Without business, you have no business, right? Generating solid business leads, both high in quantity and quality, is an important objective for most businesses. However, it can be a challenge for small and medium sized businesses to continually fill their sales funnel with quality leads and so they often look to bring in a third part, or outsource the task to lead generation companies.
But not all lead generation companies are created equal. Here are 7 questions that we think are pretty vital to ask any company whom you're considering giving the important task of generating you more leads and ultimately more business to, ensuring you get a great return on investment.
1. Do they have a game plan? What is it?
We all know the adage 'fail to plan, plan to fail' right? Well it's no different when it comes to increasing your customer base through new leads. Whilst any good lead generation company will have their own ways of doing things, they should have a strong, repeatable and measurable process in place to achieve your goals on your behalf.
Be wary of any company that doesn't, or more worryingly doesn't want to, show you how they're going to tackle the task of generating you new business interest. Ideally you should be part of the plan and your input and consideration should very much feature heavily in any plan in order to get the best, tailored results for your business and its goals.
2. How do they measure the quality of leads?
Leads on their own don't offer much substance. They could simply be a group of people who've landed on your website and happened to fill out a contact form. While that's great (you've got website traffic!), it might be that they're not the right customers for you; they don't have problems to which you can offer a solution.
A good lead generation company should be able to monitor lead sources, match and segment them against a strong customer profile to ensure that you receive a higher quality of lead.
Note: whilst the quality goes up, you might see a decline in the number of leads, but this is a good thing! It should mean that you're services and products are being sought by more of your best-fit customers, not just semi-curious masses.
3. Will they provide you with regular reports? If so, how often?
Most lead generation companies will most likely work with you on a monthly retainer-based contract. Since lead generation is best viewed as a long term, you need to be confident that your investment is worthwhile and is seeing results.
Whilst frequency of reports varies between company to company from weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or even quarterly, it's always good to know how often you can expect to receive updates, in what format, and what those updates will contain.
You should expect that the larger the gap between reports, the more information and data you should ideally receive.
4. What techniques do they use to generate leads?
Do they follow a modern marketing approach, such as inbound marketing or content marketing that has been proven to offer a higher quality of lead inline with the way that buyers research and consume services and products?
Will they offer a more traditional approach to marketing involving telemarketing, direct mail shots, bought-in databases of local companies?
There is no right and wrong here, but just a potential difference in the ratio of volume of leads to quality.
5. What level of ROI can they provide?
Following a marketing plan, including a sustainable lead generation strategy needs to be a long term effort. In order to measure how well your budget is being spent and more importantly, how effective your chosen lead gen company's work is, you need to know what sort of return on investment you're likely to see.
Ask your potential provider:
- What ROI figures they've produced for previous / similar clients
- What their estimated and achievable targets look like for your particular business
- If there is a break-clause that allows an early exit of a contract based on failure to deliver
6. Do they target different parts of the sales funnel?
Leads have different levels of interest and different needs depending on their stage in their buyer's journey. Of course this all depends on what sorts of leads you're looking for, but your potential lead gen company should be looking to both target potential leads yet to enter the sales funnel at different stages, and provide ways for leads to move between layers of the funnel towards
Will your leads be catered for at each of these stages?
- The Awareness Stage - buyers have yet to identify their problem, just the symptoms
- The Consideration Stage - buyers have a name for their problem and will start looking at the solution
- The Decision Stage - buyers will be looking specifically at your company for it's particular service / product and how that helps them solve their problem
7. Is their work carried out in-house or outsourced?
Quality matters. It's that simple. You've spent a lot of time and money researching the right marketing techniques, you've got a plan, and you're close to selecting a lead generation company, but it's important to know who'll be carrying it out at the other end.
Will your potential partner be carrying everything out in-house, or do they plan to outsource some (or all) of it? Now there's nothing inherently bad, or indeed wrong with outsourcing particular tasks, after all you're considering outsourcing your lead generation. Some lead generation companies possess a lot of skills, such as content creation, and analytical data processing, but maybe don't have the capabilities to produce a website from scratch, or create larger content offers, such as an ebook.
The factors to take into consideration here are control and accountability. For example:
- Who will handle updates to my website if its development was outsourced?
- Will their be additional third-party fees involved?
- Is there scope for my input into what is outsourced and to where?
Hopefully by giving you some good questions to ask when looking to grow your business through using a lead generation company, you'll be forearmed, forewarned and better able to make an informed decision about where your marketing budget gets spent and how to see more of the all important return on investment.
Did we miss anything out? If you've got some great tips and tricks around generating leads, or have another great question that should be asked, then let us know in a comment.