The need and demand for lead generation and qualified leads are at the center of all our organizations. We require and rely on qualified leads to help us meet our business goals.
I am not talking about referrals or leads from existing customers. I am talking about new leads generated from new companies you have never worked with.
Lead generation has evolved into a major component of companies’ sales engines. The question is no longer do we need sales leads. The question now is: do we conduct and manage our lead generation efforts in-house or do we outsource them.
There are many considerations to contemplate when making the decision to manage your B2B lead generation program and processes in-house or outsource to a qualified firm. Notice I use the words “program” and “processes.” Effective lead generation is a complex process that requires continual management and expertise. Effective lead generation is much more than simply putting someone on the phone, sending a lot of emails, regular social posts, or attempting paid search.
Effective lead generation is a program and a process that consists of many components. Some of those components include data, messaging, actual lead generation, reporting, personnel, and technology. It is important to understand all the components that make up an effective lead generation program so you can make an informed decision whether to manage in-house or outsource.
Before making the in-house vs. outsourcing decision, there is one critical area of your organization you need to assess. If this area is not in order, I would recommend not moving forward with your lead generation program until it is. This recommendation holds true regardless of managing it in-house or outsourcing it. The area I am referring to is CRM.
The first area to consider in your in-house vs. outsource decision is data and data management. You must start by defining your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Identifying your ICP entails defining the type of companies, size of companies, location of companies, the functional role you wish to target, and any other specifics that fit your ICP.
Next, you will need to identify your data source(s). Will you need to procure data from services like Dun & Bradstreet or ZoomInfo or will you utilize data from current inbound initiatives such as paid search, social, or organic?
Once data is procured, you must cleanse the data for duplicates, current customers, and more. Lastly, the data must be imported into your CRM and segmented for efficient use. Once again, the need and importance of CRM.
Messaging is another area of consideration. There are many factors you must consider when addressing messaging. Will your message be crafted based on pain and solution, market awareness, market concerns, customer objections, etc. Determining your message should be based on your ICP, buyer persona, and channel you will use to deliver your message. Each ICP, buyer persona, and channel will require its own message thus demanding multiple messages be crafted.
You will also need to define the objective of your message. Is the objective to set an appointment, is it to drive traffic to your website and have them complete a form, or is it to prompt an inbound call? Don’t forget to vary your message so it stands out from the other messages your target audience is receiving?
Once created, you must work it, test it, and measure it. Based on your testing phase you may be required to make necessary adjustments. This process is extremely important and requires considerable time.
Successful lead generation programs leverage various marketing channels like paid search, email, outbound calling, paid and organic social, and SEO.
Reporting is critical to measure what is and is not working. You will want and need to monitor various key indicators like:
There are many metrics and KPIs that must be tracked and reported in real-time to continually have a pulse on your program. Actionable reporting enables you to make educated and informed decisions in a timely manner. This is another example of why CRM must be effectively set up and appropriately used.
The biggest factor when deciding to manage your lead generation program in-house vs. outsourcing is personnel.
Each function and channel require knowledge and expertise to correctly set up, execute, and manage. Many companies make the mistake of placing someone in a functional role when they do not have the necessary experience to execute the function at the level it demands and requires.
Effectively managing employee turnover is another part of successfully managing a lead generation program. When employee turnover happens, and it will, it can slow down or even stop your lead generation efforts. Turnover will also increase workload in other areas of your organization including, HR, recruiting, training, IT, sales, and other management areas.
The other major factor with personnel is results. The right personnel in the right positions drives success and results. Key questions to answer include:
Managing lead generation is different from managing actual sales. You must determine who is responsible for managing the program and who is ultimately responsible for its success or failure. Can you adequately answer:
Personnel is ultimately the key to success and failure.
Technology is another key component when examining in-house vs. outsourcing lead generation. We have already addressed several areas of concern regarding CRM. One area of CRM we have not addressed is the setup, maintenance, and support of the actual lead generation initiative.
CRM Implementation & Administration
Data gathering and market intelligence are a big part of effective lead generation. Your CRM must be set up to capture the information you need. This includes setting up custom fields to capture respective information and field validations to ensure accurate information is being inputted into the correct fields. Custom screen layouts are required to make it easy and efficient for the SDR, sales rep, and anyone else who may be working in the system to navigate through the system easily and efficiently.
Another technical consideration is the phone system. Is your phone system integrated with CRM so calls can easily be dialed and recorded? Are you able to report real-time data from your phone system such as:
This is important as some of these analytics are not available through CRM. Secondly, some of the data is a good check and balance with CRM when discrepancies arise, which they will.
For some companies, the cost is the biggest consideration in their decision to manage lead generation in-house vs. outsource. Cost is not an easy determination. There are many variables that go into determining your real costs.
Most outsourced firms will charge you a flat rate. The benefit of this is you know exactly what your cost is each month. When managing lead generation in-house, there are many variables you need to consider. You must add the costs associated with all departments, personnel, management, software licenses, hardware costs, etc. that are associated with the program. Generally, by the time you add up all these respective costs, your costs are closely in line with the outsourced firm.
Results directly impact costs. Just for simple comparison, if both your costs and the outsourced firm’s costs are identical but the outsourced firm produces higher results, then obviously their costs relative to results will be lower. Vice-a-versa if your results are higher. Costs must be evaluated alongside results.
Another cost variable is the amount of time your management staff allocates to your lead generation initiative. Keep in mind, whatever amount of time they allocate is less time allocated to other functions and tasks they may have. There is a cost associated to that loss of time as it generally returns lack of results in those other respective areas. You must evaluate costs based on your specific situation.
In conclusion, managing an effective lead generation program requires a lot of time, effort, and energy. Lead generation is not a plug-and-play process. It requires daily management, regular analysis, and strategic decisions valuated and made regularly. If you do not allocate the necessary time, attention, and effort it requires, you will not yield the results you desire.
There are advantages of outsourcing as well as advantages of in-house management. Lead generation is a complicated, integrated, and dynamic process. Above are considerations that can help you determine the best approach for your company’s specific situation.
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