Not all leads are created equal, and neither are lead generation companies. A great lead generation service will help you zero in on the “who” and the “how” of the sales process, getting you a high volume of quality leads, all while measuring and analyzing impact. This helpful guide shows you the ins-and-outs of finding the perfect Sales Lead Generation Company for your needs.
In a 2018 study, 63% of CEOs said their company’s top marketing challenge was generating traffic and leads (State of Inbound, 2018). And while creating interest in your company is vital, it’s so much more than upping the numbers.
In fact, 68% of salespeople said their #1 concern with lead generation isn’t really volume, but increasing lead quality. Lead volume is still the main goal for many though, trailing close behind with 55% of respondents saying that increasing the number of leads in their pipeline is their top priority (BrightTALK).
So how do you find a lead gen service that will focus on what matters most, not merely stuffing your inbox with more follow-ups to manage? A company that steps in as more of a partner, and one you would have to select very carefully?
Sales Lead Generation Companies
Ask About Their Methods – the Key to Quality
Every lead generation company should have a proven method they use to create qualified sales opportunities for you. The question is, what’s their “how”? What does this methodology look like? And does it fit with your company’s mission, values, and goals?
There’s a difference between simply generating leads (anyone can do that), and generating leads that will result in actual business for you.
Here are the main types of lead gen. We’ll quickly discuss “inbound” before we get into the good stuff… “outbound lead generation” using proven strategies and tactics.
Inbound Lead Generation (Content Marketing)
A company that uses inbound marketing tactics will warm up potential customers by giving them downloads and freebies, such as online educational content, discount offers, and exclusive access. In order to be considered a (rather cold) lead in this process, they will have had to “opt in” and provide their information.
B2C Example: In order to get a coupon for 10% off your first purchase, you sign up for a free email newsletter in exchange for your email address. You then immediately receive a confirmation email containing the coupon or promotional code. If you don’t purchase right away, you’ll continue receiving emails from the company (we call this “retargeting”), sometimes even getting emails reminding you of items / services you browsed on their website.
B2B Example: Mentioned in their company blog, a data company offers a free report of helpful industry benchmarks. In exchange for the download of their report, you must fill out your name, role, phone number, size of your company, and select from a dropdown your annual marketing budget range. After submitting you are taken to a page where you can download the report. Within a couple of minutes, a salesperson from the data company calls you and asks if you received the report download, and whether you had any questions.
A 2015 study found that B2C companies that blogged 11+ times per month got more than four times as many leads than those that blog only four to five times per month. And in 2018, 55% of marketers still say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. (Hubspot)
Pros of Inbound: Creates a natural flow and ongoing relationship with potential clients/customers. Over time, collecting this valuable information and intel about your prospects positions you to truly speak to their needs (and close them!) once they’ve matured into a sales-ready lead. With inbound, you can slowly earn trust, build your brand, and become an authority in your niche by becoming the go-to source. Couple this “inbound” marketing with outbound sales (human dialing!), and you’ve got the winning combination.
Cons of Inbound: While highly important, it can be complex and time consuming. Content marketing requires you to consistently create and disseminate high quality information that people love to read. To be successful with this method, you must create a following on social media, build a great blog, and leverage paid advertisement to drive traffic to your content. You do not get the instant payoff like you do when dialing (warm or cold calling) prospects.
Email Lead Generation
Reach out to your existing subscribers to create an email list, purchase a list from an agency, or hire a data mining company to craft a proprietary list. Recipients get a message from you in their email inbox that invites them to connect further.
B2C Example: A hotel reaches out to people in their target market who are researching high-end hotels in the area with an announcement about their latest award, offering an introductory rate for first time guests.
B2B Example: Using a report from the Chamber of Commerce which lists new local businesses, you send an email introducing yourself and your lawn care/snow removal services to anyone whose office building has a yard or parking lot, offering a special introductory rate.
Pros of email lead generation: Three-quarters of companies agree that email lead generation offers “excellent” to “good” ROI (Econsultancy, 2016). It’s cheap, and it’s possible to automate and segment emails as well, increasing the likelihood that your emails will effectively turn cold leads into sales-ready leads.
Cons of email lead generation: Purchasing email lists can be seen as intrusive, especially if you “spam” the list, and you could wind up getting your email account blacklisted. Also, when a prospect reads your email, they don’t get a feel for your personality and enthusiasm as they would over the phone.
Ads and Retargeting
Online ads fall into three main categories: Pay-Per-Click, Display, and Video ads. Using a banner on a website, a search ad, an ad on a social media feed, a video ad on YouTube, or other websites, advertisers can reach an audience that they know is actively searching for services like theirs. This is powerful. New features, such as retargeting, allow companies to follow a lead across the internet, serving them ads on different websites, until they finally click and convert.
B2C Example: You’re shopping online for a dress and put one in your shopping cart, but never get around to buying it. A few days later you see an ad for the very same dress, with a picture of the dress, on a completely unrelated site.
