B2B Lead Generation: Complete Guide
What is B2B Sales?
As the name suggests B2B or Business to Business Sales is the process of selling a product or service by a business to another business to generate revenue. Typically this situation arises when that particular service or product can be consumed only by a business rather than an end consumer. It’s worth noting that many times the difference between a B2C and B2B sales is not clear.
Difference between B2B and B2C?
When a business sells its products or services to an end customer it is called B2C while when it sells it to a Key Decision Maker in a business it’s called B2B. This may be over simplification of the whole phenomenon because there are some significant differences when it comes to selling to a Business compared to an end consumer.
From my experience a B2B process typically requires more than one individual decision maker. Most of the time in B2B business the end user does not take part in the final decision making process. Also in firms which are smaller than 25-50 employee mark, owner or C-Level executive are the sole decision makers regarding all the buying decisions. B2B sales are hardly ever impulsive buys and are mostly driven by need or profitability.
What is B2B Lead generation?
B2B leads means those customers who are probable customers who can products or services of that business. Generally this is done by existing data from the market or existing data from previous sales. It’s better to have an understanding of your competitors ideal customer persona or ideal customer profile in case you do not have any basis of judging what kind of people you will consider as lead.
- A really easy method to do this is to just go to your customers online reviews and make a list of all the customers who have left a review over there. Once you have a list of lets say 200 people, just try to collect as much information about them as you can. Using this analysis you can easily create your competitors customer persona. You can also scrape the list of negative reviews and consider them as your first set of B2B leads.
MQL: Marketing Qualified leads are leads which interact with your company marketing efforts. These interactions can be opening multiple emails, downloading an ebook, filling some forms on your website etc.
SQL: Sales qualified leads are high intent leads which are willing to buy product or services. For example if we run an email campaign regarding an offer. People who claim or reply back to check that offer will generally be qualified as SQL or Sales Qualified lead.
Why is lead generation different in B2B?
B2B lead generation is dependent on multiple factors and usually is driven by availability of really high quality data. Generally B2B sales cycles are also longer and take multiple weeks to complete. This means B2B leads need to be created continuously to keep the pipeline growing and also any optimization in marketing takes a longer time to optimize.
Website for B2B lead Generation
SEO has been and always will be one of the most important strategies to generate high quality leads. It is worth noting that if your website is not properly optimized and does not rank for major key words you will always find it difficult to convert customers even by other methods. The reason behind that is pretty simple, once you engage with your lead they will go online and check for other options available. If you do not rank for that main keyword, they may get influenced by your competitors website.
- Focus on website load speeds: Higher loading speeds annoy visitors and will definitely affect your ranking.
- Build a responsive website: With the number of smartphone users growing day by day, searches from mobile devices has also increased significantly.
- Using content clusters: Make your homepage your Pillar pages with all your pages linking to the Homepage. This will help you to get a higher ranking in SERP.
- Finally optimizing the user experience: This is probably the most important factor to look after while designing a website. Having easy navigation will ensure that people will remain on your website for longer which will increase your SERP ranking.
a. Paid Marketing:
Paid marketing and specially Google SEM ( Search Engine Marketing) is probably the fastest way to generate genuine leads across all B2B lead generation efforts. The basis of all SEM marketing is identifying your keywords for which you would like to target your customers. A good method to do this is doing a competitors analysis. Two aspects to look after while doing a competitor analysis is what keywords are your competitors are using and what is working out for them. Based on this you will be able to launch your first campaign and slowly from there you can start optimizing the campaigns over time. A good Ad-copy and an optimized landing page are equally important, to convert the incoming traffic into a lead.
b. Display Advertising:
Goggle display advertisement is one of the best tools when you want top of the mind brand recall. Google Display advertisement basically helps you in advertising your brand on any website in the form of banners or pictures. Currently google has more than 2 million websites and over half a million applications on which you can run your google display advertisement. GDN if used properly can be a highly power channel given the kind of targeting options it provides. You get options like Placement targeting, Contextual targeting, Topic Targeting, Interest Targeting and Remarketing etc. Honestly from our experience we suggest Display advertisement to create a pipeline for your nurturing campaigns.
a. Landing Page
Most of the times when you do not have a digital product and you require your sales representatives’ intervention in completing a sale it becomes necessary to have a landing page so as to track the source of the lead. Also if your website is not able to generate enough leads it’s better to have a much optimized landing page to capture more leads. In addition to that most of the campaigns have a different target buyer persona, therefore the messaging on the home page may not be right for different targets. Therefore, you need a landing page for every targeted campaign you are running for your prospective buyers.
