In the B2B sales world, one of the biggest obstacles and opportunities is lead generation.
Master the art of B2B lead generation and you’ll generate substantially more sales and revenue. Neglect it and even your best salespeople are going to struggle.
But what exactly is B2B lead generation? How do you practice it? How can you implement it to produce more predictable and sustainable results?
Throughout this blog, we’ll cover the following:
- What Is Lead Generation and Why Is It Important?
- How to Practice B2B Lead Generation
- Tips for Having a Successful B2B Lead Generation Strategy
- Best B2B Lead Generation Tools for Sales and Marketing Teams to Use
- Reasons Why Companies Outsource B2B Lead Generation Services
What Is Lead Generation and Why Is It Important?
Lead generation is a set of strategies designed to create a steady flow of prospects, leads, and other potential customers to your business. Generally, this means stimulating interest, raising brand awareness, and gradually motivating people through the stages of your sales funnel.
Through lead generation and lead nurturing, people will move from being totally unaware of your brand and the problems it solves to being aware of these concepts. Company to learning about it. From there, they’ll transition to become interested in your brand and eventually purchase your products and services.
B2B vs. B2C Lead Generation: What’s the Difference?
Lead generation is practiced in both B2B and B2C environments. Both approaches use similar strategies and tactics, but there are a handful of important differences that you’ll need to keep in mind when planning your B2B lead generation campaign.
Generally, B2B sales cycles are longer and deals are larger than B2C sales cycles, involving more nominal costs and more decision makers. Accordingly, lead quality and lead nurturing become more important, and your strategies can afford to be slower and more gradual.
You’ll also need to think critically about your target audience and strategic outreach channels. In the B2B world, factors like job title, company size, and annual budget are much more important to acknowledge, and some digital marketing channels, like LinkedIn, are much more effective.
How to Practice B2B Lead Generation
The goal of B2B lead generation is to generate interest and demand for people within your target demographics, capturing their contact information, and driving them to take a specific action, like setting up a sales meeting.
Since every business is different, it’s hard to define a universal lead generation strategy that could work for everyone. When developing your lead generation approach, you’ll need to consider your industry, your target audience, your top competitors, and your sales funnel.
Depending on what your short- and long-term goals are, your lead generation strategies could lead to an information capture form, a landing page, an SDR, or even a salesperson directly.
Lead generation strategies are also difficult to succinctly describe because they often incorporate many different channels and strategies – which we’ll explore below.
Outbound vs. Inbound Lead Generation
When it comes down to it, there are two main types of B2B lead generation strategies: outbound and inbound lead generation.
Outbound lead generation is focused on outreach, giving you the opportunity to connect with totally unaware people and persuade them to engage with your brand. Most traditional advertising and sales strategies are outbound in nature.
Inbound lead generation focuses on organically attracting people to your brand. If you consistently provide value to people, demonstrate your thought leadership in the industry, and answer commonly asked questions, people will naturally flock to your website and seek you out as an authority.
Outbound and inbound lead generation strategies each have distinct advantages and disadvantages. For example, outbound lead generation gives you a much broader reach, while inbound lead generation can net you much warmer leads (however, you may get fewer leads overall).
For the best results, it’s ideal to incorporate both outbound and inbound lead generation strategies into your B2B lead gen campaign.
Most Common Outbound Lead Generation Strategies
A few of the most common outbound lead generation strategies include:
- Cold calling: Cold calling is the practice of reaching out to prospects via phone. You can ask some qualifying questions, gather information on your prospect, and perhaps introduce them to your brand and its solutions.
- Cold emailing: Cold emailing is even more cost efficient, since it takes very little time or effort to produce and automate a cold email campaign. This strategy is functionally similar to cold calling, but uses email as its primary channel of communication.
- Social media prospecting: In this approach, you’ll strategically filter people on social media, specifically LinkedIn, to find close matches to your buyer personas and reach out to them with messages introducing them to your brand.
Most Common Inbound Lead Generation Strategies
A few of the most common inbound lead generation strategies include:
- Content marketing: Developing authoritative content and becoming a thought leader in your industry can naturally bring people to your website. If you publish original research or develop lead magnets that answer common questions or solve problems, people in your target demographics will go out of their way to find you organically.
- Search engine optimization: Search engine optimization (SEO) is an inbound strategy that utilizes content, strategic keyword optimization, technical onsite changes, and link building to maximize your visibility in search engines. When people search for keywords and phrases relevant to your brand, you’re more likely to be featured on search engine results pages (SERPs).
