B2B lead generation is the process of identifying the ideal customer for your product or service, then attracting them to buy.
Generating quality leads that can be moved into the sales pipeline is an essential activity for B2B sales and marketing teams. As more leads are generated, the better the top of the sales pipeline looks and the greater the overall growth of the company. But is it that simple? A lot depends on how effective your B2B lead generation strategy is and how efficiently you can measure the ROI from it.
Most companies that require customers to survive will need lead generation. Business to Customer (B2C) companies, such as retailers, restaurants, and service providers target the public. Business to Business (B2B) companies sell their products and services to other businesses. Both are reliant on customer revenue for their survival and dependent on leads to keep their business afloat.
If you’re serious about lead generation, you will need to make sure your sales and marketing teams are fully aligned with your goals, targeting criteria and how it will generate revenue. Before deciding which lead generation strategy will be most effective, you need to ask yourself a few essential questions, which we will get into in a minute.
Step 1: Find B2B leads. Find out the contact information of all your prospects. Build your lists from scratch, they will be more reliable.
Step 2: Reach out to your leads. With a list of hopefully quality leads, reps reach out through email outreach, phone calls and social media, or by replying to incoming inquiries.
Step 3: Qualifying and prospecting high quality leads.
Step 4: Finally, after multiple meetings a decision is generally made, the vendor picks you and is transferred to customer success.
By now, you’d think companies would’ve cracked the code to collecting data and perfecting lead generation strategies, but unfortunately, it is not that simple. People still struggle to this day to effectively generate leads and grow their business. They seem to have everything right with their product or service, but can’t seem to get it right when selling it.
There are a few questions that you need to ask yourself when plotting a good strategy for lead generation. It is the what, who, where, when, and why of your sales and marketing process. These questions will help streamline your lead generation process and uncover unique insights that could aid you in your process.
Once you know your targets, the next step is to find out what their needs are. What are their goals? What are their pain points? This will help you understand what value to deliver and how to tailor the message to solve their problems with your solution.
This is what makes you stand out. Unique selling propositions define what your organisation is all about, your message should be communicated right from the onset and throughout. It shows them what makes you different and what difference you can make to their business with your valuable services.
All of your teams need to be in alignment with who the lead is. Be sure to clearly define the company’s targeting criteria otherwise, you will often find that your emails do not get responses because the wrong people are receiving them. Use a combination of content marketing and paid advertising to reach your leads on the channels they frequent. Make sure you have a research team to scour the web and get all the information on your prospects.
You should be generating leads at every touchpoint and all the steps in your cycle should generate leads. Of course, there will be a vast difference in interest at this stage, but from here we can break them up and respond to them individually. The same technique will not work for everyone; you may have people who are still learning about their problems and need nurturing. On the other hand, you may have prospects who are already in the buying phase. Ideally, you would want to qualify them as quickly as possible to be able to maximise your conversion rate.
It’s no secret that businesses need a steady pipeline of new leads to survive and grow. B2B companies, in particular, need customised strategies that reach the right audiences because not everyone may be at the same stage of their customer journey.
A business needs to generate leads because, without leads, most businesses will lack the sales and customer base needed to grow. Companies cannot rely on their intuition, they need developed strategies for specific types of customers they want to attract. If a company doesn’t have a strategy, it won’t know who to target, and without targets, it will struggle to generate leads.
It helps you discover your total addressable market. B2B lead generation highlights how much of the market is receptive to your pitch.
It ensures you are contacting leads using the most up-to-date data.
B2B lead generation improves the sales cycle process by ensuring you are dealing with prospects who are most likely to buy, thus being able to increase conversion rates.
With B2B lead generation, you can learn who is your perfect customer and where they spend their time.
Knowing your customers allows you to create content that is relevant and valuable to them and their businesses.
By targeting the right people, you build stronger brand awareness.
With B2B lead generation, all marketing activities can be tracked and monitored, making it easy for you to refine your marketing efforts and justify the budget spend.
Remember, the secret lies in engaging customers and prospects the right way. Creating content that captures the intention of your prospects is complex. Not every consumer will be compelled to like your product or service off the bat, unless you must make it relevant to them.
Lead generation has become even more difficult with increasing amounts of competition. We want large amounts of data, but not any type of data. Having an abundance of it makes it difficult to track, reach, and engage with the ‘right’ potential prospects. As a result, many people outsource, it does save you time, and it ain’t a bad thing at all.
