Let’s dive into how startup freelance consultants can outsource LinkedIn lead generation in a budget-friendly way while maintaining quality and effectiveness. This strategy is crucial for those looking to maximize their outreach without breaking the bank.
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The Challenge of Cost-Effective Lead Generation
Imagine trying to grow your consulting business, knowing you need to generate leads but facing tight budget constraints. It’s a common scenario for many freelancers who need a steady stream of clients but can’t afford expensive lead-generation services or tools.
Why Outsource LinkedIn Lead Generation?
The ultimate aim is to efficiently identify prospective customers and convert them into paying clients. By outsourcing, you can focus on your expertise while external partners help fill your sales pipeline.
The key is finding the right balance between cost and quality.
5 reasons why a freelancer might outsource their lead generation
- Time Efficiency: Freelancers often wear multiple hats and juggling lead generation with other tasks can be overwhelming. Outsourcing frees up their time to focus on delivering quality work and honing their expertise.
- Expertise Access: Lead generation agencies and specialists possess the skills, tools, and experience to execute effective campaigns. Freelancers benefit from this expertise without the steep learning curve.
- Cost-Effectiveness: While it might seem counterintuitive, outsourcing can be more cost-effective than doing it in-house, especially considering the opportunity cost of a freelancer’s time away from billable work.
- Scalability: As freelancers’ businesses grow, their lead generation needs may exceed their capacity to manage alone. Outsourcing provides a scalable solution that can adjust to increasing demand without sacrificing quality.
- Improved Results: Professional lead generators continually refine campaigns using proven strategies and analytics. This expertise can lead to higher quality leads and better conversion rates compared to self-managed efforts.
3 Ways to Generate Leads on LinkedIn
1. DIY (Do It Yourself):
- Manually search, find, connect and pitch prospective clients: Dedicate time to personally search for and connect with potential clients, then pitch your services directly.
- Content Marketing: Attract leads organically by publishing valuable content on LinkedIn.
- Engage in LinkedIn Groups: Actively participating in relevant groups allows you to connect with potential leads at no extra cost.
- Use LinkedIn Automation Tools: Tools like Expandi, Dripify, LinkedHelper, and Octopus CRM automate sending connection requests and managing leads with various pricing options. I’m personally not a fan of tools like this and you put your account at risk of being suspended as using automated outreach tools like these are in direct violation of Linkedin’s community terms of service.
- Leverage LinkedIn’s Features: Utilize LinkedIn Paid Ads, Lead Magnets, and Messaging for effective lead generation. While ads involve costs, leveraging lead magnets and messaging can be effective for those with an established following.
DIY Approach Pros:
- Full control over the lead generation process.
- Cost-effective, mainly requiring time and effort.
- Personalized outreach to potential clients.
DIY Approach Cons:
- Time-consuming, requiring substantial dedication.
- Steep learning curve for LinkedIn’s features and tools.
- Challenging to balance content creation, group engagement, and direct outreach without a structured strategy.
2. Done-for-You (Outsource LinkedIn Lead Generation):
- Outsource to a Lead Generation Agency: Specialized agencies can tailor their services to your needs, ensuring alignment with your company culture, budget, and ROI expectations.
- Comprehensive services that cover various aspects of lead generation, reducing the need for multiple tools or platforms.
- Potential for a high return on investment if the service effectively generates quality leads.
- The typical starting price of $1,000 – $2,000 per month may be out of reach for many freelancers or small businesses.
- Dependence on a third-party service for lead generation could limit your control and understanding of the process.
How do lead generation agencies find you leads?
Are you curious about how outsourced lead generation agencies fill your pipeline with leads? Here’s a straightforward look at their typical process (screenshot taken from the website of Cleverly):
Now let’s break down step 1 – “Find Prospects”, as this is the step where many consultants trying to DIY will get stuck. The way agencies go about finding the right people to send outreach messages to is a combination of the following:
- Research and Tools: Agencies use a blend of market research and specialized tools to identify potential leads. For insights into their techniques, check out resources like Lead Cookie’s guide on LinkedIn lead generation for 2023, offering a glimpse into the limits, tools, and tips for effective lead gen.
- Lead Sourcing Methods:
- Scraping: Gathering emails through scraping tools. It’s worth noting this method often breaches platform policies, like those of LinkedIn.
- Purchasing Lists: Buying pre-compiled lists of potential leads. This approach has its risks, including relevance and data accuracy.
- Manual Research: As discussed in my blog post, this involves hands-on research to identify and validate prospective leads, ensuring compliance and high-quality contacts.
