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Lead Generation: what you should know

Lead GenerationLead generation is a key objective for most Marketing and Sales Managers. But it is also a costly, difficult and time-consuming task, even if you are a seasoned professional. Surprisingly, only 10% of marketers feel that their in-house lead generation campaigns are effective, and as a result, most will turn to industry professionals such as Affinity Data to help them with their Lead Generation Campaigns.

In our experience there are misconceptions regarding the outsourcing of Lead Generation, or the buying of pre-qualified Sales leads.  It’s easy to believe that all Lead Generation companies have your best interests in hand and will provide you with the best leads possible, BUT choosing the wrong partner can more damaging to you in the long term than you realise, here are the things you should know and consider when selecting a partner!

1) What is a sales lead, and are there different types of sales leads?

There is confusion in the market as to what constitutes a hot sales lead. In the lead generation business you can purchase three types of leads:

  • A cold lead: Defined as a prospect that has not expressed an interest in your product or service. Cheaper to buy but generally not worth the effort.
  • A warmed up lead: Customers that have been sent information about your product or service, but have not responded to opt-out or to receive call because they are interested.  This type of first contact is generally via a digital channel such as email or SMS.
  • Then there is a hot lead – A consumer who is sent information about a particular product or service and then replies saying, yes I’m interested please call me or email me more information.

When purchasing a Sales lead is it real-time or not real-time?

  • Real-time:  A real-time sales lead is the best type of lead, where a customer responds to your offer and receives a call immediately from the call centre, or within a few minutes, by integrating the SMS platform with the call centre software via API (automatic program interface).
  • Non real-time: here all leads are batched up together for a specific day and then phoned later the same day or the next day.

Which is most effective? Hard to say really, it all depends on your campaign goals; product, quality of data used, opt in or not, is it an internal database or external, but with the right tools in place it all falls into place.  That being said, hot leads dialled immediately have a much higher likelihood of being converted into business.

Before you start your lead generation campaign decide on the type of lead you require, as it has an impact on the cost.  Some call centre blend hot and cold leads together, some only dial hot leads, it’s a balance between the cost of the leads and the costs of the telco’s.

2) Why should you engage in Lead Generation?

Lead generation, when well planned and executed is like a tap. When you need more you simply, turn the tap and when you don’t you close it again.

Traditional pull marketing only gets you that far, whilst with push marketing the possibilities allow for larger volumes of sales leads.

3) How does the process of lead generation work and is there anything I should know?

Today most if not all of the sales leads generated are via digital broadcast channels, utilising tried and tested direct marketing principles. In essence is you create a message, or an offering, make the consumer aware of it via email, SMS, MMS, AVM, USSD, etc. and give the recipient the opportunity to respond with a yes, no or maybe. So before you contact a lead generation firm, make sure you know exactly what you want to offer, to whom and have your message and your creative ready.

process of lead generationThe biggest challenge to lead generation over the past few years has to be the evolution of mobile and especially the emergence of smart phones. The impact this technology has had on lead generation is huge, from the creation of reactive and interactive content, to the design of the landing page and how the content is created.

Once the lead has been created, it needs to be captured and tracked, which necessitates the use of complex CRM solutions.

Using a CRM solution to track and qualify sales leads is simple not a luxury anymore but a mission critical component. Not only does it allow the call centre to  track the quality of the data, more importantly it proves a critical element to get the lead into the system in real time, there by increasing the chances of the lead closing. So ask your prospective partner, what CRM solution they use and more importantly can it integrate with yours?

It’s important that your Lead Generation partner minimise Lag Time to an absolute minimum and call the prospect as soon as possible! When you phone immediately, you set the tone of conversation and the perception of being competent. Experience has taught us that if you can manage a call lead-time of sub 5 min, your closing rate goes up by up to 10-20%

Just a little tip from us: for every day that the prospect does not get contacted on that day, expect a buyer’s remorse of up to 30-40% the next day and 10% a day there after! There is a direct correlation between the sale closing and the time of the call, you need short lead times and high close ratios, ask your preferred partner to give you their average!

