Advisors invest a large amount of time and money in generating sales leads—only to lose a large percentage of them, simply because they aren't in contact quickly enough.
"A study of more than 600 companies by Dr. James Oldroyd of MIT found that the odds of a lead entering the sales process were 21 times greater if the business made contact within five minutes of generating the lead, versus contact in 30 minutes," Brandon Stuerke, president of Advisors Edge Marketing, says. "Another study, by the Harvard Business Review, found that the average response time by businesses to a generated lead is 42 hours—and that’s just for responses that occurred within 30 days."
Generating sales leads is big business, with more than $23 billion spent on Internet leads alone, he says.
"If you’re a financial advisor or another professional, you may also be spending money on direct mail, invitations to seminars, TV commercials and/or print ads," Stuerke says. "How many leads are you generating, and at what cost per lead, only to lose them?"
Stuerke, who began developing innovative marketing strategies while working as a financial advisor, says he has found four ways professionals commonly lose sales leads:
Advertising calls to action that are all-or-nothing. Most sales people offer only a face-to-face meeting or a telephone appointment as their call to action in their advertising. But that’s asking a lot of prospects who are simply exploring options and aren’t yet ready for that level of commitment. Those are leads that, three to six months from now, may become sales—but they’re lost early in the process. Instead, offer a less committed option such as "download this free report" in exchange for their information for follow up.
No lead capture on your website. This is a huge problem! Many sites have no strategy for capturing information about visitors to the site, such as an email address. As a result, none of the prospects’ information is captured. Those prospects come to the site and leave, and you never know they were there. A free report or series of reports or videos with useful information based on your expertise are good lead capture tools. Buyers today turn to the Web for information while doing research, so that's what you should give them. Offering free resources in exchange for a small bit of information is a great way to do that.
Indifference in interactions. No matter what your profession, it’s likely you have a lot of competition. For consumers, shopping includes researching, and they’re comparing services, expertise, and experience before deciding who best deserves their patronage. If your interactions with prospects fail to "wow" them, they will quickly move on. But most professionals don’t have a storyboarded plan for giving prospects that experience, which is what is needed for consistent results. An automated system that delivers carefully planned interactions is a great way to achieve this.
Using social media without a plan. Many professionals have discovered that delivering consumer-friendly, useful content through social media is an effective means of attracting followers and cultivating prospects. However, one of the biggest mistakes is that they post a lot of high level, one-way communication with no call to action. Having a call to action that leads prospects back to a website designed to capture leads is critical for producing tangible results through social media.
A lot of these issues stem from a common problem: focusing only on the hottest leads—the people who are ready to buy today, Stuerke says.
"Instead of allowing those ‘cooler’ leads to fall by the wayside, capture and cultivate them," he says. "Eventually, they’ll find that instead of constantly chasing leads, they’re harvesting new clients."
By Brandon Stuerke
Brandon Stuerke is a business coach and cutting-edge marketing strategist, specializing in innovative new tools that save professionals time while building their practices. He is the founder and president of Advisors Edge Marketing, Inc. (www.advisorsedgemarketing.com), which produces Automated Advisor, a new program that strategically streamlines prospect cultivation. He also is the creator and president of the Strategic Alliance Program, Winning With CPAs, which teaches financial advisors how to build their practices by partnering with CPAs.