As an active contributor to online lead generation content, we spend a lot of time reading news articles, tech blogs and even opinion pieces regarding lead gen companies and the lead generation industry. It helps us get an even better grasp on the questions that businesses in the lead industry are asking and the challenges they face. However, in the last few weeks we have seen a few articles warning businesses about the risks associated with buying leads from lead gen companies. We have been working with some of the best lead gen companies in the world since 2001 and felt obligated to respond to some of the most common claims we have seen. Here is what we think.
What Are Lead Gen Companies?
Before we dig into the four claims about lead generation companies that we would like to discuss, we should get on the same page. When we refer to lead gen companies, what we mean are marketers that generate sales leads or calls and sell them in real-time to their network of buyers. If you want a full explanation of lead generation companies, start here.
In reference to lead gen companies, what we do not mean are data providers or anyone claiming to sell you lists of leads.
Claim 1: "The Leads You Buy Are Also Sold To Other Lead Buyers"
Oftentimes in the lead generation industry, the lead you purchase is also sold to one or more other lead buyers. However, this is not a scam. This is the service offering. Take a mortgage lead generation campaign for example. It is likely that the lead generation company is offering the customer multiple mortgage quotes. To deliver on the promise, the lead generator sells that lead to multiple mortgage providers to each provide a quote and pitch their service.
If you do not like sharing leads with other lead buyers, that is totally understandable. The good news is you do not have to. Many lead gen companies offer to sell leads exclusively or non-exclusively. It is entirely your prerogative to only buy exclusive leads and never have to compete with other providers.
Claim 2: "You Never Know If You Are Buying New Leads, Old Leads Or Bad Leads"
There is a certain amount of trust that goes into the first lead purchase from a lead generation company. The same is true of many business partnerships. The good news is that you can determine the quality and age of the leads you buy as soon as you call the leads and talk to them.
Many lead gen companies provide free trials, enable lead refunds or allow you to start at low volumes and increase your spending whenever you would like. Working with a new lead generation company is not a high-risk proposition. You should never feel concerned about working with a new lead gen company and even if you are, you have the choice to only work with lead generators that provide the fail-safe options that your are comfortable with.
Claim 3: "You Will Not Know If Your Are Getting Targeted Leads"
As is the case when working with most lead generation companies, you will know exactly the types of leads you will receive before you buy a single lead. Here is how it works. Before you start purchasing leads, the lead generator will give you options for the types of leads you are willing to purchase. These options typically include geographic filters (state, zip, area code) as well as even more specific fields depending on the lead vertical you are operating in (mortgage amount, good vs bad credit, project type, etc). You outline your exact specifications before purchasing a single lead, that way the lead generation company will not even attempt to sell you a lead that does not meet your criteria.
Claim 4: "If You Get Stuck With A Bad Lead Generation Company, Your Business Will Suffer"
As is the case in any industry, not every company is completely efficient or has the best customer service and a shining track record. Even if your first attempt at working with a lead generation company does not go according to plan, that does not mean your business is going to take a hit and that does not mean working with lead gen companies cannot work. Without lead generators, lead buyers can still use other methods to acquire leads. Without lead buyers, lead generators have far fewer options. Because of that, in the lead generation industry, lead buyers have most of the bargaining power. There are also very many lead gen companies out there to choose from. Your bargaining power and alternative choices give you the freedom to employ a lead buying strategy that works best for you. You can avoid long-term commitments, hedge your bets with multiple providers and easily dump any sellers that do not work out.
It is easy to make lead gen companies out to be the bad guys, but the lead generation industry is actually well established with deep-rooted best practices and consumer protections that go along with the valuable service that lead generators provide. The lead generation industry is not the wild, wild west like some people like to believe. It is not wrong to be cautious before starting a new business partnership, but just know that working with lead gen companies is a much lower risk and presents a much higher return that you may have been led to believe.