4) What do we classify as a hot sales lead?

A Hot sales lead = someone that responds positively to your message and asks you to explain to them the benefits of the product and service.

5) How long does it take to convert a lead into a prospective customer?

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule. It’s completely variable and market depending. There are however some general guidelines that you should be aware of:

  • Snap decision products: these types of lead generation campaigns require on average a 10 min call to close the sale. Products or services will cost between R50 to R100 a month and you either want it or not. A prime example would be Funeral cover.
  • Complicated Products: Life insurance would be a good example; these types of sales require complicated and ongoing client interactions. First, you need to peak their interest, allow them to peruse the material and make contact when they are ready. Closing rates can vary from 1 month up to 6 months and are completely variable. Therefore, if this is your type of products, you need to be in it for the long haul!

6) How much will a lead cost me?

Unfortunately, there is no “rate card” on these types of purchases, except it depends on the volume and type of leads required.

However, you should also be aware of, and ask your lead generation firm the following:

“Are you selling me a shared lead or a unique lead?”

A shared lead, can result in that potential client being called 2 or 3 times by competitors.

At Affinity Data, we only do Unique leads, we sell them only to you and no one else, and as a result, you can expect leads costed as follow:

  • Funeral products: R 65 – R 125 per lead
  • Health Insurance & Telecoms  R 200 – R 250 per lead
  • Medical Insurance & Life Insurance:   R 300 – R500 per lead

If you need a rough idea of cost why not ask us?

7) Who should be involved in the Lead Generation campaign?

Again, there is no hard and fast rule, it’s completely client and budget dependant.

Experience has taught us that if the whole team is involved in the process results delivered will be just that much better. If we had to break it, down into roles:

  • IT: required to integrate the leads as quickly as possible into your systems.
  • Marketing: required to set the price and make an offering that is attractive to the target market.
  • Sales: required to  introduce the product, listen to the customers wants and needs, match the benefits with the product, deal with objections and ask for the business.
  • Call centre Managers: ensuring you hit the required numbers, and do all the things that management does.

In short, it’s a team effort, and the more all the players are on-board and clear in the understanding of their respective roles, the better the results.

8) Your Lead Generation partners call centre capabilities

There is a BIG problem in Call Centres in South Africa, and it’s not widely known!

Most if not all Call Centres agents will simply move on to the next call if you do not express interest after 2- 3 calls!  Most call centre agents rush, and as a result lose any chance of closing the sale, then or in the future! They simply dump the lead if you say no then and there!  Its an addiction to new leads at the expense of callbacks!

But what happens of the client was not ready at that stage and bough the product 30, 60 or even 90 days later? You spent the money but did not get the sale..

The clever Lead Generation frim will flag the call and call the prospect back 30 days later. These dumped leads or “call backs” as they are called is where the real money sits! Most call enters will only pass a lead 3 times then you out, but at Affinity Data we will call the lead 7 times before we call it a day! We flag them using our in-house CRM system then call them back in 30 days, 45 days and more.

Only after not getting hold of them after 1 to 2 months do we officially declare the lead dead! Now how is that for patience and perseverance!

But to make this work you need good quality sales people and you need to incentivise them with above average pay, ongoing support and training; resulting in our ability to deliver a significant more closes per day than the average 3 per sales person.

In summary

If Lead generation were as simple as passing out flyers in your annual tradeshow, or in the road there would have been no need for specialist like Affinity Data. Unfortunately, the narrative often favours the road less travelled.  Businesses grow when they grow their target markets. Target markets in turn end up throwing a lot more variables to consider, as they grow more diverse. Where does this leave most marketing managers: Extremely frustrated and deprived of the necessary in-house expertise?

A final word of advice: You shouldn’t just outsource indiscriminately, but if it’s starting to look like you’re just about to break from under the strain, you better start figuring out ways to handle the load. No matter what your marketing style, you’re going to need a specialist. Period!