Top 10 tips buying internet generated leads. Don’t make the same mistakes we made. Avoid scam lead companies. Learn how to buy online sales lead.

All Web Referrals is a leader in generating online leads for the financial services industry, specifically, mortgages and insurance. We have compiled a list of 10 tips for those looking to invest in online generated leads. As a lead vendor we have in the past worked with many of the existing players in the industry and just like many of you we were burned buying bad/invalid leads. We have learned a ton since we have a huge marketing budget and have bought most types of leads from most channels. Below are some key findings to help you in your lead buying journey.

Internet or online generated leads are how some of the fastest growing sales organizations get an advantage in todays competitive market. Consumers are spending more and more time online searching for services online and ways to compare the market. If you are involved in any financial services sales you are behind if you don’t have sources of internet leads.
Finding the right partners is very challenging. Every lead vendor is promising the best quality leads for your money but only a handful are worth the investment.

Whether you are a loan officer looking for internet generated mortgage leads or an insurance agent looking for insurance leads here are 10 tips to keep you safe in the buying process and to maximize your ROI on your lead investment.

1.) Exclusive – This will limit the market as 90% of lead vendors don’t sell or give the ability to buy leads exclusively.. Most lead vendors sell a lead shared up to 6 times in real time (right after quote is filled out). This leads to the consumers receiving too many phone calls in a short period of time and most consumers are then turned off from the buying process.

Should you have access to exclusive leads while still being able to satisfy that clients demand (being able to compare the market for them) your closing rate will be much higher when fighting to provide a service that 4-6 other sales guys are also offering.

Buying exclusively is worth the premium, even if the exclusivity is only valid for a certain period of time, this is common practices in the industry (e.t 90 days).

2.) Forms of payment accepted. Many lead companies are a scam. They are in business to take your money and run. Most legitimate lead companies will accept many forms of payments including any major credit/debit card. To get a merchant account one has a to disclose company information and be approved for it. This gives you a higher level of protection and safety as any issues you can do a charge back through your card.

3.) Large upfront requirements. Be careful with paying very large upfront deposits. If the deposit goes towards the lead order that is common practices. If the large deposit is a fee, be very wary as this is a red flag. Most lead companies do not charge a sign up fee to get started. This could be a sign that the company is a scam.

4.) Avoid scams by researching company. Spend some time verifying the company is legitimate. As mentioned many lead companies are a scam, setup to only trick lead buyers and to take their money. You should do a google search for ‘company name + scams’ ‘company name + ripoff’.

5.) How are the leads generated? Ask your lead vendor representative for him to describe how the leads are generated. If they don’t know go to the next lead vendor. If they are using any robo dialers or automated calling software avoid as well. Try to find lead vendors that generate inbound leads either through TV/radio/internet. Not all internet leads are the same. A lead generated via a search engine is much higher quality than one generated from a banner ad. Ask for a definition of each channel they use and ask them why. You will be able to read between the lines and get a better understanding of which channels have the highest closing rates. Ask the lead vendor is they get reporting on closing rates from their lead buyers so that they can use that data to trace back the performance of leads in each special channel.

6.) Return policy? You will encounter bad leads, if you don’t have a lead vendor that agrees with that statement find a new one. Your goal is to find a lead vendor that accepts returns for invalid leads like bad phone numbers (no contact after x attempts/fax number/disconnected etc).

7.) Referrals? Does your lead vendor have anyone who has bought their leads in the past who can act as a referral source. Can you speak to this person directly? While most lead companies are very protective of this information you should be able to receive an emailed version of someone who has bought their leads and is having success with them. Make sure the individual is real, you can always check on linked in. Many lead vendors are ok with providing you with a referral of someone who is satisfied on their network of lead buyers.

8). Live transfers:

Not all live transfers are created equal. You should avoid any from a cold call center as these can get you into legal trouble if that call center is not following FTC/FCC laws (most are not). Most of these transfers have a very short buffer time frame for you to qualify the lead. The call centers do this on purpose so that any call that exceeds the call center buffer time is charged on your account immediately. Look for a live transfer solution that has no buffer time so you can really figure out if that person is qualified or not. Make sure you are dealing with a company that has a return policy, as live calls are more expensive, and you should not have to pay for bad leads.