- PPC advertising: Even pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a form of inbound lead generation, since you’ll be capitalizing on people who are already conducting searches relevant to your industry and product and service offerings.
- Social media marketing: Social media strategies like posting content, facilitating contests, and even engaging with people in public threads can increase the visibility of your brand and drive more people to your website.
Tips for Having a Successful B2B Lead Generation Strategy
Sales lead generation is a balancing act, requiring you to generate as many good leads as possible without ruining your budget in the process.
Here are some tips on how to have a successful B2B lead generation strategy:
- Segment Your Target Market Into Different Buyer Personas
- Use a Variety of Lead Generation Tactics
- Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams
- Focus on Quality Over Quantity
- Write and Distribute Content That Your Target Market Is Interested In
- Have Calls to Action That Align With Where Prospects Are in Their Sales Journey
- Nurture and Follow Up With Leads to Ensure Nothing Falls Through the Cracks
- Consistently Measure Lead Generation Efforts to Ensure Your Strategy Is Impactful
- Experiment With Your Approach to Gain New Insights
Segment Your Target Market Into Different Buyer Personas
B2B lead generation is more successful when you segment your target market into different buyer personas.
A buyer persona is an engineered character that represents your ideal buyer. For example, this might be a sales manager at a mid-sized company with fewer than 1,000 employees. When you split your target audience into different segments, you can reach out to and engage with each segment individually, maximizing your relevance and allowing you to find the perfect channels for each cohort.
Use a Variety of Lead Generation Tactics
So, which lead generation tactic is best for B2B businesses? Salespeople and marketers love asking this question, but there is no single answer. That’s because different channels are good at different things, and while some may be more or less relevant to your brand, all of them have something interesting to offer.
For example, implementing both a LinkedIn advertising campaign and a cold email approach can push the same message while catering to two different buyers personas: one that likes to get information on their own time and one that may need a little extra push to understand where their pain points are.
Therefore, the best approach is usually to use a wide variety of different lead generation tactics together to get maximum results.
Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams
B2B lead generation is a function of both marketing and sales, so it’s important for you to align your sales and marketing teams so they can work together, share information, and follow the same approach. Marketers generally focus more on high-funnel stages, while salespeople focus more on low-funnel stages, aiming to convert them from leads into customers. Therefore, having sales communicate to marketing what’s working and what’s not allows marketing to tweak their campaign efforts and work to deliver higher quality leads
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
Your lead generation strategy will become more valuable if you focus on quality over quantity of leads. Intuitively, this should make sense to you. Do you think your salespeople will perform better with 10 highly qualified leads that are almost ready to buy, or with 100 leads that are highly unlikely to ever need your products or services? Quantity can be a good thing, increasing your sales potential, but you should never sacrifice lead quality to pursue it.
Write and Distribute Content That Your Target Market Is Interested In
Content marketing is one of the most impactful strategies for lead generation, since it can help drive organic, direct, social, and referral traffic simultaneously and it can help you develop a better reputation for your brand at the same time. The trick is to write and distribute content that your target market is specifically interested in.
To do this, you’ll need to capture sufficient information via market research and truly invest in your content development strategy. Most people want to understand they why behind certain successes or processes, and sharing this information is a great way to approach the content people are looking for.
Have Calls to Action That Align With Where Prospects Are in Their Sales Journey
Calls to action (CTAs) motivate prospects and leads to take specific actions like reaching out to SDRs, downloading premium pieces of content, or even watching videos. These CTAs need to be compelling, concise, and persuasive, but perhaps most importantly, they need to be perfectly aligned with prospects based on where they are in their sales journey. B2B sales strategies need to be framed around long sales cycles. If you try to pressure high-funnel prospects to buy right away, you’re going to turn them off. It’s better to warm them up with an actionable step that requires less commitment.
Nurture and Follow Up With Leads to Ensure Nothing Falls Through the Cracks
Following up is a critical art to master in the realm of lead generation. If you fail to respond to a lead, or if you simply abandon them after they initially failed to respond to your outreach, you’re going to leave tons of potential customers on the table. Employ consistent lead nurturing and follow-up strategies to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
Consistently Measure Lead Generation Efforts to Ensure Your Strategy Is Impactful
It’s vital to measure all your lead generation efforts so you can evaluate whether your strategic approaches are working. If a tactic fails to yield meaningful results, change it or discard it. If the tactic is working particularly well, try to figure out why and apply your new knowledge to boost your results even further.
