B2B Lead Generation Outsourcing vs. Building a Sales Team – Which is Best For Your Business?

By: Jack Reamer |
 October 11, 2022 |

If you’re a founder, or sales VP and are trying to decide the best way forward to ramp up sales,  you might be wondering if you should hire a lead generation company or build your own in-house sales team.

This is a big decision because after all, you want a return on investment and more cash in your pocket.

The truth is the answer really depends on what you enjoy doing as a founder and if you have the time.

There are pros and cons to each option, but there is also the middle ground of hiring a consultant. 

For an in-depth look at which option would be best for your business keep reading.

(If you would rather like to hop on a free 15 minute consultation call for 1 qualified lead per day, please feel free to contact us.)

Ask yourself these questions when thinking about outsourcing vs in-house lead generation.

1. Are you dedicated enough to reviewing everything when building an in-house sales team?

As a busy founder, you might not have the time to put in huge efforts to build a sales team or even train sales reps

You need to be honest with yourself and see if you have the time to review everything, including prospecting, even if you don’t like doing it. (Prospecting isn’t everyone’s favorite pastime.)

Sometimes when it comes to building an in-house sales team, founders underestimate the time that it actually takes. 

2. Know your role and what you would like to spend time on with regard to lead generation

So it’s important to ask yourself whether you’re the founder or sales VP what you should be spending your time on in the next year? What is your role?

  • Is it perfecting the product?

  • Or if you are the sales VP and it’s really your job to bring in new leads and build a team because you have this 10-year vision. (Maybe because you’re an experienced sales veteran)

  • Or are you a new marketing director and you haven’t done outbound yet?

You need to know your strengths and your purpose because that is really the best indicator of where you should be spending your time regarding lead generation and sales.

For example, maybe you’re a founder who loves being on sales calls, but when you look at your calendar you are so swapped that you physically can’t join every call. 

So you might want to appoint someone on your team who is physically responsible for taking sales calls.

Remember we all have preferences. For example, if you’re a tech founder, you would most probably prefer spending more of your time on technology than on prospecting. 

It might not be fun for you, so you have to be realistic about what you love and hate.

So outsourcing lead generation to an agency that is great at it, would most probably be a better option for you. 

If you had to outsource lead generation services, all you would have to do is review their copywriting and ensure that the list of prospects they have put together for you is perfect.

Once this is perfect and your potential leads start rolling in, you just have to show up for the sales call.

You don’t have to do it yourself if it’s something that you don’t enjoy doing, or if you don’t have the time for it. 

But if you enjoy things like cold calling, or reaching out to your target audience via Linkedin or cold email, then give it a go. 

Just be realistic about what you can and can’t do. 

3. What’s the risk? Do you have a sellable product?

It doesn’t matter whether you choose a lead generation agency, or if you decide to hand over your prospecting to an in-house sales team, you have to ask yourself “what’s the risk?”

Have you sold your product before?

If you’re using outbound techniques, processes, and campaigns to sell your first unit, don’t pay an arm and a leg to let someone else do that for you.

It’s much too early. 

As a founder, you have to make sure that there is interest in your product, and you have to do this first (even if it’s something that you don’t particularly enjoy.)

You have to make sure that your product is sellable, and that it’s something that potential customers want and need. 

It’s not someone else’s job, you have to make sure at least that there is some interest in the market for your product. It’s not an agency’s role to come and solve your sales problem.

SIDE NOTE FOR:  Lead gen agencies

If you are an agency you have to be picky about who you should partner up with or not.

If you have been in the business for a while, you will probably start to notice trends of which outreach campaigns will work, and which won’t. 

SIDE NOTE FOR: Founders 

At Salesbread, we love it when clients come to us and say that they have tried cold email or Linkedin outreach and they know it works, but they just don’t have the time to do it. 

If as a founder you have done some outreach and have made it work, even just one time, (or hopefully 10 times) the risk level is almost zero because an agency should know a whole lot more about outreach, and if you have already cracked it, you’re basically just saying “go and do more of that.”

