How to create a custom B2B lead generation strategy
Author: Yuriy Boyko
Reading time: 16m
Depending on the type of business, size, niche, and many other factors, every B2B lead generation strategy is unique. Yet, even after you fine-tune yours, it might not seem to bring the expected results.
The issue might be the need for more alignment between your strategy and the goals you set for your business. This article will tell you how to tweak your lead gen strategy for each of these goals and what common mistakes to avoid. Read on to learn from Belkins’s experience and ensure greater success for your business!
This is the basic strategy that works in most cases. Yet, after looking at its attributes, you might still feel like something’s missing. Many important questions remain unanswered:
How do you improve the overall quality of leads with a small team and a little time?
How do you scale your lead generation efforts?
How do you reduce costs for lead acquisition?
How do you generate leads faster?
How do you find leads in a new market?
How do you use lead generation to boost brand awareness?
This is the primary reason you need to align your lead gen strategy with your company’s current objectives, and our team has the answers you are looking for.
How to build a lead gen strategy according to your specific goal
Getting started with lead generation can take a lot of work. But tweaking your established strategy to achieve set objectives is even harder.
In this part of our guide, we will give you some time-tested and proven B2B lead generation tactics that the Belkins team uses for our clients’ success.
Goal #1. Increase lead quality
In cold outreach prospecting, the best way to improve lead quality is to find the right source.
Here is a brief example. Say, you do Salesforce development. The first thing you would find the easiest would be buying a database of 1000 contacts who might potentially be interested in your product because of their size and industry. However, this form of bulk outreach won't be effective because at least 50% of the people on the list won't use Salesforce. Or maybe, they used to, but not anymore.
Another thing you might want to do is find an additional data point that will be specific to your product. For example, you may look for certain LinkedIn groups where folks are connected because they are using Salesforce. Then you parse the community members and reach out to them. This way, you kill two birds with one stone: You narrow down your ICP, make sure you are contacting the right people, and get a compelling personalization point to use in the email templates.
You can also use lead forms for quick qualification in the early stages. Here are some questions you may ask to filter your leads:
Who else is part of the purchasing process? (To figure out decision-makers.)
What are you looking for in Vendor or Agency? (To see if your company is a good fit.)
When do you want to sign up with a new agency? (To see what leads to work with first.)
What is your biggest priority right now? (To help your sales put their best foot forward.)
What is your budget? (Since most prospects want to discuss pricing on the first call, it will help you to be ready for it.)
Finally, a perfect way to find out where your best leads come from is to ask them! Let the client service or sales department get feedback from your finest clients on what made them choose you. Maybe it was a specific product demo or your stellar “About Us” page. Knowing your forte, you can roll it out in more directions and bring in more well-fitting leads.
So there it is: Assess the quality of leads incoming from different channels and adjust your efforts accordingly.
Goal #2. Scale lead generation efforts
Let’s say your business is scaling, and you are looking to gain more leads to bring more opportunities to your pipeline. The obvious way to do this is to allocate all possible resources and activate various marketing channels to capture more leads.
However, there’s no need to move heaven and earth. Start with these 3 tactics:
Streamline your sales and marketing efforts. To make your marketing team pass on enough quality leads to your sales reps, you must ensure that these two departments are always on the same page. Your marketing team needs to acquire a sales DNA and figure out what leads you are looking for. You need to educate both teams on your vision and goals and clearly define the process, success, MQL, SQL, etc.
Offer instant value. What attracts the prospect’s attention from the very first seconds of contact? Free benefits. At Belkins, we offer 20 free leads to test our approach. It significantly increases the number of calls because interested decision-makers already understand how our service works. So to collect more leads, you can provide a demo or free trial.
Collect and publish your clients’ testimonials. Lots of positive reviews significantly boost the lead gen process. When you make an offer via email or every time your prospects see your ads, they want to know more about the quality you provide. So positive testimonials from existing clients surely will come in handy.
Goal #3. Reduce CAC and improve ROI
Due to an extended sales cycle and many individual factors, B2B businesses face a shared problem — customer acquisition cost (CAC) goes up, whereas the return on investment (ROI) remains below average.
