What a Lead Generation Company Does And How To Choose the Best One

Learn what B2B lead generators do and why they’re essential for a sustainable lead generation and appointment setting strategy.
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Lead generation is a crucial component of sustainable business growth. However, many small and medium-sized companies don’t have the financial resources or bandwidth to take it under their wing. When they don’t have the ability to practice lead generation in-house, they look for help from professional lead generators.

In this blog, we’ll cover the following topics:

What Do Lead Generation Companies Do?

A lead generation company is responsible for outbound sales development and inbound marketing efforts that find new business opportunities for your company. Companies specializing in B2B lead generation have a team of sales and marketing experts who assist with building a sales pipeline, which helps your company generate more sales opportunities.

Lead Generation vs. Appointment Setting: What’s the Difference?

While the terms lead generation and appointment setting are often used interchangeably, they have some significant differences. For instance, you can have lead generation without appointment setting, but you can’t have appointment setting without lead generation. But let’s cut the confusion and get into the core differences.

Lead generation is an umbrella term for a variety of business growth efforts, including outbound sales development and inbound marketing. In outbound sales development, sales teams actively reach out to key decision-makers (KDM) by cold emailing, cold calling, and connecting with sales leads on LinkedIn to pitch your company’s products or services. On the other hand, inbound marketing encompasses digital marketing efforts such as search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing to bring leads to your business.

Appointment setting is a sector of lead generation that prioritizes outbound sales development efforts to set sales appointments with qualified leads. Through an appointment setting program, sales development reps (or appointment setters) contact prospects, aim to convert them into leads, and nurture the relationship until they’re ready to schedule sales appointments.

While many B2B companies believe they need to choose one business growth strategy over another, these strategies often work best when paired together. Let’s say an appointment setter emails a lead in the sales pipeline, and the lead says they’re interested, but they want more information before scheduling a sales meeting. Until they’re ready to set an appointment, appointment setters can send the lead relevant content marketing materials to nurture the relationship and guide them toward the end of the buyer’s journey. 

Lead generation shouldn’t be a commodity exchange. You want to work with a partner who can help you close more customers—not just hand over a list.

This guide tells you exactly what to ask when looking for a lead generation company. Learn more.

How Do Lead Generation Companies Work?

Lead generation companies are experts on all things business growth. Since lead generation providers specialize in building and maintaining predictable sales pipelines for the long haul, they have a proven approach to generating new business opportunities.

Here’s a preview of what the process and partnership looks like when you hire a trusted lead generation provider: 

Step 1: The Onboarding Process

When you partner with a lead generation company, the first step is onboarding. Through the onboarding process, the lead generation provider learns about your company, your target audience, and what you hope to achieve by implementing the program. This ensures that each sales and marketing expert working on your account knows your company like the back of their hand and is able to craft messaging to align with your brand’s voice. 

Step 2: Choose a Lead Generation Strategy

After the lead generation company has a firm grasp of your company and target market, they can start developing your sales pipeline. Not every lead generation strategy should be the same from one company, industry, or market to another. Therefore, it’s vital to select an approach that aligns with your brand and the buyer personas of KDMs you work with.

Step 3: Implement the Lead Generation Program

Once you and your outsourced sales and marketing team determine how to generate sales leads, it’s time to put your strategy into action. 

It’s important to remember that lead generation isn’t an immediate ROI because it takes time to introduce your company, establish brand credibility, and build valuable relationships. Within the first few months of your lead generation program, gathering market research is crucial, so outsourced sales reps know how to pitch decision-makers effectively. Additionally, analysis allows marketing experts to create content that aligns with the interests of your potential buyers.

Step 4: Measure the Success of the Lead Generation Process

A lead generation program without consistent reporting risks poor results. When you work with a lead generation provider, your sales experts give you insight into the performance of your sales pipeline. Additionally, their sales reporting tools allow you to identify where most of your business opportunities are and in which stage of the sales funnel. This allows you to work with your outsourced sales development reps (SDRs) to develop a game plan that ensures the lead reaches the end of the buyer’s journey.

Step 5: Make Adjustments to the Sales Process and Repeat

When measuring the success of your lead generation process, it’s essential to understand where your company is with its business growth efforts compared to industry standards so your provider can make adjustments to the process as needed. If your company’s lead generation program is performing well, great! This means that few areas need adjustments.

However, if the results of your outsourced lead generation process are lower than industry standards, your lead generation provider will work with you to develop a new plan of attack. Once lead generation process changes are implemented, the lead generation company repeats steps 2 through 5 until you see the results you want.

How To Choose the Best Lead Generator for Your Business

With all the different lead generation companies to choose from, how do you determine which provider is the best fit for your business? When considering your options, make sure you:

Review the Industries They Work With

Lead generation is not a one-size-fits-all solution for all businesses, industries, and markets. From industry to industry, some lead generation companies have found more success than others, which is why many outsourced sales and marketing service providers have core industries they collaborate with. 

For instance, lead generation companies that focus on outbound email marketing may find more success with MSPs and software companies. On the other hand, lead gen companies that prioritize outbound cold calling may find more success with commercial businesses like HVAC, roofing, and construction than with tech companies. Before you sign on the dotted line with a lead generation provider, make sure they can prove how they’ve successfully generated a sales pipeline for other companies in your line of work.

Consider the Diversity of Their Services

When selecting a lead generation company to work with, be sure to explore the diversity of their sales development and marketing services. Do you want to practice outbound lead generation? Inbound lead generation? A combination of the two? 

Choosing a business growth company that offers various services is essential because it gives your business options that fit your lead gen goals. Additionally, working with a single lead generation company for your sales and marketing efforts streamlines both strategies for maximum success.

Know What Sales and Marketing Tools They Use

Sales and marketing tools are vital for a successful lead generation process. Without the proper technologies, you risk an unsustainable sales process that yields poor results. 

As you consider lead generation providers, ask them about the different sales and marketing tools they use. This list of tools should include: 

  • CRM platforms
  • Automation tools
  • Reporting dashboards
  • Communication technologies  
  • And more 


It’s important to remember that the sales stack can get costly when you add them all up. When you choose to hire a lead generation provider over going the in-house route, you have the opportunity to save a significant amount of money to go towards other necessities for your small business.

Explore How They Measure Performance

As we discussed earlier, measuring the performance of your lead generation program is essential for ensuring the results you want for your business. When looking into hiring a lead generation company, ask them how they measure the effectiveness of their outbound sales development and inbound marketing campaigns.

Here are some ways lead gen companies measure outbound sales development success:

  • Appointments set
  • Lead conversions 
  • Emails sent
  • Dials made
  • Leads qualified 


When it comes to analyzing inbound marketing success, lead generators measure the:

  • Leads generated
  • Amount of traffic to your website
  • Number of keywords on your site

For a B2B lead generation partnership to be successful, there must be complete transparency between your business and the third-party provider. While your partner can present you with data about your program, it’s crucial that you can also access the results of your program through a CRM or other reporting software. This builds trust between you and your provider, setting your business up for sustainable growth.

Key Takeaways

While lead generation is crucial for predictable and sustainable business growth, many small and medium-sized businesses don’t have the time, money, or expertise to do it internally. When this is the case, many B2B companies hire lead generation companies to help them find leads and convert them into sales opportunities

At Sapper Consulting, our sales developments experts practice outbound lead generation through advanced email marketing efforts. When you’re ready to hire high-performing sales reps to maximize your lead generation efforts, contact the experts at Sapper Consulting!

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About The Author

About Sapper Consulting

Sapper's sales prospecting team becomes a natural extension of your existing sales efforts, helping you find new leads that are a great fit for your business.

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