But on the other hand, if you are a founder who is entering a new market, you haven’t sold anything and you have really bad conversion rates, (like you had 10 leads and you couldn’t close one deal); Or is your customer value is really low, it’s going to be hard to make the math work.

It just doesn’t make sense outsourcing lead generation services

Look for an obvious “yes, you should do this” in terms of hiring an agency.

4. What’s the life cycle when you hire an agency?

If the above sales cycle was working for you with an agency, should you keep the lead generation process going as is for like 5 years?

In other words… Should you keep on hiring the agency, or should you stop with the agency and start your own in-house lead generation team?

So to answer this question, if you have learned from the agency how to prospect and how to write personalized messages, you could technically rely on consultants.

Perhaps hire 1 salesperson and let the consultant help them see what they should be doing until the team has matured.

For example, you could let the consultant know that your metrics are down, and allow them to step in for a couple of hours and do some A/B testing. 

There’s a metaphor when you think about renting and owning when you hire an agency, and it’s a bit like advertising.

Example:

When you run ads and you pay for the ads to be shown, you get results, but as soon as you stop investing in that marketing campaign, everything goes quiet. 

With an outbound lead gen agency it’s not quite that extreme. 

If you are a good agency partner, you’re not going to shut the books on your client when they are ready to graduate into a team-building exercise, where they kind of take over their own lead generation. 

And this is a great question for founders to ask when they are considering hiring an agency, ask them if they will show you their lead generation efforts

Like, what copy did they use, what strategy did they use, and how did they build a list of good leads

Why? Because if you know what the agency is doing, you won’t be in the dark if you stop using them. 

OR…. Be realistic about it…

Hiring an agency for 5 years is probably not realistic, even if it works out wonderfully. Because eventually founders, CEOs, and sales Vps, eventually end up doing this process in-house

Think about when a startup begins it’s usually a small team. Perhaps the founder, a sales VP and an operations manager. 

The next hire will probably end up being a marketing VP and this will happen once the lead generation campaigns have bought in some quality leads that convert.

Once the company hires a marketer, they might not know how to do cold email outreach, or Linkedin outreach, or even cold calling.

Perhaps they only specialize in inbound, and you might want them to also use another aspect of marketing to get more qualified leads

Typically companies grow if you are making money, and responsibilities get absorbed with new roles. 

But remember some companies might not even give a crap about outbound

Maybe they just want to use social media or SEO to bring in leads and that’s totally okay.

Perhaps they want to bring everything internally as they keep growing, remember it’s about what you enjoy doing and what you want to focus on as a founder. 

5. Does outsourcing to an agency make sense when every team is already in place?

If you already have internal marketing teams in place, and you’re looking for an outbound approach, you could always use the consulting approach.

You might have three SDRS rearing to go, but you’re not getting the results you want; hiring a consultant might be the best option for your business. 

You can invest in training and keep growing and strengthening your sales development team and that’s great.

But remember an agency does two things.

1. It Frees up time

The agency will do a lot of the grunt sales outreach.

They will come up with a strategy, because if you don’t have one, it’s like knocking on a lot of random doors, not knowing who is going to say yes.

It is probably an 8-hour-a-day job that you might not want to be doing yourself.

This will allow you to focus on what you enjoy doing and what you do best, whatever that may be.

2. The right agency can be a learning engine for your b2b company

For example, at Salesbread we very quickly step into a company and bring along years of experience, and tell our clients based on what’s working for similar companies, if they do XYZ they can expect these kinds of results. 

And right away the company has shortcutted a 3-month trial and error approach, with new leads coming in from the first week.

So you might want to hire an agency like Salesbread for that learning experience.

And when you are ready to start a b2b sales in-house team, Salesbread will do a handoff with you. 

It’s not either or. 

