B2B lead generation, or business-to-business lead generation, is a complex process of attracting new customers. It includes collecting contact details of companies that can potentially buy from you and nurturing them until conversion. This process is invariably bound with two challenges: identifying the relevant target audience (companies) and finding the right decision-makers within them. The decision-maker is the employee with authority to buy products or services like yours.
If you offer a recruiting tool based on cloud technologies, you’d need to contact an HR manager. If it’s marketing-automation software, a marketing team lead or chief marketing officer (CMO) is your ideal contact person. So the B2B lead generation process is more complicated than finding prospects for B2C (business-to-consumer) companies that sell directly to customers.
What are B2B leads?
Many sources define B2B leads as companies and individuals. But the final list of B2B leads includes emails of people working for companies. So if you get a list of business names, you’ll still need to do lots of research and analysis to qualify them.
Marketing and sales specialists qualify B2B leads according to their sales funnel stage. For example, cold leads are at the top of the pipeline and don’t yet know anything about your brand. But once targeted, these company reps soon turn into marketing-qualified leads (MQL) and sales-qualified leads (SQL).
The difference between the MQL and SQL B2B leads
If marriage were a deal, we’d call your partner an MQL during the dating phase. Upon proposing, they would become your SQL. Now let’s see how it works in sales.
Some can click the CTA (call-to-action) button when you send a cold outreach campaign. Depending on the content of the email, your cold leads can subscribe to newsletters, go to the recommended blog posts, or complete a survey in exchange for a lead magnet. So MQLs engage with your message or brand but aren’t yet ready to discuss the potential purchase.
They can also find your website or blog on Google, subscribe to updates, like or share your articles, and willingly provide their email. Or users can like your social media ad, repost one of your recent publications, or leave a comment.
SQL leads have shown their interest in buying your product. For example, these users find your company through a search engine and complete the contact form on your website. Or they can reply to your cold email asking for an appointment. It’s SQLs who click the “Request a Demo” button on your main page or ask for a callback.
Sales-qualified leads can reach out to your sales reps via phone, messenger, or social media to check for some specific product features or get quotes for their companies. So these leads indicate they have a significant interest in your brand.
Why high-quality B2B lead generation is vital
The times of offering your product to everyone hoping that someone will need it are gone. Today, your B2B sales clients’ inboxes are overloaded with irrelevant prospecting emails. But in the digital era, marketers have all the needed information at their fingertips. They must use it wisely to deliver catchy, value-based offers on time to the right people. And here are the reasons.
To grow your brand awareness
B2B lead generation will be effective only when many interested leads learn about your company. You won’t always be able to identify the exact time for sending your offer to a prospect. That’s because your target tech lead probably won’t publish a “looking for a legal docs searching solution” post on LinkedIn. But once this person recalls your brand when they need it, you’ll get one more relevant prospect.
To maximize the ROI
As a rule, marketing budgets are enormous. Company owners and managers must embrace multiple B2B lead generation strategies and instruments to attract new customers. And if the quality of these potential buyers is low, your CAC (customer acquisition cost) will grow, while the ROI (return on investment) will decrease. So finding relevant leads means your B2B lead generation efforts are effective.
To increase revenue
Growing revenue is critical for every business. And if you profit fast, you can reinvest that money into your business, increasing its value or acquiring other companies. Revenue growth shows how efficiently your B2B lead generation works and reflects your business’s health, so receiving enough money for your financial survival is one of the main reasons for finding high-quality leads.
How does B2B lead generation work?
Businesses don’t capture leads by only researching them. Companies use lots of other approaches to find potential clients, like arranging events, hosting webinars, running podcasts, recording videos, etc. These activities help them overcome the first two stages of the B2B lead generation process described below.
However, B2B lead generation isn’t only finding potential buyers either. This process includes nurturing them up to the sale. And below, we’ll give you an idea of how businesses generate leads through research.
