Leads: you can’t live without ‘em and it’s tough to find ‘em.

If that’s where you find yourself today, it might be time to enlist the aid of a lead generation company.

How to Find the Top Lead Generation Companies

But what is a lead generation company? And how do you find the best one for your business model? And what kind of criteria should you use to evaluate the success of the lead generation company you’ve enlisted?

Those are the kinds of questions that we’ll answer in this article.

First of All: What Is Lead Generation?

Before we get into the definition of a lead generation company, it’s important to answer this question: what is lead generation?

Lead generation is a marketing effort that involves capturing interest in your product or service to identify and collect data about people in your target market. Eventually, you’ll use that data to build a sales funnel.

Although it’s easy to describe lead generation, it’s much more difficult to practice it.

Why? Because it’s often time-consuming and expensive.

Also, you frequently won’t see immediate results with your lead generation efforts. That’s why younger entrepreneurs frequently get frustrated in the middle of their lead generation campaign and give up.

It’s because of those reasons that some businesses outsource lead generation to a qualified company.

So What, Exactly, Does a Lead Generation Company Do?

A lead generation company aggregates consumer and business information so that it can sell that data to somebody who’s looking for leads.

Even better: the company categorizes its data so that it can give its clients lead info that’s relevant to their target market.

So if you’re selling blue jeans, you’ll want leads that include people who are looking for blue jeans, not people who are looking to hire a software developer.

Some lead generation companies also further categorize their leads by degrees of warmth. That is, they’ll provide clients with lead info and let those clients know where those leads are in the sales funnel.

In some cases, lead generation companies even go through the process of warming up leads so that they give clients only the “hottest” contacts.

Of course, you can expect to pay extra for that.

But How Do Lead Generation Companies Get Leads?

By now, you might be asking yourself: if a lead generation company can acquire leads, why can’t I just imitate what they do and gather leads myself?

Well, you can. But, as we’ve seen, it involves a significant investment in terms of time, effort, and money. So why not just hire somebody else who specializes in nothing but gathering leads?

Let’s look a little more into how lead generation companies acquire contact info.

Generally, they build websites. Then, they optimize those sites so that they appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) for one or more keywords related to a niche.

Lead generation companies optimize websites so they appear at the top of the search engine results page

Lead generation companies optimize websites so they appear at the top of the search engine results page

They don’t stop there, though. They maintain those websites so that they continue to attract visitors.

Lead generation companies are always tweaking their websites to maximize their audience. Then, they gather contact info from visitors.

Also, lead generation companies do a lot of social media marketing. They offer tweets, updates, images, and videos that people in a target market will find interesting. They also link back to their own sites.

Additionally, lead generation companies grab contact info with email marketing. In fact, that’s often one of the ways that they “warm up” leads that they then sell to clients.

Lead generation companies also invest in online advertising. Although that’s expensive, they aim to make the money back when they sell leads to clients.

How do they advertise? Often, they’ll use search engine marketing so that their ads appear at the very top of the SERPs.

They’ll also advertise on YouTube. That’s because YouTube offers laser-like targeting to specific audiences.

Lead generation companies turn to LinkedIn ads when they want to reach business leaders and key decision-makers.

Finally, lead generation companies also optimize their own landing pages for conversion.

Remember, they’re trying to get contact info from visitors. That means they’ll have to ensure that as many visitors as possible follow the call to action.

As you can see, gathering leads the way that lead generation companies do is a Herculean effort. It’s probably not something that you want to do on your own.

The good news is that you don’t have to do all that work on your own. You can simply hire a lead generation company to do the work for you and reap the benefits.

Some Lead Generation Companies Take a Different Approach

Some lead generation companies take a different approach to the one we’ve just looked at. Instead of building their own websites and gathering leads, they help you boost traffic so you can gather your own leads.

Although that might seem better than the other option, keep in mind that there are benefits to both sides.

Generally speaking, if you build your own traffic, you’ll see better returns over time. So the long haul approach (which almost every business should adopt) tends to lean in favor of the second option.

Also, sometimes when you buy leads outright they can be very poor. Some lead generation companies are just looking to “give you something” as opposed to giving you what you need.

That said, some companies will give you outstanding leads that you probably wouldn’t find on your own. That could be worth the price of admission by itself.

Also, keep in mind that lead generation companies specialize in gathering leads online. Unless you’re already an expert in gathering leads, you might do yourself a favor by outsourcing the process.

Finally, lead generation companies tend to understand the big picture as it pertains to the customer journey. They have the research and the data to give you some insight about what it takes to bring your ideal customer from awareness to purchase.

What to Look for in a Lead Generation Company

So now that you know a little bit about lead generation companies and what they do, you might be interested in hiring one.

But what should you look for? How should evaluate the various companies that are out there? Which one is best for your business?

Here’s how you can find the perfect lead generation company.

First, look for a partner. You want a company that will work with you to understand your business and your market.

lead generation partner

You want a company that will work with you to understand your business and your market.

If you’re talking to a rep from a company that you’re considering and he or she makes it sound like you’re just buying a list, terminate the discussion and go look for another company.

You don’t want a list. You want a partner.

Also, make sure that the company rep seems interested in your challenges. That way, the company is more likely to find leads that will convert.

Next, look for a lead generation company that focuses on quality over quantity.

If you hear a marketing pitch from a company rep that’s all about the number of leads they can give you versus the quality of those leads, then you need to move on to another prospect. It doesn’t matter how many leads you get if they’re out of date or, worse, not even part of your target market.

You should also look for a company that does a lot of testing.

Emphasis on a lot.

Why? Because that’s how a great company qualifies its leads. It finds ways to weed out the tire-kickers and the people who might seem like buyers on the surface but really aren’t.

During your interview process, make sure that you ask company reps about their testing strategies. If they can’t give you a good answer, that’s probably because they don’t emphasize testing.

Finally, an outstanding lead generation company does more prospecting than anything else. After all, that’s the nature of the business.

Ask company reps what they do to build an audience. Go beyond that and ask them how they cultivate that audience and root out poor prospects.

Finally, ask them how they keep up with prospects. Just because a lead generation company found a lead last month doesn’t mean that the lead is still a potential buyer this month.

Wrapping It Up

If you’d like to outsource lead generation so that you can focus more on the mission of your business, consider hiring a lead generation company. Just make sure you find the company that’s best for your business model.