FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
While lead generation companies have a generally similar approach, their methodologies can differ significantly. When seeking your best-fit company, consider the range of approaches and those you personally prioritize.
TYPES OF LEAD GENERATION SERVICES
Services offered by lead generation companies include:
- social media
- web page optimization
- paid search
- email marketing
- outbound techniques like cold calling and pay-per-click
Some companies go beyond and also offer services like event promotion, creation of content like e-books, and B2B appointment setting.
INBOUND VS. OUTBOUND
One major decision to make is how much of a company’s process you’d like to be devoted to outbound vs. inbound lead generation. While research shows that inbound marketing yields higher ROI and produces higher quality leads on average than outbound marketing, you may choose to maintain an outbound component in your strategy.
In addition, tracking, reporting, and support services are offered by some companies. We personally believe these are practically a must, as they help target your audience more precisely and provide actual feedback on the effectiveness of a campaign, but your business should still consider whether it’s necessary to pay for all of these.
Finally, go over expectations for how much of the funnel will be handled by your partner. Ironically, lead generation companies can often be expected to have a hand in lead nurturing, as well. Does your prospect have any sort of strategy in place for this, and how will they work together with your business’s in-house sales team?
Most simply, the main thing to look for in your research is a company with transparency— those who offer vague answers when asked about even the most basic components of their process are not to be trusted.
Your and your future partner’s ideas about the target audience of your lead generation campaigns should be well aligned.
DETERMINING A “QUALIFIED LEAD”
A well-fitting prospect’s lead qualification guidelines are not only specific and well-developed, but in agreement with your own. Let’s review the two categories of qualified leads:
- Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), which are often identified by a marketing department as showing a considerable amount of interest in a business or its products
- Sales-qualified leads (SQLs), viable prospects who have been vetted by a sales team after being passed to them from a marketing team.
Tracking techniques, including lead scoring, segmentation, and list management, greatly assists in the acquisition of quality leads. The more narrowly you define a “qualified lead,” the better; for instance, perhaps an SQL should not only express interest in your content or product, but also be willing to provide information to your company via landing page form.
INTERNAL LEAD DATABASES
Generally speaking, a company that has its own internal lead database most likely holds credibility. However, there is no guarantee that this database will be relevant to you in particular, so it’s important to find out as much as possible about how the company obtained its lists as well as how many leads are in them.
While a company that built its own database from the will have experience in maintaining it, one which got its database from another source may be lacking in techniques that ensure the quality of the leads. (Noted, outside lead sources can be valuable, so be cautious without completely dismissing a partner that makes use of them!)
Particularly in the modern age, maintaining some digital component of a lead generation strategy isn’t just recommended; it’s downright mandatory! A competent lead generation company should have a full set of digital tools to automate, manage, and track all aspects of their services. The scope and quality of the technology used can tell you a lot about what the company values and how up-to-date it may be with both strategy and execution in regards to lead generation.
Software should be easily integrated with your own, and ideally will be able to work within your pre-existing customer relationship management (CRM) system. Demonstrated flexibility based on your preferences for which tools to use is a major positive sign of the prospect’s technological savviness.
We call this part lead scoring—it’s how you determine that a lead from your site is ready to be contacted by Sales. Each lead that you get is in a different place in the path to purchase, and all of them need to be handled in different ways. Many of them don’t want to hear from a salesperson yet and wouldn’t be ready to buy anything. Your sales and marketing team must get together to determine what a marketing qualified lead (MQL) looks like and what a sales qualified lead (SQL) looks like. An MQL isn’t ready for Sales yet but is ideal for nurturing that relationship with marketing material. An SQL is ready for a salesperson to reach out. You will base your lead scoring off of activity and key indicators. Determine some of the common buying signals you see in your business and identify metrics and activity that will help alert you to these types of indicators.
This strategy is not just for blogs on your company’s blog page. Depending on the type of content and the topics, you should aim to post not only to your blog but also to social media, industry pages, via emails, etc. For anything more valuable than a blog post, you should “gate” the piece on a landing page that allows you to capture key information from your prospects in exchange for giving them access to your premium content.