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Is a Lead Generation Service Worth It?

While it can be an attractive proposition to pay a lead generation service to find leads for you, it is important to remember that you get what you pay for.

Some parts of the sales industry depend on leads to make sales.  The real estate industry is a prime example of this.  Logically, more leads can lead to more sales, so having as many of them as possible increases your chances of a good payday.  And to cater to that need, there are many, many lead generation services chomping at the proverbial bit to sell you their services.  At first, this sounds like a dream-come-true!  You get to pay them a small(-ish) fee in return for a list of leads to work that you didn’t have to find yourself.  But let’s take a look at this from a different angle…

Where did these leads come from?

Lead generators get their leads from a variety of sources.  The most common source we’ve seen is mailing lists.  This is where spam comes from, too.  When you sign up for something online using your email address, you have to look for a disclaimer that says something to the effect of, “We won’t share your information.”  If that notice isn’t there, chances are good that they are selling your information to mass-mailing lists. And, bingo-presto, you have spam!  Lead generators buy these lists and sell them on to you.  They also get their leads from semi-legitimate sources. 

Take the real estate example. A person may ask a question about a property in Idaho, but not buy the property.  They add that email address to a pool of contacts then eventually makes its way to you.  If you’re based in Panama City, Florida, a lead from Idaho isn’t going to do you much good. They probably were looking for property in Idaho for a reason.

But, now you’ve spent money for this lead and you have to spend time having someone call and have a conversation with them to find out that you’re not going to make a sale.  So, by the time you’ve paid your fees and paid your agents / employees to track the lead, you probably would’ve spent more than if the lead just hadn’t come in at all.

Are these leads even legal?

Not always.  Consider the earlier example of signing up for something on a website, or asking a question about a property. There is no guarantee that your information will even be sold to someone in the same industry as where your inquiry occurred. 

Strangely, a realtor may get a lead for someone they think was looking for property, but was signed up for a list after requesting a quote for lawnmower repair.  Now you’ve wasted your time, a guy with a broken lawnmower is very confused why someone is trying to sell him property, and your lead generator resold information that wasn’t theirs to sell.  And everyone involved is a little richer, except you and lawnmower man.

So, is there a better way than a lead generation service to get leads?

Yes, the best leads are always going to be the ones that come to you.  So how do you make that happen?  There are a few ways to accomplish this, but most take investments of money and time.  One way is stepping up your advertising game.  Make sure that you are advertising and that you’re advertising to the right people. 

For example, think about your industry from the lead’s perspective.  At first glance, it doesn’t make sense for a realtor in Panama City to advertise to someone in Arkansas, but people move across the country every day.  There’s a whole world out there, so don’t just focus on one type of advertising. Start a Facebook ad campaign.  Run ads on Google and Yahoo.  Look into radio and TV, those coffee table magazines at dental offices, local papers, etc. 

One of your biggest tools for advertising on the internet can be a search engine optimization (SEO) program and Analytics.  A good search engine specialist can tell you where the majority of your traffic is coming from and what you can do to improve it.  Analytics will let you see who is interested in what so that you can decide where to focus your efforts.

Here are some quick tips to help you get started pulling in real leads:

  • Contact your web developer to get a snapshot of your current SEO state.
  • Find out what advertising channels fit you and your budget best.
  • Talk with your SEO Specialist to set realistic goals and a plan to meet them.
  • Make sure to use Analytics and other tools to track your progress.
  • Set a date in the future to do a comparison of where you are vs where you were. And adjust your plan as needed.
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