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The 2020 Buyer's Guide for Lead Generation Tools

Taking a look at the market for lead generation tools? Get informed, get smart, and acquire the best long-term solution for you & your business.

When sales teams effectively leverage Lead Generation tools, they can segment prospects, automate list-building, verify contact information and ultimately reclaim countless hours of lost productivity.

As you research options and evaluate the market, this guide will highlight everything you need to consider on your journey to purchasing the solution best fit for you. 

Since Lead Generation is a rather comprehensive term, allow us preface.

This guide is specifically intended for tools (Chrome extensions and databases) that accelerate list-building by harnessing information that is publicly available on news, social media, and company sites.  

Sidenote: for the readability purposes, we also refer to Lead Generation as a tool for lead-gen and list-building.

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Here's What We'll Cover

  1. Examining the Status Quo Without Effective Lead-Generation
  2. Long Term Ramifications of the Status Quo
  3.  Targeted Outcomes & Organizational Advantages with Lead Generation
  4. Mandatory Attributes of a New Lead-Generation Solution & Partner
  5. Validation Metrics for an Evaluation
  6. Implementation Best Practices
  7. Marketplace Offerings
  8. Next Steps

1) Examining the Status Quo Without Effective Lead-Generation

If you’re researching the market for a new solution, your current situation can likely be described as one of the following:

Scenario #1: No Lead Generation Solution: This is the first time a lead-gen solution is being introduced to your sales stack.

Scenario #2: Ineffective Lead Generation: There’s an existing lead-generation solution in place, but it’s not meeting business needs 

Scenario #3: Expensive Lead Generation: There’s a powerful lead solution in place, but it’s extremely costly and / or not scalable. 

Scenario #1: No Lead Generation Solution

When a sales team is not equipped with a lead-gen tool, this is how the following items shape up:

  1. Segmentation & List-Building: Contact and company segmentation is loose since there is no way to filter enormous amounts of data. Building lists of prospects in itself also takes hours since it has to be done manually. 
  2. Email Verification: With no way to validate emails, reps either guess or can’t find one. 
  3. Data Entry: Centralizing information in the CRM also proves burdensome and drains significant amounts of time. 
  4. Overhead (Hard & Soft Costs): While hard license costs are avoided, the soft costs and opportunity costs associated with lost time and data inaccuracy heavily weigh against it.  

Scenario #2: Ineffective Lead Generation Solution

This is the usual daily reality for teams using an immature lead-gen tool:

  1. Segmentation & List-Building: Even ineffective tools offer some form of segmentation. Still, they tend to fall short in the depth of information they provide (such as a lack of firmographic or geographic data). 
  2. Email Verification: Many solutions fail to offer real-time email verification. Instead, they pull information out of an existing database. This method is prone to the negative effects of data degradation. 
  3. Data Entry: Even modest tools typically deliver an upgrade on this front. It’s usually data export and integrations that proves to be a problem.
  4. Overhead (Hard & Soft Costs): While ineffective tools generally carry a lower price tag, teams usually find they still “get what they pay for.” In other words, they mitigate some soft and hard costs but still lose significant time. 

Scenario #3: Expensive Lead Generation Solution

With an overpriced or legacy lead-gen system:

  • Processes for segmentation, verification, and data entry are expected to at least be streamlined.
  • Still, usability & adoption tend to rank a  bit lower since the applications are usually more complex.
  • Above all, high overhead and hard costs can pose a budgetary challenge.

2) Long Term Ramifications of the Status Quo

For each scenario, let’s explore the fallout associated with not changing. 

Scenario #1: No Lead Generation Solution

  • High Operational Pain: Hours of prime selling time are spent on admin work.. instead of selling
  • Obsolete Data Drastically Reduces Productivity & Conversion: First, the rate at which emails are actually delivered drop off because of inaccuracy. In turn, the conversion of delivered/engaged takes a massive hit.
  • Maximum Risk of Missing Quota: Significantly increased odds of missing pipeline generation & revenue goals.
  • Training & Onboarding is Ineffective: Without a real tool in place, creating scalable / repeatable processes will be incredibly challenging. 

    Takeaway: Sky-High Soft Costs Outweigh Hard Costs

Scenario #2: Ineffective Lead Generation Solution

  • Moderate Operational Pain: While still an upgrade from no solution at all, immature lead-gen tools will fall short in usability for power users. 
  • Stale Data Limits Productivity & Effectiveness: When records are inaccurate or incomplete, reps have to spend time manually completing it. This caps tactical effectiveness that the right solution could have removed. 
  • Increased Risk of Missing Quota: With sacrifices to data quality and efficiency, generating enough pipeline to hit quota still proves challenging. 
  • Training & Onboarding is Streamlined, but Isn’t Optimized: Entry-level tools tend to offer less in the way of self-serve and guided support. This makes onboarding and repeatable training of the admin and users. 
  • Reduced Soft Costs Still Outweigh Total Cost of Ownership: When all these factors are considered, it’s hard to argue otherwise. 
Takeaway: Reduced Soft Costs Still Outweigh Total Cost of Ownership

Scenario #3: Expensive Lead Generation Solution

  • Low to Medium Operational Pain: Heavier legacy products, while powerful, tend to. require more training to acquire and maintain technical proficiency as a user.  
  • Stale Data Limits Productivity & Effectiveness: When records are inaccurate or incomplete, reps have to spend time manually completing it or leave it as is. This emerges as a roadblock that that the right solution could have removed. 
  • Increased Risk of Missing Quota: With sacrifices to data quality and efficiency, generating enough pipeline to hit quota still proves challenging. 
  • Training & Onboarding Burdens are Alleviated: Assuming the vendor is at a state of maturity, knowledge bases, ticketing support, live chat, and Customer Success should be available to alleviate the burden that is otherwise placed on admins and power users.  
  • Financial Resources & Adoption Dictate Viability: If your organization does not have upwards of $60-100k or more to invest in a legacy system, then you may need to look elsewhere. Further, if your organization does use one, but doesn’t adopt it because of operational overhead, then this is a large drain on resources. 
Takeaway: These Tools can be Combined (Stacked) or Replaced With Effective, Finance-Friendly Solutions 

3) Targeted Outcomes & Organizational Advantages with Effective Lead Generation

The best lead-generation tool for your business will strike a balance between features, usability, data quality, and support with hard & soft costs.

