Lead generation is a serious undertaking, and not all companies have the time to devote to bringing in qualified leads for their sales team. In fact, some companies don’t even have a sales team! That’s why many businesses turn to lead generation companies or appointment setting companies to handle the process.
This guide will give you 22 of the best lead generation companies to consider in 2022, along with some important questions you need to ask before outsourcing lead gen. There’s also a bonus list of six industry-specific lead generation companies for the IT, B2B, B2C, construction, manufacturing, and software industries.
Choosing a Company to Generate Sales Leads
If you don’t have time to wait on an inbound marketing strategy, buying qualified leads might be a good idea. But you need to know how to get your money’s worth. In this guide, I’m going to provide you with the questions you need to ask any lead generation company you consider hiring.
At the end of this guide, you’ll know everything you need to know to make sure that you don’t waste any money on bad leads from lead generation companies that don’t know what they’re doing.
How Do Lead Generation Companies Work?
Lead generation companies find businesses who are looking for sales leads, then determine what sort of leads those companies are looking for, and sell them qualified leads that match their ideal customer profile.
Lead vendors generate the leads in a number of ways including:
- Existing databases
- Content marketing
Appointment Setting Services
Appointment setting companies will actually set appointments for you with the leads, lead generation companies just send you the leads and you’re on your own. Some companies, like Software Advice, offer both options.
B2B Leads Databases
If you’re taking an account-based marketing approach, you’ll probably want to use something like ZoomInfo because you know what companies you need to reach. Just subscribe to a database that contains the leads you need.
In other words, every lead generation company is different. To make sure you choose the right one, you need to ask the right questions.
B2C vs. B2B Lead Generation Companies
Before we dive into the questions, it’s important to note that there are differences between B2C lead generation companies and B2B lead generation companies. Depending on who you sell to, you’ll want to keep these distinctions in mind.
B2B Lead Generation Companies
If you’re looking for a B2B lead generation company, you likely have a longer sales cycle. As a result, many B2B lead generation companies will try to lock you into a long-term contract so they have time to show results.
They may offer an out before the end of the contract, but make sure you read the fine print. The opt-out clause will generally require that the company hasn’t set a certain number of appointments. They probably will hit the agreed-upon amount, but you may find that the leads aren’t what you’re looking for.
So make sure that you have a way out if that’s the case.
B2C Lead Generation Companies
B2C lead generation companies tend to be less expensive because the sales cycle is shorter and there’s typically a larger target audience which makes it easier to generate leads through digital advertising and automated outreach. The critical factors are whether they are capable of generating quality leads that deliver a healthy ROI.
Questions to Ask Lead Generation Companies
- Do they have experience in your industry?
- How do they get the leads?
- How do they qualify leads?
- Are the leads exclusive?
- How do they hand off the leads?
- How much do they charge?
- When do they charge?
- Do they require a contract?
- What’s their refund policy?
Outsourcing lead generation to an appointment setting or lead generation company can be very expensive, so do your due diligence. Make sure you get the answers to these questions from any companies you’re considering before you make a decision.
(And by the way, if lead generation services aren’t the right fit for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of other options. Like website visitor identification, which allows you to convert more of your existing website traffic into leads without requiring visitors to fill out a form.)
Do they have experience in your industry?
Generating leads for a software company isn’t the same as generating leads for an eCommerce company. Generating B2B leads requires a different approach than generating B2C leads.
And if you’re in a very niche space, the more familiar the lead generation company is with your niche, the more effective they’ll be.
Fundamental lead generation principles are the same across industries, so this shouldn’t weigh too heavily in your decision, but it’s definitely a factor. Don’t choose a good lead generation company over a great one just because they have some experience in your niche.
On the other hand, if you’re dealing with two lead generation companies that seem to be about equal, this can be a tiebreaker.
How do they get the leads?
The quality of the leads will tend to vary based on how they get them. For instance, if they have telemarketers calling people randomly to build a list of leads, those leads probably won’t be very good.
