Top 4 Best Strategies for Lead Generation for B2BFeb 09, 2023
The key to lead generation for B2B is to focus on a specific target audience and create a strategy that integrates automation with a human-to-human approach.
While it’s ok to automate certain aspects, many studies prove that customers feel more comfortable when they’re able to engage with another human being during their buying process. With the advent of ChatGPT and other AI technologies, it will be tempting to try and automate the entire process. But this can be counterproductive.
Engaging directly, human-to-human with B2B sales prospects allows you and your sales team to be more connected to your audience and better understand their needs. This helps you adapt and improve your lead generation funnel.
In a world full of AI and automation, a human-to-human approach will always win.
Shotgun vs Targeted Approach for B2B Lead generation
When creating a marketing strategy, you can take a shotgun or a targeted approach to your audience.
A shotgun approach seeks to create brand awareness in a broad target market. It borrows approaches from mass marketing that targets consumers. This approach is generally ineffective for lead generation for B2B for three reasons:
- It attracts lots of leads, but you must filter them out to find the ones that can use your services.
- That filtering process usually requires salespeople to call irrelevant leads. This wastes valuable seller time.
- When sellers repeatedly work unqualified leads, they lose faith in marketing’s efforts.
A targeted approach is a far better strategy. You focus on a specific niche, study the needs of that niche, and create content that is directly related to their business, needs and business goals. The more targeted your strategy, the higher quality the leads will be.
The targeted approach can be more expensive, take longer, and attract fewer leads. However, these leads will usually be better qualified and more likely to be interested in your product or service.
Quality will always trump quantity when it comes to generating leads for B2B sales.
The Lead Generation Process for B2B
There are typically 5 stages in the lead generation process: attract, capture, convert, qualify, nurture and convert.
- Attract: in this phase, prospects are unknown. You attract them through blogs, advertising, 3rd party events, social media, etc.
- Capture: when visitors land on your website, you have calls to action to encourage them to complete a form, allowing you to follow up and nurture a relationship. This can take the form of a newsletter subscription form, offer for a useful free asset, offer for a demo or free consultation, or even a low-cost paid offer.
- Qualify: You evaluate the lead's level of interest and fit for your products or services. This can be somewhat automated via forms, but it’s also useful to use criteria such as demographics to qualify leads and eliminate those that don’t meet your minimum qualification criteria.
- Nurture: next, you can use calls from your SDR team, email and other communication methods to build relationships with leads, educate them about your offering and keep them engaged until they are ready to buy.
- Convert: As leads are identified as qualified sales opportunities, you move them into the sales process.
Some leads will progress very quickly, depending on their readiness to buy. So it’s important to build a process that doesn’t force them into a cycle that’s too slow. This is where automation can actually get in your way. So adding a human-to-human step where you ask the lead where they are in the process can really help.
Each one of the five steps we just mentioned is connected to the others and requires careful holistic planning and execution. It’s important to anticipate the whole customer journey (or customer experience).
The Four Quadrants of Lead Generation for B2B
There are many ways to approach strategies for lead generation for B2B. Here’s a quadrant to help visualize 4 different approaches that can all work together to attract your ideal prospects.
First there are two approaches for reaching leads: outbound and inbound.
- Outbound marketing is when you send your content out. This can include cold calling, social selling, advertising, email marketing. This type of marketing is often “interruptive,” meaning that it interrupts the prospect’s workday flow. Outbound strategies put more control over timing in the seller’s hands.
- Inbound marketing uses content to attract your audience. This includes blogging, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), social media, events, podcasts and videos. Inbound strategies help your prospect find you when they’re looking. It is less intrusive than outbound, but also leaves timing in the prospect’s control.
Both inbound and outbound strategies can be executed online or in-person and can be provided on-demand or live. These can be combined in creative ways to attract and engage your ideal audience.
However, there are other aspects that you can consider to make the best possible decision.
For example, outbound approaches often have a higher CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost). So it’s important to take that into consideration.
On the other hand, inbound strategies usually need more time to develop an audience. So it can take longer to generate revenue.
Now let’s talk about each quadrant in the matrix and how it fits into an overall strategy for lead generation for B2B.
There are many ways to implement a virtual outbound strategy.
Regardless of your choice, remember you will be most effective when you take a human-to-human approach that creates individualized content. If you try to hit the maximum number of people with the minimum level of effort, you will not be effective.
Efficiency ≠ Effectiveness.
With that being said, our top three outbound virtual strategies for lead generation for B2B are:
LinkedIn Social Selling
Social selling is the process of using social media to reach out directly to prospects using a social platform.
LinkedIn is the preeminent platform for B2B social selling for most businesses. However, there are other online communities that serve specific niches. So find the platforms that are used by your target audience.
Social selling on LinkedIn involves three strategies:
- Posting content that is interesting to your target audience.
- Commenting and engaging with posts from your audience.
- Sending connection requests and engaging with leads via direct message (DM).
It’s extremely important to take a human-to-human approach when sending connection requests and DMs on LinkedIn. This should never be automated.
You can learn more about how to use LinkedIn for social selling here:
How To Start Social Selling On LinkedIn
We also provide a course on using LinkedIn for social selling. Check out Prospecting Mastery.
A cold email should seek to start a conversation with someone who could be interested in your business. Like with social selling, a human-to-human approach will ALWAYS be more effective than broadcasting the same email to everyone.
One of my clients used the same approach we teach on LinkedIn to send prospects messages via email. He got a 27% REPLY RATE! He was able to consistently book meetings with ideal prospects because of how he approached the emails.
There are great tools that can help you manage this strategy, such as Lavender.ai, a sales email assistant that helps you shorten, optimize and personalize your sales emails.
