Let’s talk about one of the most revered forms of leads in the merchant cash advance business: UCC Leads

To be honest with you, I don’t know any of the big dogs in the merchant cash advance industry that rely on UCC Leads.

The only brokers I see buying UCC Lead lists are usually startup brokers and ISOs, or ISO shops that have a cold calling boiler room set up and hit the phones all day long, trying to pummel their way into the hearts of frustrated small business merchants looking for capital.

Why are UCC Leads not used by any of the big ISOs in the cash advance industry?

That is a question that I found myself asking in 2014 when I was working at a small ISO shop that had just started up in the financial district of NYC.

I learned over time that it isn’t that UCC Leads don’t work. They do.

It’s just that they’re unreliable if you want to actually build a sustainable, predictable, and scalable merchant cash advance business over the long term.

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of using UCC Leads:

Pros of UCC Leads:

  • Extremely cheap compared to marketing to businesses on advertising platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Indicates that the merchant has taken funding before because he has a UCC filing on his record (He’s probably going to be a lot easier to sell because he’s familiar with this type of product)

Cons of UCC Leads:

  • Sold to as many brokers as possible without any exclusivity
  • Unreliable (you never know what you’ll get)
  • Not scalable (you won’t get to $1 million a month and beyond with UCC Leads)
  • Full of over-leveraged merchants who probably couldn’t take on another position even if they wanted to

One thing about UCC Leads is that they’re super popular these days. The vast majority of ISOs love them (even though they’re basically scraps compared to other forms of leads–which I’ll talk about later in this post)

For curiosity’s sake, let’s do a little Google search for UCC Leads right now and see what pops up…

UCC Leads google search
I blocked the names and URLs of these sites because I don’t want it to seem like I’m promoting them (I’m not)

Looks like most of the search results consist of people mass marketing UCC data to any Joe Shmoe and his mom who wants to buy it.

Getting quality leads is literally a “barrier to entry” for the alternative lending space.

If any guy can just go on Google right now, search up UCC leads, and then buy a pack of 100 for $80, how freakin’ effective do you think that data is going to be?

You might close one out of a hundred if you really bust your ass, and if you’re lucky enough to avoid the scammers selling you fake data.

Now, let’s ask a more important question…

If UCC leads are no good, then what is?

What is the alternative to UCC Leads?

Well, let’s first have a quick history lesson about how the alternative lending industry came to be, and you’ll soon find your answer.

Ondeck was the first to start the short term loan product (read: merchant cash advance) that based funding on future receivables instead of personal guarantees or collateral, although there were still brokers doing credit card processing accounts before MCAs came along.

Some time after Ondeck, other tech companies came along and started jumping on the bandwagon as the industry evolved and became more sophisticated.

Now, you gotta ask yourself…

What were these innovators doing at the time for their leads?

They certainly weren’t going through UCC filings to find merchants that were seeking funding.

Over time, brokers came up with their own solution and thought that the best way to find a merchant looking for funding is to check if he’s in the market for one already.

This worked for a few years, but it eventually became a race to the bottom.

While the tech MCA companies were focused on what works over the long term (content marketing, SEO, direct response advertising, mailers, Search Engine Marketing/ SEM, and strategic partnerships), the ISOs wanted the fast way to access the “cream of the crop” deals.

As we’ve seen this play out with company after company, optimizing for the long term always beats optimizing for the quick sale.

Take a look at giant companies like Apple, Amazon, etc. But to be more specific let’s look at companies in the alternative lending industry itself. Companies like Ondeck, Fundera, Lendio, Lending Circle, Biz2Credit, Square.

They have a long term focus. You may argue that these are all funders and that ISOs don’t have a big budget to be doing all that marketing etc.

Wrong.

Lendio is an ISO. Biz2Credit is also strictly an ISO. And yet these guys are doing pretty well as large scale ISOs.

So clearly, it’s more about strategy rather than just being well-funded by a bunch of venture capitalists.

Now based on what you just read about the history of merchant cash advance, let’s compare two different strategies.

Weak and Short-Term Strategy: Let’s buy a bunch of cheap UCC Leads from a random site I found on Google

Strong but Long-Term Strategy: Let’s create a super-helpful high value website for merchants looking for funding.

Since we’ve already discussed why the UCC Leads strategy sucks, let’s delve deeper into the long-term value-focused strategy.

Using the second strategy, for example, you could take the approach of being an advisor and consultant who gives business owners helpful advice on problems they may face in their business through content marketing, and ranking on Google organically for relevant search terms such as “Unsecured Small Business Funding.”

In this interview with Brock Blake, the founder of Lendio, it was revealed that Lendio used an extremely comprehensive content marketing strategy to attract small business owners to their website. They included downloadable business plans for almost any industry you can imagine, which ultimately got their merchants to become loyal to their brand.

You could use similar content strategies in your merchant cash advance business, but the point is that taking the time and effort to add value to small business owners through content goes a long way in establishing a strong relationship with them.

