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Lead Generation Services Hiring Guide

Lead generation services can be a huge differentiator for your business. Find out how to hire the best fit for your next lead generation project.

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Lead Generation Services Hiring Guide

Updated April 23, 2024

Regardless of industry, few characteristics are as crucial to the long-term success of a business as profitability. Whether a company operates as a sole proprietorship or a multinational corporation, anyone with a vested interest in finance will tell you that cash is king and sustainable revenue growth is a great predictor of how a business will fare amidst its competition.

As such, smart lead generation is one of the most valuable endeavors a business can undertake. A skilled lead generation service provider can ensure that your sales team has a well-stocked pipeline of potential customers and that the leads in that pipeline are legitimate and likely to be converted into sales.

With the increased focus on digital marketing practices in the increasingly online business landscape in many markets today, lead generation may seem a little old-fashioned.

However, lead generation is an essential part of any marketing strategy, and digital marketing channels are some of the best pathways for both inbound and outbound lead generation.

By referencing the detailed guidelines in Clutch’s lead generation services hiring guide, you and your team will be empowered to make the best choice when evaluating which lead generation company best fits your business model.

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What is Lead Generation?

Lead Generation: The process of gathering and qualifying contact information for buyers and consumers who may be interested in a company’s offerings.

As referenced earlier, lead generation can be conducted over digital and analog marketing channels. Additionally, there are two main lead generation categories: inbound and outbound.

Outbound Lead Generation

Outbound lead generation is the practice of gathering leads who have yet to actively express a direct interest in buying from a business.

When people think of outbound lead generation, they often think first of cold calling. However, outbound lead generation can also occur via email, social media, or even print or digital advertisement.

Additionally, outbound leads don’t have to be entirely cold.

An important facet of outbound lead generation is building an ideal customer profile or ICP. An ICP represents characteristics of the prime customers in your target markets and allows your lead generation team to know which leads to prioritize for your sales team.

Inbound Lead Generation

Inbound lead generation, on the other hand, is the practice of gathering leads organically via unsolicited responses to content within your digital marketing footprint.

For instance, say your business publishes quarterly online survey reports that include analysis of data you’ve gathered that is relevant to your target customers. At the end of this report, you may include a way for readers to submit their contact information if the analysis included piques their interest in partnering with your firm.

Leads added to your sales funnel in this manner would be considered inbound leads.

The digital marketing explosion of the recent past has made businesses’ brand presences all the more accessible to buyers in both the B2B and B2C spaces.

This accessibility has made inbound lead generation a more viable way to connect with potential new customers than at any other point in history.

Lead Generation Service Providers by Country

Lead Generation Service Providers by City

4 Benefits of Lead Generation Services

With positive cash flow serving as the lifeblood of businesses in all sectors and a healthy, qualified lead pipeline serving as one of the best ways to keep cash flow positive, it’s not hard to conclude that lead generation can benefit any business.

However, lead generation benefits go beyond simply providing contacts for your sales team. Here are some less apparent ways a strong lead generation partner can add value to your sales and marketing processes:

benefits of lead generation services include marketing strategy, improve marketing channels, generate sales momentum, repeat customers, brand exposure

  1. Refocus Your Marketing Strategy: With the myriad number of marketing channels available to modern businesses, it can be easy for marketers’ efforts to become about quantity rather than quality. Partnering with an experienced lead generation service provider can help you understand which marketing practices are most conducive to sales growth.
  2. Build Out Your Marketing Channels: Depending on the size and scope with which a lead generation firm operates, and they may have had success generating leads via marketing channels that your company underutilizes. They may catalyze growth in these channels to best do their jobs and leave you with a lasting lead pipeline.
  3. Generate Sales Team Momentum: Any salesperson will tell you that you must be comfortable with rejection to last in the profession. If rejection has become commonplace for your sales team, qualified leads generated that they don’t have to work to attain personally can help fend off burnout and drive increased sales figures.
  4. Increase the Likelihood of Repeat Customers: Lead generation services focus on delivering not just an impressive number of leads but an impressive number of qualified leads. By doing whatever they can to get the most viable possible customers into your sales funnel, they will likely connect you with buyers looking for more than a single engagement.

What Services do Lead Generation Firms Provide?

As we’ve discussed, lead generation is a sales concept that directly influences all aspects of a company’s digital marketing strategy. Thus, there are a number of services under both sales and marketing disciplines that lead generation service providers may also offer.

When evaluating potential lead generation partners, consider how the following services may also be able to enhance your business operations:

Sales Outsourcing

Given that lead generation directly feeds the sales process, it shouldn’t be surprising that many firms that handle lead generation will also offer sales outsourcing services.

Especially if a lead generation project significantly increases the number of leads coming through your sales funnel, enlisting outside sales support can be a huge help to your sales team’s conversion figures. An overburdened sales team won’t be able to capitalize on leads promptly and won’t be as effective in pitching them when they do connect.

Digital Marketing

As digital marketing is a function that sets up many lead generation pathways, digital marketing service providers are likely to be involved with lead generation engagements.

Whether managing social media channels, creating informative content imbued with SEO best practices, or crafting PPC campaigns designed to catch the eye of the most qualified buyers within an ICP, the efforts of an experienced digital marketing team only serve to better the outcomes of a lead generation partnership.

Appointment Setting

Appointment setting is a similar discipline to lead generation in which representatives of a business contact potential buyers and work to set meetings with them where the sales staff can pitch them.

