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10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a B2B Lead Generation Company Are you ready to outsource lead generation? Learn the 10 most important questions you need to answer before hiring a lead generation partner.

By Vito Vishnepolsky Edited by Chelsea Brown

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There's no shame in admitting it: Generating leads is exhausting. It drains your time, resources and patience. But despite its inherent pains, lead generation is integral to growth.

Unfortunately, there is no metaphorical ibuprofen to make the process any less of a headache. Developing a winning lead generation strategy is all about weathering the droughts and downpours with perseverance. But you don't always have to go it alone. You can accelerate your growth and avoid unnecessary roadblocks by partnering with an expert.

Hiring a lead generation company can be a great way to expand your business and bring in new customers, but you have to ensure it's the right move. To help you make the best decision for your company, here are the 10 questions you should ask before hiring a B2B lead generation company:

Related: A Straightforward Guide To Effective B2B Lead Generation

1. What is the company's lead generation process?

How leads are generated influences the quality and quantity of prospects in your pipeline. So, it's important to understand each lead generation company's process before making a hiring decision. Finding a lead generation company that aligns with your business goals and target audience comes down to the strategies and tactics they implement.

For B2B, inbound marketing is a great long-term strategy, but if you are looking for more immediate results, outbound is the way to go. Still, you'll want to avoid those who practice outdated lead generation processes such as single-channel marketing, mass-blast email campaigns and aggressive telemarketing. Modern outbound lead generation relies on precision targeting and multichannel outreach to drive brand awareness and interest to the right audience at the right time.

Keep in mind that your lead generation partner will represent your brand's first impression on potential clients. So, go ahead; be as picky as you like when choosing the right lead generation company. Not only will a stringent selection process protect your brand reputation, but you'll end up with more high-quality leads to convert.

2. Does the same SDR deliver all touchpoints?

Lead generation is full of repetitive, time-consuming tasks, which is why many companies outsource this part of the sales process. Efficiency can be lost, however, if these activities are split among multiple sales development representatives (SDRs). Still, some lead generation companies practice the dissection of duties based on the touchpoint type. SDRs will be assigned based on a channel such as email, LinkedIn or phone calls. The trouble is this can cause miscommunication with potential clients, which makes your prospecting methods feel unprofessional.

If you hire a lead generation company, you will most likely work with more than one SDR. Check how touchpoints are handled through the campaigns, and verify that each SDR has their own lead list to pursue. This will help your company maintain a professional appearance through every step of the prospecting process.

3. Where is the client-facing team located?

Outsourcing and offshoring are often synonymous, but when it comes to prospecting, the location of your client-facing team can really make a difference. B2B products and services often involve complex solutions that are difficult to sell. Sales development representatives (SDRs) must be able to communicate efficiently and effectively to build rapport with prospective clients.

Look for a team based in the same location as your target market. If the SDRs and prospects share the same time zone and language, conversations will flow more smoothly. In turn, sales appointments booked will be beneficial and informative for both you and your prospective clients.

4. How experienced are the SDRs?

Chances are, if you are contemplating outsourcing, you are searching for experts to help you move the needle. However, retaining experienced salespeople is not easy. SDR burnout is high, with 50% churning within 12 months. Most lead generation companies control costs by hiring inexperienced workers to fulfill the tasks. As you may expect, such SDRs produce inconsistent results at best and numerous mistakes at worst. While lead generation teams often have a sales manager to keep performance in check, they do not handle the daily activities that directly impact your pipeline.

Interviewing SDRs from the lead generation companies you are considering can help you get a feel for the experience your client-facing team would be bringing to the table. In addition, the SDRs' LinkedIn profiles can provide you with the background information you need to verify they have what it takes to produce results.

5. How are the SDRs compensated?

As we've discussed, hiring SDRs new to the field is one way lead generation companies cut down on expenses. Some SDRs make as little as $500 a month, but these entry-level compensation rates can hurt morale and motivation.

Take some time to discuss the SDR pay structure with the lead generation companies you are vetting. While you might not have much say over this aspect of the partnership, knowing the incentive model will help determine if you can expect a steady stream of quality leads.