Experiment With Your Approach to Gain New Insights
Experiments are excellent opportunities to learn more about your prospects and leads. Use A/B testing and similar experimental models to evaluate the impact of different variables and gradually optimize your campaign for the better.
Best B2B Lead Generation Tools for Sales and Marketing Teams to Use
The lead generation process is much easier when you have the right tools supporting you.
There are a variety of technologically advanced platforms that help you develop, execute, and measure the effectiveness of your strategies. Many of these platforms incorporate aspects of several different pieces of software, but others are specialized in one function.
Here are some of the best lead generation tools you should consider implementing into your sales and marketing strategy:
- CRM software: A customer relationship management (CRM) platform is ideal for keeping tabs on all your prospects, leads, and customers. You can use it as a single source of truth to keep all your marketers and salespeople organized and on the same page without ever allowing yourself to drop or neglect a lead. For example, if your CRM software shows that a lead is actively engaging with your email content, this would be a great time to make a warm call and explore where their interests may be.
- Lead management software: Lead management software can help you with every nuance of lead management, from designing initial strategies to tracking and analyzing their performance. These platforms typically include features for qualifying leads, nurturing leads, and even optimizing your engagement with leads. For example, a lead management software can help you identify what leads haven’t been followed up with for a while, encouraging your SDRs to reach back out.
- Sales prospecting software: Sales prospecting software typically automates and/or simplifies tasks for your sales team, so they can focus on prospecting and selling. For example, this type of platform may automatically organize information, schedule sales meetings, or even send customized emails for SDRs and sales reps.
Reasons Why Companies Outsource B2B Lead Generation Services
Many growing businesses don’t have the resources they need to internalize their B2B lead gen efforts. When this is the case, they often look for help from outsourced sales development and marketing companies. This empowers sales teams to spend more time selling and less time finding their next big sales opportunity.
In this arrangement, you’ll work with an agency, a consultant, or another expert third party, who will then generate leads on your behalf. This third party will forward information to your salespeople directly, so they can then follow up and hopefully convert those prospects and leads into customers.
Here are some of the core reasons that businesses consider outsourcing their lead generation services:
- Cost savings: It costs money to outsource your lead generation, but this is still usually more cost effective than doing all your lead generation internally. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that your lead generation expert probably has access to better technology and more experienced professionals who can generate more leads for less money.
- Time savings: Your salespeople are best utilized when they actively sell to qualified leads. If they’re busy coordinating with marketing teams, nitpicking individual lead generation strategies, or ironing out the kinks in your sales pipeline technology, their potential will go to waste. It’s a much smoother and more efficient experience to outsource your lead generation.
- Reduced risk for trial and error: Building a sales pipeline is tough, in part because of the need for trial and error. Only through active experimentation and ongoing monitoring can you figure out which lead generation tactics are most effective and how your sales pipeline truly flows. You won’t have to worry about this if you’re outsourcing to a third party, since they’ve already had this experience and can successfully apply the knowledge to new environments.
- Access to high-performing sales and marketing experts: Competent lead generation teams staff themselves with true lead generation experts, who can use logic, creativity, and industry knowledge all together to come up with the best lead generation tactics for your organization.
- Access to better technology: Similarly, these companies generally have access to better technology. Because of this, they can give your strategy greater reach, improve cost efficiency and consistency through automation, and even provide you with tactics that would otherwise be untenable.
- Greater accountability: Lead generation agencies are committed to getting you the results you want, so they’re motivated to make changes and improvements when necessary. They can troubleshoot problems with relative ease and optimize your lead generation campaign without requiring any ongoing input from you.
- Improved scalability and flexibility: Some sales teams appreciate the scalability and flexibility of working with a lead generation specialist. You can customize a plan that works specifically for you and ramp up your spending if and when necessary.
- Faster, more reliable growth: As a result of all these benefits and more, outsourcing your lead generation leads to faster and more reliable growth for your organization.
B2B lead generation is indispensable for making sure your salespeople always have qualified leads to chase down and that your business can consistently grow its revenue. There are a multitude of B2B lead generation strategies that are worth using, and dozens of fundamental rules you’ll need to follow when crafting your campaign.
However, because many businesses don’t have the experience, the tools, or the resources necessary to practice lead generation efficiently, the best approach is often to outsource lead generation to a qualified team of consultants or an agency.
Looking for a partner who can help you with every aspect of lead generation? Luckily, Sapper Consulting has the experts, tools, and industry-leading insight needed to take your organization’s sales development to the next level. Contact us to learn more today!