Blogging is a sure shot method to help your overall lead generation strategy. But to generate leads directly from your blogs you need people to click on your call to action or CTA. This can be achieved by using lead magnets in your blogs such as eBooks, whitepapers, tools etc. and asking your blog readers to submit their emails to get access to these high quality resources. Once you get their emails you need to push it through your lead nurturing campaign and finally convert it as a MQL.
a. Content Syndication:
Content syndication is simply republishing your content on a third party website to reach a broader audience. You can use free or paid content syndication basis on your goals and budgets. Websites like medium and LinkedIn pulse will provide you a free platform for content syndication. Content syndication will help you to increase exposure to your website and also increase brand value which can be further translated into sales.
Articles around social proofs, tutorials and DIY add a lot of value to the customers and audience. Having a high quality resource which basically makes your customers engage with your brand, can translate into sales.
E-books are technically considered high value resources and can be used as a lead magnet or additional benefit. eBooks created around resolving certain problems which the customer might be facing will always help in generating more leads. The problem with eBooks is that people confuse it as a sales pitch or proposal and make it way more product centric. This is not only a turnoff but it will also make your efforts on creating a Ebook useless. Instead of creating multiple eBooks put your efforts in creating one high quality eBook and use it through multiple channels.
Visual information is much more easily absorbed by humans compared to text and is much easier to recall. In addition to that with the rise of YouTube, the amount of Video content has increased drastically over time. Videos not only can be used for spreading information but can very well be used for humanizing your brand. It provides you with a solid platform to let your audience and prospects experience your company without actually visiting your office. In addition to that, you can always provide high quality helpful content to your customers and prospects which can then be converted into leads by lead magnets or forms.
Infographics are very useful as it can be shared infinitely without worrying about duplicity of content. For people who are unaware about it Duplicate content affects your SEO score, hence you cannot share the same content everywhere and need to rewrite the content when you want to post it to multiple websites. You can use infographics to share information about your product and ask others to share the same on their website. Not only it provides backlinks but high quality infographic also can help in lead generation.
Some of the most visited pages on our website are guides regarding complementary products. Interesting thing to note is that around 10% of that traffic translates to lead generation. In addition to that, we also have guides on topics related to our product which rank much higher than our competitors guide. We use reverse IP software like Visitor Queue, to track who is visiting these pages. Using this we were able to capture many of our competitors clients. How to and support pages are hence very very important pages and no company should miss out on that.
Use reviews as social proofs especially when you do not have a product differentiation. Everyone knows the power of reviews. We all are guilty of checking ratings on yelp before booking tonight’s dinner at a restaurant. There are some pretty amazing software’s which automate rating requests, if you find it difficult to demand ratings. Also, giving an incentive for a rating is always helpful. We prefer giving 20$ Amazon vouchers and ask our clients to rate us on G2, Capterra, Google, Facebook etc.
h. Case study :
Case studies are similar to Social proofs. When it comes to B2B clients, they always would like to know about who else is using the same solution in the industry. B2B companies also suffer from FOMO or Fear of missing out, and if you are able to demonstrate using a case study what they are missing out on, you have got yourself a magic bullet to generate more revenue.
i. Research and Original Data:
Research data or any information which you think is relevant to the industry are always good lead magnets. You can create a research report ebook around the information available and pitch your product by showcasing it as a product which is a solution to all the problems mentioned in the research. As mentioned earlier also Businesses are always worried out by fear of missing out on any competitive advantage that their competitor might have. We can leverage this character towards our benefit. Use a research report as lead magnet or with a form where the prospect can register for a free consultation to generate leads.
Interviews are similar to reports, any influential industry personality can basically create a lot of demand just by mentioning about the things which companies can focus on. Thought leadership is an important phenomenon both from Individual as well as organizational perspective. Use thought leadership in your favor and generate leads. Personal branding for the CEO also becomes important due to this. Never let go any opportunity to speak in events, they can be the biggest contributor in reaching out to prospective clients.
Podcasts are good from branding prospective and to establish thought leadership in the industry. It helps in building relationships and trust with the audience. In the long term these factors contribute to more lead generation. We suggest inviting your channel partners or Industry influencers to your podcast.
