Demand Generation

5 Questions You Must Ask Potential Lead Sources

By:

Guest post by Jeff Gordon, Senior Marketing Manager for BuyerZone

Lead generation providers are a great source of new business: you end up with a steady volume of sales-ready leads, while your lead generation provider takes care of the behind the scenes work like managing marketing programs, qualifying buyer interest, and verifying the key information.

Fortunately, there are plenty of experienced lead generation companies out there, covering many industries and verticals. This variety can make it difficult to choose the best provider, though.  When comparing lead generation companies, how do you cut through the fray and determine which one is the best fit for your business?

Here are five key questions you should ask before signing on with a lead generation service:

How do you generate your leads?

Experienced lead generation companies use a variety of methods to generate leads, including paid search, SEO, email, white papers, affiliates, and more. You should expect a variety of sources, and depending on the industry these answers will vary – but be wary of companies who offer vague answers or just give you the runaround when you inquire. Always ask for specific examples of creatives to see how the offer is positioned and the types of channels used. Transparency is key in the lead generation industry – so make sure the company you choose to work with shows you exactly how they drive leads.

Aside from the marketing channels, you should also check how the company qualifies its leads. In many cases, lead gen providers ask in-depth questions specific to the product or service being sought, as well as contact information. Again, you’ll want to look at these forms to make sure this is a type of company and/or leads you want to work with.

Last but certainly not least – make sure no incentives are used to increase volume or trick people into becoming a lead. You only want leads that are genuinely interested in your products or services– not those who just signed up for chance at a free iPad or $100 gift card. And yes, there are lead gen providers out there who use tactic like this to generate “leads”.

Do you have a credit or return policy?

Just as not all customers who walk into your store or visit your website will buy from you, not every lead you get from a provider will turn into a sale. While that fact is impossible to eliminate, you should make sure the lead generation company you choose stands behind the quality of its leads. Make sure you don’t have to pay for leads that are submitted by competitors or students, aren’t looking to purchase your product or service, are outside your sales coverage area, or are stale, for example.

What format can I receive leads in?

With more and more companies using CRMs or other sales tools, it’s important to understand how you’ll receive leads so you can distribute them to your sales team quickly and efficiently. Reputable lead generation companies should offer multiple ways to receive leads – email, text message, bulk file (CSV or TSV), XML, and/or integration directly with a CRM like Salesforce.com. Make sure the company you choose can accommodate your format of choice before you get started.

How do you verify a lead?

Part of the attraction of working with a lead generation company is having someone verify certain parts of the lead before it reaches your sales team. You don’t want your team to waste time chasing dead ends, so make sure the company you choose to work with is committed to providing quality leads.

The definition of a quality lead can differ greatly – but some important factors to consider include:

  • Confirmed interest in your product/service
  • Accurate contact information, including name, address, phone number and email address
  • Indication of purchasing authority and/or budget

What’s your experience in this industry?

From mortgages, to education, to home services, you’ll find plenty of companies who offer lead generation services across the spectrum of B2B and B2C products and services. Make sure you pick a lead generation partner who has significant experience in your industry.

If you’re in the construction industry, you want to choose a company that’s familiar with construction buyers and the specific issues that concern them. In addition, there are detailed laws that need to be followed in certain industries – legal, for instance.

Just like you wouldn’t work with a realtor inexperienced in a particular town or city, you shouldn’t choose a lead generation company that’s not experienced in generating leads for your product or service.

Jeff Gordon is the Senior Marketing Manager for BuyerZone – a B2B lead generation company. To learn more about how BuyerZone can help grow your business with targeted and timely B2B sales leads, click here. BuyerZone’s lead generation blog – About Leads – is full of tips and advice similar to what you saw here.