The good, the bad, and the ugly: 5 ways to vet lead vendors

The good, the bad, and the ugly: 5 ways to vet lead vendors

The good, the bad, and the ugly: 5 ways to vet lead vendors In the digital age, all leads are not created equal.
 
Although acquiring a mass quantity of leads might seem attractive, investing in low-intent leads will take you miles in the wrong direction before you even realize it.
 
You can generally trace poor leads back to the source: shady vendors that inflate their services, aggregate rather than generate leads, and sacrifice quality for volume. Not only do these bad leads fail to procure new business for you, but they can also cost 60 percent more than good leads. These vendors will try to fool you into thinking you’re getting a list of quality leads when these prospects are actually just dead ends.
 
For example, incentivized leads offer freebies such as iPods or laptops in exchange for consumer information related to, say, auto insurance. But these consumers signed up to receive a product unrelated to insurance, meaning that the probability they convert into a sale for an insurance agent is next to nil.
 
Other times, vendors will resell leads numerous times, meaning consumers get contacted to the point of frustration. So even if you’re offering a deal that is in a lead’s best interest, he or she might not want to hear it — or even pick up the phone. In worst-case scenarios, lead vendors deliver fictitious consumer profiles.
 
To avoid falling victim to these shady tactics, you need to properly vet lead vendors. Here are five questions you should ask:
 
1. How do you capture leads?
 
This question is crucial for deciphering a vendor’s lead quality. Vendors that use PPC and SEO techniques to capture high-intent consumers will also produce leads with higher conversion rates than vendors that purchase lists from external sources.
 
Most vendors won’t openly hand over this information, though. But you can ask if they will provide sub or source IDs. Although this masks the specific origin of the lead itself, it will still help you track that channel’s performance over time and optimize your digital marketing relationship with the vendor.
 
Overall, vendors should be open with the forms they use, where ads are placed, how leads are distributed, and how many agents receive each lead.
 
2. How often do you resell leads?
 
A quality list can substantially lower your cost per acquisition. Asking a vendor about its resell process will help you gauge the intent of consumers on its list. A high resell rate typically indicates a saturated, overly competitive customer list.
 
3. What support do you provide?
 
With so many variables in lead generation, no vendor can guarantee pinpoint accuracy and performance. But your vendor should admit its shortcomings and offer potential remedies, such as return policies for poor leads. To maximize your ROI, hire a vendor that will walk you through best practices, provide performance tracking, and be responsive when these metrics indicate a batch of low-quality leads was delivered.
 
4. Do you have an internal data hygiene process or a third-party provider?
 
Data hygiene is vital for lead validation. If a vendor can’t answer this question right away, be suspicious. It’s a simple question — make sure your vendor has a succinct answer.
 
5. What does the purchase and delivery process look like?
 
Even when vendors generate high-intent leads, their offerings can be undermined by a bad user interface. To ensure a smooth procurement and tracking experience, inquire about each vendor’s CRM-integration system as well as support response time, average price per policy, and delivery channels. They should also provide potential delivery schedules, filter options, and steps for revising your package later on.
 
Trading quality for volume — and then hiding it — is a race to the bottom that is bad for everyone involved: consumer, sales agent, and the lead generation industry. When it comes to finding a quality lead vendor that you can (and should) build a partnership with, there are three critical traits to look for: transparency, accountability, and simplicity.
 
Honest, high-grade vendors that fully disclose their sourcing and generation practices will ultimately win the day. But to find the good guys, you will need to play detective to sniff out authentically sourced, high-intent leads that deserve your time and money.
 
Jason Kulpa is the CEO of San Diego, California-based Underground Elephant, a customer acquisition solutions companies for leading brands. By leveraging proprietary next-generation marketing automation technology, Underground Elephant provides Fortune 1000 companies with high-quality direct response solutions on an unprecedented scale.