What Should You Do Before Hiring a B2B Lead Generation Agency?

You’d like to hire a lead generation agency, but don’t know what to start with? Check what things you should consider before you sign the contract and get the ball rolling.

How does a B2B lead generation company work?

In a nutshell, a lead generation agency searches for prospects that are a good fit for your product and makes initial contact with them on your behalf. In other words, the agency serves you warmed-up and pre-qualified leads, so you can focus on strengthening the new b2b relationships further and closing deals.

How to choose the right B2B lead generation agency for your business?

Do a thorough research

You can start your search for an agency from Google, but I recommend you to browse through Clutch.co, because it gathers all the important info in one place. Plus, there are rankings of top lead generation companies according to review rating and clutch rank.

Check which agencies specialize in your niche and how much experience they have in generating leads in your industry. These ones will know best where to look for new prospects and how to approach them. Read testimonials and case studies of your industry peers. This way you’ll hopefully narrow down your choices to just a handful of agencies that you can reach out to.

Ask about their prospect base source and quality

This info is crucial, because the quality of a prospect list equals the quality of leads you get. If a prospect list is of poor quality, the conversion rate will be low and your money will go to waste. Not to mention possible problems on the way, such as a high spam-complaint resulting in your domain getting blacklisted (that’s why you should have a separate domain for outbound, but I’ll tell you more about it later on).

To minimize this risk, ask an agency whether they buy ready-made prospect lists or build them from scratch in-house basing on reliable and legal sources. Buying a ready-made list is never a good option, because it may contain outdated information and spam traps. Sending a campaign to such contacts may put your domain on a blacklist.

Make sure they comply with data protection laws

Since sending emails can’t be possible without processing personal data (email addresses are regarded as such) the agency you choose should be compliant with laws that regulate email sending applicable in the countries where the prospects are from. I’m sure you’ve heard about GDPR if you or your customers are from Europe, or the CAN-SPAM act in the USA – these are the two best-known examples of such laws, but there are more.

Ask the agency about the steps they take to keep the outreach in accordance with the law. Also, ensure that your company’s data is processed lawfully and the agency takes all the necessary steps to protect it.

Discuss the details

Be clear about your expectations and make sure the agency can deliver the results you hope for. Transparency is key for both sides. Determine the conditions of your cooperation, including the definition of a “lead” and what they charge for. Some agencies count a lead as every new contact they make, while for others a prospect turns into a lead when a meeting is set up. Make it clear before signing a contract.

Another thing worth paying attention to is what mailbox an agency uses for outreach. There are cases when agencies reach out to prospects from their own email address. This way you don’t have access to the incoming responses and other data. So before starting cooperation, ensure that the messages are sent from your own mailbox dedicated to outreach and that you have full access to it.

Questions to ask a B2B lead generation agency

So to sum up, questions you should ask an outbound lead generation agency include:

  • Do they have experience in your industry? Do they specialize in your niche?
  • How do they get leads? Do they buy prospect lists or build them from scratch in-house?
  • How do they ensure high-quality leads?
  • Do they comply with data protection laws?
  • What’s their definition of a lead?
  • How much and when do they charge for their service?
  • Do they use your mailbox for outreach?

I hope the above tips help you pick the right agency for your business needs. Let’s see now what preparations you should do before your work with an agency kicks off.

How to get ready to start a cooperation with a B2B lead generation agency?

The success of a lead generation process doesn’t depend solely on the agency’s work but lies also on your side. There are a couple of things you should take care of beforehand that will set the lead generation wheel in motion quicker and make it more effective.

Audit your website

Your website is your virtual business card. That’s the first place people will check out to learn more about your company. A visit to your page will shape your prospective clients’ impression of who you are, what you do, and whether they can trust you.

So try to get into your prospect’s shoes and take a look at your website from their perspective. What would they look for if they wanted to learn more about your business and your product or service? Is this info easy to find, clear and up to date?

What if they were looking for some social proof that your product or service actually works for a company like theirs? Do you have testimonials featured on your website? Are they still relevant? Find out how to follow up with your happy customers to get new testimonials:
Why Does Your Business Need Customer Testimonials & How to Get Them? >>

A person who hears about your product for the first time will be curious about the results it may bring for a business like theirs. Make sure a prospect can easily find relevant case studies on your website. They will also serve as social proof that your product actually exists and really works, which is especially important for building a brand new startup’s credibility.

Prepare marketing materials

Prospects may prefer to familiarize themselves with more details about your product and the benefits it brings before they decide to have a meeting with you. A good idea is to send them a link to a personalized explanatory video or presentation focused on their business niche and use case. Ask your marketing team to create such materials in consultation with an agency. They will advise you on what kind of content works best with your particular target group.

Set up a separate domain for outbound

Why would you do that? Mainly for safety reasons. There’s always a risk that a domain may get blacklisted due to spam complaints. If that happened to your business domain, it would be a total disaster. That’s why it’s better to be safe than sorry, and create a domain dedicated solely to outreach.

When choosing the name of a new domain, make sure it corresponds with your main one. This way your prospects won’t get confused. So for example if your business domain is @colliber.com, a domain for outreach could be something along the lines of @getcolliber.com or @colliberapp.com. You can also choose a different suffix, like @colliber.io. Whichever variant you choose, don’t forget to set up a redirect to your main domain.

There’s one more thing. Your new domain needs a warm-up before it can be used for outbound. Young domains with no sending history are treated suspiciously by spam filters. They are on probation period so to say.

Warming them up means sending just a handful of emails per day, so the spam filters see you’re not a spammer and will eventually give you a green light to send a larger amount of messages a day. Here’s what the process looks like in more details:
How to Warm Up My Domain Before Email Outreach >>

You can ask your lead generation agency to warm up your outreach domain for you, but keep in mind that the process may take up to three months, so if possible, start it earlier.

Have your Ideal Customer Profile defined

I believe this is the cornerstone of a successful lead generation process and the homework you have to do largely on your own. Sure, the agency can advise you on who would be the best target, but you know your product and your product users best. Gather representatives from every team in your company, just like we did, and do a brainstorming session. Together try to come up with an idea of a buying persona profile who is an ideal fit for your product.

Once you have it, discuss it further with a lead generation agency. They may give you some additional ideas backed by their experience of generating leads in your industry.

Share your calendar with an agency

If you travel to business events or conferences where you can meet your prospects, share your calendar with an agency. That’s an important piece of information, which they can use doing the outreach both as an ice-breaker and a meeting opportunity.

Time to begin fruitful cooperation with your chosen agency

I hope that after reading this article you’ll be able to choose the best lead generation agency according to your business needs and start your work together off on the right foot. Keep in mind that the success of a lead generation process depends also on your team and not just the agency. Take care of your website, your brand image, and keep your ICP up to date to give the agency a base for their part of the job.