Picture the scene; night time, downtown Los Angeles, dimly lit alley ways house the hungry and homeless. A man steps out of the darkness with a roll of cash ready to do a deal, a car approaches, the window winds down. The silence of the night is torn apart by gunshots and the sound of tyres squealing as the car pulls away. 

As far as any of us is aware this is not how financial services leads are generated, bought or sold but that doesn’t mean there aren’t parallels between the drug dealing economy and the lead generation industry. Lead generation is a strange industry as it doesn’t behave like most traditional industries which to a newcomer can be very confusing. Time to bust some myths:

Myth: If you have money to spend you can get what you need.

Fact: Your reputation and a history of delivering results carries more weight than your marketing budget.

In most industries a healthy bankroll is enough to find success but in the lead generation space this isn’t the case. New leads are hard to find and after putting in some serious work creating a reliable source a lead generation company isn’t about to sell them to anyone with a cheque book. Good leads sold to a buyer who mishandles them can quickly poison the drinking water for everyone. 

The lead generation industry is a giant circle of trust, people do business with people they know and aren’t inclined to take risks with anyone new. Any new company looking to buy leads has two options; have someone in the organisation who has worked in the space before and brings their reputation with them or buckle up for a two year ride of colourful language and phones being hung up on them until they find a way to prove their credentials.

Myth: You can easily find the right guys to work with.

Fact: The people who can make a difference to your business don’t advertise, to find them you will need to work and impress every contact you meet.

Each source of high quality leads is a well-guarded secret and those in the know aren’t easy to find. If the lead generation is a circle of trusted partners working together a new entrant isn’t just going to have to penetrate the circle they are going to have to find it in the first place. Think you are going to just call up the big brand websites and ask them for leads? Good luck with that. Grab a whiteboard and start to explore where you think the big brand websites are getting their customers from and selling them to. The question marks on your spider diagram are the guys you really want so now it is just a case of finding them, getting them to talk to you and convincing them you are worth working with. Better get started.

Myth: It’s all about payment. 

Fact: Paid Search is where everyone starts, it is easy to get started and it is easy to blow your budget without much return. The best leads are the hardest to find.

Customers are the lifeblood of every industry and without Google the flow of customers would be a fraction of what we see today. Paid Search allows anyone with a budget to buy a placement and roll the dice. Therein lies the problem, if anyone can do it then everyone will be doing it. More advertisers equals higher cost equals lower margin. If you are willing to put in the work there are leads to be bought that will outperform Google at a fraction of the price and allow you to succeed where your competitors fail. Most leads are cultivated from Google but for maximum efficiency they pass through the hands of experts who know how to cut and distribute them to maximum effect.

Sellers hidden away, product that can only be bought by those with the right reputation, pure product diluted by experts to decrease cost without reducing potency. Are you still sure lead generate and drug dealing don’t have much in common?

Lead generation is a serious business. That’s why you should join your boy Owen at PMI: London for his session, “More Addictive than Crack – What Drug Peddling Can Teach You about Lead Gen”.