The long-term success of your business is dependent on a full lead pipeline. Lead generation is however not a simple task. As a marketer, you can vouch for how challenging the process can be. As a salesperson, you can attest to how frustrating it gets to receive a list of leads from your marketing team, only to find that none of them are sales-qualified.
Figure 1: If you don’t start generating quality leads, your business will fail
527 B2B professionals in sales and marketing participated in the state of lead management survey. 57% felt that their lead workflow did not support an ideal experience for their customers. More so, sales teams reported that in some instance, leads were routed to the wrong account owner. The survey also revealed that marketing and sales teams encounter the following lead generation problems:
- Sales teams follow up on marketing-generated leads.
This is according to 34% of respondents. In a previous blog, we spoke about the role of salespeople in the lead generation process. The job of a salesperson is to follow up on sales qualified leads. If they are spending time qualifying marketing leads, this will waste time and company resources.
- Most organizations are not routing leads in a way that is ideal for their teams, according to 80% of respondents.
Statistics like these should give you pause. This kind of performance stems from reasons such as: overworked teams that spend most of their time on administrative duties, lack of expertise particularly for young companies that are still struggling to achieve the right audience reach, among other reasons.
If you are struggling with lead generation, the solution to your problem lies in partnering with a professional lead generation service. Not only will the right partner keep the process cost effective for you, they also have a wider view of the market than you do. Look at it this way: Your job is to market and sell in your domain. Their job is to find people who want to buy anything under the sun, in any domain. As such, they might see opportunities in verticals you would never look in.
A word to the wise: Not all B2B Lead Generation Agencies are right for you
Lead generation is an important part of any business. It’s the primary driver of growth, and working with a B2B lead generation agency is a step toward realizing that growth, so long as you align yourself with the right partner.
Finding the right B2B lead generation agency takes time. It requires ongoing communication to iron out important details and make sure that your companies are a good fit. As you evaluate the options, dig into their past industry experience and the results that they have been able to deliver to similar companies. Have in-depth conversations and get to know the people that you will be working with to make sure your companies are a good fit for each other.
That said, below are 8 key characteristics that define a great lead generation agency. You should consider them when finding the right company to partner with.
8 key characteristics that define a great lead generation agency.
With so many companies out there claiming to be experienced lead generators, how do you find the right b2b lead generation company to partner with? Below are some factors to consider:
1. An understanding of lead generation strategy, such as b2b content marketing
Figure 2: Go for partners who are serious about content
The content that a lead generation company publishes on their blog can tell you a lot about that company’s expertise. From case studies, to eBooks, blog articles and white papers,
- Content that is educational, relevant and helpful is a window into a company’s expertise and the kind of service you should expect.
- Educational content shows that a company appreciates the positive impact that information-giving and a long-term approach to relationship building have for a company’s bottom lines. If they are willing to take time to educate you, it means they are willing to take time to build a strong relationship with you.
- A robust content marketing strategy such as content syndication, is indicative of a company’s level of aggressiveness in expanding audience reach.
It follows that if you work with a lead generation team that knows how to generate leads for their company, you will benefit from the same level of seriousness they employ to get leads for their business. On the flipside, a company with a lackluster approach to content marketing is likely to disappoint you.
2. Speed of execution
Two things come to mind when talking about speed:
A Defined System of execution
The “how” of execution is important because it adds efficacy to the lead generation process. Before you sign up with any company, find out about how they will deliver on their promise. A company that has taken time to build reliable systems has a high likelihood of delivering efficiently and without delay.
Scale of Operations
More often than not, lead generation operates within tight timelines. The right partner, therefore, should be one that can scale up operations in keeping with your urgent timelines and still deliver quality leads. Beware of false promises; the proof of how effective a company’s systems are is in the customer testaments and case studies.
3. Reliable conversion rates
Ask yourself, “What results do I want from a lead generation company?”
While all other factors are relevant, results are the most important measure to consider. Research a lead generator’s success rate because at the end of the day, you want leads that will pan out. Any company that can give you this is worth the shot.
Signs that your lead generation partner will deliver great results
- They should be currently generating qualified leads for themselves and for their clients
- Their reviews and references should be positive
- They can justify what you are paying for
- They own results. In a sense, your lead generation company is part of your marketing department. As such, they should be accountable, (and act accountably), in the same way your internal team would.
4. Having a Global Reach
Working with a partner who has global reach means that:
- If your business is global, you don’t need to recruit different agencies to serve each territory you operate in.
- You can scale and grow with the same partner when you choose to expand to international markets.
Figure 4: lead generation company should offer diverse services and have a wide reach
Every market is different and when you have a lead generation partner capable of navigating across countries and continents, you stand a better chance of succeeding in each region.
5. The amount of intelligence they give you
Anyone can give you a lead list. But gathering useful market intelligence is a skill that has to be honed. The more information your lead generation partner can give you, the more informed your decisions regarding your prospects. Intelligence will allow you to make smart executions.
The digital marketing space is congested and this can make it difficult for b2b clients to select the best from among the crowd. As discussed above, reviews and customer testimonies should guide you in sifting the best company from the crowd.
Another factor is level of experience in all areas of digital marketing. Lead generation is not just about calls; a lot of other inbound marketing activities such as whitepaper syndication, email marketing, social media marketing, ppc, among others, go into generating leads.
The longer your partner has been in the lead generation field, the more capable they are to navigate challenges that get in the way of results. A company that is still in business after many years must be doing something right. This is especially so if their customers keep coming back.
7. Emphasis on analytics
Your lead generation partner should not only collect data, but also present it to you in a way you can easily understand it. Data will give you insights; insights form the basis of your decisions. If you are not getting insights, you are throwing away a lot of opportunities. As such, sign up with a company that has advanced database management capabilities.
8. A Cultural Fit
Lastly, consider whether a lead generation company’s way of working is homogenous to yours. Cultural fit may not sound like a big deal but it actually is. While all lead generation companies are in the same line of work, they aren’t all necessarily a great fit for you. The right partner must gel with your style of working, organizational values, mission and vision.
Below are some questions that you should ask to assess cultural fit. They should also help you when getting into any b2b relationship:
- What are your company’s vision and mission?
- What is your growth story?
- What does your company value the most in client relationships?
- What are your priorities for the future? That is, what is your growth direction? This is important to know for long-term partnership.
- Who are your leaders and what are their priorities for the company?
- What is your company’s structure? Do you have redundancies?
- How often do you communicate and through what channels?
- Have you had any setbacks in your past lead generation efforts? How did you deal with them?
These questions are by no means exhaustive, but they should give you a good idea of the kind of team you are about to sign up with.
According to the 2018 state of inbound report by Hubspot, lead conversion is the most important thing for 70% of marketers. This means that majority of marketers out there are aggressively chasing leads. If you don’t do what it takes to stay ahead, your job will become even harder. You can make your job easier by strengthening your pipeline with a lead generation partner who will put in consistent efforts to generate leads that convert.
Remember, don’t rush. Take your time and find a company that will truly be a partner in your long-term success.