At the end of Toy Story, Buzz and Woody are finally reunited with their owner, Andy. Having spent most of the movie as sworn enemies, the two toys finally learn to collaborate in order to get what they both desire. It’s a lesson I’m sure we’ve all taken something from.
The most obvious lesson being that outsourcing lead generation can add enhance the efforts of internal teams. As the Buzz to your Woody, teaming up with a lead generation company means you can take advantage of their skills to complement your own efforts.
But collaborating with the right team is vital. For every hero partner, there are cowboys lurking around the corner. For each company that has the stats to back up their claims, there will be empty promises of infinity (and beyond).
If you are considering lead gen outsourcing, there are costly mistakes to avoid but huge advantages if you get it right – high ROI is very possible. This article will outline how to bring in external help – as near as buying leads as you can get – to supercharge your business and have you flying faster than if you’d strapped a toy rocket to your back.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of identifying prospective customers, attracting them to your brand, and converting them into paying customers.
Inbound and outbound marketing tactics are used to attract customers and move them through the sales funnel. Both inbound and outbound use a variety of channels to reach prospective customers.
Explaining different leads
We all know what a lead is, but it’s worth having a quick reminder of the different types of leads that a business will see in its sales pipeline.
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
A marketing qualified lead is an individual who has engaged with your marketing material in some way. They may have downloaded a white paper, so have shown some interest, but an MQL is not ready for a sales call.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
A sales qualified lead is an individual who has engaged with your business in a way that explicitly indicates that they are interested in buying your product or service. An example of an SQL would be someone who has responded positively to a prospecting email.
Product Qualified Lead (PQL)
A product qualified lead is an individual who has used your product, thereby showing interest in becoming a customer. PQLs generally apply to businesses that run free trials, or offer free tools (like our free B2B email toolkit!)
What is lead generation outsourcing?
Lead generation outsourcing simply means bringing in an external lead generation company to assist with driving leads into your sales team. Such a company may specialise in one particular aspect of business development – like cold calling – or could be a more generalised marketing agency.
Every company will be generating demand for their product or service internally in some way. But a fully mature marketing strategy uses multiple channels and methods – both inbound and outbound – to deliver more leads and make demand generation more resilient to changes and events outside of a company’s control.
FHG is a B2B lead generation company that focuses on social prospecting. We listen to who your ideal customer is and build a bespoke list from live data, focused exclusively on your perfect candidates. Then we begin your personalised, one-to-one email marketing. We take the hassle out of lead generation, so you can sell more with a daily flow of qualified leads.
When to outsource lead gen
So when do you outsource demand generation, and when do you leave it to the internal marketing team?
Using in-house lead generation
In order to focus on internal business development:
- You need a dedicated, experienced team working on lead gen full-time
- You should know which channels and specialisms to focus on
- You should focus on inbound marketing methods to generate leads
Outsourced lead generation
Consider external business development when:
- You don’t have the resources to hire and train new staff and build out internal marketing teams
- You want to supplement internal marketing efforts with new channels
- You want or need to focus on booking appointments (through cold calling or email prospecting – common in B2B lead generation)
- You want to launch a new product or service
- You need to pivot the business
Sales lead generation outsourcing is perfect for the last two, as it can deliver rapid go-to-market strategy that could take internal teams far longer to achieve.
The benefits of outsourcing lead generation
There are several reasons why drafting in external help is a good idea. Whether an SME or an established enterprise, agencies can bring something new in a variety of settings.
Focus on selling
Sales reps spend the equivalent of an entire day each week writing emails, but 40% of reps cite prospecting as the hardest part of their job. And it means the average sales rep only spends a third of their day actually selling.
All of this adds up to one simple fact: salespeople aren’t focusing on what they are best at: selling. Outsourcing demand gen allows sales teams to optimise their sales pipeline and sell more.
Increase capacity quickly
Bringing in an external lead gen team can be like turning on a tap. You get a brand new channel of leads pouring into the sales team in a relatively short amount of time.
Building out internal teams, and developing and implementing new channel strategies takes a lot of time. Time you might not have.
Sales growth without headcount growth
Alternatively, you might not have the capacity to increase internal marketing functions.
Startups and SMEs can often face this catch 22 problem: the need to increase sales, in order to increase marketing headcount, in order to increase sales headcount, in order to ultimately increase sales.
Outsourcing lead gen means small businesses can focus on the sales cycle, bringing in vital revenue to continue growing.
Testing new channels
Sometimes outsourcing lead generation is about outsourcing risk. Testing the viability of a channel before bringing it in-house is a common tactic.
Just make sure you have the expertise lined up ready for a seamless transition.
While this is certainly not a given, your cost per acquisition can often be lower when your leads are coming from a specialist company that has refined their own particular lead gen down to an art form.
The dangers of outsourced demand generation
While outsourcing can be great, there are various pitfalls to watch out for. If you don’t, marketing leads won’t be the only thing you end up paying for.
Not defining your ICP
If you don’t define your ideal customer profile to the lead generation agency, your lead quality is going to suffer.
If you have formalised market segmentation and buyer personas, you can hand these over and flesh out the understanding with some onboarding meetings.
If you don’t have anything formalised, you’ll need to really put the effort in to make sure the agency understands your customer, or you’ll end up with leads that
This is probably a good time to mention, FHG uses over 40 variables to allow you to be highly specific about your ideal client. Plus we can map your entire market, for free before you even start.
You really need to understand where the company’s data is coming from.
Any static database, even one the is regularly updated, will contain out of date information. This means results suffer, and costs increase.
The average worker changes roles once every three years. If a database isn’t updated, half of the list is useless in 18 months. Even with data that is regularly refreshed, the most common method involves updating a slice at a time – leaving outdated information behind.
FHG uses live data: we build each list from scratch, just for you. Otherwise, it wouldn’t contain your perfect prospects.
Lack of exclusions
Picture the scene: you’ve been carefully working on landing a major account for weeks. You develop a clever multi-channel strategy, where every single bit of comms is fine-tuned with the sole aim of moving the buyer down the funnel.
And then the marketing automation software of the agency you’ve brought in for more general lead gen fires an off-key message at a crucial juncture.
Apropos of nothing, FHG caters for individual and company level exclusions to all campaigns, easily uploaded through our campaign portal. *cough*
Reputational, financial and technical risks
Any outsourced lead generation campaign risks reputational damage if any activity is pushed live without your oversight. Poor copy, off-brand design, or dodgy messaging can all have a negative impact.
It’s possible an external marketing campaign could create technical issues too… domain reputation damage is just one of the email deliverability issues that a poor campaign can create.
Finally, financial damage can be a real danger if local compliance rules and regulations aren’t adhered to.
Jut a final FYI: FHG gives clients total transparency via our portal. Everything including technical set up, prospect targeting, exclusions, email templates, compliance (and more) can all be checked and approved (or otherwise) from inside the platform.