So you’ve decided to outsource lead generation,
and you’re about to choose a marketing partner. This is probably one of
the most important choices you’ll ever make as a marketer. So, how can
you be sure you pick the right lead generation company?
secret is knowing the right questions to ask a potential lead
generation service provider and, more crucially, knowing what answers to
That’s what I’ll
share in this blog post. We’ll go over all the key questions you need
to raise with a lead generation agency before signing the dotted line.
We’ll also talk about which responses indicate a good fit for your B2B lead generation program, and point out common red flags to watch out for.
questions we’ll dive into below will help you uncover everything you
need to take into account to make an informed choice based on:
- Type of Lead Generation Company
- Strategy and Process
- Lead Qualification and Management
- Tools and Technology
- Experience and Reputation
- People and Talent
- Measuring Performance and Success
- Project Terms and Specifics
Ready? Let’s dive right in. Type of Lead Generation Company
Are you a major account or a small sale lead generation company?The
first clue to look for is exactly what type of B2B lead generation
company you’re dealing with. You need to work with agencies that
specialize in the kind of B2B products or services you’re selling. Based
on this criterion, lead generation providers fall into two main categories:
- Major Account Lead Generation: Agencies that focus on complex-sale B2B solutions with long sales cycles and multiple decision makers
- Small Sale Lead Generation:
Lead generation companies that help find potential customers for
smaller purchases (typically having a $10,000 price tag or less) with
shorter sales cycles and simple decision-making processes
Are you an inbound or outbound lead generation service provider?If you’ve already identified which lead generation activities to farm out, then you’ll quickly know what kind of provider best suits you in terms of the lead generation approach they specialize in:
- Inbound Lead Generation:
Agencies that generate leads by creating content and carrying out
“pull” marketing activities that attract prospects toward your website
or online presence
- Outbound Lead Generation: Agencies that rely on targeted outreach channels like email, phone calls, direct mail, PPC, etc. to generate leads
it’s not uncommon to find agencies that offer multi-channel lead
generation services. These providers combine both inbound and outbound lead generation tactics in a single campaign or process. Services and Processes
How will you tailor your lead generation services to meet my goals?Once
you’ve decided between inbound and outbound lead generation, it can be
difficult to select a specific provider, since agencies tend to offer
The key to choosing the best provider for you is to find out how well they can tailor their offerings to your exact needs:
- Full-service vs. stand-alone package
- Fully-managed vs. partly self-directed
- Tiered packages vs. custom services
- Additional services like lead management and lead nurturing
What do you think will be the tentative plan?Although
the actual planning doesn’t take place until after you’ve hired a lead
generation agency, asking this question lets you get a feel for how
they’ll eventually carry out your campaign.
reputable lead generation agencies can readily provide a clear outline
of the process they follow. While they may not be able to come up with a
concrete plan at this stage, they should be open and transparent about
their approach even at a basic level.
Which stages of the funnel will be covered?This
is a crucial piece of information for companies that face a long and
complex sales cycle. A good lead generation agency will clearly specify:
Lead Qualification and Management
- Whether they can work with your particular customer acquisition strategy
- Which parts of the sales cycle they’ll handle
- What steps you and the outsourced agency can take to maximize conversions from one stage to the next
How and where do you get your leads?The quality of leads and appointments starts at the time they’re first acquired as prospects and contacts.
no shortage of lead generation companies that claim to have the “best”
quality of leads, but a careful scrutiny of their lead sources will help
you tell hype from fact:
- Do they use third-party data sources?
- Does the agency carry out its own prospect research?
- How often do they update and clean their leads database?
- What steps do they take to ensure data quality from lead capture forms?
- How do they ensure targeted organic traffic or PPC impressions?
How are leads qualified?As an extension of your marketing or sales team, the way a provider screens and filters prospects should align with how you qualify leads.
best lead generation agencies will seamlessly integrate your lead
qualification system into their process, taking into account your:
- Ideal customer profile (ICP)
- Buyer personas
- Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs) definitions
- Lead scoring model
- List segmentation
Master lead management in 6 easy lessons delivered straight to your inbox!
Tools and TechnologyWhat tools do you work with?An experienced lead generation company will have a full set of tools and skill set to manage, automate, and optimize campaigns.
But how can you tell if a candidate agency has the right tech stack for modern lead generation? Look for these specific tools:
- Lead verification tools
- Analytics and reporting tools
- Marketing automation platform
- CRM tool
- Email automation
- Call tracking
- Social media management
- SEO and CRO tools
- SEM analytics
How well does your tech stack meet our business requirements?Having an impressive suite of lead generation tools
won’t be of much value to you if it doesn’t readily fit into your
marketing workflow or business process. That’s why you also need to ask a
potential provider about:
- Integration: Is the agency’s stack flexible enough so that their system easily syncs up with yours?
- Industry-specific needs: Do the agency’s tools comply with industry requirements (like HIPAA, GDPR, etc.,)?
Track and measure your Callbox campaign with our very own Pipeline CRM!
lead generation campaigns need the right mix of knowledge and skills to
succeed. This is why any potential marketing partner should be very
transparent about the people they’ll be assigning to carry out your
an outsourced marketing agency, these are some of the key questions to
ask in order to gain some insights on the talent you’ll be working with:
- Will a dedicated team be handling my campaign?
- What will be the roles of each campaign team member?
- How much experience does the team have, both collectively and individually?
- How much knowledge and familiarity does my team have about my product or service?
How will you fill a skills gap, if ever one arises?In
some cases, a potential lead generation company may not have the right
internal people to carry out a specific campaign activity.
this happens, either prior to the start of your project or any time
while the campaign is running, the agency has a number of options to
fill the gap. They can hire a new team member or work with a freelancer.
