The costs of financial services sales leads can be more than the number written on a proposal, a contract, or on a financial report. Unless you evaluate them fairly and in ever aspect possible, you cannot confidently say the price was or (was not) worth paying.
In accounting, it is often advised to categorize your spending. In fact, even marketers will say that the cost of your lead generation campaign should be further divided in terms of medium (e.g. the cost of social media should be separated from the cost of telemarketing). On the other hand, what if your marketing process is outsourced? Is it something that you should group with your own marketing costs or does it deserve its own category?
Being honest about your limitations is important in appointment setting. Because, during the first few minutes of the meeting, the last thing you want to give a prospect is disappointment. More specifically, it is disappointment from being unable to receive the clear, accounting prediction they have been hoping for.
Don’t be confused by the title. Customer satisfaction still plays a key role if you want to use their loyalty and retention as a means of generating new sales leads. However customer satisfaction is never static (especially in financial planning and management). It can change over time so you need to do more than just determine whether or not a client is satisfied. You need to know what keeps them satisfied, how to keep them satisfied, and be on the look out for what could compromise that satisfaction before it hits.
On iMediaConnection, Tom Cates sums this up nicely, explaining three signs of customer defection. While his particular focus is on software companies, you’ll find it can easily apply to financial planning services and generating sales leads from your respective customers:
“You’re not on your client’s speed dial.”
“When your client has a support problem, a service question, or needs to talk over an issue, do they call your team first?”
This is perhaps even more critical in financial planning. Why would your clients consult anyone other than you? What’s the point of them maintaining business with your firm if you’re already losing out to a possible competitor? As Cates suggests, find out who that competitor is. But at this point, be careful. You don’t want to come off as jealous or overly competitive. Stay objective and determine if the specific issue that your customer wanted resolved should have been well within your expertise to handle or it could actually have been something else entirely.
“You’re client uses the F-word a lot.”
If you’re already dreading that you know this word, think twice. It could be the complete opposite:
“When a client says everything is ‘fine,’ nothing is further from the truth. This dirty four-letter word signals disaster and should be translated to, ‘Everything is not fine, but I don’t want to get into the details with you because it’s not worth my time.’”
Now there can be more ways to understand what a prospect means by ‘fine’ compared to what Cates is saying. After all, making assumptions will only compromise the interest and won’t bring you any closer to making financial planning leads. If you’re still afraid of no longer being considered worthy of your customer’s time then don’t just press for more feedback. Reflect on your company’s past actions and see if you’ve actually acted on the feedback they’ve given you before. Don’t waste the efforts of those who listened and recorded your customers’ concerns when you never made any significant response to what was said. Still, make sure you keep encouraging them for feedback. Don’t be afraid to contact them every now and then getting them to say anything beyond simply ‘fine’.
“Your client is uninvolved and disengaged.”
“But when a client begins to withhold important details, “forgets” to copy you on an email, or stops contributing their ideas, you should be concerned. Relationships are a two-way street, and if your client isn’t fully invested, they might be on the road to defection.”
As previously implied, don’t also forget to collaborate closely with your client. In fact, if you’ve already outsourced for your financial sales leads, then you should already know what collaboration entails. It means getting in touch. Speaking of which, it’s why there’s not much difference between outsourcing the process and doing it yourself. Either way, you need to constantly hear from your customers whether it’s through your provider or your own lead generator.
Customer feedback isn’t only for knowing their satisfaction, it’s to educate you on how to keep up that satisfaction.
If you’re outsourcing to get your accounting leads, then it’s only natural that you apply the same BPO standards to them as your own clients do to you. There’s no doubt that the processes can be different but as far as outsourcing goes, you and your outsourced lead generator will have a lot in common.
Now there are many ways to generate accounting leads. From a simple, singular approach to a complex, integrated, multi-channel approach. But for simplicity’s sake, try first comparing yourself to a telemarketing company. You’ll find that you both still share the following basic requirements:
- Database Technology – The first is the obvious. Both accounting and lead generation depend on information. Therefore, the standards of what makes quality information hardly differs between you two. It should be constantly thorough, detailed, and also well-maintained. Information must never grow stale. For accounting, it’s to make sure that financial reports are accurate. For telemarketers, it’s to make sure that their CRM database informs the clients of a lead’s status in the sales process. Don’t forget about security either. Both accounting information and customer information can be considered very sensitive and many people wouldn’t want hackers to get a hold of either.
- Dedicated Work Force – Aside from information, you have the people who are charged with using and managing it. With regards to the latter, diligence and productivity are critical. Diligence means that your employees are capable of being consistent in their duties (whether it’s in calculating and tabulating accounts or cold calling a list of prospects). Following that is productivity. It’s what distinguishes diligent tasks from pointlessly repetitive ones. Both telemarketers and accountants shouldn’t be just grinding away at their job. That grind should be able to produce good results.
- Cost-Efficiency – You can’t just forget about lower costs now. If it’s one of your primary selling points as an accounting service, then it should also be a selling point for your outsourced lead generator. Otherwise, what’s the point if outsourcing isn’t going to be any more expensive than doing the process in-house? It’s not only redundant but it also compromises the cost-efficiency of your own business.
- Industry Expertise – Telemarketers and accountants take pride in their industry expertise. That means your bark should be as good as your bite (or better). Make sure your outsourced telemarketers are familiar with accounting services and have prior experience in promoting them to other industries. (More specifically, industries that you’re currently targeting.) This will not be much different from when these same prospects soon demand your own bookkeeping expertise in relation to their line of work.
So far, there’s barely a mention of how different your services are from telemarketers. It would be the same had you compared yourself to other forms of lead generation, even multi-channeled ones. It doesn’t matter whether it’s onshore or offshore lead generation either.
Perhaps that’s a good thing. Since you both are familiar to the common standards expected of all BPO firms, you will know what to expect of them when it’s your turn to to do the outsourcing. They must have a secure database, a dedicated, work force, cost-efficiency, and top-of-the-line expertise. Outsource your lead generator, the same way your customers would outsource to you.