Many factors make acquiring quality leads difficult, even for successful companies. Lead generation is a very time-consuming and resource-demanding process. It can take hours for copywriters to create bespoke creative copy, especially if the Sales Development Representative (SDR) is reaching out to multiple industries and professions.
It can take SDR’s hours to research and create personalised add-ons for the messaging. These efforts are all in vain if the lead isn’t a good fit. Lack of resources will result in employees feeling burnt out, so you need to make sure you get the balance right.
With B2B lead generation, there is no magic combination of actions that will always nurture prospects. What works for everyone else, may not work for you, so try out different things. You don’t want to be stuck wondering why your campaigns aren’t working when they fail.
A negative outcome can cause serious consequences: bad quality results will cost your company more time, resources, and most importantly, money. Hence, we always recommend cutting off unqualified prospects right off the bat.
The primary goal of lead generation is to create a sales pipeline by capturing and stimulating the interest of buyers in a certain product or service. This can be done online, offline, or a combination of both.
There are so many channels for acquiring leads, but without a solid lead generation process, you will just be wasting your time. When it comes to choosing a strategy, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. You have to constantly evaluate your existing processes and determine what works best for you and what doesn’t. We talk about how A/B testing can improve lead generation further down the line. It shows you how often you need to be changing your approach to get the best results.
For a business to forecast future sales, growth, and revenue, a steady stream of inbound sales leads is critical. However, not all sales are equivalent in their value or importance to your business. Your best leads may be prospects that are potentially brand new customers or they may be your existing customer base. Bottom line is, both have potential, but both will be prioritised differently. For your sales cycle to run smoothly you need to classify them as a sales qualified lead, leads need to be categorised into three groups based on their intent, readiness to buy and their qualification as potentials.
“Hot’’ leads – The prospect is ready to buy and has the money and budget to close the deal. They don’t need much convincing, as they have already made a decision.
“Warm’’ leads – An interested party may want to purchase, they may have done a trial, or maybe they are with something else. What’s clear is, based on their interest and engagement they are looking for new solutions.
‘’Cold’’ leads – They either are brand new to your business, or they are in the discovery phase, and looking for more information, they need to be nurtured and convinced to buy into the product.
Categorising leads is useful to your lead generation approach. Converting them based on their distinct needs at each stage will enrich your chances of closing the deal. If the prospect feels the sales cycle is personalised, they are more likely to be convinced of the product. Putting them into categories gives you a better understanding of their pain points which will allow for stronger personalisation.
Before knowing what strategies you should use for lead generation, you need to know the various channels from which you can generate B2B leads. To generate B2B leads, several components must be in place. You cannot just rely on one way of generating leads, you need multiple channels. Each method or channel should be adapted strategically to match your outlined goals.
The most common and effective channels that always come up when considering the best strategies for B2B lead generation are: email marketing, live events, content marketing, SEO, PPC, social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and printed media.
So, which channel is most effective amongst all? The answer lies in how and where your target audience is most available and active. Conduct your research, see what works for you, but it is no secret that most businesses believe automated email marketing and SEO are the highest. I am not sure if you hadn’t noticed already, Growthonics specialise predominantly in outbound marketing, so our strategies will align more closely to outbound lead generation as opposed to inbound marketing.
According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, 85% of B2B marketers say lead generation is a top priority, but 44% rate their efforts as neutral when it boils down to effectiveness. What it tells us is that no one really knows what is the best strategy to use. It is about trial and error, combining different tactics to achieve a common goal, which is generating higher quality leads that result in converted sales.
One-size-fits-all marketing is pretty much dead. Consumers want to make sure they are doing their own due diligence and making sure the product is right for them. As time goes by, sales and marketing teams need to be working more closely together. It isn’t just the number of leads that need to be considered; you need to consider lead quality. The higher quality your leads are, the better chances they have of becoming customers. So, ideally, you would like to have a research team to build your email lists, have a strategy team to write bespoke copy, and have an SDR team to roll out your campaigns.
With society so focused on the internet, B2B lead generation has become more important. Having a nicely designed website that’s mobile-friendly for your leads to land on is highly important. The tone and look will set the tone regarding how your potential customers feel about your brand.
