Lead generation is an undoubtedly critical component to any marketing strategy -- in fact, 85% of B2B marketers say lead generation is their most important content marketing goal.
However, lead generation can be time-consuming and challenging, particularly since there's no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to lead generation.
If you own a business or lead a marketing department, it's vital you assess the extent of your capabilities to decide whether it makes more sense to hire and train someone in-house to market and sell your product, or whether you should outsource your marketing and lead generation efforts.
There are advantages and disadvantages to outsourcing, and the back-and-forth confusion between "I should do it myself" and "I should trust someone else to handle it" is a struggle many marketers face when deciding how to improve their lead generation efforts.
Here, we'll explore the benefits to outsourcing your lead generation to help you decide whether it's a good option for your team, or whether you can accomplish your company goals in-house.
But first -- what is outsourcing?
What is outsourcing in marketing and lead generation, anyway?
If your company is a business-to-consumer model, there's no room for outside lead generation.
Additionally, if you have invested heavily in training an in-house marketing and sales team, or if your team has accumulated thorough knowledge and expertise of your product, the benefits of not outsourcing will greatly outweigh the cost of hiring and training those team members.
In-house lead generation offers the most control when you need to be able to analyze your lead generation tactics and make changes on the fly, or if you want to track your marketing team's work and progress closely.
However, other companies -- often to their surprise -- find that the benefits of outsourcing lead generation actually surpass the costs.
If you're hesitant to outsource because of budgetary concerns, consider this: keeping lead generation in-house means that you will have to hire, train, and pay at least one team member solely for that purpose. Effective training can take as long as a year, and there is still the cost of overhead to consider.
Companies that want to save money often turn to outsourcing lead generation in order to get more bang for their buck. For companies whose sales reps have less than a year of experience, outsourcing will likely garner them more leads because of the vendor's advanced skills and familiarity.
Working with the right sales-development representatives and setting specific criteria means that you will have as much control as you would if they were in-house -- if this is the case, outsourcing might be a smart strategy.
Additionally, your in-house marketers might know your product too well. Mistakes are made when you start assuming that your customers know just as much about your business as you do.
That way of thinking hurts your business. In marketing, your primary assumption should be that your customers know nothing about your products or services.
This presents an opportunity to slow down and question how you can best educate your prospective buyers. 63 percent of companies report that their top marketing challenge is generating traffic and leads. Are you targeting those who will appreciate details and data? Is your audience composed of C-suiters who prefer a good narrative?
To get positive results from your lead-generation efforts, you must be willing to take the time to get to know all aspects of your audience -- and also teach them about you. Sometimes, a little help from a third-party resource can make a huge difference.
So, that leads us to the big question -- when should you outsource?
When to outsource -- and when not to.
One of the main things you need to consider when deciding whether to outsource is your staffing. Do your current team members have the skills and capacity needed to take on the task?
You'll want to consider in-house lead generation when ...
- You can dedicate an experienced, full-time team to it. In order to make lead generation work as it should, you need at least two or three employees who can focus solely on targeting, content, domain, and scheduling logistics.
- Your primary leads are coming from inbound marketing: people who have indicated that they want to hear from you by completing a form on your website, for example.
Outsourcing your lead generation makes sense when ...
- You don't have the resources to devote to staffing a full internal department.
- Your lead generation needs center on cold calling and booking appointments.
- You have a rock-solid process for qualifying leads, and you're confident you can create one for lead generation with all parties involved.
If your needs don't quite fit either category ...
- Consider a bridge. Email can be effective as a lead generator, especially to certain demographics. More than half of surveyed consumers in the U.S. check their personal email accounts more than 10 times per day. They strongly prefer email for receiving updates from brands. If you use email as your primary vehicle to prospect, make sure you've assigned someone to monitor your inboxes full-time to respond and schedule meetings in a timely fashion.
The benefits of outsourcing lead generation can add up. Outsourcing can save time on prospecting, identifying the most qualified leads, and setting up meetings between those leads and your rock-star salespeople. Together, your outsourced lead generation and internal sales teams can work to reduce ramp time and achieve a reasonable lead efficiency, making your growth goals more attainable.
Whether you ultimately choose outsourced B2B lead generation, an in-house team, or a combination of the two, the biggest mistake you can make is overestimating benefits and underestimating costs. Lead generation takes resources, effort, and patience.
A business can't devote 10 hours a week to lead generation and expect to see success. It requires a cross-section of experience, knowledge, and talent across disciplines to create an effective process.
When you're running through your list of outsourcing considerations, know that you can't go wrong with first-rate resources and a strong set of guidelines. Closely consider the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing to find the balance of keeping what you do well under your roof, and outsourcing secondary priorities that a provider can do better.
To learn more about lead generation, check out Lead Generation: A Beginner's Guide to Generating Business Leads the Inbound Way.