How to Avoid Bad Lead Generation Agencies & Choose the Best

By: Jack Reamer |
 March 19, 2024 |

Why partner up with a lead generation agency?

The answer is simple…

You want more qualified leads for your business, without having to do all the hustling yourself.

This is especially true if cold calling, LinkedIn messaging, or cold email isn’t your favorite pastime. 

Perhaps you prefer closing deals instead of finding leads.

But before you decide to work along with a b2b lead generation agency, you might be wondering what to expect from a top agency and how to avoid the bad ones. 

The following article will show you what to expect from the best lead generation companies, and when an agency might be a bad fit.

(Interested in finding out what a top lead generation agency can do for your company? Hop on a free 15-minute strategy call with the founder of Salesbread, and let’s discuss how we can get you 1 qualified sales lead per day.)

A top agency will hop on a consultation call to acquire a deep understanding of your product/service

Be wary of companies who aren’t interested in doing a deep dive into your product/service. 

Some companies might ask for a general idea of who your target audience is, and build a basic list. They might use a “high volume” approach to lead generation, and this increases the risk of failure.

If they can’t truly understand your unique selling points, or who your ideal target market is, or what sets your agency apart from all others, then how can they convince a total stranger to book a sales call with you? 

At Salesbread we hop on a 1-hour consultation call, and during this in-depth consultation, we spend the first 40 minutes focusing on who we should reach out to. 

We will ask you to list clients who have closed with you, and this will give us the data we need to build look-a-like lists of prospects. 

During the next 20 minutes, we will discuss your value propositions and unique selling points. 

Read more about our done-for-you lead generation service

They will also build a list of look-alike customers based on current buyer’s data

As we mentioned above, we look at your current buying customers and build look-alike lists. 

How do we do this?

We look for patterns between buying customers. 

For example, we will ask:

What do these customers have in common?

  • Are they all in a specific industry? If they are, what division are they in? For example, if it’s health and wellness, are hospitals buying from you? Is it psychiatric hospitals? Children’s hospitals? Or dental?
  • How big are the hospitals? 200 beds or more? 
  • Is it day clinics?
  • Do they have an emergency ward?
  • Who is on payroll? 
  • Who makes the buying decisions? Is it the CEO, marketing manager, or HR department?
  • Where are your buyers located? In the US? Or 20 miles from Alaska?
  • Do they have a marketing budget? What’s that budget spent on? PPC? Search engine optimization? Or TV ads?
  • Have these businesses been funded recently?
  • Do they have bad ratings on YELP?
  • Who is the decision maker?
  • Do they use the same CRM tool like Hubspot?

When you look at patterns, it’s easier to go after the right target accounts. Your list is based on actual data, and not just a broad “guess”. 

The top agencies should be able to do this. If they can’t explain to you how they plan on building a target list, then you might want to reconsider using them. 

The video below explains how we would build a prospect list. 

A top agency will come up with a lead-generation strategy that gets results

It’s important to ask the agency what their strategy is. For example, if they use automation for the entire lead generation campaign (from the copywriting to the sending of messages, to the follow-ups.) you might want to consider using a different agency. 

Or if the company doesn’t build refined lists, but rather buys data and blasts messages to thousands of prospects, you need to run.

Companies like these might get a few hundred leads, but it’s very unlikely these people will buy your product/service.

A top agency should have a strategy that includes:

  • In-depth list building
  • Personalized outreach messages
  • Follow-ups (or lead nurturing)
  • A multi-channel approach (For example, they might use LinkedIn messaging, cold email, SMS, cold calling, or even social media outreach.) They don’t have to use all the platforms, but using 3 different channels will help them find potential customers if they can’t be reached on one platform. 
  • They should also make use of A/B testing to see which messages and lists perform best.

A top lead gen agency should be able to explain to you exactly how they plan on finding you quality leads

This article will show you some new trends top agencies should be using to help you find new leads: Mastering B2B Sales Lead Generation Trends In 2024

Agencies should triple-check prospects to avoid contacting the wrong people

Most of the top lead gen agencies are probably using tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator. 

However, we have noticed that Sales Nav is notoriously inaccurate.

The video below explains this:

It’s still an excellent tool if used the right way, but we suggest triple-checking the data it gives you, to ensure you’re reaching out to the right people.

At Salesbread our data is 100% accurate before we even begin our outbound campaigns. 

A top agency should only use the best, most accurate data.


Because this will ensure that your hard-earned money isn’t being wasted. 

You can have the confidence to know that they are reaching out to the right people, and not b2b companies, or individuals who might be a wrong fit. 

They will discuss copy and unique selling points

As mentioned above, top agencies will spend time on a call with you to understand everything they possibly can about your product. 

We will also ask you to imagine that you are in a room with 100 of your best buyer personas. What would you say to get these strangers to buy your product? What makes your product unique?

We get straight to the best selling points of your business.

  • What are the benefits of your product or service?
  • What do you have to “sell” it up?
  • What credibility, social proof, figures, and stats do you have that show what you have done for your clients? It’s all about trust signals.
  • Do you have a lot of users?
  • Have you been featured in a magazine?

Copywriting is also incredibly important. If the copy is wrong, the agency runs the risk of failure. 

The agency should create a series of messaging drafts for you to review. 

The messaging should be on-brand, straightforward, and personalized.

Top agencies are masters of personalization

If an agency doesn’t personalize its outreach messages, don’t use them. 