In essence, your homepage is like your house. Would you invite your guests for dinner if you hadn’t cleaned the place? I don’t think so, your homepage is your opportunity to grab the attention of visitors and turn them into customers.
Making sure your site is functional, loads quickly, and is appealing to the visitor is non-negotiable. Keep in mind, this also has a direct impact on brand appearance, an incomplete site will affect how you generate leads. If you want clients then you need to show them something with value and not just a few pictures and words sandwiched between.
It may seem obvious, but ensuring your website has a landing page and lead magnet is also important. There is no point in having all these people visit your site, but have no place to leave their contact information.
You need to understand that the lead generation process is all about the trade of information between organisations and prospects/visitors, you provide information related to offerings, and if they’re interested they will respond with information. It has to be a win-win for both parties because that is what builds the foundation of convincing customers of using your services. Make sure you highlight your lead magnet as the primary homepage CTA.
A/B testing is a way for any marketer to test different variations and see which one is the most effective at generating leads and conversions. It provides actionable and measurable results, even something as little as an email title can make a huge difference.
Continue to test
To really maximise the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, continue to test. What one test determines to be most successful, may not be the same case down the road, it should just become an ongoing process for all your campaigns. With each test comes knowledge, take what you gain and apply it in the future. As long as you are sending our emails or producing marketing material, you should always be A/B testing.
For example, let us show you the effect A/B testing has on outbound email campaigns.
Email subject lines are crucial from the start, if people don’t open your email, how can you expect to sell your product or service? Ensure you are testing two different subjects and once you know which performs best, cull the other. A good strategy may be to attack influences before decision-makers. Try switching up your contacts and see if that makes a difference in open rates, try targeting the Head of the Department before the CEO.
Changing the length of the copy depends on the prospect. If they are in the engineering industry, they will want factual information and the copy may need a longer explanation. However, if they are in the digital marketing industry, including images, gifs, and a humorous copy may be appealing to them.
Lastly, don’t only conduct A/B testing on your email campaigns, you should A/B test all of your key pages. If prospects come across your landing page and are redirected to your home page, can you guarantee that each prospect will respond the same? Probably not, so keep A/B testing all your key pages until you are sure.
Content seems to be the legal tender of the web nowadays, so try to publish it regularly. Developing trust with your reader is a tricky process, the wrong angle could have them running to your competitors. Don’t just put out any content, or you will lose trust points with the reader/visitor. Remember this is about credibility, you are supposed to be the expert.
Building trust consistently with potential customers will most likely increase the number of leads and sales generated. Your company is an informational resource, prospects are always looking for influences to bring them into the buying process, so planning how each piece of content relates to them is important. Create content that resonates with each buyer at each stage. Don’t just put out content to make your brand look pretty.
Creating informative material for someone in the buying process without information is bound to result in a missed opportunity. A potential buyer doesn’t need general info about an industry they’re experienced in, they need comparisons, addressing of pain points, reviews, and anything else that will convince them in their buying process.
A perfect example would be SEO friendly blog posts. Publishing search engine friendly content is something that many B2B companies don’t necessarily do. So, you are telling me, you just believe that prospects will just come across your business or solution magically, of course, we need SEO.
People need to understand that Google is the most common platform where buyers typically search for potential solutions to their problems. To be able to create SEO-friendly blog posts, you need effective material that targets primary keywords and addresses queries of prospects at any stage of the marketing funnel. You can have the best outbound outreach teams, but if you aren’t visible there, you can forget about meeting any valuable customers. End it off with a CTA and you are on the money.
Personalisation offers content and messaging that will be tailored according to the prospect’s interests and actions. It is an ideal method for guiding them down the customer journey. Utilising personalisation can ensure your products and/or services are suitable for an individual.
Personalisation goes hand and hand with pain points; addressing your prospects specific pain points, whilst providing them solutions will show them that you have done your homework and you are reaching out to help them.
Evaluate and adapt, if we just sent everybody ordinary messages, how would we gain insights into prospects preferences and be able to tailor the experiences according to them? Ultimately if you really want to get personal, you have to listen. One of the best ways to find out what they want, is to ask them directly. This can be done through questionnaires and surveys, if responses are vague, pop onto their website and see which clients they generally work with. Remember not everything will work and each case will be different, so keep doing what works and change up what doesn’t.
