One thing that I have experienced over the course of the last 15 years is that B2B lead generation is never a cake-walk as many business owners assume. While you need to have a clear and concise idea of your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile), you also need to make sure you are reaching them in the most effective ways and with the most efficient channels in order to get better ROI. Many a time, outsourcing your lead generation serves as a strategic advantage for your sales team if you know how to evaluate and select the right B2B lead generation agency. But it is not always the best option to outsource given the inconsistencies and problems that start budding soon afterwards. Let me tell you what problems could arise in case of lead generation outsourcing and how to overcome them.
1) When the prerequisites are ignored
It so happens that you fail to comprehend your target persona completely and move on to outsourcing your B2B lead generation to a company that may not understand all or a part of what you understand about your ideal customer profile. From there on, it’s a total mess of the efforts employed. From deciding who to target, in what priority, and how to classify them, to selecting the right channels for communication and choosing the best form of content, everything goes the wrong way. Needless to say, this wasn’t the intended course of action and result, right? So, the best thing to do here is to make sure you understand what your company does and which businesses it caters to, identify the target audience, segment them accordingly, and then get the lead generation company to do its job. The agency should have a number of questions for you, and if this doesn’t happen, then you have probably not selected the right agency to outsource your B2B lead generation.
We have prepared a questionnaire that you can download to help you assess if the agency you are evaluating is matured enough and focused on outcome rather than just the contract. If they do not ask you these questions, you may want to look at alternates. Use this free resource as a ready checklist while you select your agency or partner.
2) Thoughtless engagement model
How you are engaged with the B2B lead generation company is also a major factor in deciding the number and quality of leads you receive. It might feel like a completely unrelated and vague point here, but sadly, it isn’t! Now, the lead generation agencies may charge you for the hours worked on your project, for the number of leads generated, the number of meetings scheduled, or various other factors.
You may select one of the engagement models that you feel would get you the most leads at the minimum cost, and that may be a viable option too. But you may also lose a number of quality leads in the process. Unsure of how that may happen? Let me elaborate.
So you hire a B2B lead generation agency to schedule a certain number of meetings per month. Now, they will concentrate more on scheduling meetings for you rather than maintaining and nurturing a database of leads. In this process, many qualified leads that did not result in immediate meetings will be dismissed and you would miss out on a sure-shot prospective client. I’m sure you wouldn’t want this to happen! So then, how to stop this from happening? Simple, make sure you are involved with them at all stages of the lead generation process and have complete visibility of what is happening to your lists, leads, and conversations. And choose the right engagement model with the agency – your offering is not cheap, nor are your target customers, so make sure you create value through your lead generation teams as well. Do not run after cost per lead – it is misleading, look what would be the cost of acquisition while choosing your engagement models.
3) The agency’s definition of lead is different from yours
This has confused marketers for as long as the term has been coined – what exactly is a “lead”? Well, it may have different definitions for you and the company you have outsourced your lead generation process to.
For you, a lead has to be qualified enough to be turned into a paying customer soon, or at least the maximum number of leads should convert, if not all. For a B2B lead generation agency, on the other hand, a lead may just be contact of a business that might have shown interest in exactly the same, or similar products/services your company offers, or the meetings it manages to schedule, irrespective of the outcome. It won’t take the pains of explaining to you all about the background and complexities of the leads generated.
The point is, can you manage to get the best out of the “leads” your B2B lead generation partner provides you? Or you are just keeping money on the table for a black hole to suck it in? The central idea is to make your definition of leads and the qualifying criteria clear to the agency before you sign them on-board. That will save a lot of time, efforts, money, and keep you away from confusions!
Here is a detailed description of the illustration above:
Enquiries: Any type of response has been received from them, either by form fills on your site, by e-mail responses, calls, or social media posts.
Leads: Enquiries that have provided their contact information and expressed some level of interest in your products or services, but haven’t made any further transactions or communication, neither do you have any idea about the exact requirement or the budget.
MQLs: Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are the contacts of decision-makers’ level wherein they have requirements and have shown interest in your products/services. MQLs are deemed fit by the marketing team to be passed down the funnel to the sales team for further nurturing and transforming them into opportunities.
