How To Start a Lead Generation Business? [Takeaways From Lead Gen. Agencies Doing Over $200m in Revenue Combined]

12 mins

Do you want to know how to start a lead generation business?

If so, you’ll need to understand the processes and strategies behind the lead generation model. Lead generation agencies help companies find and convert new leads for their business. 

However, in the increasingly competitive lead gen. market, it has become more difficult to track, reach, and convert potential clients.

Generating leads doesn’t have to be complicated — there are many tried and true methods available to new lead generation agencies. 

In this article, we’ll cover the most effective lead generation strategies and marketing tactics so that you can start your new journey confidently. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

And here’s a summary of our findings:


  • Starting a lead generation agency is difficult and competitive if you don’t choose a specialized niche. We recommend choosing a niche that helps you stand out from other agencies. 
  • You should listen to the following insights from leading lead generation agencies:
    • LinkedIn is underrated for lead generation
    • SEO and TOFU content are both vital for modern strategies
    • Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is very in-demand
    • The best lead generation strategies are data-driven
    • Knowing your clients’ ICPs is vital
    • You can never understand clients’ lead generation funnels too well
  • Expandi can help you find and nurture leads through LinkedIn. If you’re interested in Expandi, you can test it out with a 7-day free trial.

Why do most lead generation businesses fail?

Generating leads is the biggest challenge for most business owners.

According to a study from Ruler Analytics, 37% of marketers found lead generation to be one of their biggest struggles. HubSpot’s research also indicates that it’s one of the two biggest challenges facing marketers — 61% of marketers struggle with lead generation and generating organic traffic.

So, why do most lead generation businesses fail? 

Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • They struggle to generate high-quality leads and find prospective clients
  • They struggle to manage budgets and expenses
  • They struggle to build scalable marketing campaigns
  • They struggle to track and analyze conversions 
  • They struggle to get organic website traffic
  • They struggle to manage time efficiently 
  • They struggle to keep clients long-term
  • They struggle to get results for clients

Unfortunately, many businesses don’t have the capacity, the right strategies, or the resources to generate qualified leads for clients.

But the best lead generation strategies aren’t exclusive or only available to certain companies. If you have the drive and desire to succeed with lead generation, you can. 

Any new agency could flourish if it implements the right strategies. Read on to find out how…

How to start a lead generation business step-by-step

Step 1. Choose a niche, industry, or category

Conducting thorough industry and marketing research is essential for your new lead generation business. 

Most successful agencies have a specific niche. Finding the right niche is crucial — if you choose wrong, your chosen market will be over-saturated and very competitive. Try to find a gap in the market. 

Consider which niches pay the most per lead. Then, identify how large the market is and assess how easy it would be to target these leads (we recommend considering their Loan-To-Value (LTV)). 

You should also consider the scope of your services. Will you target leads in a specific field or location? Will you work with many types of companies in your niche or only a few? 

Step 2. Determine fees and costs

Lead generation businesses use many different pricing models. 

We recommend using a hybrid approach. This approach is best for new lead generation services because it’s low-risk. 

Here’s how the hybrid approach works: your clients select how much they want to spend on advertisements and specialized lead generation campaigns. Then, you spend that amount of money on ads. 

As you generate leads, you pass them to your client’s sales reps, and they try to convert them. 

Your client then pays you:

  • The full cost of the advertising or lead generation campaigns (so if they selected $500, they pay $500)
  • A predetermined fee for each lead you generated
  • A percentage-based fee for each lead that converted (usually, this fee is 10-20%)

The thing to watch for with the hybrid model is that your margins are large enough that you remain profitable. The hybrid approach has lower commission rates compared to the front-end or back-end models — so you need to be careful. 

Step 3. Identify your target audience and build client relationships

Once you have identified your niche or market, it’s time to focus on your target audience and develop new client relationships. 

Consider the goals of members of your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and build buyer personas

We know that 95% of buyers choose a vendor who provides them with content that helps them navigate each stage of the buying process. So it’s important to identify your prospects’ pain points, motivations, and goals so you can offer a practical solution.