The primary trick with CAC is that it accounts for the total acquisition cost. That is, it spans a variety of expenses, including the cost of:
Marketing and sales teams’ salary
Cost of creative materials
Subscription to sales automation tools
Cost of advertising
Together, these costs can make up huge sums of money, making your ROIs drop. The solutions for this are also different.
Reduce failed contacts made by your team. This happens due to the lack of experience, as well as the poor understanding of your prospects. In the first case, you must provide additional training, hire new experts, or even turn to professional agencies to fill in the skill gaps and help your team perform better. In the second case, you need to conduct more in-depth market research and target your leads more precisely. The more knowledge you collect about your buyer personas, the easier it will be to connect with and convert them. Respectively, the number of missed opportunities will decrease, and your CAC will too.
Boost on-site conversion. Whether you generate leads via email or paid ads, you want them to convert once they land on your website. If this doesn’t happen, your website might have UI/UX issues. To fix this, we recommend focusing on Google Analytics to keep track of your on-site activities and conversions. Also, we advise you to start making the most out of A/B split testing. Properly done, it is the only thing that will help you enhance your landing pages, CTAs, and other factors affecting the overall site performance.
Bring more lucrative deals with the help of high-quality leads. To do this, you need to rethink your lead gen strategy and make it more targeted, effective, and quality-oriented. Belkins always recommends starting with thorough research and analysis and fine-tuning the ICP.
Deliver greater user value. In a nutshell, “user value” means the real benefits your product or service brings to end users. Obviously, the higher it is, the more likely users will buy it.
How do we do it at Belkins? We use the accumulated experience to develop new products that help our clients handle their sales challenges. Knowing their pain points in writing sublime email templates, we created Wordstir — a cold email writing service. And our deliverability SaaS tool Folderly resulted from our efforts to deal with increasing spam rates.
The primary question is how to enhance YOUR user value. In most cases, improving the quality of the product/service is the answer. But sometimes you need to offer more than the client expects.
Pro tip: The easiest and most surefire way to find areas for improvement is to ask your existing customers. Belkins always recommends collecting regular feedback and running customer surveys to learn what existing users think about your product or service and what they lack.
Goal #4. Speed up lead generation
The main reason you might have lead generation speed issues is opting for the wrong tactics. Of course, there’s no such thing as lightning-fast lead generation in B2B, as different industries have specific sales cycles and decision-making processes. Nevertheless, here are several methods that we strongly recommend if you want to acquire leads faster:
Run paid ads campaigns. PPC advertising can hardly be called budget-friendly. But in terms of quick results, it is one of the most worthwhile tools. If your advertisement is set up correctly and guides users to the relevant, well-optimized landing, new leads won’t keep you waiting.
Ask for referrals. Many companies underestimate the importance of business connections in the lead-generation process. Asking your existing customers for referrals will bring you more connections and surely become a good source of new opportunities (but only if you provide exceptional service about which your clients would gladly spread the word).
Enlist the help of professionals. This solution will be perfect for companies that need results quickly or for small businesses that lack the resources to scale or train their teams. Hiring a dedicated lead generation agency like Belkins will solve your problems at once.
Collect as much knowledge about prospects and competitors as possible. Our experts recommend conducting thorough market research and revising your past sales history. It will help concentrate your strategy on the most relevant opportunities, avoid mistakes, and sharpen value propositions according to the market changes.
Goal #5. Break into new regional markets
Entering new markets with your existing lead gen tactic is like jumping into the unknown. Even if your current strategy used to work in some markets, it might not be relevant beyond. So to attain this goal, you need to do some fundamental research and tweak your strategy.
Belkins had a lot of customers with the same goal. In one of our case studies, we talked about Labrador CMS, a small Norwegian business that operates in a rather narrow niche. The main challenge was to grow beyond its native Norwegian market and spread product awareness.
