, and analyze the results of the ongoing inquiry to locate inefficiencies and under-performers.

Using traditional tools to try to gather the information required to yield strategic insights would be the full time job of a whole new guy on your team. And this new guy’s title would be sales team micro-manager, momentum interrupter, and destroyer of morale.

Using traditional tools for managing leads and sales reps is tantamount to making a decision to leave most of the information about how your leads are being worked on the table. The information is out there. When you’re using lead management software, this information is captured and analyzed automatically, and it empowers people who can see it to make course corrections based on clear data about sales rep performance and lead source ROI.

So how much do you want to know?

If You Are Serious

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

If you are serious about wanting to know which of your lead sources performs best. Then you need to have that give you easy access to a couple of key facts. You need to know how much you are spending on each of your lead sources. You need to know the qualification and close rates of every lead acquired via that lead source. And to make explicit something that is implied in this comparison is that you need to be sure the leads from each campaign are being worked with the same diligence by your sales reps. If sales reps are ignoring leads from the X campaign, because they believe leads from the Y campaign are more likely to close, then the comparison is not apples to apples. So it’s important to be able to not only have an accurate reckoning of “cost per lead”, but also some evidence that leads are being worked consistently, and in accordance with established best practices.

If you are serious about want your reps to be the first on the phone with the lead. Then you need to know that it is simply not possible to be the first sales rep on the phone without using the right technology. No matter how smoothly your sales floor runs, no matter how efficient a sales manager, leads received and distributed by email are taking a comparatively slow path from inquiry to response. That may sound shocking, because most people think of email as fairly instantaneous. But in fact, email is slower than a system that can receive leads that are received via xml or http post. Not to mention that if there are multiple email stages, i.e., 1) Lead is emailed to Sales Manager, 2) Sales Manager decides which rep gets it and emails it to the rep. No matter how efficient the team, there are human delays.

The quickest way to get a lead on the phone is by using a lead management system that:

1.       Receives leads in real time via xml or http post from the lead source to you

2.       Automatically and intelligently distributes leads to your reps based on configurable rules

3.       Has an integrated lead dialer that connects lead to rep upon lead assignment

If you are serious about not wanting any leads wasted. Then you will need to have automated lead follow-up that prioritizes leads in accordance with established best practices. Having a repeatable winning sales process ensures that every lead is worked right. This is particularly true and especially necessary when reps are responsible for a large number of leads.

If you are serious about a software solution that is a business partnership, committed to your success. Lead Management Software as a Service is different than an out of the box software solution in many ways. But the bottom line is this: For an out of the box software solution, the company selling it wins when you buy it. That’s where they make their money, so that’s what they are set up to do; sell you on a one time purchase. With Software as a Service, the company selling it makes their money when you remain a customer. Software as a Service providers know that you won’t remain a customer if they are not adding value. So SaaS is set up to help you succeed, since they only win if you win.

Would You Ignore a Customer Who Walked into your Store?

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Every potential customer should be followed up with. When you work in a store, this is obvious. You greet every person who enters your store. You answer questions prospects ask and provide them with a solution that fits their needs. You wouldn’t dream of ignoring a customer who’s standing right in front of you and wants to buy what you’re selling. And yet, research shows that many companies do engage in substandard lead follow-up.

This is due in large part to a failure to use the right tool for the job. It’s very common that companies try to use CRM software to try to manage leads. The reason why it doesn’t work is that CRM software is designed to manage customer relationships but it isn’t positioned to acquire customers. It isn’t built to contact leads more quickly than the competition. It isn’t designed to automate lead follow-up. CRM is built to manage the relationships with existing customers.

This would be like only serving customers who walked into your store who were returning customers. It just wouldn’t happen. As many businesses adopt technology as part of their workflow they get sold on the promise of CRM; that it can do it all. In fact, CRM excels at maintaining customer relationships, but Lead Management Software is a better fit for companies looking to acquire new customers. Being the first person on the phone with a lead most likely means you’ll be the one to earn their business. There is no quicker way to contact leads than using a Lead Management Software solution that has an integrated lead dialer.

Staying in touch with leads that don’t become customers quickly is automated with lead nurturing features. Leads are prioritized automatically so strategic, varied patterns of communication that have been proven to work are easy to execute. When leads do become customers, Lead Management Software has reporting features that allow you to determine easily which of your marketing efforts and lead sources have the best ROI and which are underperforming.

You wouldn’t ignore someone who walked into your store, so don’t ignore someone who becomes interested in what you’re selling on the internet or through other sources. Lead Management Software turns prospects into customers.

One button

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

One button

Staples has it; the easy button. Push the button and your problem is solved. Push the button and you get what you want. When Staples uses the easy button in their marketing, it’s a sticky idea because it’s so nice to imagine a world where you can get what you need by pushing one single button. In reality, getting anything by pushing buttons is never as easy as all that. Even making a phone call you have to press 10 buttons. There’s always a few steps you have to take to accomplish anything.

Until now

Leads360 has introduced a new feature as part of the Dial-IQ product called Demand Connect. Pulling a lead and getting  them on the phone is now truly as easy as clicking a button. When a sales rep wants a new lead, all he has to do is click the Get Lead button, which is visible on every page. Clicking the button pulls an available lead and initiates a call to the lead.  When reps finish working through their lists of prioritized leads they can click a button and be connected to a new lead. When combined with smart lead distribution strategies the Get Lead button can be most profitable click you can make.