9.) Record calls: Something most agents and loan officers don’t think about is recording the calls. Most lead companies that are sending over live calls have call recording on their end of the call but they won’t send the file to the agents/loan officers when a dispute arises. If you are able to record the call on your end and have proof of how the call went through that recording you are in a better position to get credits when you receive bad leads. This may cost you more money and time but will protect you or give you more ammunition when requesting returns. This goes back to working with a reputable company, that accepts returns, and has positive reviews online.

10.) Start small: Some lead companies will try to upset you into leasing an area or being the only person to receive leads in that area. You should start off with the minimum order necessary to get a feel for the company and the leads. Leads are opportunities for you to get in front of your potential target audience. There is no point in buying leads if you cannot purchase a sufficient number of leads to really test out that company. This is in terms of both volume and number of months you can give this test run. You should purchase 10 leads a month at minimum and be able to maintain that level of  buying power for 3-5 months to determine if that lead vendor is right for you. This is why the work needs to be done upfront on your end in comparing the different lead providers and finding out which one is the right fit for you.

Watch out for the following traps:

Appointments: If the appointment set up fee is too low (under $150) be very careful as there are many lead vendors out there promising to get you in-home appointments knowing that will get you excited when in reality the peoples home you visit have never agreed to such visits. These individual at time have dementia and they are not serious buyers. We hear complaints all the time from lead buyers complaining that they spend $1k to get 20 appointments and every appointment was a waste of time. If its too good to be true…

Telemarketer leads: Do you want to get fined by the FTC/FCC or break any federal laws/rules. Most telemarketers are not obeying these federal laws regarding robo dialers, power dialers, or automated dialers. Even though they are the ones violating the laws you can and will be charged a fine up to $10k per call. Most of these leads are sold live on the phone as a transfer so the consumer just had to write down who called them and report it to an attorney or the attorney general office to start a case against you.

Buying data: Buying data can work for some. This is very tedious work so just make sure you are ready to pound the phone and know that there is no guarantee. How accurate is the data?  how many times has it been sold before you? Are you really going to take the companies word who is trying to sell you the data? This is a very tricky way to get leads and you are most likely going to loose any money you invest into this method. Do you know if the lead is truly scrubbed against the DNC, last thing you want to do is get sued by calling someone on the DNC list.

Buying email blasts: Our company tried this a few years ago and we spent many thousands of dollars without any success. It sounds impressive to inbox 10k emails to consumers who meet a certain demographic but the reality of things is that its not going to work (spam folders are much more sophisticated now).

Buying aged leads: If the leads you are buying were sold as shared leads 3-6 months ago most likely that person has either changed phone numbers by now and or has already bought. Most of these leads get hammered right away and many consumers will complaint that you are calling them 3-6 months after they filled out the form.

Buying from an offshore lead company: This is a surefire way to break federal laws since most call centers are offshore. They will tell you that the law does NOT apply to them but this is false. You are the one who will get in trouble as there is very little anyone can do about a call center in India.

Paying cash upfront for leads: Red flag. Run far away from that lead vendor. Unless you have purchased from them recently and had a good run you should avoid these companies. Cash is not traceable and they can keep the money while not providing you with any leads. This includes bank wires/deposits. Only pay via this method for trusted partners.

Buying from paid ads: Most of these companies were set up overnight and they advertise on major search engines but have no real investment into creating a brand (having rankings for their websites etc). They are paying for clicks and it seems that the company is very legitimate bc you will find them at the top of a search engine. When you see ads next to the listing note that they have paid for that distribution and that it may be a fly by night operation.

Social media leads: Just because someone has filled out a lead and the information on the lead is accurate does not mean its a valid lead. Social media is a cheap way for lead generating companies to generate opted in leads online. These leads rarely go to the closing table so you should avoid and spend more of your marketing dollars on channels that provide a true ROI. Those were the consumers are searching for your information or they are live on the phone pre-qualified and screened to talk about your services.

Revenue sharing: Avoid working with companies that want to charge you per lead and also charge a % of the money you make from your commissions. While this may at first seem like a very good idea, since that company is taking risk alongside you, please be aware that most products/services have strict laws regarding sales kickback. Keep that in mind and speak to an attorney before signing on the dot. If the company is willing to reduce their lead prices to take on more risk alongside you this can be a lucrative approach to buying online generated leads.

Seminars: The feedback we have received on seminar leads is that while very expensive and no guarantees in place this is still a method of generating sales specifically for the investment and insurance world. We have heard many reports of the effectiveness decreasing very fast and some have described those who attend a “plate lickers”.

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