Choosing a lead generation service
There are lots of companies offering supposedly high quality sales leads in exchange for a capital outlay or a monthly fee – but how can they possibly know your customers?
There are companies who make plenty of money selling lists of companies – the service of lead generation. These will come with all sorts of guarantees of being up to date, filtered and relevant, but in my experience, rarely offer value for money. If these are email lists, you then have to consider a response rate of only a few percentage points. That’s not a great return in my opinion! If that appeals as part of your marketing mix, then talk to companies like Experian. They do offer some great products I’ve used in the past for B2C marketing, but when it comes to the sort of promotion we’re doing, it’s just not a good fit.
There are companies who employ researchers to understand your core market. They’ll ask for details of your existing companies, identify their industry classification, then find more using online directories, searches and might also employ outsourced data research. These might be the Beanstalks, Market Makers or BDMs of this world.Roblox Hack No Survey No Download
Personally I don’t believe that should be outsourced and I’ll explain why. If you serve just a small sector or industry, particularly if you’re a B2B business, that kind of knowledge and the resulting potential customer list really should be developed by you. Only you, as a business manager or owner, will see trends and aligned sales opportunities to use as an entry point or potential approach method whereas a lead generation company might not. Otherwise, they essentially have a core part of your business inside their walls and then you are beholden to their experience and knowledge, the service they provide being too comprehensive for you to realistically take on.
The other problem with this, even though activity like this should still be considered as part of your sales growth strategy, these are still fairly cold leads.
Where lead generation starts to get exciting for me is those companies who can track activity on a client’s website, relating that activity to a database of companies with identifiable online identities. This is known as IP tracking.
Where the web activity and the identity matches, your sales team – which you still control and support directly – can find out the names of companies visiting your B2B website and you can hit your sales targets without breaking into a sweat.
At Sense Media, we use (and offer as a service) a couple of these systems and I feel it’s best to have a good mix, along with a common-sense human touch to support existing marketing activity. [For the sake of transparency, one of those services is run by one of the companies I mentioned above, although we received no promotional consideration for their inclusion.]
This approach takes out the hard work because these are companies already interacting with your brand, even if they are not necessarily buying your products or becoming visible on your website by subscribing to your newsletter. These are also warm leads, primed to buy, not just because they already have awareness of your brand, but also – with a minute or two of further work, you can find out what types of product they have been looking at.
Essentially, this ‘closes the loop’ between the broad message of marketing and the ultimate goal of most businesses, namely achieving a sale.
I asked to write this particular blog because I’ve enjoyed working on these systems and processes – the leads we’ve been able to generate have had an immediate and significant impact on sales both inside our own business but also on behalf of clients – and as a B2B marketer, ultimately that’s one of my most important responsibilities. It’s what pays my wages, and those of everyone else.
So if you’re thinking about buying leads or hiring a lead generation company, do some research first and ask yourself these key questions before making a decision:
- Are these cold, warm or hot leads?
- How much extra work is needed to convert those leads to sales and just as important, learn about your new potential customers. What could be the total cost of that effort?
- Could you cope with a sudden increase in sales activity if the leads are good?
- Does the company offering the service need to understand your business to help you improve sales?
- Will buying in these services make your business stronger or more vulnerable in the long run?
We use these systems and processes ourselves because it’s the sort of market we operate in as a B2B (business to business) event organiser, and is really aimed at high value transactions where resources for sales and marketing are restricted and transaction value is on the cusp of what can be paid for online – so anything between £500 and £50000 – specialist training, conferences, sponsorships, etc.
Alex Lawrence-Berkeley is Marketing Manager for Sense Media Events.