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Anatomy of a Lead Generation Provider

When you work in lead generation, most of your friends and family don’t quite know the nature of your job. At holidays and reunions, when Aunt Martha asks what exactly it is that you do, you might find yourself fumbling over an explanation or simplifying with a one word answer of ‘marketing’…

I’ll level with you - it’s not just Aunt Martha who’s confused. Most people don’t have a point of reference when it comes to lead generation consultants. And even if you are currently working with a lead generation provider, you still might not see a full picture of what is going on behind the scenes. 

Whether you’re considering outsourcing your lead generation (or need to explain your career to your in-laws), we will outline  the inner workings of a lead generation provider here. Let’s get started.

First, to make sure we’re examining the same thing - lets’ agree on what we mean by Lead Generation. 

Lead generation is the process of turning your ideal customers into qualified meetings and opportunities for your sales team.

Whichever collection of channels you’ve determined work best for your company, you’ll want to be clear on the goals or deliverables you can expect from your efforts. Creating SMART goals and campaigns can help your team stay focused and track the impact of your efforts.

The Head:

Expect Lead Generation teams to be data driven and guided by strategy. Much like the head, strategy steers your campaigns. Lead Generation providers should work with you to establish goals for your work together, and should continue to manage progress towards those goals by collecting data and executing strategically.

Strategy:

Every vendor has a different strategy or secret sauce that they attribute their success to. Regardless of the what, make sure you and your team are explicitly clear and aligned on the strategies your vendor is deploying to generate leads.

Data:

Depending on the channels you’re working with, expect to discuss KPIs or Key Performance Indicators on the campaigns your consultant is running.

Some KPIs to care about:

  • Return on Investment
  • Cost Per Lead
  • Cost Per Click
  • Click Through Ratio
  • Open Rate
  • Click to Open
  • Conversion Rate
Legacy insights:

Empower your provider’s strategy by providing them with insights and collateral from existing marketing efforts. Do you have an ebook behind a form that you know performs well? Work with your provider to get high performing content in front of untouched audiences.

Deliverables:

Aligning on strategy will also help you set up and align any lead capturing programs (forms, tracking parameters, etc) and create a plan for capturing deliverables from your efforts (workflows, a CSV with records on it emailed to you at the end of every week, etc).

At Sapper, and with most vendors, client strategy starts during the contract process. Make your goals and expectations clear from the beginning.

The Heart:

Onboarding: Building Strategic and Sacred Relationships

The onboarding process sets the foundation for your campaigns as well as for the partnership with your provider. 

During Onboarding meetings, take the time to really get to know your vendor and once again ensure your vendor really knows your business and your goals. Come prepared to discuss your mission, audience, conversion rates, channel performance, budget, competitors in your space, and more. Consider the onboarding call a virtual coffee date where we get to dive deep. Why did you decide to start your company? Who is your ideal customer profile? What sets you apart from your competitors? By delivering a thorough summary of your business and lead generation goals to your vendor, you can be more strategic and impactful in your campaigns. 

Each of our Sapper clients has a dedicated team, including a Client Success Manager and a Performance Manager, monitoring and pulling the levers that make our campaigns tick. They manage correspondence with prospects, review campaign data, co-own pivots in strategy, and wrap everything up in a bow for clients to review. Our client/CSM relationship is considered sacred at Sapper; we know that when our clients win, we win - and our onboardings reflect that.

The Arms:

Crafting the Right Message

After the onboarding your team will go to work crafting campaigns based on the input you’ve given them.

At Sapper, this period is dedicated to identifying your market and building content custom to your business proposition and ideal customers. We evaluate industry data and focus on what works for your customers.

Whether your lead gen provider uses email, advertising, cold calling, or LinkedIn messaging, content is a foundational pillar of an effective marketing strategy. In a market that’s more competitive than ever before (and an audience that’s more informed than ever before), your content needs to cut through the noise, provide value, and make an impact.

Your vendor will typically provide an internal team of writers and content strategists that craft messaging that converts. If a campaign isn’t performing, content is one of the most malleable variables in your formula. It’s a science just as much as it is an art. While an ametuer or even professional writer could take a stab at creating the perfect email sequence or ad copy, keep in mind that marketing emails are a different kind of beast. 

Managing content with your vendor should not be a one-time project. Your initial campaign will start with not just one solitary campaign. Instead, your vendor will launch a strategic group of campaigns designed to create opportunities while learning as much as possible about your audience. Depending on your personas, your goals, and your strategy, you may want to provide more direction to your vendor as far as what content to use.

Regardless of which approach you and your vendor take, you may need to provide them with some version of working email or ad copy, image assets, CTAs, Form/Landing Page links, etc. Make sure you and your team are aligned on operations and deliverables. Ask questions like:

“How frequently will I get leads delivered?” or if prospects are being guided to a form on your website, “What fields should I build onto this form that are best practice for this channel?”
“What types of creative assets do you need access to?”
“What content do we already have that you can use?”

The Legs:

Sourcing Prospects

Finding the right prospects might be equated to Indiana Jones's search for the Holy Grail...in short, there can be a lot of obstacles. Depending on the channel you’re using to generate leads, these obstacles can be research intensive or pricey.

This is a huge advantage to working with an outsourced lead gen company. They’re either experts on the channel you’re using to generate leads or they’re experts at using, updating, enhancing and cleaning a huge database of leads to create meetings.

Think about it. A list database provides thousands of names and can be an incredible resource, though not all databases or teams are created equally. Put simply, databases aren’t 100% reliable all of the time. Not only is prospect data constantly changing, it is also user-generated and if you’re going to reach out to the right person with the right messaging, your lists need to be immaculately maintained.

Not all lead generation providers rely on email, however. Platform specific vendors for LinkedIn, or Google Search and Display use the audiences moving across their platforms to source ideal customers or interested buyers. This is where expert audience management becomes critical. Understand your audience’s shared interests, which keywords your audience uses to talk about your product or services, and which keywords mean they’re not interested!

Keeping it Moving with Nurturing and Follow up

Every vendor’s nightmare involves providing quality leads they’ve identified as “slam dunks” to teams that call them once and then never again. According to the RAIN Group,  it takes an average of 8 touches to get an initial meeting (or other conversion) with a new prospect.

Be prepared to have ongoing discussions with your vendor to discuss how leads they’ve generated for your pipeline have been performing. Keep a report, a list or some other log of leads that have converted to meetings, opportunities, and all of the stages in between. This feedback is key to providing insight into campaign strategy for your vendor. 

If growing your sales funnel is a priority for Q4, you might want to consider working with a trusted partner. With a lead generation provider at your disposal, you’ll save the time of a learning curve while having access to experts, proven strategies, and the latest technical advances. Not sure if now is the right time? Download this guide to understand when and how a lead generation provider can maximize your business efforts. 




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