If you are not an outbound sales guru, it may not be the worst idea to bring someone in who only does lead generation for 3 – 6 months. In the meantime, they are giving you high-quality leads, but they are also paving the way so that there is far less guesswork involved. 

And once you are ready to bring the process in-house, all you have to do is replicate what the agency did to bring in your ideal customers

What are some red flags to look out for when thinking of hiring a b2b lead generation agency?

Be wary of an agency that wants to lock you into a contract

If a lead generation agency wants to lock you into a contract for 6 months or a year, you need to ask yourself why.

With outbound, this shouldn’t need to happen, because if the agency is good they should be bringing in leads within the first 2 days.

Run if an agency says they will contact 5000 people a month on your behalf.

Why would this be a problem? 

Well for 2 reasons.

  • The emphasis is not on the result, it’s on volume.

You probably don’t care about the agency’s activities, (as long as they are not bashing your reputation by sending out so many messages) but you’re more concerned about their results. 

What will your profits look like? 

The results are what you should focus on as opposed to a high-volume approach. This is when email spam can get ugly and your reputation can be tarnished. 

Because remember there are only so many people out there who will be a good fit for your company.

  • If the volume is high, the agency isn’t focused on personalization

Personalization is extremely important for high-quality results. Without it, you are going to miss out on many great leads. Why? Because people ignore spam.

If a message is not directed at the prospect, the chances of them ignoring it will be high. 

And we aren’t just talking about basic personalization.

We mean actually researching each prospect on your list, and writing a custom intro sentence just for them.

This is one of the reasons why at Salesbread we are able to bring our clients 1 qualified lead per day. 

Don’t choose an agency that will own your email domain

If you have your own cold email domain, that’s great because you will know that it has been warmed up properly.

It wouldn’t be ideal for another agency to own your domain; if you need a domain set up, make sure that the agency arranges a register of transfer to you.

There should be full disclosures and total transparency

If an agency withholds its lead generation strategy from you and says it’s its “secret” run.

There should be full transparency when partnering up with an agency.

If they can’t tell you how they plan on bringing you qualified leads, you need to be wary.

Because the chances are they are either doing something suspicious that might end up tarnishing your name. 

An agency should be able to explain in detail what they do and how they plan on helping you generate leads.

They should be able to answer any questions that you might have.

Plus if the agency isn’t transparent with you, how will you be able to replicate the process in-house?

And finally… Ask the agency for the phone numbers of clients that they are currently working with

You can read case studies.

This is great.

But if you could call some current customers who are working with the lead generation agency and ask them personally how they find the agency, then this is a bonus.

If the results are excellent, then it’s a no-brainer to work with the agency. 

The agency should have such a good relationship with their clients that they can ask: 

“Hey Bob, is it ok if I give your contact details to someone who is interested in using us? They want to ask you a couple of questions about what it’s like working with us?”

But at the same time, if you are a client of the agency, don’t bug these people if you aren’t already sold on working with the agency. 

A call should be the last verification check before you sign on with the outreach agency.

In conclusion: Be ready to act on the leads, because leads without a close rate are meaningless.

As a founder, whether you decide to hire an outreach agency or an SDR, you need to be ready to act on the leads.

You could be getting 1 lead a day from the agency, but if you aren’t there on the zoom link ready to answer questions, or sell your product, you aren’t going to make money.

Even if you are using an appointment setter, it’s important to be there for the sales meeting.

Surprisingly there are many founders and CEOs that we have noticed cancel these booked sales meetings on a whim.

So whether you’re going to outsource an agency or build an in-house sales team, make sure you have the bandwidth to actually make it a priority for you.

Remember a lead is not going to pay your bills. 

Leads are meaningless unless you close them. 

You have to have that part nailed down before you worry about generating the leads.

If you’re interested in learning about how Salesbread can bring your company 20 + qualified b2b leads per month, read this article, or hop on a free 15-minute consultation call with us. We offer done-for-you lead generation services and consultation services.

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