Ask the expert: to outsource lead generation or not – that’s the question!
In this fortnightly column, Ask The Expert, we aim to provide readers with practical advice on how to grow their businesses.
Greg Watts is our resident expert. He is CEO of Findr, the AI matching platform for fintechs and their partners, and also the founder of Demand Creation Partners, a London-based growth consultancy that helps fintechs and paytechs to scale. A visiting lecturer at the American University in Paris and regular industry speaker, he was previously head of market acceleration at Visa Europe.
QUESTION: To outsource lead generation or not – that’s the question!
Lead generation is one of the most important activities any fintech – or indeed, any start-up – must undertake to attract new customers or users.
According to Hubpsot, 85% of business-to-business (B2B) marketers say lead generation is their most important activity to fuel the sales pipeline. But if you’re a fintech undertaking lead generation for the first time, where do you start?
The first step is to assess your existing capabilities and decide whether to hire and train someone in-house, outsource your lead generation efforts, or employ a hybrid of the two.
There’s typically a desire to do everything in-house, especially in the early stages. However, that can be a mistake.
There are advantages and disadvantages to outsourcing, and the back-and-forth struggle between “I should do it myself” and “I should trust someone else to handle it” is an ongoing question many commercial teams face when determining a lead generation strategy.
In this column, we’ll explore the benefits to outsourcing to help you decide whether it’s a good option for your business and examine how and when you can accomplish your growth-oriented goals in-house.
- Outsourcing versus in-house
A key consideration when deciding whether to outsource is staffing and expertise. Does your team have the skills and capacity required to take on lead generation? If they don’t, should you up-skill them up or outsource the responsibility? Here are some suggestions when making your assessment:
Consider in-house lead generation when:
- You have the resources to dedicate an experienced, full-time team to the task. In order to make lead generation work effectively, you’ll need one or – ideally – two team members who can focus solely on targeting, content creation, outreach and ROI.
- Your primary leads are coming from inbound marketing: people who have indicated that they want to hear from you – for example, who have completed a form on your website to download content, or have signed up to a podcast or webinar.
Outsourcing lead generation may make sense when:
- You don’t have the resources or time to hire and manage a full-time team.
- You could benefit from a “boost” with cold calling and booking appointments with target companies and key decision makers.
- You’re struggling to reach key decision makers or influencers.
However, it doesn’t have to be a binary choice.
Many fintechs outsource partsof lead generation – for example, initial outreach and appointment scheduling – whilst keeping other elements in-house, such as the development of buyer personas, target criteria and content creation. This can free-up experienced salespeople to lead the initial discovery meeting and start to cultivate a relationship with the prospect.
An effective approach could be a hybrid model where existing sales and marketing teams are supported by experienced lead generation partners who focus on outbound.
- It’s all in the briefing
You’ve decided to outsource part of your lead generation activities. Now what?
The first thing to do is to ensure your partner is thoroughly briefed on your product or solution. The more they know, the better they’ll be able to pitch. One way to do this is to develop a ‘cheat sheet’ comprised of your “elevator pitch”, key solution features and benefits, and customer testimonials that can be quoted while on the phone or over email. Creating a messaging guide will help, as it will answer questions such as:
- Who are your target customers or users?
- What’s their problem or challenge?
- How will your solution fix it?
- What makes your solution unique?
The elevator pitch is your opportunity to present your case. Generally, you’ll only have eight to ten seconds to do so. Therefore, it must be concise and relevant to their needs.
The second key element is to ensure you have a clear set of targets in place. We’ve previously written about how to create a strong target list here.
Once the key messages and target list are completed, you can move onto the briefing process.
Most reputable lead generation companies provide clients with a dedicated business development team that undertakes outreach through calls, emails and LinkedIn, with a project manager serving as a single point of contact.
A kick-off should be arranged with the team that will be working on the campaign, with discussion focussed on the positioning of the product or solution, overcoming typical objections, methodology for passing across leads (i.e. via email/phone/booking directly into shared Outlook/Google calendar), and what has worked to date and what hasn’t. One effective approach is for your salespeople to pitch the lead generation team as if they were real prospects.
The more time you invest in briefing your outsourced lead generation team, the better the results will be.
- Working as one team
Now that your outsourced team has been briefed, you’ll need to agree how to work together. Here are some considerations:
- Determine the structure, method and frequency of updates. Daily, weekly, monthly? Via email, phone or face-to-face?
- Once the campaign starts, schedule a call at the end of the first day to assess feedback – for example, what are the main objections and questions?
- Schedule regular calls with the campaign team to tweak the approach and refine messages based on feedback.
- Set up a dedicated email address and instant message tools (e.g. Slack) for the campaign team to engage with the rest of the business.
- Agree how the campaign will be reported. One way to do this is to set up a shared online portal through which all activities and progress are documented. This will enable stakeholders to see how many calls have been made in a day, how many conversations have taken place, how many email pitches or follow-ups have been sent, plus a summary of every conversation.
- Once a lead has been secured, agree how that progresses through the business – for example, who the lead is allocated to, what they need to do, and the timeframe for completion.
Following these steps will help you get the most out of your relationship with your lead generation company.
Bringing it all together
Fintechs live and die by lead generation. Generating interest in your product or service is the single most important thing you can do. However, many business owners forget they can use outsourced lead generation to achieve better outcomes.
Outsourcing can save you time on prospecting, qualifying leads and setting up meetings. Working together, your outsourced lead generation and internal salespeople can reduce time and achieve reasonable lead efficiency – making your growth goals more attainable.
Whether you ultimately choose outsourced lead generation, an in-house team, or a combination of the two, the biggest mistake you can make is to under-invest. Lead generation requires plenty of resource, effort and patience – undertaken effectively, it will yield dividends.
If you have a question for Greg and would like a practical, no-nonsense answer/advice, please get in touch! We’ll be answering your questions in this column – free and open to everyone.
You can post your questions in the comments section below, email Greg Watts and/or FinTech Futures’ editor, Sharon Kimathi, or get in touch with Greg on LinkedIn.