Choosing Lead Generation Companies for Small Businesses

Lead Generation Companies for Small Businesses

The quest for quality leads in B2B marketing requires skill, strategy, and expertise. As a business looking to optimize your efforts and maximize results, you’ve decided to outsource B2B lead generation by partnering with a lead-generation services provider. This could be the most important decision you make as an entrepreneur, as the right lead-generation firm can transform your marketing strategy. How can you choose the best B2B lead generation companies for small businesses with so many options available?

Choosing the Right B2B Lead Generation Company

To choose the best lead generation agency, you need to know the right questions to ask and what to look for in the answers. We’ll guide you through the process, from identifying the best questions to finding the answers that show a good match for your lead generation needs. Here are the key questions to ask:

1. Defining the Type of Lead Generation Company

This decision will narrow down your choices to agencies that specialize and align with your business needs. First, determine the type of B2B lead generation company you are considering. It’s important to find agencies that are experts in the B2B services or products you sell. According to these criteria, lead generation agencies fall into two categories:

  • Lead Generation for Major Accounts: Agencies focusing on complex B2B sales solutions with long cycles and multiple decision-makers.
  • Small Sales Lead Generation: Lead generation companies that find customers for smaller purchases, typically with a price tag of $10,000 or less. They have shorter sales cycles and simpler decision-making processes.

2. Navigating Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation

Consider combining both strategies to create a winning campaign. Ask yourself if you prefer inbound strategies, which attract prospects to your website, or outbound tactics, which directly contact potential leads.

You’ll quickly know which provider is best for you based on the lead generation strategy they specialize in if you have already identified the activities you want to outsource.

  • Inbound lead generation: Agencies that generate leads through content creation and “pull marketing” activities to attract prospects to your website or online presence.
  • Outbound lead generation: Agencies that rely on targeted outreach channels like direct mail, email, telephone calls, PPC, and more to generate leads.

Many lead generation companies for small businesses offer multi-channel lead generation, combining both inbound and outbound tactics to generate leads in one campaign or process.

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Lead Generation Companies for Small Businesses

Shaping Services and Processes: Tailoring to Your Goals

After narrowing down your approach, you should explore the extent to which agencies can customize their services to meet your specific goals.

1. Crafting a Tailored Strategy 

This question will reveal how the agency plans to customize its lead generation services to meet your objectives. Explore the details of their services, including full-service packages and customized solutions.

Choosing a provider can be difficult once you decide whether to use inbound or outbound lead generation, as most agencies offer similar services. Consider how they can tailor their services to meet your specific needs.

  • Full-service package vs. standalone package
  • Fully managed vs. partially self-directed
  • Custom services vs. tiered packages
  • Lead management and lead nurturing are additional services to consider.

2. Mapping Out the Plan

Although specifics may not be available, an outline of the campaign’s approach shows their planning and expertise. This question will give you a sense of how they plan to implement your campaign.

Most reputable lead generation companies can provide a detailed outline of their process. They may not have a complete plan yet, but they should still be transparent and open about their approach.

3. Navigating the Sales Funnel

This information is important for companies with a complex and long sales cycle. Make sure the agency can manage the different stages of your funnel according to your acquisition strategy. A good lead generation company will specify the following:

  • If they are compatible with your customer acquisition strategy
  • What parts of the sales cycle they will handle
  • How you can maximize your conversions at each stage by working with the agency

Mastering Lead Qualification and Management

Lead quality and management is the key to your campaign’s success.

1. Sourcing Quality Leads

Ask the lead generation agency how they get their leads. Examine their sources and methods to determine if their claims are accurate.

When leads and appointments are first obtained as contacts and prospects, they have high quality. Lead generation companies often claim to provide the “best” leads, but if you look closely at their sources, you can tell if they are just making claims.

  • Are they using third-party data sources?
  • Does the agency conduct its prospect research or outsource it?
  • How often does the company update and clean its leads database?
  • How do they ensure the quality of data collected from lead capture forms?
  • How can they guarantee targeted organic traffic?

