Outsourcing B2B Lead Generation
Have you ever wondered why B2B lead generation is so often outsourced? Let’s start with the fact that well-qualified leads are the lifeblood of a high-performance sales team. And in the world of B2B, the value of a sale is often a 5 or 6 figure sum – enterprise software and management consulting are two examples where this is the case.
With so much at stake, outsourcing to an external lead generation specialist provides greater certainty around outcomes and budget, when compared to hiring internally.
The value of a B2B lead alone is often in the thousands of dollars and the skillset and depth of experience required to generate these high-stakes leads is a notch above the consumer world. Whether through the phone, email or LinkedIn, the ability to engage senior decisionmakers in a conversation is critical, with the ultimate aim being to secure an appointment for the sales team. In this context, lead generation specialists are expensive resources requiring:
- excellent spoken and written business English
- proficiency in industry lingo
- commercial acumen
- a high-level understanding of product/service features and benefits versus the competition
- the ability to tailor conversations naturally, on the fly, without rigidly adhering to a script, and
- research skills – at a minimum, reviewing the executive’s LinkedIn profile prior to engaging.
The secret to success is not just in the people, but in the product, the prospect list, the messaging (scripts, email sequences) and the companion content which prospects will often want to read before moving to the next step.
Some lead generation companies have their entire workforce working from home, others have physical facilities which look like up-market contact centres, with pods of sales representatives making calls, and a team leader at the head of each pod. To attract top talent, the office environment is often state-of-the-art, with spacious workstations, modern interior design, coaching and breakout rooms, and perks like fruit baskets and ping pong tables.
Reasons for outsourcing B2B lead generation
Sales and marketing leaders use outsourced lead generation companies for a variety of reasons – it may be that in a tight labour market, they are simply unable to access talent locally, at a reasonable price. Lead generation outsourcing providers are available in markets such as the Philippines and South Africa, at a much more digestible cost, with the skills and experience required for success.
It’s simply a myth that only low-end work can successfully be delivered offshore.
Sometimes a team of local gurus is fine because it’s not about cost, but rather speed to market that makes outsourcing so appealing. Outsourced lead generation companies maintain a pool of talent they can activate quickly as new clients come on board. In addition, some B2B lead generation vendors offer plug-in access to a proprietary database providing an instant prospect list and value-add sales intelligence. In the fast-paced world of SaaS (software as a service), there is often intense pressure to build pipeline once a product is launched. With the data and people components ready to go, an outsource partner can provide supplementary capacity to help vendors step on the accelerator.
Another common outsourcing scenario is when a vendor wants to expand internationally, and doesn’t have the geographical presence or language skills required to generate leads inhouse. A local or regional outsource partner, operating in the appropriate time zone, can make the process of entering a new market so much easier.
Achieving sales targets can be a make or break for executive careers and company stock prices. Outsourcing lead generation to specialists with a proven track record is one way to minimise the risk of not achieving targets due to lack of pipeline. Some companies will guarantee a minimum number of leads or qualified sales meetings over the course of the engagement. This takes the guesswork out, particularly when the sales territory is unfamiliar.
Difference between Lead Generation and Demand Generation
Before enticing a prospect to agree to a demo or appointment, prospects need to be made aware of your offering and how it will potentially solve their problems or pain points. This is called demand generation. Once you have built awareness of your brand and what it has to offer, lead generation entails converting this awareness into qualified interest and concrete action.
B2B lead generation often involves multiple contact attempts and lead nurturing through email and content marketing, before a prospect is convinced that they should invest their time in a meeting. Businesses looking for a “quick fix” through outsourcing may be disappointed that results aren’t always instant. However there are a number of health metrics which are good predictors of success. These include how many calls a lead generation representative is making each day, and of these, what percentage turn into a “presentation”, and further, what percentage of presentations turn into a commitment to meet with a sales person or see a demo.
The quality of the data (or prospecting list) is also important – you may wish to source the list separately so that, in the worst case of the outsourced partner not working out, you can take that list to a new provider (or bring inhouse). Ensure the data provider you select is focused on “recency” – data that hasn’t been updated for a year, for example, will have a high bounce rate and you will be paying for data you can’t use.
A pilot of 3-6 months should be sufficient to determine success and make the business case for the benefits in outsourcing lead generation in a B2B environment.
Last reviewed for accuracy: January 2, 2024