Next, learn how to map and optimize a customer’s journey in the sales funnel so you can gain qualified leads more systematically. Putting a system for customer journey mapping in place in advance will help you scale your business later.
From there, consider how you will find quality leads and attract customers into your sales funnel.

Step 4. Utilize led gen. strategies

Once you’ve established your niche and target audience, it’s time to find potential leads and get their contact information. 

One effective lead generation strategy is scraping a LinkedIn post for potential customers. 

You can do this in Expandi. Here’s how:

1. Log into Expandi (or sign up if you are new). 

2. Go to “search” and select “add new search”.

3. Choose “post engagement”.
A screenshot showing how to scrape a post in Expandi


4. Name your search.
A screenshot showing how to name your search in Expandi


5. Add the URL of the post you want to scrape.
A screenshot showing how to add your post ID in Expandi


Sometimes, the post’s ID will be different from the one in the URL. If this is the case, go to the post, click “embed this post”, and find the post ID inside the iframe element at the SRC property.
A screenshot showing how to find post id outside a url


6. Press “search”. Expandi will scrape the post for you.

Once you have contact information, you can make contact with leads using Expandi’s smart campaigns. 

If you’re interested in trying Expandi, start a 7-day free trial now.

Step 5. Utilize outreach marketing strategies

Outreach marketing is all about offering a solution to your potential customers, so it should be your priority as a new business. Outreach marketing will help you to build brand awareness, establish client relationships, and grow your lead generation business.

Here are some outreach marketing strategies you could try: 

  • Cold calling
  • Face-to-face outreach
  • Cold emailing
  • Sending a connection request on LinkedIn (read this article to learn how to get a 49% reply rate with Expandi)

You should also consider investing in the following marketing tactics:

  • Leveraging search engine marketing and creating targeted landing pages to attract potential clients. Using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools to enhance your content will also increase your organic traffic, Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) rankings, domain ranking, and the effectiveness of your website.
  • Integrating Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs) into your strategy. A CRM will help you manage and optimize your lead generation pipeline at every stage.
  • Creating a lead capture form. Lead capture forms are an efficient way to collect prospects’ contact information.
  • Fleshing out your website with details about your business and displaying client testimonials. On your lead generation site, detail your business’ key areas of expertise, services, contact information, and fees.

Step 6. Measure and analyze your lead generation efforts

Conversion funnel metrics are an important part of an effective lead gen strategy.
 Measuring your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Return On Investment (ROI), and conversion metrics will help you assess your performance, limit costs, boost conversions, and improve the effectiveness of your strategies.

In short: it will improve your strategy so that you can generate more revenue. 

How to make your lead generation company successful — insights from leading agencies 

Now that you know how to start a lead generation business, here are some expert tips and insights from leading lead generation companies:

Leverage LinkedIn for B2B lead generation — Pearl Lemon Leads

LinkedIn is one of Pearl Lemon Leads’ specialties — and it’s a fantastic choice for a lead generation business. 

Did you know that 70% of B2B social media leads come from Linkedin? 

Using LinkedIn as an outreach strategy for B2B leads generates excellent results, according to Pearl Lemon Leads.

But LinkedIn won’t let you spam people. In fact, it will limit you to only 100 connection requests per week

That’s where an automation tool like Expandi enters the picture. 

Expandi can support your lead generation business by giving you the tools you need to exceed LinkedIn’s limits without punishment. You can find leads and nurture them with smart sequences.

According to a study of 200 marketers, the most impressive benefits of using automation tools like Expandi are that they:

  • Increase your efficiency and productivity (according to 74% of marketers)
  • Boost customer engagement (according to 68% of marketers)
  • Improve your communications (according to 58% of marketers)
  • Help you up-sell leads (according to 58% of marketers)

Invest in SEO and TOFU content — Belkins 

Belkins specializes in helping business owners to build a predictable and consistent sales pipeline for B2B markets. Their strategy is to provide an “in-depth lead generation model to deliver the most accurate sales leads”. A big part of their strategy is using marketing tactics like SEO and Top-Of-The-Funnel (TOFU) content to generate leads.

