B2B sales: should you use outsourced lead generation companies?

28 May 2015 Andrew Warren-Payne

As we’ve covered on TheBusiness before, there are many ways to find B2B leads. Even the most seasoned and successful salespeople need to top up their pipeline throughout the year.

To plug the gap, one option is to outsource your lead generation efforts. But is it right for you and your company?

You’ll have to figure out the answer. However, we have assembled a list of the pros and cons so you can make the best decision.

Let’s start with the pros…

The pros

Great when you don’t have the capacity in-house

If you’re a small team who are already stacked with meetings and other time-consuming activities, you might not have the resources to start the outreach activities required for lead generation. In this case, outsourcing it can definitely make sense.

Good if you don’t have that many leads or ways to quickly generate them

If you’re short on leads and don’t have the data sources to hand, then outsourcing is an option (plug: you could also use DueDil and our Salesforce connector).

Can work on a pay-on-results or commission based system, meaning you only pay if you win new business from it

If your budgets are tight then you might not be able to make the investment in in-house staff, buying lists, or the other forms of lead generation where you need to pay up front. Likewise if your cashflow needs improving, pay-on-results lead generation can work well.

Can open you up to new markets where you have limited coverage

If you’re expanding into new areas but want to limit your exposure and costs, than outsourced lead generation can be an effective way to break into these new areas.

Can help you meet targets for the month / quarter / year

Finally, if you’re under pressure and need a push to make target, then using the services of a lead generation company to ramp up the number of incoming leads can be particularly useful.

Now on to the cons…

The cons

You still need to invest time to brief and prepare the agency

Hiring a lead generation company is not a silver bullet where leads will just magically come in. To get the most out of the relationship, you need to thoroughly brief and prepare the agency so they can make the most effective outreach.

Quality control can be difficult

Nobody knows your business as well as you do. Likewise as a sales manager, you likely have good visibility over how your staff are selling.

If you outsource your outreach, then you not only have someone speaking on behalf of your company that doesn’t know it as well as you, but also you may have limited insight as to how they are communicating on your behalf.

Some lead generation agencies get around this by recording their phone calls and making them available for clients. This can be useful as you can check in on the quality of their work and provide feedback if it is needed.

There is a risk of brand damage

If the lead generation company calls the wrong people or makes a bad approach, it can leave a sour taste in the mouth, especially if they do so in significant volume.

However, if you choose your agency carefully and brief them appropriately, there should be minimal risk of this occurring.

You lose the first, personal touch with the customer if you’re getting people to make the first calls

As you miss out on the first contact, there is less of an opportunity to build direct rapport with your prospect and ask them questions that may be off the brief of a lead generation company.

You miss out on opportunities for internal learning and development

In not making that first call to your prospects, you miss out on the understanding and learning that comes from both success and failure when conducting your outreach activities.

By contrast, if you hired some junior staff and trained them up, you could end up with an experienced yet cost-effective workforce that understand how to capture the interest of prospects when making contact with them.

You may have to keep paying a slice of the pie

Although a benefit of pay-on-results lead generation companies is that no upfront payment is required, the downside is that you may have to pay ongoing commission for the duration of the contract. In some cases, this might mean that you are paying the lead generation company money for contracts won a long time ago, reducing overall customer lifetime value.

What are your experiences?

Have you used lead generation companies in the past? Did they exceed or expectations or leave you with a bad taste in the mouth? And how do you effectively manage the relationship with those generating the leads?

Leave your thoughts below.

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