The success of B2B lead generation for any business is dependent on the data that sales and marketing teams collect. Without good quality data, B2B lead generation is flawed. If SDR’s are contacting prospects and have inaccurate information, it becomes difficult for them to cold call or send outbound emails and achieve results. Data is fundamental to forecasting, it provides KPI’s and benchmarks for your teams. The insights gained from such data can be invaluable. You can pinpoint exactly where any failings might be affecting your business, and where to make improvements.
Prioritise your data quality. Any worthwhile lead generation strategy always has to have data at the beginning. Remember your dataset is your business, it is your baby, you need to ensure it is organised. Cut out duplication and out of date data to ensure consistency.
Size isn’t everything. It would be great if everyone liked your product or service, but it simply doesn’t work that way. Everyone wants their database to be as big as possible, granted, you want to maximise opportunities, but quality always drops with volume. It’s not your job to convert every lead into a customer, but it is your job to know when the lead is lost and move on. Get rid of any poorly formatted, out of date, and incomplete data and conduct a data cleansing now and then.
Personalisation, don’t think of them as leads, think of them as they are, people. We get excited when we see the database filling up, but we need to remember these are ordinary people being pushed through our funnel. They are people with challenges that need to be solved. We need to understand who we are engaging with and what they need to consume to move through the process.
Sales and marketing don’t have to be enemies, they can be frenemies. Companies perform better when they are in alignment and honestly speaking, it would be hard to predict any company succeeding without them working in unison.
Have patience and integrate everything. As a salesman would know, nothing is likely to scare off a prospect quicker than pushy messaging. People need to feel comfortable and be ready to buy, remember with B2B companies, you are potentially asking them to part with substantial amounts. Do make sure of your KPI’s, but have a little patience, not every piece of the pie needs to be contacted in one day.
Cold email is probably the most used channel these days. Smart email marketers know the only way to achieve success is through putting in the effort. Many people take the easy route and buy leads from vendors and elsewhere, but all you do is end up wasting time and resources sifting through inaccurate data.
Conducting research and building quality email lists will get you on your way. I mean at least the right people will be receiving your emails, now it is up to your creative team to make things happen. Remember to clean your list, whilst you may find the right person, their data could be from 2 years ago and that isn’t accurate, so ensuring you have the correct information of the decision-maker is paramount.
After building yourself a high quality list, you need to ensure your emails stand out. Personalisation is very effective as mentioned above, but we also need to be creative. Don’t be afraid to be unusual, or go against the norm, nobody wants to receive the same old boring emails, that all look the same. If the industry isn’t too formal chuck in some gifs, switch up your tone; maybe try experimenting with different patterns that may stand out and grab the attention of your lead.
Don’t sound too salesy, too often people are bombarded with emails only talking about solutions and how impressive their stats are. How can we improve this? How can we boost that? Remember to address pain points, show them how your solution will remove each pain point, and then talk about your stats. Don’t sound robotic, we all know it is automated email marketing, but at least make it seem like the person is receiving the email from the recipient that second.
Lastly, remember to include retargeting, even if you contacted these people over three months ago, you never know what might happen. Just because people don’t respond to your emails or fall off the first time, doesn’t mean they are disinterested in your offering. It could simply mean that they believe it may not be the right fit at that moment and they need more time to consider your offering.
Referral marketing is one of the easiest ways to generate more leads. Referral marketing is a strategy used by many of the biggest brands to drive traffic to their sites. E-hailing car companies, accommodation providers, and airlines seem to use it the most.
Take Uber, for example, the user has always been rewarded with a free ride if they refer the service to someone else. According to Nielson, 92% of people trust word of mouth instead of any form of advertising. Ultimately recognition is important, gone are the days, where people would just take a punt on a service or product. So getting your customers to help spread encouraging words about your brand will increase your chances of generating more qualified leads. You need your lead campaigns to address pain points and solutions from the onset to be able to translate your marketing message across clearly.
With referrals, comes online reviews and what people will say about your brand. You need to capitalise on client testimonials and case studies, the more the merrier. If people can’t see the work you have done, why would they trust you?
Some people might say, why bother with LinkedIn? Well, it is where all the professionals go to level up their business. Linkedin is made up of tons of people with purchasing power. Over 20% of LinkedIn users are able to make purchasing decisions on behalf of their companies. There is a huge chance you might find your target audience as it is very popular amongst Fortune 500 companies.
