If you are involved in lead generation, distribution, buying or sales, and looking for choosing a lead distribution and management software system, this article will be of interest to you. Whether you are an entrepreneur or an executive working in a lead generation and lead selling business, you may have difficulty in choosing between a Lead Generation Distribution Software or a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management software).
Why CRM Systems Are Used – Background
Many marketers involved in the lead generation business are not familiar with the lead distribution specific software. Hence they choose to use a CRM system, since there are dozens of CRM systems visible and available in the marketplace.
CRM systems are made for a different purpose – to cater to the customer relationship needs of organizations involved in delivering or goods or services. The lead management module is one of the components of the CRM systems, suitable for collecting and routing leads to their inside sales force and field sales representatives – within the organization.
When the online lead management started taking route several years back, the companies involved in lead generation (such as Lending Tree, InsureMe, Mint.com, etc.) built their own custom software since they cannot use the traditional CRM software from SAP, Siebel, Oracle, etc. And these large leadgen companies could afford to invest millions of dollars for building their own systems.
However, as the internet matured, consumers adopted internet in droves, small and medium sized marketing companies and online advertising / media agencies started focusing on online lead generation and the industry took off in a big way. Since there was no specialized lead generation and distribution software, these organizations started using CRM in some fashion.
Franchise systems and home offices spend tons of money and efforts nowadays on online marketing and inbound marketing. Online lead generation is a key strategy managed by the top management in many franchise systems independent of size. In fact, smaller franchise businesses focus their efforts online rather than traditional marketing methods. Deploying and leveraging a suitable Sales Lead Aggregation and Distribution Software system can bring in significant benefits in terms of ROI and business growth.
Internet and Mobile Adoption Growth Leads to Inbound Marketing
Studies have shown that over 80% US consumers start their purchasing and buying process with internet research – whether they are buying products or services. Even retailers and brick and mortar businesses acquire their customers through online channels. With the mass adoption of internet and mobile technologies, consumers prefer online sources to locate their services and goods providers.
As a result, owners of franchise systems have recognized the importance of online sales lead generation tools and techniques in recent times. These internet lead generation process is known as inbound marketing as opposed to traditional outbound marketing channels (such as yellow pages, print media, journals, magazines, local newspapers, direct marketing, call centers, radio, television, etc.).
Why many Online Marketers Struggle with Lead Generation Management?
Online Marketing professionals and businesses such as digital marketing agencies just getting into Lead Generation and Distribution business plan out their business strategies (i.e. lead generation and selling) very well. They are generally very good at picking the niches and lead verticals, lead generation sources and methods, affiliate and advertising tactics, etc. In other words, they get the “idea” part of it.
However one major area where they lack in planning is the executing the operations. This is where many startups and entrepreneurs in the lead business struggle and meet with significant difficulties. Though they are good in the “marketing” aspect, they struggle with the systems and processes. Unfortunately, in the leadgen industry unless you master the “operations” part of the business, there is no real business success.
For example, you do not need to be a technology nerd to be a successful an online marketer. However, capturing, aggregating, distributing and delivering leads generated (on the internet) is a different ball game altogether. Every affiliate and lead supplier will demand a different specification for pushing leads; most buyers will also demand different delivery methods, systems and exception handling (for duplicate leads and other lead returns). For instance, using “ping” method for lead delivery means different things for different vendors and clients! While most systems and tasks can be outsourced, you should understand and differentiate different services, solutions and processes. If you are a large team, then you should have someone taking care of this serious stuff!
Lending Tree, a leading online mortgage lead generation company filed patent infringement suits last week against other well known companies in the internet leadgen sphere, including Zillow, NexTag, AdChemy and QuinStreet. Lending Tree has claimed that patent numbers 6,385,594 and 6,611,816, both entitled “Method and Computer Network for Coordinating a Loan over the Internet”, are infringed by the companies mentioned above.
It is well known that Lending Tree started its mortgage lead generation operation long time back and provided opportunities for the consumers to chose from multiple mortgage companies. The banks and mortgage brokers competed and provided quotes to match the loan requirements. While it was a pioneering initiative those days, it is pretty straight forward like a basic math operation nowadays.
No doubt, long legal battles will be fought in the court to decide the merits of the case. I am not a lawyer and have no knowledge about how the patent system works through the courts. In my personal opinion, Lending Tree has been weakened, not by these competitors, but but by the maturity of the internet and applications; the natural withering process has started. I don’t see this action any thing different than that of the reactions of the traditional telecom service providers for the introduction of VOIP. Probably the company is trying to reduce the competition and make some money in the process. Recollect how these smartphone manufacturers are fighting each other over minor patents; and finally settle without much noise. Let us wait and see what happens!