Updated: May 24, 2022
Think lead generation. And images of exhausted salespeople staring down an excel sheet, cold emails that never got a reply, and failed outreach campaigns will spring up in your mind.
It’s scary. It’s tiring. It eats up your time. And often you don’t want to do it alone.
Outsourcing can solve all these problems and even add extra value to your whole cold outreach and lead generation process. 59% of businesses outsource to cut down on expenses while 57% outsource to focus on their core services.
But, outsourcing cold emails is a risky business. After all, you just get ONE chance to not end up in the spam box or worse, harm your brand.
So, finding a professional cold email agency that understands your business and can drive faster and better results is non-negotiable.
But how exactly can you do that? By asking the right questions. And what are those? Well, we can first start with...
Questions To Ask Yourself (Before Outsourcing)
1. Do I have a target buyer in mind?
Nobody understands your business better than you. That means nobody will understand your customers better than you.
While a cold email agency might have the expertise to FIND and CONNECT with your prospects, you’re the one to decide WHO they are.
If you do not have clear defining criteria for an ideal customer, you will most likely:
get slow and even low-quality results 📉
make the agency’s work a bit tedious 😅
end up wasting your resources on irrelevant leads 💰
So, here’s a quick checklist to tick off before you weigh your cold email outsourcing options:
Find out everything you can about your target customer. It includes their:
Talk to your front-end sales and customer service people to understand what connects with your customers.
Have your marketing team do some preliminary research and chalk out accurate buyer personas based on your historical projected client list.
2. How do I measure success?
For XYZ Ltd., a lead costing $500 is too expensive. On the other hand, ABC Ltd. would do anything for a lead THAT affordable.
The value of a customer differs from business to business, and so does the benchmark for lead generation success.
So how do you make up your mind and tell the agency, “This is what I want”… Some metrics to track:
Start by measuring how much each customer is worth (on average). One way to do so is by knowing your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
You can also track what your average deal size is.
Consider the length of your sales cycle. How many times do you need to talk to a prospect before signing, and how long is the process.
Run analytics on your CRM, discuss with your sales team, or meditate on your CLV in your Sunday yoga classes. Do what you may, but be extremely clear about what success means to you and how you can measure it.
Now that you’re through and thorough with what you need, you’re ready to gauge what the agency can offer. So here are some…
Questions To Ask The Agency
1. What is your track record?
We’ll be a little cliché here and say: “Actions speak louder than words”.
Some basic metrics you can also assess are:
Bottom line: Amount of quality leads generated
If an agency claims to generate 100 leads every week, it is important to know how many are positive and matching the buyer persona.
Remember, email replies like “unsubscribe me, please” and “Stop Emailing me!” still count in reply rates and harm your brand.
❗ RED FLAG ❗
If an agency is not willing to share this basic information or give vague, unquantifiable answers, it’s best to evaluate other options.
2. How will you help us reach our lead generation goal?
Results are driven by an efficient sales process. By understanding HOW an agency generates leads, you can tell a lot about their expertise.
Understand the process:
- How they find prospects
- How they engage (the tools and messages)
- How they generate prospects' interest
- What metrics will they communicate and how often
3. Can you send me a sample cold email?
Yes! Go ahead and ask them to shoot the shot. After all, what good is a cold email agency that cannot convert its own clients?
Asking them to send you a cold email will do 4 things:
Help you gauge their email writing style and level of personalization.
Show you if they can walk the talk.
Give room for suggestions & improvements.
Quantify whether their style is a good fit for your business.
The best way to see how your prospects will react to the outreach emails is to be in their shoes first.
4. Do you work with similar companies?
This one is a curveball 😶 — But it’s important to understand if the agency works with your direct or indirect competitors. Because an agency that works with similar companies will:
Know the industry best practices.
Understand your market better.
Yes, yes… we know there’s a big “what if” bubbling inside your head.
What if there’s a conflict of interest or a leak of confidential data? That’s a valid question.
So, be upfront and ask it away. At best, you’ll get more peace of mind if they have their policies in place to avoid conflict. At worst, you can call their bluff and look for better alternatives.
5. What are the costs involved in the entire process?
Even if A LOT of things go right, the budget can always be a restraining factor while outsourcing. So:
Have a very clear understanding of the agency’s pricing model beforehand.
Apart from the variable cost of the campaign, is there any fixed operating cost involved? Do they require a monthly minimum commitment?
Get a complete breakdown of the costs you might incur, and match it with what you're expecting.
NOTE: your ROI is based on whether you make enough sales. You can evaluate this based on your average deal size and sales cycle for outbound prospects
- Outsourced lead generation costs you $3,000/month
- Your average Sales Cycle is 6 months
- Your average Deal Size is $10,000
Bottom Line: After 6 months (6x$3,000 = $18,000 spent) you need to have closed 2 clients (2x$10,000 = $20,000 closed) to see an ROI.
But you're not in it to cover costs only aren't you.
6. What about analytics?
If you’re outsourcing the cold email outreach process to an agency, you expect them to have the technical expertise to drive better results.
What data is captured and communicated.
What type of tools they use.
Clarify whether you’ll need to provide access to any tools from your end.
For a better understanding, also ask what all parameters they use to analyze prospects & what data points they collect.
Most importantly, ask if they’ll be using your domain to send emails (this is preferable).
7. Who is the team? Their accomplishments or awards?
You’re handing over a critical business process to this agency. Thus, It’s really important to know their team.
Talk to the people who will be handling your account and those who will act as the person of contact (POC).
Gauge their experience level, skills, and attitude to see if it fits right.
Also check if the agency has a credible track record and worthy accomplishments in its field. Having an award would be a plus.
8. Are they the right cultural fit for our team / company?
Think of the agency as a partner, and not merely a service provider. The better they identify with your business vision, the better results they’ll bring.
Take time to understand their core values, vision, and work mantras. Map it against your own company culture to see if you can work in harmony.
That’s how you find people who are ready to roll up their sleeves, come up with awesome ideas, and scale your business like their own.
9. Do they need to be managed, or do they manage you?
This will depend on your preference and level of involvement you'd like to have in the process.
There are 2 types of agencies:
The ones you will need to guide to achieve your goal
The ones that will guide you to achieve your goal
This is up to you. We typically see ourselves as open ear guides.
We also recommend discussing how much involvement you’d like and where to draw the line. This will help in smoother, long-term collaborations.
10. Finally, can they teach us something?
This will help you understand what extra the agency offers other than tangible metrics.
Are they recognized experts in their field?
Do they produce content that can help you in your work?
Can you learn from them?
That’s how you will derive some added value from their service and leverage their expertise.
That was our two cents’ worth on how to find the right cold email agency. And the cherry on top is that you can use these questions to assess ANY company.
Remember, the right agency will:
Be on top of their game.
Sync perfectly with your working style and culture.
Fit in your budget (or provide added value for every extra coin spent).
In the end, it's about find a partner that will not only help you grow, but also grow with you.
If you're curious about how we work? Say hi on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Team TSL 🚀