If they have built out a comprehensive content marketing strategy that attracts potential customers, those leads are much more promising.
How do they qualify leads?
Do they call them? Or do they just collect contact information through a form and fire the leads off to their clients? More direct contact typically means higher quality. Take a look at their process and try to determine:
- Will it generate the sort of leads you’re looking for?
- Will the leads be expecting you to reach out?
I submitted a form asking about direct mail once, only to be totally surprised when my phone began to ring off the hook with people trying to sell me on their direct mail companies. That’s not likely to lead to a sale. You don’t want the leads you buy to be surprised to hear from you.
The best lead generation companies will have a phone conversation with potential leads to make sure they’re a good fit for your business. (They’ll also provide you with notes from this conversation.)
Are the leads exclusive?
Will you be the only one receiving the leads or do they send them to multiple companies? If the leads aren’t exclusive you’ll have to fight for them. Don’t buy leads like that unless you have a sales team in place who can handle the competition.
Lead generation companies that provide exclusive leads charge more, but depending on your ability to follow up, the bigger price tag might be worth it.
How do they hand off the leads?
Depending on how much bandwidth you have, it may be worth paying more to find a lead generation company that will handle more of the process for you. If your team is very small, you may prefer to work with an appointment setting company.
Whatever you choose, be sure to find out (1) if they provide you with notes from their phone conversation with the lead, and (2) if they have an integration for your CRM or do you have to manually enter the lead.
How much do they charge?
Is every lead the same price? Or does the company charge more for leads with more employees (or according to some other criteria)? You’ll need to take this into account when determining whether or not the leads are worth it.
Based on how much they charge, you’ll have to look at how many of the deals you close and how much it costs to close them to see if everything adds up.
If you’re paying an average of $100 a lead and you can only close one out of every ten, you’re paying $1,000 a customer. If a customer is only worth $900, it’s time to find a new lead generation company.
When do they charge?
Do they charge per lead or per customer? Some companies charge for every lead, others don’t charge you unless you close the deal. Ideally, aim for the latter. Just know that they will be more expensive.
Do they require a contract?
Some companies will lock you into a lengthy contract. That might be OK if they generate qualified leads for a good price, but make sure you don’t get stuck with a dud. The longer the contract, the more important the questions I’m sharing with you are.
Ideally, avoid signing a contract before you’ve worked with a company on a trial basis.
What’s their refund policy?
A money-back guarantee is one of the best ways to make sure no one takes advantage of you, but read the fine print.
If the lead generation company in question sends you a bad lead, will they refund your money?
How easy is it to get a refund? What do they consider a bad lead? If you can’t get in touch with the lead after making a reasonable effort, or if the lead wasn’t qualified in the way you agreed with the company, the lead generation company should quickly refund your money.
Should I outsource to a lead generation company?
There’s only one way to determine whether outsourcing lead generation is right for your business. Test it.
Research the companies that serve your industry, and find one that looks like a good fit. Give them a trial period, and be very careful about tagging and tracking the leads you get through the lead generation company.
At the end of the trial period, assess the leads you’ve received.
- How many leads did you get?
- Of those leads, how many became customers?
- How much did you pay in total?
- What was your ROI?
If you profit more than you paid, then the lead generation company is probably worth it. If not, it’s time to try something else.
Now, without further ado, here’s our list of the top lead generation companies.
The Best Lead Generation Companies
Here are the top 22 lead generation companies in 2022:
- CIENCE (sponsored)
- Digital Marketing Agency
- TopSpot Internet Marketing
- VSA, Inc.
6 Industry-Specific Lead Generation Services
If you’re looking to generate leads in a particular industry, here are six lead generation companies with industry-specific specialties.
- IT Lead Generation: Ironpaper
- B2B Lead Generation: The Mx Group
- B2C Lead Generation: Avatar & Echo Telemarketing
- Construction Lead Generation: I AM Builders
- Manufacturing Lead Generation: Tank New Media
- Software Lead Generation: CallBox Lead Management Solutions
If you have any questions, don’t hestitate to reach out.