As with any other outbound strategy, you can risk sounding too impersonal or even spammy if you don’t personalize each message.
Our last strategy for virtual outbound is the most common: ads.
You can run ads on any social media platform, email, online publications and search engines like Google.
Nowadays, most online ads will use data and demographics to target your messages. Depending on the platform, they will be more or less accurate.
You can choose pay-per-click, pay-per-impression, pay-per-engagement, and other formats.
We recommend that you optimize your inbound strategies and make sure leads are converting well before you start investing in ads. You could be flushing lots of money down the toilet.
There are many ways to approach in-person outbound for lead generation for B2B.
Similar to cold emails, cold calls are made to make a first approach to prospects, inform them about your brand and try to create a need in them to buy from you.
There is nothing inherently wrong with cold calling, but if you want it to work, you’ve got to employ a solid strategy. You only have a certain amount of hours in a day. Your time is valuable.
Start with the 3 Rs - Research, Relevancy & Relatability.
Research: Look at their LinkedIn profile. How do they describe their role? What are they sharing? Check your CRM - WHY are you calling this person? What triggers have you found that suggest you should reach out to them specifically?
Relevancy: Find info that is relevant, relatable and ties into the overall arc of your call and intentions.
Relatability: Be relatable – Show up as YOU! No need to "sell" or force something. Start a conversation first. Be curious.
In B2B, industry events like conferences and trade shows are particularly relevant. These are where the important thought leaders in your prospect’s industry gather and connect.
By attending, you will maximize your opportunities to meet new people, find prospects and let them know about your business and the solutions you offer.
We advise you to book meetings with potential clients ahead of the event to get better ROI for your events budget.
Networking will always be relevant, regardless of your industry and business model.
You can always network through social media, which is very important, but you should never underestimate the power of in-person networking.
The people we engage with in “real life” tend to stick better in our minds. The relationship feels stronger.
Find ways to stay connected with people in your target industry. Build on those relationships, and they’ll gradually turn into referral sources.
Virtual inbound marketing can happen in many shapes and forms. No matter what form it takes, it requires a content strategy.
A content strategy consists of creating valuable pieces of content that educate your audience to build awareness of their needs and help them understand how your products or services meet those needs.
It usually feels natural, non-intrusive, and isn’t perceived as advertising.
A content strategy can consist of:
- Social media content: regardless of your chosen platform, this involves posts, photos, infographics, videos, etc. They help you build awareness, educate and inspire your audience, and can easily be shared by users.
- Blog/SEO content: making search-engine-optimized content is key to positioning your business online and creating authority. These articles can “dig deeper” than social media posts and guide users through your products, services, and processes.
- Podcasts: creating a podcast is a great way to keep your business up-to-date with your industry, generating content and meeting new people related to your business.
- Online events: Recorded events can be a great way to attract and convert leads. Consider recording some of the live inbound events we’ll talk about next and making them available on-demand.
Last but not least, there are the live inbound strategies. These can be done online (e.g., via a virtual meeting platform or in-person at an event.
This is probably the least common of all the B2B lead generation strategies because it can be challenging to plan and execute. But these strategies are also often the most effective for attracting well-qualified, warm B2B leads.
Creating Your Own Events
Organizing your own event will allow you to connect and collaborate with other people in your industry. These create an environment where your business is perceived as an industry leader, bringing instant credibility.
By creating a single or a series of events, no matter how big or small, you will quickly position yourself as an authority in your niche and a recognizable name.
It’s also a great way to grow your network — and you own the leads!
You can start small. We’ve had great success with running virtual and in-person round tables. Here’s an article with 6 reasons to host a live roundtable.
We have had awesome success running paid mini-workshops.
A mini-workshop is a short course teaching one thing that your prospects want and need to learn. Instead of giving away the content for free, you charge a small fee. This helps generate short-term cash flow, but more importantly, attracts very well-qualified leads who have already paid something for your content.
Your workshop can offer education to help your prospects solve a specific problem (something that can be solved in an hour).
This strategy positions you as an expert in your field. It gives your prospect a quick win, which dramatically increases your credibility and their trust in you.
These are best done “live” via Zoom or some other virtual platform. But you can also record them and make them available on-demand later.
Now that you’ve read through these different approaches, which are you going to incorporate into your B2B lead generation strategy this year?
KPIs Important for B2B Lead Generation
No matter which strategies you employ, measuring the effectiveness of your lead generation for B2B is crucial to determine your return on investment (ROI) and make good, data-driven decisions for future campaigns.
Identify the KPIs (key performance indicators) that are most relevant to your business objectives. For example, it’s easy to track things like website traffic, number of leads generated, and cost per lead. But those rarely deliver real business results.
More meaningful KPIs include:
- Lead-to-customer conversion rate
- Customer acquisition cost
- Customer lifetime value
Avoid vanity metrics such as social media followers or website page views. Instead, focus on metrics that demonstrate the impact of marketing on the business's bottom line.
Track and analyze data: Use analytics tools to track and analyze your KPIs over time. Compare the results to previous periods and to industry benchmarks to assess the performance and identify opportunities for improvement.
Make data-driven decisions: Use the data and insights gathered from tracking and analyzing KPIs to make informed decisions about inbound marketing strategies, tactics, and budgets. But don’t settle for the easiest analytics. If you really want to make informed decisions, trace customer wins backwards to see which campaigns impacted those sales. That’s the kind of information that helps you make informed decisions.
The PropelGrowth Prospecting Mastery course helps entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, business owners and sales teams learn how to reliably and predictably generate qualified sales leads using LinkedIn.
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