- What Is B2B Lead Generation?
- Why Is B2B Lead Generation Important?
- What Are B2B Leads?
- Who Conducts B2B Lead Generation?
- How Is B2B Lead Generation Conducted?
- Lead Generation Strategies for B2B Companies
- The Importance of Data in B2B Lead Generation
- What Technology Can Help with B2B Lead Generation?
- How Social Media Can Work To Generate Leads
- Outsourcing Lead Generation
Securing a lead is often the first step a business must take before making a sale. Leads help companies get clients, increase revenue, and stay prosperous. Generating and converting leads can also help companies gain a share of their market, which can lead to becoming well-known or respected in their industry.
What Is B2B Lead Generation?
B2B stands for business-to-business lead generation. Organizations that use this strategy pursue leads by trying to make sales to another company. This approach contrasts with B2C, or business-to-customer, lead generation, which focuses on selling products and services to individuals rather than businesses. B2B lead generation is the process of finding ideal business clients for a specific product or service. Successful leads convert to paying customers, which produces revenue. B2B lead generation involves both sales and marketing departments but isn’t limited to paid channels. Any channel that sparks interest in a website or company counts as lead generation.
Why Is B2B Lead Generation Important?
B2B lead generation is important in both sales and marketing for different reasons, including:
Benefits of B2B lead generation for a sales department are:
- Discovering your market: B2B lead generation can help determine market interest. This practice can help you decide how to best pitch your product or service.
- Getting accurate contact data: B2B leads collect recent contact information, which can help you reach the right representatives at each company.
- Increasing conversion rates: The B2B lead process can help you determine which companies are most likely to buy from you. This knowledge can help increase your conversions.
- Creating a strong sales pipeline: Engaging in B2B lead generation can help you build a predictable sales pipeline, which may lead to a higher percentage of closed deals.
Benefits of B2B lead generation for marketing departments are:
- Knowing your customers: B2B leads can help you learn more about customer profiles. This practice can teach you where and how they spend their time.
- Assisting with content creation: Customer profiles can help you create valuable content. The information you collect about your targets can inspire material relevant to their needs.
- Building brand awareness: Using what you know about your targets to shape your advertisements can make more people aware of your company.
- Creating predictable marketing systems: The B2B lead process allows you to measure and track marketing activity. This process can create stability when making campaign choices.
What Are B2B Leads?
B2B leads are potential customers, and you can classify them into two segments:
Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQLs)
MQLs are leads that are likely to become paying customers. You can determine which organizations fit this category based on their marketing engagement. Examples may include people who:
- Visit your website regularly.
- Fill out many online forms.
- Download your content.
- Sign up to attend your events.
The exact definition of leads that qualify as MQLs may vary from business to business.
Sales-Qualified Leads (SQLs)
SQLs are MQLs who are further along in the sales funnel. They’re ready for engagement with your sales team and have shown intent to buy your products or services. They can show this intent through:
- Telephone conversations with sales representatives.
- LinkedIn messages.
- Requests for more information about your company.
- Requests for product or service demonstrations.
Who Conducts B2B Lead Generation?
Your company’s sales and marketing professionals conduct B2B lead generation. Creating integrated and aligned sales and marketing teams may help this process. Sales team members often fall into two categories:
- Sales development representatives (SDRs): These professionals source and engage leads and book meetings.
- Business development managers (BDMs): These professionals conduct demonstrations, close deals, and generate revenue.
A two-tier sales team can help each employee focus on and become an expert at one responsibility. It also creates a path for advancement. If SDRs excel, they can become BDMs. Marketing teams may also enjoy a two-tier structure:
- Demand generation marketers: These professionals focus on the B2B lead generation revenue cycle. They guide leads from awareness to customers to advocates.
- Growth hackers: These professionals generate quick revenue without spending much money. Their responsibilities may be less scalable and more experimental. For example, DropBox once offered users the option to get more storage space with an account just by connecting to Facebook or Twitter during the onboarding process. This encouraged more people to use their services, and now DropBox has over 15 million paying users.
Unlike the sales team, responsibilities among the marketing tiers may overlap more often because both groups rely on data analysis and testing to make decisions.
How Is B2B Lead Generation Conducted?
Lead generation goals depend on the location of potential customers in the sales and marketing funnels. They also depend on which department is conducting the lead generation process. B2B outbound is the term for sales-side B2B lead generation. It involves:
- Cold calling.
- Outbound selling.
- Sales cadences.
- Social selling.
Demand generation is the term for the marketing side of B2B lead generation. It includes:
- Account-based marketing (ABM).
- Content marketing.
- Growth hacking.
When these two departments work together, the lead generation process includes:
Lead Location and Identification
Sales prospecting is one of the first steps of lead generation. It involves understanding your target audience, or knowing which clients you want to pursue based on their needs and the value your company can provide. Reviewing the size of companies you want to work with and their geographic location can help determine where you can find ideal clients. From there, you can build lists of prospects to fit that criterion. Then you can collect data about businesses from your list and decide which to pursue.
The sales department or B2B outbound group often performs lead nurturing. This process involves calling and emailing prospective clients to get more information. This can help you choose your best leads. Lead nurturing aims to schedule appointments and provide sales pitches to secure new customers. The more you nurture prospects, the more opportunities you can generate.
