Lead generation is a surging term in the sales and marketing segment. With the recent multi device, IoT trends that digitalization has brought along, most of the sales and marketing activities are going digital, leaving most organizations in a crux when it comes to managing the lead generation efforts. Many a times lack of expertise in marketing and lead generation acts as a barrier towards this shift.
Many organizations hence, prefer to outsource the process leaving the core lead generation efforts in the capable hands of experts. But, with the current pace of expansion of the market and the ever increasing number of organizations that provide similar services, it becomes a bit tricky to find the right outsourcing partner for lead generation.
If you are new to the whole idea of lead generation, start by reading our last post- 9 Awesome Lead Generation Ideas for Service-Based Businesses. Once you have the clarity about lead generation and get into shortlisting potential lead generation companies, you have to start with identifying some differentiators or USPs.
Here are 7 questions you should ask lead generation companies before finalizing the affiliation.
Question 1: What are the Services Offered?
In general, most lead generation companies offer: SEO, social media services, blogging, web page optimization, paid search, email marketing, and outbound techniques like cold calling and pay-per-click etc. However, would that suffice? Try to identify the additional services offered in retrospect to the target audience for your organization. Check whether the company offers features like CRM management, marketing automation, automation sequences, lead scoring, marketing plan dashboards, live customer service chat, event promotion, eBooks, telemarketing etc. or any other service that fits the requirements and sets them apart from the rest.
Question 2: What Kind of Clients Can They Bring in?
Every lead generation company has a niche, a comfort zone that makes them highly efficient and successful in certain sectors. Identifying the right lead generation company for your requirement would begin from looking into the portfolio, testimonials, current client lists etc. Check whether they have experience within your industry? Whether or not they understand the unique aspects to your sales cycle? And also try to analyse case studies from the past if available.
Question 3: What is the Approach?
Every lead generation company has a different approach. Some have an internal database of leads while others have partner organizations that provide the list. This gives an idea about the reliability, network and scalability of the process. The use of outbound or inbound lead generation tends to provide different results too. In addition to this the kind of tracking, reporting, and support services offered by companies can be key differentiators too. And not to forget the cost factor based on it all.
Question 4: How are the Leads Qualified?
A qualified lead is usually someone who shows genuine interest in your product/ service, and leaves behind concrete information (a name, an address, a phone number, or an email address) for your lead generation team to take action around willingly. There are two categories of qualified leads. Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), are the ones identified by a marketing department as showing a considerable amount of interest in a business or its products. Sales-qualified leads (SQLs), are leads verified by the sales team after being passed to them from a marketing team. Different lead generation companies have different ways of tracking, lead scoring, segmentation and lead management. The selection process hence should focus on the quality of leads generated.
Question 5: What Has Been the Rate of Conversion?
For any lead generation company, the success of work depends on the leads converted. It is good to look into past reports that show the numbers of leads they’ve generated for others, on how many of the leads were qualified, and how many ended up in the pipeline.
Question 6: What Technologies/Software do they Use?
When digital is the talk of the town, automation cannot be ticked out of the list. Every lead generation company utilizes certain technologies and software, either proprietary or open source (i.e. Prospect.io, Field boom, SendinBlue, Unbounce etc. to name a few). Taking a look at the list can help in analyzing the up-to-datedness of the company and also understanding the possibilities of integration with in-house tools and other systems in use.
Question7 : How Do they Guarantee Results?
Before putting down the final seal, it is good to take a look at the works undertaken in the past, the kind of results obtained, the clients and the industry segments that have been explored etc. In addition, also check the robustness of project management, the communication channels and the general openness to inputs.
With those questions sorted, you can easily narrow down lead generation companies that fit your organization’s lead generation requirements. While the process may seem time consuming, it is better to invest time in the beginning than ending up unsatisfied with the results.
Last, but not the least, there are a lot of companies which have come up, which have some knowledge of the tools used in digital marketing. It is important to partner with a company, which first understands marketing, understands your products/services and the target market it serves. The usage of the tools and the processes comes in much later. If you don’t have a solid marketing strategy, then irrespective of the tools you use, your results will remain sub-optimal.
What are the other questions that should be added into this questionnaire? Do share your thoughts.
Atul is Founder & CEO at Xenia Consulting. He has over 22 years of experience in marketing, across corporates as well as SME,start-ups. Over the last 5 years, he has gained significant expertise and has helped several companies drive growth leveraging digital marketing