December 4th, 2012
For businesses, the holiday season seems to be either the best or worst time to generate sales leads. It is not as complicated as it sounds though. It just depends on what market you cater to. And for financial management firms, your sales leads can be generated just in time for Christmas
October 10th, 2012
Normally, many businesses big and small will take as many sales leads they can get their hands on. But instead of looking at how many leads, do you care to check how many hands? When you are so willing to receive as many leads that you can take, have you ever double-checked the fine print of that question?
Business Leads Can Be Excessive
It is very understandable that you want to open your accounting service to as many business clients as possible but never ignore that last word: possible. If you have so many quality, accounting leads but do not have the possibility of pursuing them all, then you you would have wasted a substantial amount of the money you invested in marketing and lead generation.
At Inc.com, Langley Steinert writes about his own experience about handling more than what you can take. He also recommends a more reasonable alternative:
“Both at my former company TripAdvisor as well as my current company Car Gurus, we have a saying: follow the 80/20 rule, technically known as the Pareto principle. The Pareto principle tells us that 20 percent of the inputs account for 80 percent of the results. You have to cut through the noise, figure out what tasks represent the 20 percent with the greatest leverage and focus on those tasks. Find those projects that make a big impact and ignore EVERYTHING else.”
You can apply the Pareto principle to your own business in several ways:
- Controlling the amount of leads – First off, you can apply it by limiting yourself only to leads that you can immediately serve. This controls the amount you spend on marketing as well as maintaining the sales for each successful appointment. A goal is only too high or too low for your marketers if they deem their results too much beyond the capacities of your salespeople and your services.
Related Content: Sales Leads – The Dangers Of Data Overload
- Focusing on the tasks that matter – Some might protest and say that some business processes are still critical despite having a lower priority. You have explained this extensively when demonstrating the need for accounting services. You have seen this reasoning also deployed by marketers and lead generators. How can you focus on the tasks that produce the 80% when that description still covers a wide range of processes that you cannot do? Answer: you outsource it. Focus on what really drives the quality of your business while leaving it up to a provider to worry about your accounting sales leads.
- Expect customers and prospects to adopt this principle – By ‘expect’, it does not mean presume. Rather, both your marketers and salespeople engage with the understanding that your market only cares about the bottom-line. Asides from money, life in the business world costs people plenty of time. Do not waste that time and get straight to the point. Cut down on information that is not relevant to a prospect’s problems and focus only on a proposal or a solution that works best.
Related Content: Be Up Front In Lead Generation Just As You Are Up Front With Financial Planning
Never look for an excuse to do everything when you just simply cannot. Despite how many entrepreneurs and gurus call people to stay optimistic, this is where a bit of healthy realism should play in. Do not take too many leads beyond what you can handle. And if you cannot let go of a particular process (e.g. telemarketing services) then at least outsource to save up on your focus!
September 26th, 2012
Despite what the title says, many people find it almost impossible to separate financial planning from talking politics. Then how can you avoid the subject in b2b appointment setting? How much more when your target market is anticipating an incoming election where ideological tensions run high?
Well first off, some might actually contest the idea of refraining from politics in terms of both marketing, appointment setting, and business in general. The reasons go from sheer personal conviction to the belief that it is their right to express their values.
Well, just because you can do something does not mean you really should. You may not face a penalty as grave as getting arrested but there are other consequences that can bother any business. This article from NPR demonstrates a few examples of how dipping into politics can be a double edged sword. To summarize, the consequences can either be:
- Success – Your views are aligned with your target market and are within your scope.
- Failure – You alienate others purely on the grounds of differences that might have nothing to do with business.
In its conclusion, the article cites Cindy Kam, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University:
“And these days, that question of ‘Should I or shouldn’t I?’ is somewhat easier for businesses to answer — because the electorate has become more polarized, she says.
‘Now you have Democrats who sort into going to particular places, buying particular cars, belonging to particular organizations. The same on the Republican side. There isn’t as much crossover as there used to be,’ Kam says.”
Take a step back and read this again for a moment. Would you want this type of division, this segregation? As a financial planning firm, your job is to segregate and manage money, not people! It seems more logical to stay neutral because then, you’ll have both sides comprise a wider market for financial leads. Why limit yourself purely on the grounds of political ideologies?
And don’t forget, you need to weigh the successes and failures in the long-term, not just the short term:
- Views can change – Your target market won’t always sing the same political tune. Higher management can change, work cultures can change etc.
- Lesser relevance to business core – B2B appointment setting implies a long discussion. Take your pick. Would you rather have your marketers and salespeople talk politics or financial planning?
Isn’t it your goal as a financial planner to help simplify the complexities of managing money? Why do you want to complicate it further with political factors?
And speaking of which, this other article from CNNMoney just goes to show hazy the ties between financial subjects like the stock market and that of presidential terms:
“Tempting as it is to tweak my more conservative friends with this fact, it would be wrong to attribute the Clinton and Obama returns to their policies and presidencies. Clinton inherited a great economy (and no, I don’t attribute it to Reagan’s policies as supply-side types do, and neither should you) and left office after the Internet stock bubble burst, but well before it bottomed. Bush inherited a tanking stock market and left amid a financial panic. Does Clinton deserve full credit for everything good during his tenure? Does Bush deserve full blame for everything bad? Yes, if you’re an ideologue. No, if you’re intellectually honest.”
