It is an inherent quality of man to seek faster, easier and even more cost-effective solutions, hence inventions such as the cellular phone/mp4 player/internet browser, and the rise of services such as outsourcing. Sales are no exception. With the constant pressure of gaining more sales and increasing revenues for companies, many have prescribed to shortcuts to the sales process in an effort to alleviate this pressure.
In the outbound presales process, leads are essential, without which, there can be no outbound sales. Companies can choose to either buy these leads or to generate these leads by themselves. In comparing these two methods of obtaining leads however, one can see that there are numerous pros and cons between the use of either, and it becomes a choice between what benefit you would choose over another.
Quick and Easy over Long and Tedious
What makes buying leads so appealing is the speed by which you are able to generate leads. By just simply buying leads from the hundred or so companies online, you are able to obtain thousands, and even millions of leads in a short span of time. Whereas lead generation requires time, effort and manpower in order to obtain contact information.
In order to shave some time off of your lead generation efforts, a smart move would be to first create qualifiers of companies that you will target. Determine which companies would most likely avail of your services. Consider criteria such as industry, revenues, as well as who inside the company should you be targeting.
Quality over Quantity
Given that companies who sell leads can offer millions of contacts for a certain price, the risk of getting contact information for companies whom you and your company would actually not benefit from contacting would be high. Investing on lead generation on the other hand, would afford you the ability to pre-qualify your leads according to your target market and requirements, eliminating companies that would not likely buy from your company.
A good timesaver for lead generation would be to find listings that already have your criteria such as lists of top companies in the industry, or list of accredited companies for an industry you are targeting. Also, utilizing powerful social media tools such as Linkedin can save you time since you can filter out searches based on different criteria such as locations, and industry. Plus, if the contact you are looking for has a Linkedin profile, then it will show up on the company profile page.
Fresh over Recycled
With buying leads, there is always the risk of getting “recycled” leads wherein these lists have already been sold to other companies. Most likely, once you get your own turn to call the contact, they will have already been exasperated by the number of calls they have received that they will no longer have the patience to listen to your sales pitch. If you obtain your own leads you increase the chances of obtaining “fresh” leads, or companies that have not yet been contacted by your competitors. This then increases the chances of the company availing of your product or service.
Rigid over Flexible
By buying pre-set leads you are in effect buying a product “as is”. Therefore any modification in your requirement or if you find that there are some information that you do or do not require, will not be handled by the company whom you bought the leads from. Even leads when sold by bulk and segregated into categories cannot capture the specific needs of each and every company. In contrast, lead generation would give you greater flexibility in terms of the leads that you will obtain; allowing you to specify which contact information would be best acquired, such as work emails instead of generic Yahoo or Google emails or work contact information over home phone numbers.
A good place to start is always company websites but other sites such as BusinessWeek and Yahoo Finance, as well as business directories like Spoke, who have company listings that often already have addresses and contact numbers. Member listings of associations and organizations are also good places to look. Email addresses are usually the hardest ones to find, but by checking how company email addresses are formatted (example firstname.lastname@example.org), you can hazard a pretty good guess on what the email of the contact your looking for is.
The Better Choice
Both options present benefits that, depending on the needs of a company, may be an ideal solution. For brief campaigns that do not require sustainability, then buying leads may be a good option. But for achieving long term goals and maintaining sales efforts then it may be a better option to invest in lead generation.