You would be surprised how many users are active on the platform. LinkedIn averages an activity use of over 44% daily logins, considering they have around 700 million total users, and just under 300 million active users. That is an endless amount of potential leads to engage with.
A benefit of LinkedIn is that it allows marketers to get extremely granular, it helps us narrow down the target audience, by providing us with key company information. You won’t have to worry about doing this by yourself, there are plenty of tools that can also make recommendations, about who would most likely be the best fit at the target company.
Remember though, the process is a little different to email. It is very important to warm up your lead first. Let yourself be known and show them what value you could add to their business. Creating a message that stands out is a bit trickier, you need to combine personalisation, pain points, and solution in a 300 character connection message.
Everybody knows it usually gets a bad rep, but it can be effective when done well. Vendors are generally open to your call, just ensure the direct dial is accurate, when reaching out to decision makers. Their gatekeepers can be particularly annoying and sometimes difficult to get past. But there is no better way than to talk to a decision maker directly. Cold calling cannot be looked at just numbers because a lot of the time data is inaccurate. However, with the right numbers and focusing only on vetted leads with relevance, it will provide additional value and build rapport with prospects.
Ensure you have a polished script that identifies clients’ pain points and how you will address them with a solution. Always warm calls up, this is when you send initial emails to build rapport, before reaching out via phone. It allows the reader to be somewhat familiar with you and what you do. It gives you no guarantees that they’ll pick up, but they will be more receptive.
Track your progress and remember your automation tools.
There is no better way of tracking your lead generation progress than through an effective CRM software system. Honestly speaking, if you don’t have one, you are in for a long ride. Having an effective customer management tool allows you to plan, you can accurately reach the status of leads and campaigns based on metrics you set.
It would be easy to say you can do it all by yourself and it is true that the more time you spend in sales, you will naturally make more sales. But at what cost? People who work in sales easily find themselves feeling burnout due to having to complete so many time consuming manual tasks.
You end up devoting your time to prospecting to find high quality leads, creating emails, meetings, and data entry, which eats up a lot of your time. With outsourcing and the right automation tools, you can automate a lot of these manual tasks spending more time on closing leads.
Generally speaking, lead generation can be hard for many engineering companies. You have these brilliant minds, top-notch equipment, but still fall short. Unless you’re in the field, it can be very challenging to translate the work they do into concepts that the common person understands. Why would your leads bother to engage if they don’t understand where the value is in your services?
Make sure you understand your target demographic,
Use of factual information
Need for slightly longer copy
Speak their language, but don’t overdo it.
It may be a bumpy process, but it’s in no way impossible. You need to find the right ways to communicate value clearly and concisely. Reach your target and position yourself as the provider, and how you can transform their business.
As you can see, lead generation is extremely important, but at the same time extremely complex and time consuming. Finding success is the long game, you may find that only one or two strategies from our article work for you and your business. There is no universal approach, every business is completely different. By fine-tuning your processes and testing new tactics, you will find the right lead generation strategy that will increase your revenue. What works great for one industry might be completely useless for another. But with some hard work and time, applying some of these strategies will hopefully convert more of your traffic.
Don’t think getting loads of leads is the best thing ever.
Always remember getting loads of leads may seem like a good thing, but everybody knows conversion is what counts. A handful of leads that are fully vetted and at the end of the buying process is always better than hundreds of leads, who still need to be nurtured and worst case won’t ever be ready to purchase.
The message has always been the same, attracting and nurturing prospects who are most likely to buy, will always yield a better ROI long term. However, it cannot just be the tactics you use, you need to create messaging that translates to readers outside your universe. Tap into markets that might not necessarily use your services at first glance. Combine that with metrics that can measure your success like response and open rates, to improve your offerings and increase your chances of success.
Just as with any other type of strategy, you also need to ensure you are tracking your metrics continuously and reporting regularly in order to make the most of any opportunities or deal with any issues. Doing all of this will enable you to refine and improve your strategy, ultimately bringing in more high-quality, ready-to-convert leads, thus increasing revenue.
One final note, remember that lead generation doesn’t always mean selling, you don’t have to do it straight away, there are many elements that make up the process, you never know who might need your services later down the line.
Are you interested in finding out which lead generation strategies might work best for your business? Reach out to the Growthonics team, we’d be more than happy to help you with your outbound lead generation strategies.