To do this, we outlined a new prospects’ base among the visitors of worldwide publishing conferences and set up killer email templates in every prospect’s native language. The results we attained were amazing:
85% open rate in the Swedish and Danish markets (in the Swedish language), and 77% in the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands;
Reply rates of 46% in Sweden and Denmark, and 21% in the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands;
50+ new business appointments;
New promising markets were discovered in the South African, US, and Canadian regions.
Another successful case for Belkins was the project with DeepDyve. For this US-based brand, we wanted to target markets beyond the US and Canada. To do this, we had to spread product awareness and make a new list of prospects from new markets.
The key to success was ensuring that we got DeepDyve’s ideal customer profile (ICP) right. Once we had a clear ICP, the rest was pure mechanics — we made a list of targets that matched the ICP, collected their primary contact data, enriched this data with more information from research, and used personalized email outreach to make connections.
Based on our experience, here are the main steps that will help you tweak your lead gen strategy for entering new markets too:
Study the specs and unique features of every market to know what you are going for. Pay special attention to the demand for your type of product/service in a particular market.
After defining target markets, determine the correct language for lead outreach. English is perfect for international communication. Yet, the Belkins team knows for sure that approaching leads from new markets in their native languages brings greater results.
Expand your in-house team with the right specialists. Most importantly, you need to staff up on SDRs with the target language proficiency. For example, at Belkins, we employ many great specialists who are fluent in languages besides English, enabling us to communicate freely with prospects across different regions.
Adapt your website to the needs of new markets and set up regional SEO. At this point, you will need to be very attentive to every market’s specs. For example, if you are expanding to China, you must know that Google is prohibited there. The traditional SEO tailored to Google’s algorithms won’t work for this market. Instead, they have a different, local search engine that will require you to hire a relevant (and very rare) specialist.
Adapt your existing SMM strategy to the needs of new markets. Some countries don’t use LinkedIn. In others, there are limitations to using TikTok or Instagram, etc. Pay close attention to the specific trends and regulations of your target market.
Pro tip: Obviously, entering new markets involves dozens of limitations. But there is one method that is equally popular and unrestricted everywhere — email outreach. When it’s done correctly, this outbound channel can give you excellent results in any market. That’s why we at Belkins have utilized it since 2017: we can send hundreds of letters daily, and all we need to worry about is the spam rate.
Goal #6. Increase brand awareness
Let’s look through 2 marketing channels you should utilize to boost your brand awareness.
Content. In B2B, prospects often know about their pain points. However, they often lack knowledge of the problem and potential solutions. Due to this reason, they appreciate added-value content the most. It helps you accomplish several goals: establish your online presence, build authority and trust, and generate leads.
To get the most out of your content, we recommend paying the utmost attention to the 2 core factors:
Expertise. To become a substantial source of inbound leads, you should know exactly who you’re writing for. For instance, if your ideal customers are seasoned professionals in banking, articles about basic notions of the industry won’t bring them any value. Instead of writing theory about sales and marketing, provide your readers with research reports, case studies, detailed guides with a focus on practical implementation, video guides, forecasts and trends, and interviews with industry experts.
Content and SEO alignment. Attracting organic traffic to your site via content is the best way to build awareness, and it wouldn’t be possible without search engine optimization. With the help of high-quality content and white-hat SEO strategies, you can get your content in front of your target audiences and hook them. Furthermore, your content and SEO strategy should complement each other and act as a whole. In a nutshell, you should create that type of content that will bring you traffic.
Events. Now that we’ve gotten clarity on the content strategies, there is one more thing you can do for your brand awareness — event marketing. There is a wide variety of business-oriented events that can help you get noticed and generate more leads at the same time:
These events can take place both online and offline, and your team members or a third party can organize them. In any case, participating in them can help you attain many goals at once. It can help get your brand, products, and services in front of prospects, grow your professional network, and gain recognition.
For the Belkins team, in particular, event marketing was a game-changer. At the beginning of our story, having limited resources for promotion, we were making the most out of participating in offline events.
The founders of Belkins often joined workshops and conferences as speakers, sharing their expertise and growing brand awareness. It helped build Belkins’s expert image, educate prospects, and get the first leads.