Online and Offline Lead Generation
Much of offline B2B lead generation involves outbound sales and marketing. The process includes finding, calling, and visiting your own leads. Online lead generation is more concerned with marketing and inbound services, whereby the leads are coming to you instead. Once you’ve attracted the leads, you can convince them why they need your products or services. You may use a variety of tools to attract potential customers online, including:
- Content marketing.
- Search engine optimization (SEO).
- Social media marketing.
- Video production.
- Website design.
It’s rare for people to buy something after a single contact, so using a combination of online and offline lead generation may be beneficial. For example, you may collect lead information with inbound marketing, then follow up with a phone call or mailer.
Lead Generation Strategies for B2B Companies
Helpful tips for increasing your B2B leads may include:
Keep Content Marketing Consistent
Content marketing doesn’t aim to specifically promote a brand. Instead, it’s meant to generate interest in a product or service by providing value to the lead. Content marketers use a variety of tools, such as videos, webinars, and blogs, to achieve this goal. Develop a content marketing strategy and follow it regularly to increase your exposure to leads. Using a service like CopyPress’ research article content creation can aid your strategy. Providing educational material to leads can convince them why they need your products or services.
Provide Helpful Tools
Giving away free virtual tools to potential leads can increase conversions. You may choose to provide a sample of your tools online as a teaser. Then, to unlock or download the entire piece, leads may submit their email addresses. Free access may encourage leads to give you their contact information as a fair exchange. Making the tools digital allows for instant delivery and customer satisfaction. Providing eBooks or similar reading material is popular for free tools, but isn’t the only option. Other types of free tools you can offer, depending on your products and services, include:
- Vector images.
Marketing automation is a digital strategy that includes lead generation. In this process, you use software to deliver relevant content to a target audience. Doing this helps increase their chances of conversion. Marketers can program or instruct the software to produce the desired outcome. The programs can track users on social media and websites to learn about their habits. That information helps marketers target messages and responses to guide them through the funnel and gain leads.
Marketing automation programs usually come at a cost. The user also needs some technical and marketing expertise to operate them. Investing in marketing automation software may be most beneficial if:
- You already gain some leads from your website.
- You receive a high volume of unique web traffic.
- You have many engaging social media accounts.
- You have a content marketing strategy in place already.
The Importance of Data in B2B Lead Generation
Data can help drive B2B lead generation. SDRs need complete contact data for leads to make cold calls and send outbound emails. Demand generation marketers need accurate data to create content that targets their accounts. Data also allows companies to measure results and output for forecasting and analytics. It helps determine key performance indicators (KPIs) for individual and team benchmarks.
What Technology Can Help with B2B Lead Generation
Technology can help automate some forms of sales lead generation, like outbound emails. Blogging and social media teams often rely on the internet and content management systems (CMS) to perform their duties. Both sales and marketing teams use customer relationship management systems (CRMs) to track leads. These tools combined form the technology stack of the organization.
How Social Media Can Work To Generate Leads
Having a social media account, or five, on its own isn’t enough to generate leads. While social media is a great place to find leads, you have to use it strategically to make it worthwhile. Some ways you can leverage your social media for B2B leads include:
Pointing To Your Website
It’s unlikely that you’ll secure a lead from someone stumbling upon your social media profile. Using your channels to point browsers to your website may have more success. Providing many links to landing pages allows the potential lead to learn more information about your company and share their contact information with you. From your website, they may have more opportunities to ask about your products or services.
Promoting Newsletter Subscriptions
Some social media platforms, like Facebook, allow you to request sign-ups for your newsletter or mailing list. This strategy can help you capture leads right from social media and allows you to provide extra information to potential customers.
Stressing a Call To Action
Calls to action can come in many forms, depending on your conversion goals. Things like linking to a landing page or encouraging customer feedback could apply. When generating leads, the primary goal is to collect customer information. This allows you to move customers to the “interest” phase of the sales and marketing funnel. Use social media to promote your calls to action in a way that targets your primary audience.
Many B2B marketers say LinkedIn is the most effective social media platform to generate leads. In fact, 65% say they’ve gained a customer through the network. LinkedIn targets professionals rather than average users. Most people visit it with business, rather than personal or social, goals in mind. Ways to increase your chances of conversion on LinkedIn include:
- Filling out your company profile completely.
- Joining conversations in the comments section of articles.
- Joining groups filled with potential leads.
- Making connections.
- Using LinkedIn’s integrated lead collection tool to pay for leads.
Outsourcing Lead Generation
B2B lead generation as a service, or outsourcing your B2B lead generation practices, is the process of using an expert who specializes in sales or marketing to generate or find your leads. Getting external help can save companies time and energy throughout the sales process. Rather than conducting all these activities internally, the external team:
- Looks for prospective leads.
- Identifies which are most qualified.
- Nurtures leads.
- Schedules appointments for the company.
This gives internal employees more time to serve current customers and deliver sales pitches to close leads.
Once you learn how to conduct B2B lead generation, you can create a plan that works best for your company. Using a variety of tips and strategies together may help you secure more quality leads. This can lead to better revenue and company survival.