6. What types of leads does the company specialize in generating?

Some partners are more general in their experience, but the truth is no two industries are the same when it comes to lead generation. If you hire a lead generation company will little to no background in your field, the ramp-up time and cost per lead will be comparable to running the campaigns in-house, if not more expensive.

Companies that specialize in generating leads for specific types of businesses have proven strategies in place to streamline prospecting and shorten sales cycles. These experts also have a pulse on the industry, so they can adapt quickly when consumer purchasing behaviors change.

Make sure the company you choose has experience generating leads that are relevant to your business. Ask for case studies, testimonials or references to see if past performance in related industries matches your expectations.

Related: Tips to Improve Your Lead Generation Process

7. How will the company measure lead generation success?

Clear and transparent reporting will help you track the return on your investment and make informed decisions about the campaign's success. When outsourcing lead generation, you need a partner willing to translate their results into metrics that measure progress toward your goals.

Before hiring a lead generation company, ask how success is measured and what metrics are reported. Share your current sales goals and discuss how meeting those metrics will help your company close the gap. By setting expectations upfront, both parties can ensure that objectives and priorities are in harmony, leading to a more productive campaign.

8. Does the lead generation company exhibit internal growth?

The number one reason business leaders hire lead generation companies is to accelerate growth. So, it makes sense that one of the number one ways to validate a lead generation company's capabilities is to assess its own ability to grow.

However, this can be difficult, especially if the lead generation companies you are considering are not publicly traded. Luckily, platforms like LinkedIn make it easy to evaluate key metrics like employee headcount that provide insight into the company's overall health. A significant dip in employees could be a sign of layoffs or internal disruption.

When making your shortlist, look for lead generation companies with strong year-over-year growth. At a time when economic instability is shaking the foundations of businesses around the world, you'll be more likely to stand firm with a lead generation partner rooted in proven success for both their clients and themselves.

9. Do you have the resources to handle the additional leads?

Partnering with a lead generation company will likely result in a significant increase in pipeline activity, so it's important to have the resources (such as sales staff, marketing materials and customer service reps) in place to handle the additional volume.

In most cases, lead generation partners handle the first four stages of the sales cycle: prospecting, contacting, qualifying and nurturing. Once an appointment is booked, the internal sales team guides prospective clients through the remaining purchasing process. So, lacking the resources needed to usher leads toward conversion could result in lots of lost opportunities. To maximize the ROI of your partnership, prepare your team to take on a full funnel of leads.

Alternatively, you can seek out a full-service lead generation firm that offers support throughout the entire sales cycle, from prospecting to closing. Such partnerships can be more cost-effective than scaling your resources before you scale your revenue.

10. Do you have a clear target market?

A B2B lead generation company will be most effective if you understand your target market and can provide detailed information about the types of companies and individuals you want to reach.

With a clear picture of your target market, a lead generation partner can develop ideal client profiles (ICPs) for each decision-maker. These ICPs guide every element of the lead generation process, including list building, content creation and objection handling. Using the demographic, firmographic and technographic data of each ICP, a team of experts can develop a custom campaign strategy designed to convert prospects quickly.

However, if you are unsure about or have experienced trouble penetrating your target market, don't hesitate to discuss your current challenges with potential lead generation partners. These specialists have a keen understanding of product-market fit and can walk you through the steps you need to take to identify your most profitable target market.

Related: Lead Generation Best Practices That Help You Find New Customers

How to know you've found the right lead generation company

It's essential to do your due diligence by researching the lead generation companies you are considering. Reviews and testimonials are helpful, but don't be afraid to ask technical questions about processes, procedures and performance.

There are hundreds of lead generation companies to choose from, all with their own unique purpose and place in the market. Ultimately, the right partner for you will be the one that most closely aligns with your business needs and goals.

Vito Vishnepolsky

Founder and Director of Martal Group

Vito Vishnepolsky is the founder and director of Martal Group, an on-demand sales partner servicing B2B tech companies.

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