B2B Example: The annual summit for leaders in your industry is coming up quickly. You search the name of the event and the first result is a VIP experience for attendees featuring dinner with a speaker you have always admired. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it showcases the level of intel you can leverage for lead generation in the 21st century.
Pros of paid advertising: Highly targeted, and great for visibility. You can setup campaigns and, if done properly, can help generate leads even when you sleep.
Cons of paid advertising: It’s pay-to-play, so you need to budget for this type of lead gen. There are also hurdles to getting leads using this method, such as ad blockers and prospects skipping video ads, but with a big enough budget it can be a great tool in your lead gen arsenal. In fact, combine this with outbound sales (a MUST for any company looking to grow or scale), and you’re off to the races.
Direct Mail Lead Generation
Go the old-fashioned route with a piece of physical mail delivered to your prospect’s door. Include a handwritten note, or use the famous tactic of “lumpy mail” to give a novel feel to whatever it is you’re sending. Purchase a list targeting your demographics based on income, which housing/neighborhoods likely reflect. While often dismissed as old-school and antiquated, direct mail still works.
B2C Example: Starbucks sends a sample of their instant coffee beverage, Via, in an attractive holiday themed envelope to anyone who signs up for their mailing list.
B2B Example: A golf club ships a golf ball to a c-level executive to entice him to schedule a corporate meeting at their facilities.
Pros of direct mail: Novelty gets attention. Unlike digital forms of outreach, physical mail tends to stick around, as long as it’s done right. Your collateral might get passed around an office or snag the attention of even the most jaded executives. Direct mail response rates still top those of other mediums; the average direct mail response rate is 1.1-1.4% compared to .03% for email, .04% for internet display and .22% for paid search (Harvard Business Review). It works.
Cons of direct mail: Can be costly. Difficult to track the effectiveness of this type of outreach. If you’re going through the trouble to create a full-on package (that the prospect might never receive), why not just pick up the phone and call them personally? Or better yet, try both!
Cold Calling Lead Generation
You know what cold calling is. Dial for dollars. It’s been a lead-gen mainstay for decades. . . and for good reason. It’s the single most effective (and immediate!) method of getting leads, even in 2018 and beyond. In fact, I wrote an in-depth article on just how powerful outbound calling is, and how to get your outbound sales campaigns to really payoff. Read my 6 tips on how to make cold calling work for you.
B2C Example: A political candidate sends a recorded message to all registered Republicans in her area to remind them to vote.
B2B Example: Using a trade show directory, an eager young sales consultant might begin calling down the list, starting with the letter “A”.
Or, a trusted lead generation service will leverage exclusive prospect lists and data-backed intelligence on highly-targeted executives and other decision-makers, and use a variety of methods to get in contact with these qualified leads and set results-driven appointments for their clients. . . one after the next.
Pros of cold calling: Most direct way to open the door for an opportunity to have a conversation with a real decision-maker and build rapport. When it’s done right, it works like a dream.
Cons of cold calling: It can be deeply frustrating and demoralizing, and doing it wrong could get you and your company on certain blacklists. It can take 18 or more dials to connect with a prospect over the phone, and call-back rates are below 1% (Source: TOPO). However, when you tap into a trusted lead generation company, these statistics go out the window, and you can (almost) sit back and enjoy the qualified leads pouring in.
B2B Lead Generation Companies
Seeking outside help for lead generation presents a valuable opportunity, and the smart CEO or Director knows to find a company that specializes in business-to-business communications. Driven by the need for new and better contacts, while keeping their best salespeople in the right role (sales reps can spend up to 40% of their time prospecting, and never have time for closing!), it makes perfect sense to outsource lead generation.
Hiring a marketing agency may result in memorable and on-brand campaigns, but the right lead generation service will positively impact your bottom line right away. In some cases, it can virtually transform your company overnight.
Not all B2B Lead Generation companies offer robust services, but the very best are able to operate (nearly) autonomously and hand-deliver qualified leads to you, without you having to lift a finger.
Potential Benefits of a great B2B Lead Generation Service:
- Creates a fully-customized outreach strategy
- Generates leads with outbound and digital prospecting
- Contacts leads on your behalf and works to qualify them
- Monitors your sales results with data analytics and gives you real-time access
- Provides access to database of qualified contacts
- Sets up appointments for you, even in your sleep
- Reviews existing leads to identify opportunities
- Provides a CRM or can suggest one
- Focuses on outbound communications and nurtures leads for you
- Consults on business development initiatives
- Ensures you and your salespeople meet with qualified decision-makers only
There are loads of lead gen companies out there, but the right one for you depends on several factors.
Here at C-Level Partners, the very core of our business model is to make client acquisition a walk in the park. We free up our clients’ time from cold-calling and prospecting, so they can focus on what really matters — building relationships with key decision makers and closing more deals.
If you’re interested in leveraging our proven system of lead generation, wish to sit face-to-face with c-level executives and directors, or simply want some guidance on creating a tailor-made strategy for outbound sales… we invite you to get in touch today.
Until next time. . .