2. Qualification Strategies

The best lead generation companies for small businesses will integrate their lead qualification system by leveraging your ideal customer profile and buyer personas. They should also use a lead scoring model.

The way a provider screens or filters leads should align with how you qualify leads. The best lead generation agencies will integrate your lead qualification process into their own, considering your:

  • Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
  • Buyer personas
  • Definitions of marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs)
  • Lead scoring model
  • List segmentation

Leveraging Tools and Technology: The Tech Stack Advantage

A high-end tech stack can make a huge difference.

1. Exploring Tools

Examine their toolkit, such as lead verification, analytics, CRM, and email automation tools, to ensure they meet the modern needs of lead generation. A lead generation company with experience will have the tools and skills to automate and optimize campaigns.

How can you tell if a candidate agency is using the right tech stack to generate modern leads? Look for these tools:

  • Lead verification tools
  • Tools for analytics and reporting
  • A platform for marketing automation
  • CRM tool
  • Email automation
  • Call tracking
  • Social media management
  • SEO and CRO tools
  • SEM analytics

2. Aligning With Your Workflow

Ask how their tech stack can complement your current workflow and industry requirements. An impressive lead generation tool won’t help you much if it can’t easily fit into your workflow. You should also ask about the following when evaluating a provider:

  • Integration: Does the agency’s tech stack allow for easy synchronization with your system?
  • Industry-specific needs: Does the agency’s tool comply with industry requirements (like HIPAA, GDPR, etc.)?

The People and Talent

The success of your campaign depends on the experience and expertise of the team.

1. Evaluating the Team

Consider the experience and familiarity of the team with your product and industry. Successful lead generation companies for small businesses require the right combination of skills and knowledge. Any marketing partner must be transparent about who will be working on your campaign.

These are the questions you should ask when evaluating a marketing agency that will handle your outsourced work:

  • Is my campaign handled by a dedicated team?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of each team member?
  • How many years of experience does the team have, collectively and individually?
  • How familiar is the team with my product or service, and how much do they know about it?

2. Filling Skills Gaps

How does the agency intend to close any gaps? Transparency is key in their recruitment, onboarding, and performance management.

Some companies may not have enough internal resources to run a campaign. The agency can fill these gaps, whether before the project starts or during the campaign. They can either hire new staff or work with freelancers.

  • The company should clearly explain both cases:
  • Recruitment and hiring practices
  • Onboarding and training
  • Performance management
  • Subcontracting

Experience and Reputation: A Track Record That Matters

It is important to have a mix of diverse industry experience and a focus on the specific industry.

1. Industry Expertise

While specializing in one industry is helpful, it’s also good to consider agencies with experience in multiple fields.

Different lead generation companies for small businesses have unique marketing challenges, which can be overcome with the right expertise and experience. Should you select a lead generation company specialized in your target buyers’ industry? Not so fast. Look for a more nuanced answer.

You want a company familiar with your industry because:

  • They can speed up campaign deployment and reduce ramp-up times.
  • Product training can be done faster and at a lower cost.
  • They enhance the relevance of your campaign messages.
  • They understand how to navigate the decision-making processes.

You also need a service provider with experience in multiple industries. These agencies bring fresh ideas and innovative thinking from their diverse lead-generation campaigns.

2. Gauging Experience

Assess their experience by evaluating the number of years they have been in business, their domain knowledge, portfolios of clients, and campaigns completed.

Lead generation is not a core business for most B2B firms. Lead generation is a critical task that should be performed by a seasoned and experienced provider, as it has a direct impact on revenue and growth.

You can measure experience in many ways. Make sure that the candidate you are considering for lead generation can provide some insight into all of these important metrics.

  • Years of business
  • Duration of your work in your domain
  • The size of their client base
  • The number of campaigns or projects related to the campaign completed

3. Tangible Results

You can find specific results by examining client feedback or case studies. It’s important to know the specific results, not just how you felt. By looking at client feedback and campaign outcomes, you can see if a lead generation company delivers on its promises.