Email for B2B lead Generation
The most conventional form of email marketing Technique. What you require for this is email opt-in’s from your leads and some information regarding your product that you can send via an email to all those email IDs. This is the best source to nurture your leads and finally convert them to your customers. Using automation really simplifies your task. Mailchimp and opt-in monster are few of the many tools you can use when you are starting out your business. As you grow you will require a much sophisticated tool such as Marketo, Hubspot or Oracle Eloqua which can help you in running multiple lead nurturing campaigns at once.
- Be aware about the latest laws regarding email marketing. A good starting point to understand this is learning more about CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and GDPR.
- Measure everything when it comes to email marketing and optimize accordingly. Four main parameters to look after are Open rate, Delivery rate, Click Through rate and Response rate. These values will increase drastically at the end of you Funnel.
- Lead Scoring is very important initially you can use an excel file when you are starting out but ultimately it’s better to move to marketing automation tools.
Cold emailing is probably the most misunderstood B2B lead generation tool but probably the most fast to give results. You can use it to reach out to Key decision makers even when you are not able to go past the receptionist while calling them. The biggest mistake people make while starting out is to use their official email IDs without digging deep into what cold calling is all about. If you are already doing cold emailing and are probably wondering why I am not getting enough replies (1-2%), you need to check your SPAM score. We generally prefer using cold emailing tools such as Woodpecker to automate the whole campaign. We generally get anywhere from 20-30% of open rate while maintaining at least 1.5% reply rate from the leads.
- Invest in a cold emailing automation tool. There are a number of cold emailing solutions available in the market which can make your life much easier and allow one single person to send as many emails as a team of 10 sales executives will send.
- It’s better for the outbound sales team to manage cold emailing instead of giving it to the marketing team. Typically sales teams are much closer to customers and can easily optimize the cold emails as per the feedback from the market.
Sending an email newsletter is part of email blasting. It’s the most important lead nurturing tool available to marketing and sales teams. Use newsletter to spread word about other campaigns on a regular basis. For example you can spread word about your referral program or upcoming webinar series using newsletter.
Events for B2B lead Generation
Seminars are meetings held by companies to exchange information and usually the participants are from the same industry or community. Therefore, a seminar gives great opportunities to companies to generate leads by targeting exactly whom they want to in person. Personal selling still has its own place in B2B sales and you can build some really strong relationships with people in the industry which can be then transformed into business relationships. Even when you are not the organizer, seminars are a great opportunity to meet your prospects in person.
Webinars are seminars which are organized online or on the web. Webinar is one of the best ways to generate B2B Leads, and the price per lead is also affordable for webinars generated leads. We suggest conducting webinars on your channel partners email lists or on other ecosystem players. Webinar can also be used for nurturing leads and then converting them into MQL’s.
Conferences and Trade Shows
Conferences and Trade Shows are very similar to Seminars but they also provide you an opportunity to sponsor these events and get thousands of leads. These leads can be pumped into your nurturing pipeline and finally be converted. Apart from the benefits of getting leads you also get an opportunity to showcase your products to visitors in person. The sponsorship also means you are listed on all the banners, website and media of the event which has a significant impact on the branding.
Public Relations for B2B lead Generation
Press releases are important as they can be used for getting those juicy backlinks and also to spread word about any new happening within your company. Generally different PR websites charge around $200-$400 for press releases which most of the time is not justifiable. In that case you can create a section on your website just to mention all the press releases you do. You can also spread news about recent changes in your company using something which is popular in Industry called Help a Reporter Out.
Again similar to Press Releases, News coverages are always good for backlinks and over all brand exposure. Use the same concept of Help a Reporter Out to spread news about your company for free.
Referrals for B2B lead Generation
A good vendor can provide you with leads which he does not want to take forward due to the size. We generated around 10% of our total revenue through referrals and most of them came through vendors. While deciding on the vendors we directly asked them about referrals and also promised to provide them with few contacts which we had in the same industry. In conclusion, maintain good relations with your vendor and keep them happy. They need to understand that their business will grow with your business.
You need to study your industry and understand which type of consultants can provide you with referrals. Whichever industry you work for there will always be consultants who can provide you with business. These consultants are less worried about money and more worried by client satisfaction. Once you know a couple of them ask them to introduce you to more.
Customers are your people champion, no business can sustain without having happy customers. They are the influencers you want to make happy and they can be your single source of getting more and more B2B leads. If you do not have a referral program for your customer, start it now. Pay them an incentive as much as you can and make them happy as much as they want.
