Lead generation is a serious undertaking, and not all businesses have the time to devote to bringing in leads for their sales department. 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.
Choosing a 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).
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.
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.
For instance, you might try generating your own leads with the help of a consultant. If that’s something you’re interested in, schedule a free consultation with me.
Now, without further ado, here’s my list of the top lead generation companies.
Top 6 Lead Generation Companies
Here are the top 6 lead generation companies, according to their topseos scores. (Read about topseos’ evaluation criteria here.)
- LeadGeneration.com | 100%
Contact Ken Wisnefski at 844-350-5689 for more information.
- VJG Interactive | 99%
Contact Rachel Gray at 844-318-9153 for more information.
- Digital Marketing Agency | 98.4%
Contact William Clanton at 800-569-2754 for more information.
- Disruptive Advertising | 97%
Contact Jake Baadsgaard at 866-700-1547 for more information.
- Bruce Clay | 90%
Contact Bruce Clay at 866-517-1900 for more information.
- LeadGenerators Ltd | 90%
Contact Frank Orman at +44-2033049811 for more information.
12 Top-Rated Lead Gen Companies
If none of those do it for you, these are the top 12 lead generation service providers (excluding sponsored listings) according to Clutch.co:
- SalesRoads | 5.0 Rating | 10 reviews
- Callbox | 4.6 Rating | 8 reviews
- VSA, Inc. | 4.9 Rating | 10 reviews
- SalesAladin | 4.7 Rating | 3 reviews
- SalesPro Leads | 4.8 Rating | 3 reviews
- WebiMax | 5.0 Rating | 4 reviews
- Limitless Technology Consultants | 4.9 Rating | 11 reviews
- eCoast Marketing | 4.9 Rating | 4 reviews
- Unity Communications | 5.0 Rating | 7 reviews
- Salesify | 4.5 Rating | 5 reviews
- Lead Generators International | 4.9 Rating | 5 reviews
- Go4Customer | 5.0 Rating | 3 reviews
Lead Generators International was the only lead generation company to show up on both lists as of 9/17/2019.
6 Industry-Specific Lead Generation Services
- IT Lead Generation: IT Manager Daily
- B2B Lead Generation: The Mx Group
- B2C Lead Generation: Avatar & Echo Telemarketing
- Construction Lead Generation: Impulse SEM
- Manufacturing Lead Generation: Tank New Media
- Software Lead Generation: CallBox Lead Management Solutions
If you have any questions, don’t hestitate to reach out.