Chapter 2 - Laying the Foundation (continued)

Understanding the Cost of Organization

Depending on the size of your firm, you may already have a lead processing model in place. However, we repeatedly discover that many internet campaigns fail due to ineffective follow-up practices and lack of a cohesive case processing paradigm. The fees on Social Security cases are small compared to other areas of law, so it is crucial to minimize costs wherever possible. Having a streamlined screening process along with efficient data storage and case management will lower staffing costs and aid in maximizing productivity.

How do you organize your firm to handle internet leads most profitably? Well, that question may transcend the scope of this book, since every firm is different and each attorney has a preferred management style. Nevertheless, some tips should remain constant across all successful Social Security practices.

As mentioned previously, a well-trained and knowledgeable staff is a necessity for handling internet leads profitably. Competent screeners will contact leads promptly and persistently, in addition to performing the initial qualification. However, understand their limits and recognize that purchasing more leads than your staff can handle will not necessarily correlate with an increased ROI.

Some tout the benefits of case management software for the organization, form generation, appointment scheduling, and other features. Unfortunately, this type of software usually wields a hefty price tag, so it is certainly not a necessity for starting a Social Security practice. However, if maximum growth is your goal, you should investigate the available software and customer relationship management (CRM) options. If utilized properly, they will allow you to prune your personnel budget and lower your case processing costs.

Some lead services will even offer lead and case management software as a complimentary add-on. Such software can assist in managing your follow-up process, generating reports, form generation, and much more, depending on the system. It is certainly worth asking your lead provider about software options, as third-party solutions may prove costly and not tailored to the legal demographic.

Choosing a Lead Generation Company

Though some start their initial lead generation efforts in-house, others elect to work with a third-party. We will take a more comprehensive look at lead generation options in the next chapter, but a few points merit examination at this juncture.

Choosing a lead generation company is akin to buying a car: You select the model that suits your individual needs and offers the best cost-benefit combination. While all those bells and whistles on the Mercedes are tempting, they may not coincide with your actual requirements or budget. In a similar fashion, countless lead generation services exist, each distinct in its own right.

Two principal aspects of web lead generation should be weighed: quantity and quality. If you run a national firm that needs hundreds of leads per day to maintain case inventory, you are probably seeking a high volume provider with competitive prices. However, if you will be calling the leads yourself, it might make sense to pay a premium for a higher quality lead to render your follow-up effort more efficient. At the end of the day, signed rates and prices may differ immensely among various services, but a general guideline to follow is selecting the service that best meets your quality and quantity expectations, and, more importantly, delivers the lowest cost-per-signed case.

You may have heard lead providers using the term “exclusivity” when promoting their product. Exclusivity, that is, sending leads to only one firm, is a critical feature in most cases. Some lead generators will lure you in with bargain prices, but casually mention that each lead is sent to 4-5 different law firms. While this model may work for buying a car or replacing your bathtub, its utility within administrative law is dubious. The fees in Social Security cases are mandated by federal law, so the cost to the claimant will almost always be exactly the same. A claimant tends to sign up with whomever makes first contact, and if another firm beats you to the chase, you will likely have wasted your time and money on that particular lead.

Flexibility is another asset to seek out when working with a third-party lead generator. Some companies require that you purchase a minimum number of leads on monthly basis. Unless the lead quality is outstanding and you do not mind overextending yourself, it would be unwise to commit to this kind of arrangement. Further, look for companies that can target leads by telephone area code, zip code prefix, or county. This will become especially valuable for local practitioners who do not wish to travel long distances for hearings.

Lead generation tactics may differ greatly among companies. Ask them how they generate leads and the landing pages(s) to which they drive traffic. While they may not share trade secrets or proprietary information, you should possess a basic understanding of how the leads are generated.

Lastly, it is worth inquiring about the feasibility of customizing your own lead package. Many lead generators offer default packages in which certain qualifiers (e.g., not receiving Social Security benefits, not represented, receiving medical treatment, etc.) are validated before a lead is sent. However, you should ask about the qualifiers that are most important to your firm. You may not mind speaking to a claimant who already has an attorney but is dissatisfied with the current representation. Similarly, you may require that all leads be treating with a doctor. In short, seek out companies that can best meet your specifications and adapt to the evolving needs of your practice.

Initial Thoughts on Initials

Before hiring new employees and investing thousands in buying leads, you should know that the majority of internet-generated leads in our experience comprise those seeking to file initial claims. If you do not handle initial claims, you should search for a company that specializes in selling denial leads. Frankly, such a company may not even exist, since most companies generate leads in a similar manner, that is, via pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization. Thus, if you are serious about exploring web lead generation, you should investigate handling initial claims. Many attorneys and advocates actually prefer initial claims, since most are denied and eventually proceed to the hearing stage anyway. Further, while waiting for a hearing date, the attorney can stress the importance of consistent medical treatment to the claimant, thereby building the strongest possible case when finally appearing before the administrative law judge.

As we have stressed throughout this chapter, you should perform a thorough review of your organizational structure and follow-up paradigm before diving into any new lead generating campaign. In terms of streamlining your screening process, we suggest prioritizing efficiency and organization, as this will form the foundation of your success with internet leads.