Relationships are important for any business to grow inorganically. They do not cost you a lot and are only driven by mutual benefits. A two sided referral relationship is a good way to test waters and see how working together can help you. Companies which work in the same ecosystem are the first companies to target for and as this space becomes saturated you start targeting companies which serve the same type of customers as you do. You need to remember that all business relationships are driven by mutual benefits, therefore to sustain a win-win situation for both the parties you may need to stretch a bit to give your partner some kind of value. Once you have tested the waters and feel that you can go in deeper relationships options like alliances, exclusive partnerships and joint ventures open up.
Phone calls for B2B lead Generation
Account based marketing in conjunction with calling is one of the easiest ways to generate leads and get faster results. Before going for the ABM approach you need to have a clear understanding of who your customers are. Few good parameters to look out for are Firm size, Geographic location, Designation of Employee, Industry, SIC codes, Revenue. These parameters are generally enough to create a bigger pool of accounts you would like to target. Tools like Zoominfo, Lead411, Dataaxle Genie, D & B hoovers can then be used to get email IDs and phone numbers of accounts you want to target. Now you need to run nurturing campaigns on these accounts while also reaching out to the key decision makers.
- Using Technographics: If you want more refinement, go first for Technographic data and then apply the parameters like Firm size, Geographic location, Designation of Employee, Industry, SIC codes, Revenue to get your final list. Technographic data is basically the information about Tech stack or list of applications used by the company. You can use your competitors application or list of software that complements your service or product to filter out the companies you should target. We prefer using HG insight, probably the best service when it comes to Technographics
The Sales and Marketing industry is very divided when it comes to thoughts about cold calling. People who have studied extensively about cold calling will tell you it does not work but people who do practically will always tell you it works. We have been using cold calling for years now and we confirm that it still works, but you need to plan accordingly. What you need to understand is running a Cold calling team in high income countries will always be a risk. The reason is quite simple, you need at least 12-16 months to generate stable income from the cold calling process. Now any cold calling process requires high volumes that means you require at least 14-15 people to run it successfully. That means if you run a process in the USA, you may spend more than 5 million dollars even before you start making any money. Due to this reason most cold calling processes fail. In our experience it’s better to outsource the lead generation or appointment setting to some company in India. You will hardly spend $2,00,000 before you start generating stable revenue.
- Lead generation outsourcing: You can easily get a B2B call center in India for as low as $3/ hour doing the lead generation for you. Once they start generating leads, use your best sales representatives to close the deals. This will indicate how fast you can implement this in your company.
- Using Predictive dialers: Use predictive dialers to create high volumes. Whatever people speak but at the end of the day, sales is a number game. If you are not knocking on enough doors you will never be able to generate stable revenue.
Re-Engage with lost leads
Re engaging with lost leads is something which many established sales processes miss out on. Even when a customer says no, that does not mean that you cannot sell them products in future. You can either directly call them after some certain period of time if you do not have an established nurturing pipeline or simply add them to your nurturing pipeline and wait for them to become a marketing qualifying lead.
Social Media for B2B lead Generation
Facebook may not be the best platform to directly generate B2B leads but it’s probably the best re-engagement platform. In addition to that, Facebook groups are the best place to do social selling. You can add value in replies to queries posted in these groups, and encourage customers to add you as a friend. From there reach out to them, introduce yourself and tell them that you will be happy to help them even if they want to go with any other seller.
Instagram lead generation Ads are the easiest and fastest way to generate leads. You can also use this to create your own email list to run nurturing campaigns. Also the best part of Instagram is that your followers can rarely not see your posts, due to the way in which the platform is designed. This may be the biggest benefit compared to other platforms and using this you can generate a lot of leads if your messaging is right. As you can only put a single link on the bio it’s better to put a link to the landing page with the right messaging and generate leads from that landing page. You can also explore similar app called Snapchat for generating leads and retargeting.
The simplest method is to generate leads using Linkedin Ads, you can generate your lead list using it. There is another way through which you can successfully generate high quality leads, using connecting with people and engaging with them. It may be a time taking task in that case you can use a LinkedIn automation tool like Linkedinhelper or Weconnect. I have used both and I suggest using we connect because it will ensure that your account never gets banned. In addition to that you can also do social selling in LinkedIn groups or search posts using keywords. Also start focusing on your SSI score and publish high quality content.
The front page of the Internet is still reddit and it is the sense of community that is keeping this platform alive. The easiest way to generate leads from Reddit is to search linkedin posts and comments for your product related keywords and then engage with those customers. The best free tool to find these posts is using https://redditsearch.io/, we use it extensively to not only reach out to our prospective buyers and generate leads but also to research on creating messaging regarding our marketing communication. You can also directly message the prospect who is looking for a service which you provide.