Step 1: Study your B2B buyer persona
At this stage, businesses have to identify their ideal prospect — companies that can benefit from their products. To do this, you’ll need to identify the industry your potential B2B sales client works in as well as their business’s location, number of employees, annual income, owners, and C-level executives. This data is called firmographics, and it’s similar to demographics you collect about individuals.
Step 2: Identify the decision-maker(s) and segment the audience
Crafting your ICP is only half of the task. The next challenge is to find the right company representatives to reach out to. That’s because if you send your excellently crafted proposal to the wrong person, you won’t make a sale in the end. So be sure to check relevant positions and the people possessing those roles, split them into segments, and start sending cold emails.
Step 3: Monitor trigger events
Reaching out to your ideal B2B sales prospects at the wrong time is setting yourself up for failure. So after identifying the contacts to communicate with, you’ll need to monitor their activity on social media and relevant resources to come out with your proposal when it’s most needed. Is your future client looking for a Python developer? Immediately tell the CTO and HR manager about your AI-powered recruiting solution.
Step 4: Personalize your cold email
Successful B2B lead generation engages potential buyers with your product’s value. But you’ll need to refer to the researched data in your cold email smartly — personalize it. Greeting the person and mentioning the company name aren’t enough to gain the reader’s trust and interest from the first lines. So check for common hobbies, visited conferences, discussions, etc. to refer to, but be careful to avoid getting into too much detail.
Step 5: Nurture your leads
After you get a positive response from your cold-email readers, these potential B2B sales clients only enter the sales pipeline. And the stage of their buyer journey depends on the buyer intent they show. That’s when sellers qualify leads and start nurturing them until the sales opportunity closes. This can be through regular follow-ups, promo emails, and friendly calls now and then.
Step 6: Set an appointment
When the nurtured lead is ready to learn more about your product and shows interest in it, send an email or make a call to schedule a meeting. Appointment setting is one of the final stages of the B2B lead generation process, so SDRs (sales development representatives) need to be persuasive and ready to deal with objections.
6 most popular B2B lead generation strategies
Attracting leads is a never-ending process: Businesses must continually evolve to improve their digital B2B lead generation approaches. Industry trends, advanced technologies, competitors’ tactics, analytics, and new ideas impact companies’ B2B lead generation strategies. Below are the 6 top marketing strategies for acquiring B2B clients.
Emails seem to have been with us for ages. Still, despite the variety of other communication channels, sending cold emails remains the most successful way of B2B lead generation. That’s because recipients are free to open inbox messages when they feel comfortable. Emails don’t hear our voices or wait for immediate answers. And this allows customers to get to know brands better before hitting “Reply” or clicking the link.
Nonetheless, cold outreach remains highly competitive as B2B sales and marketing reps bombard mailboxes with hundreds of emails per day. So companies must create catchy subject lines, gain trust, and engage prospects with the product value. Moreover, marketers must constantly monitor deliverability rate and prevent their emails from going to spam.
Attracting clients through content is an inbound marketing technique. It assumes potential customers will find your company through search engines when entering long-tail keywords. Users can discover you due to proper SEO (search engine optimization) strategy while looking for similar companies. Or they can find the necessary information on your website or come across helpful tips in your blog posts.
However, content isn’t limited to what one can read. Businesses can show valuable recommendations and use cases in video or audio formats. And the growing popularity of podcasts and the number of YouTube subscribers prove this type of content is in demand. So companies try to reach their target audience through various content types, and this approach works.
Social media ads
Nobody misses an opportunity to check social media networks throughout the day, including decision-makers. And marketers leverage this channel to capture the attention of potential buyers. Social media ads appear unsolicited, but users click on them when they’re relevant and appealing. Meta, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok bring new leads in, so sellers only need to choose the networks their target audiences use most frequently.