But what’s the significance of SEO and TOFU content if you want to start a lead generation business?

According to Belkins, using these approaches will help attract leads and get them interested. Belkins also says they help you push leads through your clients’ sales funnels faster.

These strategies are best used together, Belkins says, because TOFU content won’t get a lot of organic traffic without SEO. SEO can help your TOFU content perform well on SERPs.

Belkins’ approach is to produce content that targets a B2B audience. Belkins recommends that those who want to generate leads do these key things with TOFU content:

  • Target decision-makers
  • Structure your content around your product (i.e., product-led content)
  • Nurture leads within the article
  • Develop the highest-quality resource you can on a given topic 
  • Present testimonials and social proof within the article (naturally, of course)
  • Target specific segments with each article
  • Leverage lead capture forms where appropriate
  • Utilize outbound email campaigns to support TOFU content

Invest in Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) — Single Grain 

Single Grain specializes in Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) campaigns that help businesses “to drive leads, boost sales and engagements, and help businesses build client relationships”.

Where does CRO fit in if you want to start a lead generation business?

CRO can help you lower your lead acquisition costs, thus increasing your effectiveness and profitability. Data-driven CRO techniques can also increase how much value a company gets from each visitor.

A big part of CRO is optimizing:

  • The drivers that bring people to your marketing
  • The barriers that push people away from your marketing
  • The hooks that turn leads into customers 

Here are some CRO strategies you can try in your own lead generation business:

  • Optimizing the text, phrasing, and colors used in Calls to Action (CTAs)
  • Creating lead flows
  • Running A/B tests to determine which version of a piece of marketing is the most effective
  • Ensuring your website is optimized for mobile devices 
  • Optimizing your website’s structure
  • Increasing web page speeds
  • Placing trust signals into your marketing
  • Optimizing copy with keywords
  • Investing in high-quality product photography
  • Using white space to improve the impact of a piece of marketing
  • Optimizing the payment process

In one project, Single Grain helped Nextiva to “decrease their cost per lead by 41.37% year-over-year on paid ads”. Single Grain’s strategy for this project was to “determine what [type of] lead would provide optimal down-funnel performance” and then identify the most cost-efficient audience segments. Then, Single Grain performed CRO for these segments specifically.

Make your lead generation strategies data-driven — Cience 

Cience focuses on making lead generation strategies data-driven to help B2B companies “build hard to find target audiences”. 

Cience recommends using algorithms and software tools to help clients: 

  • Research and find leads who might otherwise slip through the cracks
  • Identify custom signals and data points that are specific to the client’s industry 
  • Make lead generation more efficient 
  • Increase conversions

Why should you make your lead generation strategies data-driven? 

Cience says data makes your campaigns better, and 64% of executives who responded to a Forbes survey “strongly agree” that data-driven marketing is crucial to succeeding in a hyper-competitive global economy. 

Develop an ICP to truly understand customers — Martal Group 

Martal Group is a B2B lead generation agency that specializes in outbound and inbound marketing strategies that target leads who fit into a very specific ICP.

Using an ICP can help your business narrow down the list of potential leads for clients to a very short, niche list. This niche list is easier to target and nurture, as clients can assign resources better.

In one project, Martal Group helped Spice to generate 25,000 more leads a month using an ICP and a carefully-developed strategy.

A screenshot of Martal's case study for Spice

According to Martal Group, the best ICPs are very detailed and well-researched. To develop them seamlessly, you’ll need to develop a process for ICPs and build a very strong relationship with clients.

Don’t neglect cold calls and emails — Callbox

Callbox is a B2B lead generation service that uses a “multi-touch multi-channel account-based marketing approach to lead generation.” 

According to Callbox, implementing cold calling and emailing campaigns can be highly effective when done right. As a lead generation business, you can use these tactics to:

  • Target leads with personalized messaging
  • Engage with leads on a personal level
  • Introduce leads to your client’s products
  • Start conversions with leads
  • Learn more about leads, including their pain points, needs, and challenges

So, what’s the significance of cold call and email campaigns for lead generation businesses?  