Here are a few hot tips for event marketing from our founder Michael Maximoff:
Don’t be afraid to go virtual because there are nearly endless opportunities for virtual event lead generation.
Whether it’s an offline or online event, create dedicated social media pages and landing pages to promote your event.
Promote an event both before and during it.
Motivate users to register for your event by giving it a sense of urgency and exclusivity (for example, emphasize that there are only a few places left and the price will go up later).
Gather expert speakers with real insights to share with your audience, and always keep one speaker a secret to pique more interest.
Always follow up with attendees after the event and offer recordings of the event.
Make a unique offer during the event to convert leads.
Common mistakes in building a lead gen strategy in B2B
In the list below, we’ve gathered some valuable lessons from Belkins and our clients that will help you avoid common mistakes in your lead-gen efforts and generate qualified B2B sales leads.
Most businesses tend to allocate a huge part of their financial, human, and other resources to boost ROIs and sales. The tricky part about this is that quality should always stand over quantity. Moreover, if the quantity of leads is significantly higher than what your team can physically handle, you are likely failing to make the most out of your lead gen.
On the other hand, if the resources you allocate on this matter are not enough, it would mean that your strategy doesn’t load your sales team to full capacity. That is, you are not generating enough leads and, apparently, missing out on many opportunities.
Based on the Belkins team experience, resource miscalculation (in both ways) can lead to lead gen failure. Our AM, Anna Myzerniuk, recalls one of the most challenging yet fascinating projects she had to deal with.
Our customer was a toy manufacturer aiming to scale and enter new markets in Europe and North America. The primary challenge was that the traction of the outreach campaign turned out to be too high. The unexpectedly high reply rate nearly paralyzed the clients’ sales department, which could not process and follow up on every lead without missing something.
Solution: According to our expert account manager, the best way to solve this problem is to leverage reliable tracking practices and instruments that will let your team keep better track of all replies. This can help you ensure that you won’t miss a single opportunity.
Also, according to Entrepreneur, the more leads you generate, the more accurately you can refine your lead gen and scoring processes. That is, a higher load for your team will help it accumulate more knowledge, experience, and insights that will let you get more from your strategy in the long run.
Sticking to the framework approaches
After a number of tries and failures, every company eventually develops a tried-and-true B2B lead gen strategy. Over some time, it usually becomes somewhat robust and generic. So even if it used to work well at the start, it can lead to more churn in the long run.
The problem here is the lack of freshness and novelty in this strategy. One lesson that the Belkins team learned a long time ago is that every (even the best) strategy needs to be tweaked and improved over time.
There might be many reasons why your experience and approaches might be irrelevant:
You are entering new markets;
You are missing out on new strong tools.
All these issues can make your team walk in circles and not attain the expected results. But, if you dare to think outside the box and try new approaches, this can change everything.
One of the Belkins team projects is a clear example of this mistake. After studying the past sales history and other details of our customer, the WSO2 company, we first figured out the primary ICP and targeted large healthcare companies as their leads. We started with a time-tested approach and didn’t get the expected results.
Solution: Our team tried targeting other regions and niches. We created new approaches and unique outreach templates to test the new opportunities. Eventually, we expanded the customer’s lead gen outreach and ensured an appointment rate growth from 3 to 10-20 meetings per month.
Projecting B2C practices to B2B
The nature of B2B is much different from B2C:
It features more complex and more expensive products;
The ROI for B2B often takes longer to realize;
The buying decisions are made not by an individual, but by a group of stakeholders, which also means a longer sales cycle.
There are many other divergences between these two markets. But the only true answer is that lead generation for B2B is different from that for B2C, and thus requires using different practices and approaches.
This applies to all parts of your lead gen strategy. For example, the content you deliver. B2C customers enjoy shorter and more entertaining marketing materials. They would rather watch a short commercial video than read a detailed case study.
B2B customers are different. They appreciate added-value content that has more depth and helps them solve their pain points. Therefore, our primary advice is not to mix B2C and B2B lead generation approaches.