HQLs/SRLs: High Quality Leads (HQLs) or Sales Ready Leads (SRLs) are the contacts of key decision makers in the company that fulfil the BANT criteria, meaning, they have the budget, authority, need for your product/service, and are ready to buy. They have been presented with product demos and are very likely to buy your product.
Opportunities: Qualified leads for which your sales team has assessed requirements, verified the value propositions, held meetings and demonstrations, and presented proposals. Opportunities have a high probability of closing and are ready to be converted into paying customers upon some final touches.
4) The agency doesn’t know how to track ROI properly
One of the primary objectives of outsourcing your B2B lead generation is the acquisition of profitable opportunities. Now, if the lead generation agency is not at par with your requirements, or is just generating leads that are not qualified enough, a huge drain of cash-flow is inevitable.
In this context, it is very important for the customer to internally or with the help of an agency conduct a thorough channel assessment or a comparative ROI exercise to establish that money is, or will be spent wisely. For this, the company has to establish a Ticket Size (what is the size of each ticket), the margins from each ticket (barring Sales & Marketing costs). This will give an idea of what can be spent on Sales & marketing, then factor in the cost of acquisition from each channel – internal/ inside sales, digital ads, participating in Events, Social Media ads, etc. One important aspect is that you should look at cost of acquisition and not just cost per lead (this is where most companies fail to make the right decision with regards to investments). Let’s take this example:
One company spends 100k on Facebook Ads per month, gets about 100 leads from them, which means they are spending 1K per lead (not talking about form fills only). Out of these 100 leads they are able to close roughly 10 deals worth 10k each. This means they are getting business worth 100K from a 100K spend.
Thus, Cost per lead = 1,000
Cost per acquisition (CPA) = 100k/10 = 10,000
and ROI = 100k/100k = 1X
In another scenario, the company is paying a lead generation agency to do very targeted lead gen campaigns – wherein for 100K spend, it gets 30 MQLs. Being very targeted and qualified leads, the company is able to close 15 deals worth 10K each, out of every 30 MQLs. They are, therefore, generating 150K business from a 100K investment.
Here, the Cost per lead = 3333
CPA = 100/15k = 6667
Thus, ROI = 150k/100k = 1.5X
It is evident from the above example that the number of leads attained from one particular method or channel can’t be the deciding factor in your campaign. Quality of leads matters! Ticket size, channels’ potential reach, Customer lifetime value (CLTV), and a lot more detailed insights must be taken into account in addition to just CPAs. I am not saying this is a real scenario, but a company must conduct this exercise before putting their penny on the table in order to decide the best ways to attain maximum ROI. Exentrics carries out channel assessments right in the beginning as a part of consulting engagements so that it becomes easy and predictable for CXOs to make informed decisions. If you or your company have any such concerns regarding where you should invest in your digital initiatives, you can write to us.
5) Not knowing what to measure
Out of the several measurable metrics in your lead-generation campaign, only a selected few matter. Those are some key metrics that need to be measured regularly with regard to your lead generation campaigns. If tracked and worked-on properly, those would be able to fetch desired results. For instance, you should have an idea of the CTR, Delivery Rate, Open Rate, Conversion Rate, ROI, etc. of your e-mail campaigns and only then can you make it a success by improving upon the weak areas. An agency you are outsourcing your lead generation to should have the proper knowledge and understanding of the metrics to track and should plan your strategy accordingly. It is a good idea to ask them about their average conversion rates, leads to opportunities ratio, and other important metrics before signing them on.
Once the lead generation agency gets on the same page with you in terms the definition of leads, the criteria for lead qualification, and the most viable model of business, it should be a freeway from there. An outsourced B2B lead generation campaign will succeed only if the thought process and functioning of the partner agency resonate well with the ideas, visions, modes, and goals of your business. For an agency taking up B2B lead generation projects for companies, it is of paramount importance to understand the nature of the business, its functioning, the target personas, and goals in order to generate leads of the highest quality.