Each of these methods has its pros and cons, from the high efficiency of automated tools to the ethical and accuracy considerations of manual research. Agencies typically select the approach that best matches your target market and compliance requirements.
I’d recommend staying away from any behaviour that might put your reputation at risk and/or get your Linkedin account banned.
3. Done-with-you (Involves Outsourced Help):
This strategy allows you to control the overall direction while outsourcing specific tasks. You can essentially assign the activities listed under the DIY category above to your VA.
Hiring a Freelancer – Pros:
- Access to specialized skills and experience.
- Flexible and scalable support based on project needs.
- Cost-effective compared to full-time hires or agencies. For example, you can hire a VA in the Philippines from $5 USD per hour.
Hiring a Freelancer – Cons:
- Quality and reliability can vary.
- Requires time for onboarding, training and managing the freelancer.
- There is potential for communication and scheduling challenges, especially with freelancers in different time zones and culture expectations.
What about virtual assistant companies/agencies?
VA companies have their place and can be super useful if your business is big enough to cover their fees. They can also pose problems.
- Professional Matching: They match you with a VA whose skills align with your specific needs.
- Time-Saving: Eliminates the need for you to sift through candidates.
- Flexibility: Easy to scale up or down based on your workload.
- Reliability: Agencies often have backup VAs for continuity.
- Quality Assurance: Agencies typically ensure quality work from their VAs.
- Higher Cost: Agencies will charge a premium over hiring directly. They’ve got to make their profit and pay for employee benefits somehow, so typically, they’ll add a 50%+ margin on top of what they’re actually paying the VAs. (That’s money that you could pay the VA directly)
- Less Control: You may not have direct control over who is assigned to you.
- Communication Layers: Working through an agency can add extra steps to communication.
- Generic Skills: The VA assigned may have a general skill set rather than specialized knowledge.
- Depersonalization: The relationship may feel less personal than working directly with an individual VA.
Aligning Outsourcing Strategies with Sales Goals
Defining your ideal customer profile (ICP) to ensure lead quality and working closely with your outsourced partner to align strategies with your sales goals is crucial. This collaboration ensures that your lead-generation efforts are targeted and effective.
5 steps to hiring and onboarding a VA to help with lead generation
- Define Your Needs: Clearly outline the tasks and responsibilities you want the VA to handle, focusing on lead generation activities. Specify the skills and experience required.
- Create your job ad: Create a simple one-page doc that specifies what you need the person to do, specific experience, skills and traits, how many hours you need them for each week/month, and estimated budget you have to pay them. Also worth mentioning if you’d like to see examples/results of their previous leadgen work (or some other way that they can demonstrate they know what they’re doing).
- IMPORTANT: Personally I’m conscious that anyone I hire will need to be trained on MY internal process for lead gen so I’m more focused on relevant industry understanding, that they know their way around the tools we use, have strong attention-to-detail, and are fast learners and action takers. I recently had to let go of 3 VAs because they had poor attention-to-detail and could not follow our process (even after several weeks of training, doing the work, re-training and feedback rounds).
- Search for Candidates: Utilize platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, FB groups (online communities), or LinkedIn to find VAs with experience in lead generation. Look for those with high ratings and positive reviews. You can list your job ad, or direct people to your google/word doc.
- Interview and Assess: Conduct interviews to assess their communication skills, reliability, and understanding of lead generation strategies. Consider giving a small paid test task to evaluate their capabilities. For instance, can they research online and find 25 potential individuals/companies that fit your ICP and create a spreadsheet with relevant details – company name, company size, primary contact person, linkedin profile, email address (getting someone’s work email address is the real test and isn’t easy to get via Linkedin), etc.
- Onboarding and Training: Once hired, provide your VA with detailed onboarding that includes an overview of your business, your lead generation process, tools they’ll be using (e.g., CRM software, LinkedIn), and your expectations.
- Set Up Communication and Reporting Systems: Establish regular check-ins and a system for tracking progress and metrics. This ensures transparency and helps keep the VA aligned with your lead generation goals.
Additional VA onboarding resources
Here are a couple of videos that explain to VAs what Lead Generation is and how to do it. Again, these do NOT replace sharing how you would do it for your business and the nuances you’d need to communicate to your VA/outsourced partner before they do any outreach on your behalf.
Video: How to do lead generation for virtual assistants
Video: How to generate leads on Linkedin
Conclusion: The Smart Way to Outsource LinkedIn Lead Generation
Outsourcing LinkedIn lead generation doesn’t have to be expensive. By following these strategies, freelance consultants can effectively and affordably increase their sales pipeline, ensuring that they can attract high-quality leads without compromising their budget or time.