Look for these details in case studies and testimonials:

  • Booked appointments
  • Leads completed
  • Profile of contacts
  • Percentage of leads accepted into the pipeline
  • Percentage of appointments that convert into customers
  • Increase in traffic, leads, and prospects

Another important question to ask a potential lead generation partner is how they compare to others in their industry. Request feedback from independent sources, such as:

  • Lists of ranked lead generation companies
  • Independent and third-party review sources
  • Industry groups and awards

Research these sources yourself, and don’t just take their word for it.

Measuring Success: Metrics and Reporting

Measuring success requires the correct metrics and reporting mechanisms.

1. Defining KPIs

Understanding the overall campaign KPIs is important, whether they are sales appointments scheduled, completed leads, or net new customers.

Lead counts aren’t the only metrics you should track in a lead generation campaign. Campaign KPIs vary depending on the project’s scope and can include:

  • Scheduled sales appointments
  • Leads completed
  • Net new prospects
  • Event attendees/registrations
  • Verified contacts/records

Asking a lead generation partner about their broad metrics of success will help you see how they fit with your marketing or sales goals.

2. Activity-Specific KPIs

For each component of the campaign, make sure you track relevant metrics to provide insight for improvement.

Asking a provider about the KPIs that they track for each component of a campaign is advisable, as lead generation campaigns can be made up of dozens of different channels and activities.

Ask the candidate agency what metrics they will be reporting for each activity in your campaign. Ask them what benchmarks they are measuring against.

3. Robust Reporting

For informed decisions, it is essential to have access to customizable and real-time reports. Data-driven campaigns are the foundation of lead generation. Access to timely and relevant data allows you to make informed decisions about your campaign.

When choosing lead generation companies for small businesses, consider the quality of their reporting and tracking:

  • Dashboards and reports with various metrics
  • Reporting and updating frequency
  • Customizable reports to meet specific business needs
Lead Generation Companies for Small Businesses

Project Terms and Your Role

Clarify the project details and your participation

1. Setting Achievable Goals

Although specific guarantees may not be possible, realistic projections of project goals, milestones, and timelines are recommended.

We discussed campaign-level KPIs and activity-specific metrics in previous questions to help clarify things with a potential lead-generation partner. Next, you should ask about the project or campaign objectives based on initial requirements.

You should expect providers to give you a ballpark figure for:

  • The goals to be achieved by the end of a project or campaign
  • Milestones that must be achieved at various intervals
  • Temporary timelines and targets

2. Staying Informed

Keep track of progress using dashboards and regular meetings.

The majority of lead generation campaigns and projects tend to last several months or even years. It’s not enough to be able to keep up with the latest developments or performance; you need it for a successful campaign.

The following questions can help you determine how well an agency will keep you informed during the selection process:

  • What dashboards or reports will you provide?
  • Who will be my primary contact?
  • How often are you going to meet me?
  • How can we stay in touch with each other?

3. Your Role in the Project

During the selection of the agency, you should also be clear on the extent and nature of your involvement in the project. Make sure you understand the level of involvement required in planning and implementation.

Turnkey lead generation services will do everything for you. From preparing materials to nurturing leads before lead transfer, they can handle it all.

Some providers may ask you to be more involved in the project. This is especially true when it comes to planning and idea generation.

Deciphering Pricing: Beyond Numbers

Prices should reflect value, not cost:

1. Value Over Cost

When evaluating the price, consider the agency’s capabilities, processes, and past performance.

Customers who are interested in lead generation often ask incorrect questions about costs and pricing. Prices can vary widely from one vendor to the next, making it difficult to compare apples to apples.

Prices are influenced by a variety of factors, including the experience of the agency, its scope of services and target market, and lead qualification requirements.

When it comes to pricing lead generation, the main thing to remember is to consider value and not just cost. Be sure to thoroughly understand an agency’s capabilities, processes, and track records before you weigh your options.

Take the Next Big Step for Your Small Business!

It’s a competitive business world out there, and the right lead generation companies can make all the difference for your small businesses. Don’t leave your success to chance. With Lux Digital Marketing, you’ll have the guidance you need to make informed decisions. 

Click here to learn how we can help you find the ideal lead generation solutions tailored for your business needs. Let’s convert potential into tangible growth, together!

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