Five Ways to Avoid Getting Burned by Outsourced B2B Sales Lead Generation

Posted by Dan McDade

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on Apr 6, 2017 6:00:31 PM

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Based on my experience over the past almost 30-years it seems that everyone has been burned by outsourced lead generation. Often multiple times. And, at lot of times executives will say “I tried it and it didn’t work.” Many will acknowledge that the failure(s) were partially their fault. Candidly, when this kind of partnership doesn’t work it is the client’s fault in many situations, but not always. 

The main reason for these failures is that there is a LOT of mediocrity in the lead generation industry, which is why some say outbound is supposedly “dead.” It isn’t dead. It has just been ruined by snake oil lead generation firms (for those of you younger than I am, and that would be most of you, snake oil is defined as: a substance with no real medicinal value sold as a remedy for all diseases). These firms, like those traveling sales folks who hawked one-size-fixes-all elixirs to those who wanted to believe, make great claims—that inevitably fail to pan out.

As such, outbound has been replaced by email marketing and marketing automation programs that SPAM CANNON emails to the masses such as the following (I received this one yesterday):

I run business development for XYZ, Inc. - we give growing companies an unfair advantage to beat revenue goals. We quickly become a major outbound sales channel for our clients so I thought we’d have much to discuss.

Here’s the problem: most fast growing companies hire as many sales people as possible to solve for scale, missing a more efficient strategy—where we come in.

We’re not a lead gen or appointment setting firm, but rather a revenue focused extension (not a replacement) of your sales team. We work at scale delivering strong ROI by handling the grunt work of prospecting, qualifying, networking, and outreach. We then loop in your closers when the lead is hot, keeping their focus on directly generating revenue.

Any interest in a short chat? 

Beyond the fact that this is too long, and not well written, it was sent to PointClear, my B2B lead generation services company, that does what they purport to do. I get at least one like this every day.

The sender is taking a scattershot approach, blasting this un-personalized message to large quantities of so-called prospects, qualified or not. There is no strategy in their market approach. They’re just hoping one in a million will raise their hand.

If this is how they do their own lead gen, how do you think they’ll handle yours?

Here are five things to consider if you want to avoid being the victim of poorly executed outbound programs that over-promise and under-deliver:

1. If a service provider is willing to take your list, script and money – run the other way. That’s an approach that will fail. They will take your money – oh yes they will. And you will have been burned. Why?

  • There’s no such thing as a good list. We work with you to create an accurate, current targeted database.
  • Most providers overly rely on a canned (script) approach to an outbound call because that’s what an inexperienced associate needs. We use call flows—and hire professionals who know how to use them.

2. If you have a 3-month plus sales cycle, don’t sign up for a “100 hour” program. You can’t do anything in 100 hours. When the pipeline is weak, desperation and fear take over. Sales/marketing execs are desperate to do something, but afraid to risk the budget. So, they settle for a cheap solution—which is how mediocre firms survive. It seems that there is always enough money to do something a second time – but never enough money to do it right the first time.

3. Your list/database is 60% of the reason why programs succeed (the other 40% is the message and media). The bad news is that lists suck. We spend a lot of time on list analysis, gap analysis and list enhancement on the front end of a program. Most companies in our industry don’t. It’s not unusual for marketing executives to spend $10 or more on a “lumpy” or “dimensional” mailer and then argue over $.25 per name on the list. They often aren’t willing to invest in the list, even though it’s the most important thing. (See this blog for more about lists and testing PRIOR to using the list for marketing.)

4. As a senior executive making the decision to execute an outsourced outbound lead generation program, stay involved. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve been pushed down to a junior level person, putting the program at risk. The reasons for this outcome differ. In some cases, the junior level person has their own ideas about how to run the program. The provider, in these cases, is forced to go to war with their day-to-day contact or do what they say and hope for the best. Neither option ever works out. In other cases, the junior level person is afraid to ask for help within their own organization, increasing cycle time for fixes and slowing down progress. Senior execs: don’t totally delegate the program, and make sure EVERYONE knows that there’s an open-door policy if issues arise.

5. Don’t spend a dime on marketing or sales unless there is a shared definition of a lead (shared by marketing and sales). Then you must establish what I call a “Judicial Branch” to mediate leads that are refused by sales because they don’t meet the lead definition or leads that are ignored by sales (for what SiriusDecisions calls non-intuitive reasons such as “I called twice and they did not call me back so they must not have been a real lead”). Otherwise, you’ll be spending (well, wasting) your budget on leads that, instead of generating revenue, are stuck in a black hole.

I don’t want you to be burned by an outsourced b2b lead generation company. I am interested in showing you the difference between a snake-oil firm, and one that gets the job done.

I am happy to talk if you would like to talk about your specific situation and concerns. Just reach out to

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Topics: Lead Generation

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