Here are a few examples of the business advantages you can gain along with the benefits the right tool delivers:

Advantage #1: Optimized Operational Efficiency

  • Reps no longer have to manually compile lists of prospects or create  records in the CRM. This can now be done in a matter of seconds or minutes, not hours. 
  • Advanced filtering, sorting, and segmentation options enable power users to maximize investment in the solution
  • User-friendly interfaces make it easier to train new hires and increase long-term adoption 

Advantage #2: Improved Data Quality Increases Conversions and CRM Cleanliness

  • Assuming the solution validates information before it enters the CRM (system of record), bad data can be removed 
  • This also increases delivery and conversion rates as the data is actually leveraged in sales outreach through a Sales Engagement Platform.

Advantage #3: Minimized Risk of Missing Quota

  • By streamlining time-draining processes and equipping the team with quality data, reps can focus their efforts on strategically engaging their prospects
  • In turn, their conversions from sent/delivered and delivered/engaged will rise dramatically. 
  • With more qualified pipeline, reps are at a lesser risk of missing quota.  

Advantage #4: Minimized Financial & Administrative Overhead

  • From a hard cost standpoint, the ideal solution should predicability scale with license count requirements & adoption rates. 
  • In terms of soft costs, a reduced burden on administrators allows them to focus more on optimization instead of adoption. 

4) Mandatory Attributes of a New Lead Generation Solution & Partner

Up to this point, we’ve established:

  • Common scenarios teams find themselves in
  • Ramifications of the status quo (not changing)
  • And targeted outcomes and advantages gained from effective lead-gen tools

Now, we can explore what product & organizational attributes it takes to get from the so-called Point A to Point Z.

While you’ll likely have your own set of required attributes, here are additional areas & questions to consider.  

Product Functionality

Let’s start with key areas for the tool itself. 

  • Configuration: Does the lead-gen tool you’re evaluating allow for a quick & easy start?
  • Real Time Data Validation & Verification: Does the tool validate records as you’re building lists, or does it rely on a pre-validated database? Ideally, it will provide intelligence on deliverability since data accuracy degrades at such a rapid rate. 
  • Usability: Are you able to perform advanced searches, apply filters, and take other actions you’d expect as a long-term user?
  • Integrations: Does the solution integrate with your existing tech stack? If it doesn’t, is there a scalable workaround?

Organizational Strategy & Viability

The tool’s attributes are most important but you should also consider the organizational side of the equation. These questions are generally considered once technical fit and value has been established. 

  • “Big Picture” Product Strategy: If the lead-gen tool is being offered as part of a larger platform, what is the provider’s big picture plans?
  • Lead Generation Product Roadmap: Specifically, how does lead-gen fit into the big picture? Does it have a main role or is it just a supporting character?
  • Historical & Future Release Frequency: In other words, how fast is the provider delivering innovation? Are they releasing once a quarter? Once a month? How many major releases were delivered last year? Past performance generally indicates future success. 
  • Security & Compliance: Has the provider completed any kind of third-party security tests? What do they plan to do? Also ask yourself what your organization really needs (startups generally have lighter requirements than the Fortune 100).
  • Compelling Evidence: Has the. organization demonstrated success in the past? Are there reviews and/or case studies online? 

Onboarding & Support

Even the best tools can be rendered useless if adoption rates are low. Proper onboarding and support from your lead-gen vendor has the ability to deliver quicker ROI and value for all stakeholders. 

  • Support Forms: What’s offered (email ticketing, live chat, Account Manager, guided onboarding, support forums, etc) 
  • Support Costs: What is included? What is extra?  

5) Validation Metrics for an Evaluation

 

  • Time it takes to do task
  • Ease of execution of task
  • Cost it takes to get started
  • Onboarding time it takes
  • Strategic discussion & understanding

6) Implementation Best Practices

Always remember that the work doesn’t just stop with selecting a tool. While you likely will have invested time & resources into initial onboarding & configuration, the work has just begun. 

Your quickest path to ROI starts with effective implementation and change management. Here’s a few pointers to help ensure success. 

  • Enlist an executive sponsor to help you allocate resources to the project
  • Make sure administrators are informed of incoming changes (they ideally should have be a part of the evaluation process)
  • Set up internal meetings for a kickoff and to review defined success metrics. 
  • As a team, be sure to. communicate any challenges or roadblocks as they (inevitably) arise
  • Once the onboarding phase is complete, maintain full adoption levels with quarterly meetings to review usage and provide supplemental training

7) Marketplace Offerings

If you’re considering adding a new lead-generation tool to your stack, you can start by reviewing FoxBound DataScout. In The Case for FoxBound DataScout, you’ll find:

  • How DataScout delivers 
  • Competitive distinctions
  • Compelling evidence

You’ll also learn more about what it means to be a FoxBound customer:

  • Immediate onboarding 
  • Ongoing enablement & support
  • Achieving long-term excellence

Of course, we encourage you to weigh your options. Above all, the most important factor is that you find the best solution for you and your business.

More options on the marketplace can be found on sites like G2 Crowd and Finances Online.

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