Once your content website starts getting more and more traffic, you can add an inbound lead gen system to convert the traffic into leads and loan applications automatically.

What was that? Still don’t believe me eh? Alright, well let me prove to you that a great content strategy can be one of the strongest assets for your merchant cash advance business:

SEMrush search for Ondeck's traffic sources
Here’s a screenshot of what pops up when you search SEMrush for Ondeck

Above is a screenshot from SEMrush for Ondeck. SEMrush is basically a competitor spying tool that allows you to see where your competitors are getting their traffic from, as well as all the keywords they’re ranking for, and what their content marketing strategy looks like.

As you can clearly see, Ondeck isn’t even running any paid ads nowadays! All their traffic is currently coming from their content marketing efforts. But you will notice that they did indeed run paid ads when they were starting out, which leads me to my next point…

Content marketing is great as a strong base for quality traffic, but an even faster way to cross the “barrier to entry” for quality leads is to get into paid ads with the help of someone who knows what he’s doing. (Me, hehe)

For example, here’s a case study where I developed a client’s inbound lead gen system all the way from the front-end user interface to the backend technology that retrieves loan apps and bank statements, and we drove traffic to it from Facebook Ads, and they had deals coming in left and right. Signed loan apps, bank statement PDFs, and yes… even the stips, all uploaded to the backend so that my client could focus on selling the deal.

Despite these superior inbound lead generation strategies, the crowd still loves UCC Leads.

Here’s why the crowd isn’t always right…

One thing we know about crowds is that they start trending towards something and then pretty soon, everyone is doing it. Then as even more people jump on the bandwagon, the benefit decreases and decreases until it reaches an equilibrium at rock bottom, where everyone pretty much gets a little benefit from it, but nothing significant.

UCC Leads may have been great in 2014, but they’re now so commonly known by every broker in the industry that gaining an edge on other brokers means you have to go to the state UCC filings and be the first guy to contact that person after he got funded. Not to mention that over-leveraging merchants just to make a commission is a race to the bottom and will only lead to trouble down the road for both you and that merchant.

The state of things in the merchant cash advance industry when it comes to quality leads reminds me of that old Silicon Valley adage:

When others zig, you zag.

The Zig-Zag principle, in basic terms, means that you look at what most of your competitors (other brokers) are doing, and you take the road less traveled.

The road less traveled is usually less traveled for a reason. It takes more resources, more time, or both.

So while others look for the quick commission with a purchased list of UCC Leads, you steer clear and decide to avoid what everyone else is doing and do what takes more time, money and effort (Content marketing, Paid traffic, Marketing funnels, Inbound Lead Gen System, etc.)

So by now you’re probably thinking I have some kind of vendetta against UCC Leads…. Lol

You might be asking things like:

  • “Are UCC Leads completely flawed?”
  • “Is there no redeeming quality for UCC Leads?”

Honestly, even though I’m giving them such a bad rap, UCC Leads can still have some value to a guy who wants to start selling merchant cash advance and has less than $50,000 a month in commissions.

But there’s a catch: Your firm will be extremely inefficient because you’ll be pounding the phones 12 hours a day, which will inevitably lead to low employee morale, and lots of turnover in your sales department.

I have a friend down in Brooklyn who runs his own shop and he does $80,000 a month from UCC leads. He busts his ass off and has dozens of brokers calling all day (quite an inefficient use of labor if you ask me), but he certainly does get the job done.

And that brings me to my second point.

You will plateau once you hit $50K to $100K per month in commissions. And once you hit that plateau, you won’t really know how to break through because you built your merchant cash advance business on poor foundations: UCC Leads.

So sure… go ahead and use UCC Lead lists but be aware that you also need to get into content marketing and paid ads once you’ve built up enough commissions to start reinvesting back into your company.

Overall, UCC leads and other purchasable data are great for when you’re starting out (even if they’ve been sold to dozens of other brokers).

But when you want to scale your business and get to a new level, UCC lists will fail hard. They’re not a predictable and repeatable source of leads. One list you buy may have some gold in it that hasn’t been dialed 100s of times, while a lot of others might just have a bunch of over-leveraged merchants who can’t even afford a slice of pizza. (lol)


Psssssttttt………

If you’re tired of purchased UCC Lead lists that end with you banging your head against a desk 12 hours a day, you’re in the right place.

I’ve created a 30 minute video case study that reveals the EXACT step-by-step system to:

  • Target merchants who are shopping right now and need funding right now
  • Get the merchants bank statements BEFORE you ever even get on the phone with them
  • Create a magnetic effect where merchants come to you instead of you going to them, getting hung up on, or cursed at over the phone

[Case Study] How To Get The Freshest Leads In The Business

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Sean Nayyar
Sean Nayyar

Sean Nayyar is the CEO of Lendnet and has been working in the alternative lending space since 2014. Currently, Sean is helping Small Direct Funders and ISOs in the merchant cash advance space to get more leads by helping them develop their own automated inbound lead gen systems.

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