In either case, the company should be clear in explaining:
- Recruitment and hiring practices
- Onboarding and training
- Performance management
Experience and ReputationWhat industry does your company specialize in?We already know that different B2B industries and verticals face unique marketing challenges
that can be overcome with the right experience and expertise. That’s
why you need to choose a lead generation provider that specializes in
your target buyers’ industry, right?
Not so fast! The answer you should be looking for has to be a little bit more nuanced.
On the one hand, you want a lead generation company that’s well versed in your desired industry because it lets you:
- Shorten ramp-up time and accelerate campaign deployment
- Reduce time and cost of product training
- Improve the relevance of campaign messaging
- Navigate the ins and outs of the decision-making process
you also want a lead generation service provider that has experience
across multiple industries and verticals. These agencies can give you
fresh insights and out-of-the-box thinking gleaned from a broad portfolio of lead generation campaigns.
How much experience do you have?For
most B2B companies, lead generation typically falls outside their core
business. Still, lead generation needs to be handled by an experienced
and seasoned provider since it directly impacts revenue and growth.
is measured in a number of ways, and you should see to it that a
candidate lead generation partner sheds some light on all of these key
- Years in business
- Length of time working in your domain
- Size of their client portfolio
- Number of related campaigns or projects completed
Can you cite other clients and what you’ve done for them?Finding
out about overall experience is one thing, but uncovering specific
results is even more important. The only way to determine if a lead
generation agency can deliver what it promises is to take a close look
at client feedback and campaign results.
These details can typically be found in client testimonials and case studies. The key information to look for includes:
- Appointments booked
- Leads completed
- Contacts profiled
- Percentage of leads accepted into pipeline
- Percentage of appointments converted into customers
- Lift in prospects/traffic and leads generated
What is your reputation in the industry?Another
crucial piece of information to ask from a potential lead generation
partner is how well they stack up against others in the industry. The
best way to find this out is to ask a candidate provider to point to
feedback from third-party sources such as:
- Rankings on lead generation providers lists
- Reviews from independent, third-party sources
- Awards and recognition from industry groups
sure to do your due diligence on the reliability of these sources, and
don’t take anything at face value without doing a little digging up.
Related: New Rankings Added to Callbox’s Growing Tally of Clutch Awards
Measuring Performance and SuccessWhat will be the overall KPIs of the campaign?Lead
counts aren’t the only headline metrics to keep an eye on in a lead
generation campaign. Depending on the scope of the project, the overall campaign KPIs can include:
- Sales appointments scheduled
- Leads completed
- Net new prospects
- Event attendees/registrations
- Contacts/Records verified
important thing is to ask a potential lead generation partner about
broad measures of success for your campaign, and determining how these
fit into your overall marketing or sales objectives.
What will be the KPIs for each campaign activity or channel?Since
lead generation campaigns are made up of many different channels and
activities, it’s also good practice to ask a provider what KPIs they
keep track of for each campaign component.
note of the different activities included in your campaign, and ask a
candidate agency to explain the metrics they’ll be reporting to you for
each of these. Find out what benchmarks and guarantees they’re measuring
How will performance be tracked and reported?Lead
generation campaigns are a data-driven effort. You only make informed
campaign decisions if you have access to timely and relevant data.
why the quality of performance tracking/reporting should be a decisive
factor in choosing a lead generation services provider:
- Types of metrics included in your dashboard and reports
- Frequency of reporting and updates
- Ability to customize and tailor reports to specific business requirements
Project Terms and SpecificsWhat will be the achievable goals of the campaign or project?In
the previous set of questions, we talked about campaign-level KPIs and
activity-specific metrics to clarify with a potential lead generation
partner. The next items to ask about are the tentative project or
campaign goals based on your initial requirements.
you probably shouldn’t expect providers to set any firm guarantees at
this point, they should also be open to giving out reasonable ballpark
- Goals to be achieved at the end of the project or campaign
- Milestones to be reached at different intervals
- Tentative timelines and targets
How will I be able to monitor the campaign?Most
lead generation projects and campaigns tend to span several months and
even years. The ability to stay up-to-date on developments and
performance isn’t just a nice-to-have feature; it’s a must-have
capability for successful campaigns.
the agency selection stage, the following questions will help you
assess how well a potential provider will keep you in the loop:
- What dashboards and reports will you be providing?
- Who will be my primary point of contact?
- How often will you meet with me?
- How will we keep in touch?
What will be my role?Another thing to be clear about during the agency selection step is the nature and extent of your participation in the project.
turnkey lead generation service providers will handle practically
everything in the campaign for you, from preparing the needed materials
to nurturing prospects before the lead handoff.
providers, meanwhile, may require you to adopt a more hands-on role in
the project, especially with planning and idea generation.
Can you tell me more about your pricing?Lead
generation customers often ask the wrong questions about pricing and
costs. Prices tend to widely vary from one provider to another, but it’s
typically very difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison between
prices depend on a host of different factors such as the agency’s
experience, the scope of services, target market, lead qualification
requirements, reputation, etc.
main takeaway when it comes to lead generation pricing is that you
ultimately want to take value into account, not just costs. So be sure
to be thoroughly familiar with an agency’s processes, capabilities, and
track record before weighing your options.This article is originally published at
The Savvy Marketer.
About This Author
If your company wants to grow, Callbox B2B lead generation and appointment setting solutions is right for you.Founded in 2004, Callbox is the largest provider of Multi-Touch Multi-Channel Marketing solutions for businesses and organizations worldwide. Its core competencies include Lead Generation, A…
Read More »
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