Giving up on internal and external communication
One thing that many businesses undervalue is the true role of communication in the lead-generation process. According to Belkins’s AM, Mariya Valtina, it’s not always the professional background and hard skills that make a project successful, but the right communicative abilities.
The thing you should always keep in mind is that there are just ordinary people behind the businesses you target — people who expect humanity, respect, personal attention, friendliness, honesty, and other attributes of effective communication.
Now, while the general role of communication is clear, there is also one point that many businesses tend to lose sight of — the importance of the language of your outreach. We’ve seen it a lot in our experience. Some companies (especially smaller ones) tend to keep their customer communication processes plain and straightforward. That is, their communication might be delayed and run in a language native to the company’s reps, not to the customers.
Solution: Whether you initially target international B2B sales leads or plan to expand your business to an international market, running communication in your native language is surely more convenient. However, if you switch to your target customers’ native language, it can be a game-changer.
Working with OutSystems, Belkins tried to change the approach to communication. We launched a native-language cold outreach campaign for the Asian market. And the results stunned us. After refining the message and launching a campaign, we’ve seen a significant improvement in the campaign’s outcomes. The Belkins team set over 50 appointments for the customer in just 3 months.
Wrong target personas
To generate B2B sales leads like a pro, you need to have well-defined target personas first. We bet you’ve heard it a lot. But, though everyone says it, not everyone explains the true essence of this tip.
Indeed, in the B2B sector, a big part of the success depends on whether or not you can reach the right person with the right message. You can reach out to thousands of people a day and have a flawless pitch, but it won’t make any difference if you are not reaching a decision-maker.
Due to this reason, it’s clear that you need to carefully research your prospects and formulate clear and relevant target personas before you launch your outreach. But not everyone will tell you that you might also have to tweak your target personas in the process if they are wrong.
A good example is the Belkins team partnership with Talkatoo. This startup developed a desktop dictation tool for veterinarians, and needed to pick up the pace and generate high-quality B2B sales leads for their product. The obvious ideal target personas for this tool were veterinarians, but targeting them was nearly impossible because of their super-busy schedules.
Solution: Instead of targeting vets directly, our team started targeting administrative and managing titles at vet clinics. That’s when the number of leads and appointments got off the ground. We helped our client get 80+ appointments and close 8 deals in 8 months.
So here’s the primary tip: if your strategy doesn’t seem to work as you expect it to, try changing the target personas, which might change everything.
Giving up on testing
Whenever adopting a specific approach or strategy, you expect it to fetch the intended results. But sometimes, whatever you do, you just don’t seem to get any closer to your objectives. And the problem here might be that you give up on testing.
Most often, companies skip this step in the beginning. However, they rarely consider how much time, money, and effort this mistake could cost them in the end.
Based on our experience, proper testing is one of the most important elements of an effective sales acquisition campaign. When developing new lead generation strategies for B2B clients, our teams take the first few weeks of lead research and mailing to test the waters. If everything’s fine and there’s traction, we will launch the campaign at full capacity.
Here’s a brief example: a 2022 Industry Arc report reveals that compelling A/B testing helped Dell boost their conversion rate by 300%. Just imagine increasing sales like that by simply experimenting and testing your approaches correctly!
The bottom line
Now you know how to tweak your B2B lead generation process to accomplish your goals and what mistakes to avoid in order to ensure success. As you see, building your strategy blindfolded can only lead to a waste of resources. However, keeping your business’s needs and objectives in mind can be a real game-changer.
Have a hard time with lead generation? The Belkins team is always there for you! We have already generated nearly 5,000,000 top-quality leads for customers across 50+ industries. Feel free to book a call with our team to learn more about our approach!
Yuriy has been working in the B2B sales sector for more than a decade. His approach is the integration of scientific methods combined with thinking out of the box, allowing to achieve the highest results in any industry.
State of Outbound report 2023
Download (31,1 mb)
Share the article:
State of Outbound report 2023
Download (31,1 mb)
Share the article:
Subscribe to our blog Get the ultimate insights on the B2B trends and hands-on tips from sales professionals. Receive updates on new articles and more.