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Lead Generation Consultant vs. Agency: Which is Best for ROI?

If you want your business to thrive, you need a steady influx of qualified leads.

Lead generation is a tricky subject. Some lead gen or marketing companies promise the world. They promise to find hundreds of leads for your business, and when they focus on vanity metrics like website traffic and new leads, it looks like they're doing a great job.

But not all leads are qualified leads. Here's where lead generation experts come in.

This article will explain the difference between a lead generation consultant and an agency and which is best for ROI. Spoiler alert: it depends.

 

Which is Best for ROI? Lead Generation Consultant vs. Agency

Let's get granular. For marketing purposes, a lead is any contact who might be a prospective customer. It's anyone that expresses interest in your product or service. The goal of your company is to generate as many leads as possible. But not just any lead. You want qualified leads.

Imagine you're watching your favorite movie, and you're interrupted by the phone ringing. You answer, and 'David' wishes to talk with you about your shower curtain preferences. How intrusive and disruptive!

Instead, you need leads that want to know more about your service. A qualified lead is someone who has some idea of who you are. Maybe they filled out a survey on social media or stumbled on a blog post searching for answers to a problem they're experiencing. If you contact them, they won't be surprised to hear from you.

These are the leads you want. And lots of them. Enter lead generation.

Lead generation is no easy task. You might even say it's a full-time job on its own! You might turn to a consultant or an agency for successful lead generation strategies. Before we look at both options and determine which provides the best marketing return on investment (ROI), let's define what lead generation is.

 

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of bringing people in through the metaphorical door. Once they're through the door, you nurture them, increasing their interest in your product or service, with the ultimate goal of turning them into customers.

When you focus on attracting best-fit customers, you set yourself up for success. Everything else becomes more effortless, from acquisition to referrals. Some ways to attract potential customers are email marketing, relevant and valuable content, and educational resources.

Lead generation consultants and agencies hone in on the types of leads they collect. They often contact leads, verify, categorize, and qualify them to arm your sales team with enough information to make a targeted pitch.

Related: Customer Acquisition Vs. Lead Generation: Which One Builds Growth Faster?

 

Is a Lead Generation Consultant Best for ROI?

A lead generation consultant is (usually) a freelancer who specializes in helping businesses attract and qualify more potential customers. They often work directly for B2B companies as consultants and charge a retainer fee.

Their focus is on auditing lead generation strategies and developing various marketing strategies for businesses to execute. Lead generation consultants would help you explore customers, positioning, and the competitive landscape, to steer you in the right marketing direction.

 

Pros

Lead generation consultants are experts in one channel. Experienced consultants will use tried-and-tested methods to maximize ROI. They will come into your company with a clear goal: Where are the gaps in your efforts to generate leads, and how can they plug those gaps.

This singular focus means you know exactly what you're getting and what they will do for you. With an agency, you might build a rapport with one marketer and then get handed off to an account or project manager.

Consultants often work on a contract basis. You can hire them for short-term engagements and set aside a budget for each contract term.

 

Cons

While lead generation consultants are great for finding and closing gaps in your marketing strategies, they often don't get involved with execution. It makes sense. They can spend less time on a project if they help build a strategy and leave the execution to someone else.

Because of the nature of their role, lead generation consultants are often more expensive in the long run. They usually charge by the hour or per contract, and if they're experts in what they do, you get what you pay for.

Lastly, a lead generation consultant is just one person. Where is their support network? They won't have a team to bounce ideas off of; they can't slack or let someone else step in if they need a break. It might not be a big issue, but you'll be left picking up the pieces if your consultant cannot finish your project.

 

Is a Lead Generation Agency Best for ROI?

The most significant difference between a consultant and an agency is execution. Consultants focus on strategy and, specifically, lead generation. Marketing agencies consider lead generation as part of the bigger picture.

Consultants often diagnose issues with lead generation and offer a strategy, but agencies execute on the strategies they develop.

 

Pros

The best agencies provide expertise beyond lead generation. Lead generation is part of the overall strategy, and a full-service team understands its importance but also gets that other factors are at play.

What happens if a strategy isn't working? If you hire a consultant and they provide a strategy that doesn't yield results, do you bring them back in? Hire somebody else? That will hurt your bottom line and waste valuable time and resources.

Full-service agencies execute on strategies. They can pivot when a strategy doesn't go to plan or double down on what's working. Agencies know precisely the value they offer and deliver results consistently.

 

Cons

Because an agency works with multiple clients at any given time, you're often assigned an account or project manager. You won't know exactly what's happening behind the scenes and must trust the agency to produce results.

The whole operation is more complex. With a consultant, you'll set up meeting times and work closely one-to-one. With an agency, you'll need to set up communication avenues, attend strategy meetings, and hope they aren't pulled in other directions.

Lastly, agencies prefer a long-term commitment. True growth takes time. Systems need to be set up, analyzed, and optimized. Expect to work with an agency for at least six months to see results.

 

What's Right for Your Business?

Hiring a lead generation consultant makes sense if you want a single person focused on strategy. Hiring an agency comes with the possibility of more resources and experts in all aspects of lead generation and marketing.

Just because an agency expects a long-term relationship doesn't mean you shouldn't consider them over a consultant you can hire on a project-by-project basis. An agency can grow with you. They can help you scale. Ultimately, Your decision comes down to budget, time, and goals.

A third option would be to work with a growth marketing team that considers scaling lead generation & profitable customer acquisition the cornerstone of growth. Qualified lead generation is essential, but identifying where you're stuck and fixing that first is even more critical.

Without quality leads, you can't grow sales. You can't scale marketing that isn't profitable. And while you think hiring a lead generation consultant or agency is the answer to your problems, you first need to identify where the friction comes up in the mind of your prospects. 

If you're feeling stuck and marketing and sales is an uphill battle, get unstuck with the Growth Grader. All our clients use it to grade their marketing performance and establish an accurate baseline.

Only then will you truly understand what you need.

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