So again, despite all the support you’ve seen, there’s still no denying that jumping on the bandwagon is a double-edged sword. Be more objective and less political.
August 29th, 2012
A challenge you will always face in telemarketing (and in fact, any form of marketing in general) is being careful with what you pitch. In financial planning services, one the biggest mistakes you can make is marketing bad advice.
If you need a reminder of how important it is to refrain from such bad telemarketing practices, you need only read this brief slideshow from Time Moneyland. The slideshow is a top ten list of financial advice that people shouldn’t follow. Here are just two excerpts from notable slides that can have clear applications when marketing B2B financial planning.
“Use a Debt-Settlement Company”
“Debt-settlement firms make an appealing pitch: Contract with us and we’ll chop your debts for you. Just funnel monthly payments to them instead of your creditors and they’ll battle the banks on your behalf, they promise.”
As you can see in the rest of the slide, this is a mistake and you need to avoid making similar lies. Honesty is the best policy and you do not want to attract your financial leads with false promises. Business owners (especially more experienced ones) are not likely to buy them anyways. And again, this doesn’t just apply to your telemarketing message. Check the rest of your marketing materials (website, direct mail letters, email templates etc.) and re-evaluate the message that you’re sending. Is it just as outlandish as the one mentioned in the slide? If it is, time to change it.
“Take Investment Advice from Friends”
“‘Any ‘investment’ a friend or family member recommends that could possibly earn the money back is likely way too risky to get involved in — and possibly not legal,’ says Cristy Cash, director of counseling at the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma.”
Chances are, you may have already given the same advice to your clients! However, don’t think this just applies to financial planning. Turning this the other way around, you shouldn’t be too eager to encourage your own clients to pitch for you. The message can either get easily distorted or the word might just spread to more well-informed market influencers who will easily point out flaws that you’re still in the midst of eliminating. While it should be a call to keep improving, you should be wary about the negative impact such information will have on your market.
In either case, make sure your telemarketers don’t send the wrong message. You need to attract and convince prospects but it should never be at the expense of integrity. The loss of that integrity could only result in the following consequences:
- Loss of Trust – Losing trust among your B2B customers has got to be one of the most painful experiences for any business. It’s what’s been driving their loyalty towards your services and confidence in your advice. Nothing is worth losing that.
- Ill Reputation – Having a bad reputation in the market will divert its entire attention away from your business. And given the popularity of social media and the wealth of information on the internet, the effects of bad reputation can spread faster than you think (even in B2B).
- Decline in Sales – With fewer market interest, there are fewer leads. With fewer leads, there are fewer sales. It’s not that complicated to understand why and how it could only get worse.
No good business would desire any of the three outcomes. Consider what message is being sent via marketing and be careful with what you pitch!
August 15th, 2012
Big Data. You might have heard or read it somewhere (and most likely, the source was business IT-related). It’s a term that is seeing increased use in all areas of business management from marketing and sales to accounting and manufacturing. However, what does this have to do with financial services and more importantly, what’s the connection to making sales leads?
Well a few months back, Networkworld published a slideshow that might be of some interest to those in the financial services industry:
“When it comes to Big Data, the financial services sector has been somewhat slow on the uptake. Neil Palmer, partner of SunGard Consulting Services’ Advanced Technology Business, explains it as a cautious approach to innovation driven by the heavily regulated nature of the industry. But with data growth becoming a challenge and increasing pressure to bring down operational costs, Big Data is beginning to shape financial services too.”
Notice how the slideshow goes on to describe the rising demands and how it says that Big Data is supposed to meet these demands. If your financial service firm has already understood, then it’s likely you already have (or at least just begun) to incorporate Big Data for your functions.
The question is: Does your client know?
Not just your current clients either, but also the potential ones you’re qualifying and pursuing as financial leads. Going back to the slideshow, there’s a chance that they might understand one or two slides. However, what about the rest?
What you’ll see is the risk posed by Big Data and one of the things it’s supposed to manage: large, and large amounts of information. The problem is that same volume could overload the minds of your prospects and give them an unnecessary headache.
Prior to qualifying your sale leads, your marketing agents should go to the prospects first and ask just what is it that they want to know. Financial services cover a wide array of business functions but the top-most concern for an individual prospect might be a selected few. If not a selected few, they could still rank them all in terms of priority. If you’re going to involve Big Data, you need to prepare for the following questions:
- How does this help? – This is one of the most popular questions posed for Big Data gurus. You don’t have to be at that level but it helps to at least have marketing inform sales that the relevance of Big Data is an issue for the prospect.
- What helps where? – The slide show demonstrates how Big Data assists in the processes of several functions. But as stated before, these functions can have varying priorities for each, individual prospect. Demonstrate how Big Data aligns to these priorities.
Whether the qualification was done via social media engagement or B2B telemarketing, qualified sales leads should be for the purpose of helping sales teams prepare. Your use of Big Data in your own services may not always ring well with your prospect. That doesn’t mean you should reconsider it but it should mean that you must avoid the dangers of data overload.