Social media platforms help create flexible ad campaigns and offer many opportunities for improving them on the go. They allow marketers to reach local and international users and pick the industry, age, relationship status, etc. Moreover, these networks provide comprehensive analytics, which helps to test various approaches, get insights, and make data-driven decisions.
PPC (pay-per-click) advertising
Letting millions of users see your brand is fantastic, especially when you pay only for users who want to learn more about your product. Google Ads is the most in demand PPC advertising platform and offers three types of advertisements: text, image, and video. Since SEO optimization tries to place your web resources on the first page of Google Search organically, it can take lots of time (if it happens at all).
PPC instantly allows you to place your web page in the three ad links above the organic results. This way, you tell thousands of warm leads about your brand and product, so they only need to make one click to meet you. Moreover, companies get access to keyword statistics and phrases that drive traffic to promoted web pages. They can then use them to improve their SEO approaches.
Influencer marketing is one of the trendy B2B lead generation strategies. It assumes that an industry leader with many followers tells them about your product. It’s still paid advertising but has a considerable advantage. This type of promotion appeals to the influencers’ expertise and leverages their subscribers’ trust. For a potential buyer, such a mention is like getting a recommendation from a best friend.
However, finding the right influencer for your brand takes time and effort. That’s because some of them can have your target audience but may not be ready to accept your conditions. Others may be happy to collaborate but not have enough engaged subscribers to make your investment profitable. So you may do better to contact several nano- and micro-influencers rather than engage a macro- or mega-influencer.
Affiliate marketing is when other internet users advertise your products. Typically, affiliates have a relevant target audience and incorporate your link into their blogs, websites, or social media content. Once a user clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you pay a commission to the affiliate partner. So this approach benefits both parties: Publishers get an income, and brands attract new warm leads and convert them.
Professional affiliate advertisers can promote your product on various platforms, and they have to bear the costs of that. Not every brand has an affiliate program, but adding this approach to your B2B lead generation strategies will improve brand awareness, reach greater audiences, and grow revenues. However, before launching this incentive, marketers need to calculate the optimal affiliate commission.
Top 4 B2B lead generation agencies in the U.S.
B2B lead generation doesn’t come easy as you need to consider tons of parameters. Creating the ICP, identifying decision-makers, tracking their actions on social media, and scheduling meetings are tough.
And though there are plenty of AI-driven lead gen automation tools, many businesses prefer to outsource the whole B2B lead generation process. Below are 4 top marketing agencies ready to help you find new clients.
Belkins equips its experts with advanced tools to fill your pipeline with high-quality leads. Our team explores your ideal customer and searches for companies that match the set criteria. Upon detection of the decision-makers, our reps send them engaging, personalized emails with catchy subject lines. Belkins boasts high reply rates because our sales professionals concentrate on bringing value to customers. These factors allowed us to become the top-rated B2B lead gen and appointment setting agency on Clutch, prevailing over the other companies in this niche.
CIENCE fills your sales funnel with interested prospects. Its team runs pinpoint research of potential clients and does prospecting on social media as well as through cold emails, web, and phone. The company uses its Orchestrated Outbound platform to effectively deal with B2B lead generation tasks.
Martal Group has access to four databases with 100 million B2B leads. This firm has been in business for 12+ years and boasts 100+ sales reps. Martal Group offers B2B lead-generation services backed by data and human intelligence. This brand works with B2B tech industry companies, providing them with sales representatives who generate leads quickly.
This is one of the B2B lead-generation companies that find prospects actively looking for your product. SalesPro Leads specializes in searching for tech companies, and its total B2B lead-generation experience exceeds 100 years. The company’s sales reps cultivate their dynamic database and continually update it. The brand also boasts exceptional customer service.
Since you are on Belkins’s website right now, look no further: You’re already found what you were looking for. We are the top-rated lead-generation agency, according to 140+ reviews on Clutch.co. Need a fully dedicated, seasoned team of sales experts? Book a call with Belkins sales reps – start accelerating your sales today!