Updated: Nov 10, 2020
For sales teams in the business loan space, what are your top lead channels? Are you consistent in all channels on a monthly basis?
We are going to take a look at the main channels for sourcing leads, how they are worked by sales teams and to what percentage they account for in a typical ISO business.
Whether you are an owner of an Independent Sales Organization or the member of an inside sales team for a funding company, leads are priority number one. Without a good, steady flow of leads your business will struggle. Having good sales people to work these leads is second. Then it becomes marrying the two with processes and systems to get the desired results.
Here are a list of lead sources:
Buying lists with contact info to call and run email campaigns- This is the main channel for getting deals, accounting for more than 50% of leads typically. Most brokers will tell you they make dozens if not hundreds of calls per day so the need to purchase lists is constant. The lists are usually bought from lead brokers like Lead Tycoons who typically source their data from various sources including online business lists to UCC filing lists to Dun & Bradstreet, among other places. Other companies may use website scraping and aged leads that they sell at a lower cost. With any leads that have email addresses there will be a consistent email marketing campaign from the ISO. Many companies will offer all the contact data but do your due diligence.
Organic Website traffic - having a very good website that ranks for valuable keywords by optimizing your site is so important these days but it takes time and money to get the job done. The amount of leads gained from organic traffic will correlate to how much time you put into your site to build credibility with Google or other search engines. It can range from as little as just a couple percentage points of your total leads to more than 40% of them. There are some companies that are so highly invested in technology that they gain more than 80% of their leads this way with an Ad Spend of tens of thousands of dollars per month.
Social media marketing(free and paid) - Using your personal profile or a company page within Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or other platforms can drive customers to your business at no cost and you can also pay for things like boosting posts. One tip is to always use hashtags appropriately. Then search tags that could lead to clients. On Twitter, search keywords and respond to tweets or direct message them. Instagram paid ads in posts or stories seem to be the latest high frequency channel on social media with good ROI.
Paid ads on Google and other search engines - Google ads are not cheap when you have to compete on the best keywords like 'business loan' as companies with much larger budgets are competing there. However with A/B testing different ads at small dollar amounts, you can drive a decent amount of leads, scale up on the ones that test well, and gain more web traffic as your site ranks higher in Google once you gain more click throughs. Brokers see on average 5-10% of their leads going this route until they commit bigger budgets to spend on this.
Networking in social media groups and message boards - Joining groups and other message boards that cater to business owners allows for networking and getting your company and personal brand out there.
Referral partners - One of the most underrated yet highest quality leads are those you get from referral partners like CPAs or mortgage brokers that are able to send clients that need a different product than what they can offer. On Linkedin, many are using automation tools like Dux-Soup to connect and message a high volume of targeted people which has a higher open and response rate than almost anything besides text messaging. You have to be consistent with your effort to procure relationships. This is a long term play where you mainly need to create value in the relationship and not always seeking to get something in return. The amount of business you could see from this channel is probably in the 20-25% range.
Strategic partners in other verticals - Companies that offer other services for merchants, like website builders such as 3D Cart, or payment processors, can be high volume lead sources given the right agreement and technology in place. More often these days you will need to use APIs to build a high volume lead flow. This technology and others help everyone in getting a file through the submissions process faster. The amount of leads depends on the partner, but could be 50% or more.
Radio advertising - Not often used, but brokers and funders alike have had success with advertising on the radio, mostly locally or regionally. Its a really good strategy to become your local 'mayor' of business loans, thus creating the view that you are the experts in the local area. This increases website traffic and referrals. And as long as you are doing great work you will receive 5 star reviews, which grows your brand and business.
TV Advertising - Only a few of the larger funders have done TV ads for any substantial length of time. Most recently I have seen Newtek on major cable networks but Rapid Advance and Ondeck have done it in the past. To run TV ads in the media ecosystem of today doesn't make much sense for the majority of Funders with sales teams no less ISO shops.
Trade Shows or other events - Many cities or states have trade shows for business owners to either attend or be part of the exhibitors. Small Business Expo is held in many cities including NYC and Miami each year. This will be more to build brand awareness with the occasional immediate deal but also establishes long term relationships.
Live transfer calls - where you hire a 3rd party company to transfer merchants to you once they have a qualified person interested in your loan products. They are not cheap but a good way to feel their quality out is to request an initial trial batch. If you search on linked you will find many of these companies or people offering them. Its can be difficult to find a good quality source that do what they promise.
There may be some channels we didn't cover but won't be a large piece of the legitimate lead source pie. You don't need to use all of these channels especially if you are succeeding with what you are doing but you should always look to adapt to the ever changing environment.
For example, with the advent of new technology and laws for robo calling, will that affect the calls your office is doing by automatic dialer? If so, you should be adding more resources to other channels to gain consistent leads.
Either way, you should frequently take a review of your pipeline to see what percentages your lead channels are divided into. Always think ahead to where the industry is going when competing with the new entrants or largest fintech companies.
Leave a comment below if you have any other lead channels that are successful for your business that were not mentioned.