Twitter influencers can generate a lot of leads for you, engage at least 3 of them which have niche following but high engagements with their followers. In addition to that social selling using keywords is always a great way to generate high intent leads. You can also target your competitors followers and create a messaging around how your product can resolve the shortcomings or problems faced by your competitors customers.
There are mainly two ways to generate B2B leads from YouTube. The first being content creation where you upload video and through that pass your traffic to your website or landing page. The other method is YouTube Advertisements where you showcase your videos advertisement on Videos related to your niche. Both of them work and can be used for lead generation but it’s worth noting that in our experience all products are not a good use case for YouTube advertisement.
Important B2B Lead Generation Concepts
Account Based Marketing
Account based Marketing is a highly targeted marketing strategy in which you employ your resources only on certain potential accounts present in the market. In simple words you first decide about the companies to which you want to sell your products and then start marketing them using customized or personalized communication. The concept of Account based marketing can be employed to multiple strategies in sales and marketing. The best part of ABM is that you have a clear view of output from your marketing efforts. In addition to that a personalized communication is set to give you better results compared to the generic approach. Main tools used for ABM are Paid marketing, Events, Webinars, Email Marketing and Web personalization. There are tools which cover all the aspects of Account based marketing like 6sense, HubSpot, ON24, Engagio, Outgrow etc.
Lead Nurturing and Lead Scoring
Lead Nurturing is nothing but educating your potential clients at different stages of sales funnel, so that over time they convert into your customer. Generally, Lead Nurturing and Lead scoring work hand in hand, based on how your target audience interact with your lead nurturing content. For example a potential lead is opening all the emails of your drip campaign will have a higher lead score compared to someone who never opened your email. Lead Nurturing requires highly targeted content, omni channel reach outs, nurturing at every step of the customer journey and finally basis on all this lead scoring.
Growth Hacking is an umbrella term for all the strategies which are employed for growing the number of customers or users in minimum time possible using unorthodox techniques at low cost. A common characteristic of all Growth hacking techniques is using Unorthodox strategies which are generally not employed by large settled firms. Most growth hackers employ content, Product and Ads based strategy to employ more and more growth. Let’s take a hypothetical example: A regular marketer would like to increase traffic on Blog posts using SEO which may take months to rank the blog post and then increase the traffic while a growth hacker may employ other referral sources for traffic and could ignore SEO to grow at a fast pace.
Demand generation is a planned and analytical method of increasing the demand of the company’s offerings by analyzing the data at every point of customer journey. For simple understanding we can say that Demand generation is a method employed by analyzing every level of funnel and then making learned decisions so as to increase the number of potential customers.
Branding is simply creation of clear, strong and optimistic perception regarding a company in the minds of prospective customers. Branding requires a focus on every process and action of the company. A stronger brand not only makes customer acquisition easier but also increases customer loyalty significantly. Specially in cases where product differentiation is not very high, Branding works as the only way of differentiating yourself from the herd.
Social selling is virtual personal selling on steroids. New age sales agents use Social media to reach out to prospective leads, resolve their issues, nurture them over the time and finally close the deal. Social selling solves the biggest problem of marketing that is targeting, in addition to that it makes cold calling much easier or even completely eliminates the cold factor in calling. A lot of B2B decisions are driven by relationships and social selling uses that for its benefits.
Important B2B Lead Generation Technologies
- Databases: Databases are basic needs of all the sales processes to get more information about the prospects. Zoominfo, D and B Hoover and Dataaxle genie are best according to us.
- Technographic: Technographic databases are platforms which provide information to customers of a particular technology. According to us the best service is H G Insights.
- Intent Level Data: Intent Level data providers are services which provide data regarding which company is searching which keywords. Very beneficial for ABM, the best of the league is Bombora.
- Cold Emailing Software’s: Cold emailing and personalized cold emailing can be very painful. This can be resolved using cold emailing automation software’s like Woodpecker. Use it once and you will never go back to manual emailing.
- Reverse IP trackers: These software’s can tell you about the company of a particular visitor visiting your website or some particular page by using reverse IP technology. The problem with this is in bigger companies you will never know who actually visited from the company. We have used both Visitor Queue and Leadfeeder, you will require a database software with both of them. Therefore getting a higher subscription of Zoominfo is better to enjoy this service.