The best lead generation agencies use personalization in their outreach

Here are some examples of expert personalization that we have used at Salesbread:

1.“Joe, after watching your Ted Talk on the future of blockchain, I appreciated your insights on why crypto isn’t the “game changer” everyone says it is.”

2.“Hi Thomas, just read your interview with TechCrunch. Completely agree that the world needs more high-tech entrepreneurs to change our education system.”

3.“By the way, loved your article on how SEO is evolving, would like to hear more”

4.“I really enjoyed your interview on TedTalks, I found your viewpoints on XYZ enlightening.”

5.Personal information: “Saw you love programming and mountain biking, where’s your favorite trails nowadays?”

6.”Hi {firstName}, {custom Intro} After reading that you’re working on {specific project responsibility} for {type_of_client}, I’d like to find out how you’re dealing with {current pain point}.”

7.”My company is working on new ways to handle {unique benefit} for {customer_type}, but I’m curious to hear what’s been working for {Company} lately if you’re open to exchanging ideas around {pain point}. How’s Thursday or Friday looking to connect?”

These are the kinds of messages that get replies. 

Compare the above copy to the following:

Hey {first_name}, if you buy Cisco, we offer refurbished hardware for 50-90% less than new. All equipment is in great condition, with free lifetime replacements and setups.

Mind if I send over a list of equipment?

It’s not personalized and comes across as a sleazy sales pitch. If agencies are sending these kinds of messages, you aren’t going to have great conversion rates

It’s important to ask the agency if they personalize outreach messages, how they personalize, and what they personalize. 

At Salesbread we use a method called CCQ to write personalized copy

This means that we will find something to either compliment the prospect on, mention a commonality, or ask them a question.

We actually research each prospect on our list in order to do this.

Then we find something very specific to mention in our copy. 

You can read more about our CCQ method here

These are some of the replies we have received from our marketing campaigns for clients:

They should run a/b testing to make sure that your campaign runs optimally

A/B testing helps figure out which campaigns are making the most impact. This will allow the agency to test and change the campaigns in order to get the best out of your lead gen

For example at Salesbread, we will create 2 lists.

List A and List B.

List A will test a specific prospect segment with specific messaging, and List B will test a different segment and messaging.

We will then see which performs the best and use that for your campaign. 

The best agencies shouldn’t lock you into contracts – Their results should get you to stay

Some agencies make their clients sign contracts for a minimum of between 6 months to a year. You need to ask yourself why.

Shouldn’t their results get their clients to stay?

At Salesbread we don’t lock our clients into contracts, and we have worked with many of our clients for years. They stick around because they know that they can expect 1 qualified sales lead per day. 

Lead Generation Agency FAQs

1. How can a Lead Generation Agency help my business?

Lead Generation Agencies use a range of marketing tactics that include content marketing, digital marketing, and email marketing, depending on which kind of agency you choose. They will help create a steady stream of potential customers for your business.

2. Do Lead Generation Agencies only focus on online strategies?

 No, they also incorporate offline strategies. However, the emphasis is often on digital marketing, leveraging online channels such as social media marketing, interactive landing pages, and email marketing to reach a wider range of prospects. 

3. How does a Lead Generation Agency work with my sales team?

Lead generation agencies should work closely with your sales team. They should help your sales team learn how they generate leads and ensure a seamless handover of qualified leads that will improve your sales pipeline.

4. What is B2B Marketing, and how does it differ from B2C?

B2B marketing targets other businesses. Lead Generation Agencies specializing in B2B marketing develop strategies to reach businesses, whereas B2C focuses on reaching out to consumers. 

5. Can a Lead Generation Agency assist with marketing automation?

Yes, some might incorporate marketing automation tools to streamline repetitive tasks, nurture leads, and enhance overall efficiency in the marketing workflow. But just be wary that the agency doesn’t use automation for the entire lead generation process. 

6. What role does graphic design play in lead generation initiatives?

Graphic design helps create visually appealing content, such as eye-catching landing pages and engaging social media posts. This will capture your audience’s attention and help with branding.

7. Should I outsource lead generation, or is it better to keep it in-house?

The decision depends on your business needs and resources. Outsourcing to a Lead Generation Agency can bring specialized expertise, allowing your in-house team to focus on core business activities. This article: 10 Uncommon Reasons To Outsource B2B Lead Generation goes into more detail about outsourcing

8. How are pricing structures for Lead Generation Agencies determined?

Pricing varies based on the scope of services that you choose. Some agencies might have a flat fee, others might make you pay per lead. Ensure transparency and clarity in understanding the pricing model. Salebread pricing ranges from between $1500 – and $5000 per month. 

9. Do Lead Generation Agencies cater to startups and SaaS companies?

Yes, many Lead Generation Agencies specialize in working with startups and SaaS companies, tailoring strategies to get the best results for these companies.

10. What is ABM (Account-Based Marketing), and how does it contribute to lead generation?

ABM is a targeted marketing approach that focuses on specific accounts. Lead Generation Agencies use ABM to create personalized campaigns that increase the likelihood of converting high-value accounts.

11. How can a Lead Generation Agency enhance inbound marketing efforts?

Some lead generation agencies boost inbound marketing by creating valuable content and optimizing websites for search engines

12. What metrics should I expect the agency to report on?

Common metrics include qualified leads generated, conversion rates, website traffic, and engagement on social media. These metrics provide insights into the effectiveness of the lead generation campaign.

Ready to partner up with a top lead generation agency?

If the answer is yes, hop on a free 15-minute strategy call with the founder of Salebread today. Let’s help you find 1 qualified sales lead per day, and scale your business growth.