69% of buyers accepted one or more cold calls from a salesperson in the past year. 

So, it’s a very viable lead generation and nurturing strategy. 

However, how you implement cold calling and emailing plays a big role in how successful you’ll be at it. Many marketers fail to get results from cold outreach. 

These tips from Callbox can increase the effectiveness of cold outreach:

  • Listen, don’t talk — Let leads dominate the conversation and make them feel heard.
  • Develop scripts — These will make sure you touch on the right points in every piece of cold outreach. 
  • Embrace rejection — You can learn from it.
  • Time your outreach carefully — Send emails first thing in the morning and call people outside of the peak hours for their industry (otherwise, they’ll be too busy to answer).
  • Be a detective — Learn about your prospect before engaging with them. 
  • Don’t be sales focused — Mention your product naturally, and don’t be pushy. 
  • Leave effective voicemails — You need to give leads a good reason to call you back.
  • Supplement cold emailing and calling with other marketing channels and tactics — This will increase your returns. 

Leverage audience search data — Terakeet

Terakeet provides lead generation and customer acquisition solutions that leverage audience search data. According to Terakeet, leveraging data increases the effectiveness of lead generation efforts.

As the average customer performs 12 searches on average before they make a purchase, search data can give you insight into leads’ positions in your sales funnel. Knowing this helps sales reps nurture the lead better.

In one example, Terakeet used search data to help a leading financial company to increase its Google market share by 265% and multiply its monthly organic page views by 11.3 in 22 months.

A screenshot of Terakeet's case study with a leading finance group

According to Terakeet, utilizing audience search data can also help you:

  • Improve your clients’ domain rankings
  • Increase ROI for clients
  • Track Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) 
  • Provide more relevant and personalized content to reach your target audience

Terakeet also says that competitive analysis is key when using search data. Specifically, agencies should analyze search data for clients’ competitors. 

Understand clients’ lead generation funnels really well — LeadGen

Lead Gen is a B2B lead generation company that creates sales opportunities by looking at clients’ lead generation funnels very, very closely and developing unique strategies for each client.

According to Lead Gen, understanding the lead generation funnel is vital. 

In their white paper, Lead Gen emphasizes the importance of qualifying every single lead in the funnel. Ideally, Lead Gen says, “every prospect in the sales funnel is assigned a Potential Revenue (PR) and a Probability of Closing (PC) once they’ve been identified or qualified.”

If you know the funnel very well, you can then identify the best leads to nurture. Thus, your client can assign salespeople to the most qualified leads, increasing their revenue and conversions. 

 We estimate 60 – 80% of prospects leave lead generation funnels without converting into customers. So, failing to identify the most qualified leads can cost your clients a lot of time and resources.

Final thoughts: How to start a lead generation business

So, why start a lead generation business?

There is a clear demand for lead generation services, and it’s lucrative for you. 

However, the lead generation market is highly saturated and very competitive. So you need the right strategies to succeed. 

In this article, we drew inspiration from some of the best lead generation agencies in the world. And here’s what we found: 

  • You shouldn’t neglect LinkedIn — 70% of B2B leads generated on social networks come from LinkedIn (Pearl Lemon Leads). Additionally, you should leverage LinkedIn outreach tools.
  • You should invest in SEO and TOFU content (Belkins)
  • You should invest in CRO (Single Grain)
  • You should use data to drive your lead generation strategies (Cience)
  • You shouldn’t ignore cold calls and emails (Callbox)
  • You should use search data to qualify leads (Terakeet)
  • You need to understand clients’ lead generation funnels super well (LeadGen)

And if you’re using LinkedIn, try Expandi.

Expandi can help your business execute lead generation campaigns that combine Linkedin and email outreach, leverage sales follow-ups, and offer real-time analytics and insights into potential leads. 

Expandi can get you a steady stream of high-quality leads in a matter of weeks — helping you to grow your lead generation business sustainably.

Test Expandi out today with a 7-day free trial.



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