Outsourcing appointment setting can help take some of the minutiae out of your sales team’s day-to-day duties while still leaving the responsibility of representing your business to your in-house team.

SEO

SEO (search engine optimization) is a digital marketing discipline that uses practices such as keyword research, content creation, and link building to attract organic traffic to a website.

Given that organic interest in a business’ offerings is the foundation of inbound lead generation, working SEO strategy into your next lead generation project is a great way to grow your resulting lead pipeline exponentially.

Third-Party Verification

Like sales outsourcing and appointment setting, third-party verification is more of a sales function than a marketing function. It refers to reviewing aspects of a potential customer’s profile to ensure everything is accurate.

We discussed the importance of qualified leads earlier, and third-party verification services are a great way to be wholly certain that the leads entering your sales funnel are of the highest quality before passing them off to your sales team.

How to Assess Lead Generation Service Provider Performance

Since lead generation influences sales and marketing, it can be hard to tie success or failure directly to lead generation efforts.

However, several key performance indicators are worth tracking if your business wants to determine whether it needs a new lead-generation partner:

  • Cost Per Lead (CPL) defines how much your sales and marketing team spends to acquire new leads. It is calculated by dividing your total marketing expenses by the number of new leads you see over a given period.
  • Lead Conversion Rate represents how many potential customers are turned into leads by your digital marketing efforts. It is calculated by dividing the total number of leads by the total number of visitors to your website over a given time.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) shows how much money your business must expend to bring in new business. It is calculated by dividing the total cost of sales and marketing efforts by the total number of new customers seen over a given period.
  • Lead Attribution is the practice of tracking which marketing and lead generation efforts brought a potential customer into the sales funnel. Lead attribution can be broken down to reflect where a customer first interacted with your company (first-touch attribution), where they last interacted with your company (last-touch attribution), or use a predetermined model to give credit throughout the lead generation process.

While all these KPIs won’t necessarily solely tie to your lead generation efforts, tracking these metrics over time is a great way to assess how your lead generation choices affect your sales and marketing success.

What is a Lead Generation Team?

With lead generation being a multidisciplinary endeavor, several types of professionals may be involved with any lead generation engagement.

You can expect to work with any of the following depending on the size and scope of your lead generation project:

lead generation services team structure

  • Account Executive: The team member who is the main point of contact throughout your lead generation project. They will guide you throughout each project phase and be available to answer any questions.
  • Lead Generation Specialist: The team member who does the actual lead generation groundwork. Depending on the project, they may be cold calling, reviewing organic inquiries, or qualifying database data.
  • Digital Marketing Analyst: The team member who executes any digital marketing initiatives related to the lead generation project. They may conduct keyword research, build a social media strategy, or launch a new online ad campaign based on project needs.
  • Sales Development Representative: The team member who executes any sales initiatives related to the lead generation project. They can help work with your team to create accurate ICP profiles and field sales calls as necessary.
  • Project Manager: The team member who ensures all lead generation team members are in sync with your project goals. They are accountable for all cost and schedule milestones throughout the project life cycle.

What to Look for When Hiring a Lead Generation Partner?

With how important lead generation is to sales, marketing, and revenue generation, you’ll want to ensure your lead generation vendor search is thorough.

Be sure to clearly define your project requirements with all stakeholders before contacting lead generation companies. Understand your ideal schedule, budgetary constraints, and what services you need from a lead generation partner.

As you look to evaluate potential service providers, consider if they have experience working with firms of a similar size to yours that operate in your industry.

You’ll want to reach out and set up introductory calls to get a feel for their business models, competencies, and pricing conventions. Any referrals or customer testimonials can help you understand each business’ reputation.

Criteria for Hiring a Lead Generation Service Provider

  • Experience in your industry
  • Budgetary constraints
  • Availability for your project period of performance
  • Operating location
  • Ability to provide auxiliary services
  • Strong referral portfolio

Clutch reviews are a sure-fire way to get real accounts of a potential lead generation partner’s skills and experience. All reviews on the site are professionally compiled and verified to ensure accuracy and relevancy, and they provide both detailed project accounts and high-level information.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Lead Generation Company

  1. Have you worked with businesses in our industry before?
  2. How many lead generation resources can you provide for our engagement?
  3. Can you provide digital marketing support for our project?
  4. What is the standard duration and contract type for lead generation engagements?
  5. Where will the resources staffed on our project be located?
  6. How much do you typically charge for partnerships similar to ours?
  7. What KPIs do you track for your lead generation engagements?
  8. Can you provide sales support for our project?
  9. How often should we expect to meet throughout the project life cycle?
  10. Do you have a list of references that can speak to the quality of your work?

When interviewing potential service providers in any service line, providing more information is generally better than being withholding. Share any pertinent information about your project needs and goals from the outset to help determine if companies are a good fit for your business, and ask for clarification as necessary when they explain their practices.

Lead Generation Services Can Build a Revenue Pipeline

A well-stocked sales funnel is necessary for any business to thrive in the increasingly competitive marketplaces that have become common worldwide. A solid lead generation partner can help populate your pipeline with highly qualified leads that fit all applicable ICPs.

Moreover, optimizing your lead generation efforts can send positive shockwaves throughout all your sales and marketing processes. All these endeavors should promote positive cash flow, so refocusing lead generation can help positively refocus sales and marketing.

With how crucial lead generation can be to your business, finding the right partner for your next project is important. By following the tips in this hiring guide and referencing useful service provider evaluation tools such as Clutch, you can bolster your sales and marketing efforts with the best possible leads.