If you are planning to use a direct mail lead system to market your practice, this is what you need to know: there is no such thing as a magic bullet. I owned a direct mail lead generating company, and the most difficult task we had was to convince agents that a lead is not a sale. It’s a lead. The primary purpose of a lead is to qualify the prospect.

With that in mind, use these tips to help you select the best system for you:

  1. Qualify the list with demographic selection. You can choose age, income, house size, marital status and other qualifying criteria. The more criteria you choose, the more the list will cost per name.
  2. Make your mailing offer attractive. Obviously, information that is important to your prospect will get a better response than a pocket calendar.
  3. Use a turnkey system that has a successful track record. The developers of lead systems have spent thousands of dollars determining what works with their particular system. You would be advised to take advantage of their knowledge and research, which can only come from experimentation.
  4. Take time to fine tune your strategy. A lead from direct mail is generated by a person who is interested in information without any obligation to purchase. This type of lead requires that you are capable of transitioning from this interest to an appointment. A transition like this will take practice. While you are practicing, you will burn up leads while correcting mistakes. Your lead service will be able to keep your learning curve to a minimum, so you must listen to your trainer.
  5. If there is any part of the lead program that you can’t live with, don’t start. If you feel that there are any unethical or uncomfortable elements to the lead system, stay away and find another system that is comfortable for you.
  6. Aim for immediate follow-up. Find out how long it takes for you to receive the leads after the prospect sends the response. Every day that you sit on the lead, it will get colder. In some cases, the prospect may not ever remember responding.
  7. Look for a return on investment from a lead system of at least 5 to 1. A learning curve is to be expected. Set aside a war chest of at least $2,000 for a lead system to make it work. Since the learning curve takes time, you will need to make a long-term commitment to get it to work for you. While you are experiencing your learning curve, discouragement and doubt could cause you to fail.

Google “direct mail leads” for insurance. You’ll get plenty of responses. Also, ask your providers about lead systems. Just remember to check their system and when you find something that works, make it work for you. If someone else is making it work, you can, too.

Editor’s Note: The preceding article was adapted from “Better prospecting: How to find and utilize the right direct mail lead system for you,” which ran in the December 2009 issue of Life Insurance Selling. Click here to read the whole article.

To read last week’s Words from the Wise, “3 technologies that can help tap the middle market,” click here.

For more on leads, see:

Sales Aids, Leads, And Marketing Systems – The Producer’s Support System

3 ways to get leads from your website, FAST

4 things to know about generating your own Internet leads