Lead generation is a serious undertaking, and not all companies have the time to devote to bringing in leads for their sales team. 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 21 of the best lead generation companies to consider in 2021, 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 lead generation services company to spearhead your lead generation efforts is a big decision. The right choice could take your business to new heights, the wrong choice could seriously impact your cashflow (or worse).
Before you even get to that point, you need to consider whether or not you’re even at a point where it makes sense to work with a lead generation company. (But that’s a subject for another article.)
Choosing a Company to Generate Sales Leads
In this guide, I’m going to explain what you need to understand about lead generation companies in order to make an informed decision. I’m also going to provide you with the questions you need to ask any company you consider hiring. Finally, I’ll provide my list of the Top 23 Lead Generation Companies.
Knowing your industry isn’t enough. You need to research any lead generation company you’re considering going into business with. Before I get started, I’m going to go over some common questions I get.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lead generation services exist to connect people who need a product or service with companies that provide that product or service.
Lead generation companies find people who need a product or service by using advertising, content marketing, cold calling, and other marketing and sales tactics. Then, depending on the type of lead generation company they’ll deliver the leads to companies they have a contract with. Some lead generation companies will actually book the appointment, some will just send over the lead and it’s up to the company receiving the lead to set up the appointment.
There are two types of lead generation. Inbound lead generation is typically the most effective, because it captures the information of people who are actively looking for a product or service (i.e., they’re “in-market”). Outbound lead generation uses cold calling, cold emailing, and door-to-door canvassing to find people who are interested in a product or service.
Lead generation companies are usually paid per lead. That means you pay them the same amount even if the lead doesn’t convert.
Generally, the more valuable the sale, the more expensive the leads. Personal injury plaintiff leads tend to be very pricy. The credit card and mortgage industries also see a higher cost per lead than most.
Some do, some don’t. Some work for some industries and not for others. For example, Capterra is great for software companies who fit into one of their broad categories, but it can be more difficult for niche companies with a narrow target market to use the platform profitably. That’s why it’s important to track the quality of the leads you’re receiving to make sure you’re making enough money on them to stay in business.
If you don’t have a marketing and/or outbound sales team in place, a good lead generation company can help you fill your pipeline. But the only way to know if it’s worth it is by keeping track of your customer acquisition cost for the leads you’re getting. You need to know how much you can afford to pay for a customer and still stay in business before you hire a lead generation company. Then, if the numbers make sense, then it’s worth it.
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 the leads they’re looking for, and sell the businesses leads that match their customer profile.
Lead vendors generate the leads in a number of ways including:
- Existing databases
- Content marketing
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.
In other words, every lead generation company is different. To make sure you choose the right one, you need to ask the right questions.
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 lead generation companies you’re considering before you make a decision.
Anthony Colarusso, CEO of SALT says “the best way to engage a lead generation company is to treat it like hiring an employee.”
He recommends asking a lot of questions and even visiting their headquarters if you can, and “learn about the people who will be working your account.
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?
Anthony says “programs that require a contract are typically not a good engagement. Partnerships give you an easy out.” For example, all of SALT’s contracts can be terminated with 30 days’ notice.
What’s their refund policy?
Jake says that finding companies with a money-back guarantee is one of the best ways to make sure no one takes advantage of you.
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.
According to Jake, this will ensure that “you are mutually aligned with your lead generation company, and it incentivizes them to provide real results.”
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?
- How many of the leads became customers?
- How much did you pay in total?
- How much did you profit off of the leads?
If you profited 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 my list of the top lead generation companies.
Top 21 Lead Generation Companies
Here are the top 21 lead generation companies in 2021:
- Digital Marketing Agency
- TopSpot Internet Marketing
- VSA, Inc.
- SalesPro Leads
- Limitless Technology Consultants
- eCoast Marketing
- Unity Communications
- Lead Generators International
- Flatworld Solutions
- Martal Group
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-sepcific specialties.
- IT Lead Generation: IT Manager Daily
- 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.