“Contact time on Internet leads is critical.” – ePath CEO Bill Baskin
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 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 Internet leads, as inbound calls are expensive, yet not necessarily more effective. Provide your sales team a script and training for 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 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 the product the expressed interest in, rather than hours later when they have moved on mentally 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 that list. Remember, the Internet provides people with immediate gratification…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), have the opportunity to take the borrower “off the market” before your competitor calls.
Your initial email to the consumer is critical for engagement. Don’t just confirm they applied and that you will be following-up, give them a reason to anticipate your call. This could take the form of a compelling reason why your company and you are the ones they should be dealing with, a significant value or benefit of the product they inquired about, you excitement about educating them about your product or service, and so on.
I’m also frankly surprised that so few companies want leads delivered in real-time on weekends. It’s a 24/7 world. If you have a smart phone that can receive email, you can reach out to a new prospect that 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 deals.