An open letter from SalesLeads.tv President, John Fischer
As you know, SalesLeads.tv started an internet company over a year ago. After being ripped off for years by various SEO and SEM services, I just decided to do it myself. As a result, my internet exposure has exploded. I get so many calls day and night, and believe me, I’m not complaining.
Now this situation helps me relate to many potential clients, as so often the first words out of a new buyer’s mouth are, “I just got ripped off by so-and-so.” As a public service to you, my potential client, I’ll reveal some tips to avoid getting scammed by a fraudulent list broker.
Better Business Bureau
Although it costs $265 a year to remain an accredited business under the Better Business Bureau, and an extra $365 to display our 24-year-strong A+ rating, I think it’s one of the strongest investments I’ve made. You’ll find most “list brokers” don’t post their rating, let alone sign on with the BBB, and for good reason. It’s tough to get money back from an unscrupulous list broker if you send a bank wire. Not many agencies exist to help recoup your lost funds. However, you better believe putting in a complaint to the BBB is going to seriously affect their rating and, in turn, their business. If you are a fraudulent list broker and are planning to rip people off, why would you ever want to post your no-doubt dreadful rating with the BBB? If your instincts tell you this new list broker might scam you, the first thing to check for is a Better Business Bureau.
Do Your Homework
You ask your clients to do their due diligence before investing with you, so why hold yourself to lesser standards? Google the name of the list broker, their firm, and the president, and be prepared to dig deep. Some people stoop so low as to use fake names or reputation firms to push back any negative information about themselves on the internet. These companies find people with similar names and write new articles and stories in hopes that they will replace the negative stories about their clients that show up on Google and Yahoo’s first pages. Be sure to go past the first page, I said you might have to dig deep!
Always use a credit card over a bank wire, but the absolute best option is PayPal. Open a PayPal account. I know PayPal can be a pain in the ass, but the good news is the list broker will never get access to your credit card information. I have a documented case of a list broker who used customers’ credit card information to buy ten iPads and pay his bills. If you get ripped off, PayPal is your best shot at getting your money back, as it gives you the option to reverse the charge.
We don’t give samples because we don’t have to give samples. 24 years with an A+ rating and no complaints speaks for itself. List brokers that offer samples are notorious for the bait and switch. At SalesLeads.tv, we’ll compromise with new clients by doing an initial $1,000 test order 100% guaranteed against disconnects, wrong numbers, or plain old bad files. It happens; even list brokers get ripped off.
Brick and Mortar
The majority of list brokers work out of their trunk, selling what we in the business accordingly call “trunk leads.” These brokers will start working at a lead list firm and rob them of their leads, clients, and potential prospects. 20 Photocopies later and these “list brokers” are overselling these leads for dirt cheap out of the trunk of their car. A serious professional will have an office, so if your potential new list broker claims to be local, ask to set up a meeting in their office (not their car).
Another complaint I always here is, “This list broker initially seemed really helpful but after sealing the first deal I can’t get ahold of him.” This is a sensitive issue, but I’ve never been one to hold back. At SalesLeads.tv, my 800 number and my main number both feed directly to my cell phone. That cell phone is either on my hip or on my bedside dresser. I could be in the middle of any conversation; if I hear that phone beep, I pick it up, get a name, and call them back within fifteen minutes. If you first contact a list broker and get an answering machine, that’s a bad omen. Remember, I’m a lead buyer just like you, and every single time I receive not-as-promised lead lists from a stranger, sure enough that “list broker” isn’t accessible for weeks. I want to paint a picture; a lot of so-called list-brokers are neither businesspeople nor professionals, and… how to put this delicately… need treatment and belong in a 12-step program.
Pay Per Click
“You’re number one on Google, you must be good,” doesn’t always apply. The way we quickly gain artificial top rankings with the search engines is to pay for the top listing on certain keyword searches. We do it for ourselves, and we do it for our customers; it’s a great way to build initial traffic for a new website. You’ll notice that when you search for certain keyword terms on Google, the first two or three listings, as well as those on the side, are all flagged as ads. Do not assume that list brokers that you find through these listings have earned those top listings or the exposure that comes with them. They paid for it. When I’m looking for something to buy on Google, I always skip the ads and go for the top organically-ranked sites, who’ve earned their place. My strategy is to buy the top keywords to capture the ad traffic, but you’ll notice that organically my sites’ listings are never far below their paid counterparts. It’s not necessarily bad to find a list broker through an ad, just make sure they have good organic rankings as well to validate the quality of their business.
Never send a bank wire for your first few orders with a new list broker. Just like we at SalesLeads.tv don’t take personal checks, you shouldn’t pay a list broker with a bank wire. It’s too absolute. There are very few options for recourse, and even fewer hopes of ever getting your money back.
If you think that you can pay 50 cents a name, you deserve the leads you’re going to get. You get what you pay for. I think it’s funny that people think they can pay 7 cents per lead and get any sort of positive result. I actually love those companies; they cater to a client-base completely separate from mine and keep that market from trying to buy my leads to resell or harass with their scams and fake offers. Good riddance.
“People that think that it only takes hundreds to raise millions will never be my customers.”
Do Not Call Registry
There are over 220 million people on the Federal Do-Not-Call Registry. If a list broker doesn’t address that topic, doesn’t ask for a SAN number, doesn’t tell you that a SAN is required to scrub against the DNC and get permission to dial numbers in specific area codes, then they are not a true list broker. This is probably one of the most important topics a list broker should discuss. The FTC will give you five free area codes to dial, but that is nowhere near enough to see results. It is $58 per area code, but with such a limited amount of leads not on the DNC, you need at least 50 area codes to do a good job.
State Do Not Call
There are over 15 states with their own additional DNC requirements and fees. In certain states, and for certain scenarios, an up to $1 million bond must be put up by the caller. Has your list broker mentioned that?
In the investment world, certain states are flat out problematic. No matter how compliant you can make yourself, it is just way too risky to call some states. When we first receive a new lead list, we immediately throw all of the Pennsylvania leads in the garbage. There are at least another seven states’ worth of leads that we will never sell. I’d be willing to bet your lead broker doesn’t give a damn.