PERSON OF THE WEEK: Brandon Stuerke is a business coach and marketing strategist specializing in new tools that save professionals time while building their practices. He is the founder and president of Advisors Edge Marketing Inc., which produces Automated Advisor, a new program that strategically streamlines prospect cultivation.
MortgageOrb interviewed Stuerke to get his take on lead generation, sales automation and social media marketing:
Q: A recent study found that U.S. businesses spend billions of dollars generating sales leads only to lose more than 70% of them simply because sales personnel do not react quickly enough. At the risk of being flippant, why are businesses so lethargic in responding to sales leads?
Brandon Stuerke: I think there are a few reasons. One, when sales people are manually following up on leads, there's a real temptation to close the ones that are hot and forget the rest. Sales people get so busy with those that show interest that they fail to circle back with those who maybe didn't answer the first time, or maybe weren't quite ready to buy.
As Chet Holmes pointed out in ‘The Ultimate Sales Machine,’ only about 3% of the market is ever actively looking for whatever it is you may be selling. That being the case, sales people generate leads made up of not only this 3%, but also a portion of the 97% that may have some level of interest, but not enough to take action today. Most sales professionals are simply too shortsighted to use appropriate nurture campaigns to cultivate relationships with these prospects. Instead, they run out and spend more money on the next marketing campaign.
Q: Many financial services companies are spending more time on social media outreach. But in your professional opinion, are they using social media correctly in terms of sales leads?
Stuerke: Absolutely not. The vast majority – close to 98% – are nowhere close to converting leads to appointments (let alone sales) from social media efforts. Many advisors are spending lots of money to chase the fad, but I have yet to hear any say this is a profitable marketing avenue. Most advisors are operating under the old ‘top of mind awareness’ belief that, ‘if they just see me enough times, when they have a need, they'll call me.’ When I speak to groups of advisors, I always take a poll to see how many have closed more than three new clients as a result of social media. I have yet to see anyone raise a hand.
Q: Where are they goofing up?
Stuerke: I think the major disconnect is the advisors typically have not developed a strategy to lead prospects from their social media posts to some type of call to action. For example, posting a link to an article about retirement planning, or any other financial topic, does not engage the prospect – you must provide a call to action that is going to lead the prospect to your website, a landing page, someplace where they can enter your sales process. So a lack of a call to action is the biggest disconnect, in my opinion.
Q: What tips would you offer in pursuing a potential lead who is not ready for an immediate commitment, but who may be ready to make the commitment in six to 12 months?
Stuerke: This is where the whole concept of ‘lead nurture’ comes into play. Again, the point is, 97% of the market is not ready to buy today, so what do you do with those people? I believe you need to cultivate those relationships, so that you can harvest clients as they mature in the sales process. The unfortunate reality, however, is that most sales professionals are too consumed with making a sale today and surviving than really building a predictable business. I believe it's simply because most have never taken the time to learn to build these nurture campaigns.
The other reality is you cannot manually nurture and follow up with that many prospects. A sales professional's time must be reserved for holding meetings with prospects and closing business. As a result, advisors don't feel they have time to handhold prospects until they are ready to enter the sales process. And they're right – they don't have the time. That is where automation becomes so crucial. It's the only real way to scale a practice, or any business, for that matter.
Q: How does one attract a potential sales lead without either (a) boring them with an indifferent interaction or (b) overwhelming them with an over-the-top approach?
Stuerke: I think the key is to know your market. As sales people consider what their market is looking for, they can find ways to become a resource rather than a pest. The reason most marketing messages are not well received is because the vast majority of marketing is ‘push’ or ‘interruption’ marketing. We're pushing our message, our products, etc., and in an age of technology and fast-paced lives, no one has time for that.
As a society, we have trouble making time for the things we want to do, so we forget about the things we don't want to do, like listen to a sales pitch. Today, prospects in every market are hungry for information. We are a wired culture. Everyone is a Google expert and does their research before buying anything or talking to any sales reps. With that in mind, sales people need to position calls to action that offer the information prospects are looking for.