Making Introductions, Profitably


An interesting article in the New York Times highlighted a company called Legal Services Link. As you might infer from the name, the company works to connect lawyers with those who need legal services.

Lead generation? Yes, but with a twist. In this model, buyers are actively seeking sellers and the intermediary is attracting these buyers and adding value by actually matching buyer to seller. In many cases, the buyer is asked to complete a requirements survey, which is then matched to a database of qualified sellers. The intermediary (usually a data company), identifies usually from one to three vendors best qualified to help the buyer, and puts everyone in touch.

The benefit to the buyer is that a small number of pre-screened, qualified sellers make immediate contact with the buyer – enough sellers to have some choice, but not enough to be overwhelming or annoying. You may possible be surprised to learn that a hidden value-add of these matching services, is that they monitor the sellers to make sure they get in touch with the buyer quickly. Yes, even with sellers paying sometimes hundreds of dollars for a hot lead, they still manage to drop the lead on the floor!

What’s also nice about this model from the perspective of the intermediary is that there is no chance of “leakage” – a term for when buyers or sellers circumvent the intermediary, often to avoid paying a commission.

This model works well for both B2C and B2B. It seems to work best for high-value purchases that the buyer only purchases sporadically. This irregular buying pattern is key because it means the buyer can’t keep up with what seller offers what product, or even the products themselves. Markets with rapidly changing technology are especially good.

Since the buyer fills out the requirements survey with full knowledge she will be immediately hearing from salespeople, she makes an enormously high value lead. And since the seller has a good understanding of what the buyer needs before making contact, the initial conversation is more productive and the sale tends to close faster.

This is a strong model that makes more sense than ever in a world that’s rapidly getting used to apps that speed the delivery of everything. If you see the right fundamentals in your market, it’s a model that’s well worth exploring.

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