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Evaluating a Lead Gen Partner

WRITTEN by: Bill Sterzenbach |
categories: Research and Strategy

Dec 2011


Beyond Interactive - Evaluating a Lead Generation Company

I see a lot of questions about selecting a good lead gen partner on LinkedIn and other business networking sites. Usually the responses are from folks in the business and they go something like this: "I can get you leads, email me now at". Nothing wrong with this at all, but I think most people are looking for the best way to evaluate a lead gen partner.

So let's get into it.

1. Expect to spend some cash on each partner you try.

I'd say that you'll need to to set aside $2k to evaluate each partner. Why? Because you can't learn what you need to learn from 5 leads. Depending on the type of leads you want and the price-point of your product, you'll need lots of leads to do a fair assessment of the partner, and each lead comes at a price. I try to evaluate 400 leads before I make a judgement.

2. Do NOT get started with a lead gen company without checking out their references.

Look on the BBB, call their references, and check out their client list. Since you will need to spend some money to evaluate them, you MUST do your homework first. I can tell you from experience that there are a lot of terrible leadgen companies out there making some wild but believable promises.

3. Start with the most inexpensive lead type.

If you have a choice between "exclusive" and "shared" leads - go with shared. Remember, you're just evaluating the leads in this first stage, so you don't necessary need to land the work - you just want to see what sort of leads they will send. Trust me, if you find a quality lead gen partner, it's worth the initial investment.

4. Understand the methodology the partner uses to acquire the leads.

If it's shady, move on. You don't want to be associated with anything that might damage your reputation

5. Understand the guarantee.

Generally lead gen companies speak in terms of "lead replacement". If they guaranteed to replace "bad leads", get the definition of a bad lead in writing. Usually a bad lead is a phone number that doesn't answer or that is a wrong number. The better lead gen partners offer much more relief to the bad lead picture. I look for companies that are fair. In the first round of leads I reject a lot of leads to see how they react. The better partners offer replacement based on geo, category, ability to reach, and a small subjective factor (if you just hate the lead, the good ones will replace it - in moderation of course).

6. Understand the billing model. 

Some of the shadier companies will continue to hit your credit card repeatedly until you complete some previously unknown step. Know exactly what you're being charged and when. WATCH YOUR CARD STATEMENT.

7. Target local leads if possible.

Your conversion rate is going to be better with folks you can connect with on any level. We have much better luck with Ohio leads than with Nebraska leads.

8.. Ask for the typical close rate & price point.

Every company I've worked with could tell me a typical close rate and price point of sale. This is critical for your early development of the leads.

9. Work with a partner in your niche if possible.

Find a lead gen partner that specializes in your vertical. They are out there.

Please add your ideas, this could be a great resource for folks looking into this service

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