In The Trenches

by Steve pavent

   As a feet on the street sales office, one of the most important issues that we deal with is where to get leads. Both newbies and veterans alike always ask "can you provide leads" or "where do you get your leads? There are a lot of ways to get leads, but people always tend to gravitate toward the path of least resistance. In other words, most people are looking for that Holy Grail of finding interested prospects without the rejection or effort of going through all of the work associated with prospecting. You know, the one that chases you out of the store with a broom or screams at you and hangs up because they were wronged by a merchant services rep. in another life. It would be nice if merchants wore signs that would say if they'd be interested but in reality one of the best, least expensive ways to find out is to just ask. That's right´┐Żdon't fear running into Mr. or Mrs. Jerk.
   But the point of this article is to warn you about those that would prey on your unrealistic desire to have lots of well qualified affordable leads at your fingertips. Remember, wherever there is someone who wants something there will be those who will profit by telling you exactly what you want to hear. Sure Mr. Customer there's no contract term or cancellation fee, the rate will be 1.25% and that's all you'll pay and where it say's non-cancelable on the lease ... don't worry about that we'll get it reassigned if you're not happy". We've all lost deals to this type of salesperson because the customer wants to believe.
   Many a lead generation or telemarketing company preys on your desire to find the holy grail of leads. I mention this over and over but "if it sounds to good to be true, it is". We've looked into and tried many telemarketing / leads services and have yet to find one that was really cost-effective. One of the agents in our group actually hired a telemarketing service that came as a referral from his insurance broker only to pay in advance and get NO leads. These guys followed what I've noticed is the typical M.O. They told my agent that they had worked in this industry before. They had highly qualified, fresh leads. They required payment in advance. They did not accept credit cards. I recently read about some agents that responded to a lead posted in a popular bankcard forum. It mentioned that a recent client was unable to fund their lead campaign and it left them with 250 leads without a home. They were looking for someone to pick up these leads and promised "the most aggressive pricing and money back guarantee in the industry!" Of course they required up-front payment by certified check. (RED FLAG) From what I understand at least two hard working MLS's were taken for $3-$4 K between them and NEVER got a lead. But you know they were told that the closing ratio of their leads were between 35% and 85%. (RED FLAG)
   Not all companies are outright thieves. There are many who just never perform. Let's take internet leads. There are a lot of companies that just focus on getting people to fill out online lead forms and then resell these leads. Our experience has been that these leads are not of the highest quality. Let's look at the internet model. A merchant goes online and does a search on Google for "low rate merchant services". That merchant gets thousands of hits. Out of the thousands let's say they look at and fill out the first 10. Now, you get this lead. There are 9 other companies that are calling that merchant. The reason they found the lead provider in the first place is because they searched "LOW RATE". So you're starting with no margin and going down from there. That's not to say that many of the people who are looking are just surfing the internet "DREAMING" of the business they might open in 2 years.
   So, in closing, think about where the leads are coming from. Ask yourself are those the kind of leads I want? Ask the obvious question, if these folks were so good at getting numerous high quality leads why would they be in the lead selling business? It's just like the get rich quick guys on late night TV. If they can make soooo much money with their get rich system then why are they selling you the idea? If you had great leads would you sell them for $35 to $50 each? Next, if you are going to go with a service, check them out extensively. Speak to several referrals and then check out the referrals. Check with the BBB in their area. Look at the agreement and don't pay in full up-front. If you need to pay them BEWARE of those that don't accept credit cards. Don't buy into some large package and see if you can get a trial. I'm not saying that all lead services are bad, only that you should do your homework and not fall victim.
   Remember, many times the highest quality lowest cost lead will be one that you get yourself. Last, I'd like everyone to repeat after me: "if it sounds too good to be true, it is."