There is no one right way for how to do B2B lead generation. The best B2B lead generation strategies depend on several factors, including: your industry, your prospective customers, your team’s strength, and your solution’s reputation and product-market fit. But with a thoughtful approach and by blending some time-tested strategies with new technology innovations, your company can get the best results from your B2B lead generation efforts.
Better sales and marketing results start by understanding the basics, like “what does B2B lead generation mean?” Let’s dig deeper into the big topics of what are lead generation services and how to do B2B lead generation in a way that delivers ROI for your company.
B2B lead generation is the process of finding new sales leads and building new business opportunities among B2B (business-to-business) buyers. Learning how to do B2B lead generation is a long-term learning curve, because the B2B sales process is often a long-term process. For example, many major account B2B sales cycles might take 1-2 years (or longer).
Especially when you’re selling to big companies, it’s important to be patient with your B2B lead generation strategies. It can take time to find the right decision-makers, build relationships with stakeholders throughout the buyer’s organization, answer questions from buyers, and build trust. B2B lead generation is not just about cold-calling; it’s a methodical, long-term strategic process of developing relationships and creating credibility with buyers, to the point where they are ready to spend significant amounts of money on your solution. Sometimes there are quick wins from B2B lead generation, but at other times, the process can be unpredictable. It might take longer than you might think to generate a good list of qualified prospects.
In general, there are two main types of B2B lead generation strategies: inbound and outbound.
Inbound lead generation involves drawing prospective buyers “in” to your organization. With this type of B2B lead generation, clients contact your organization (such as by filling out an intake form or signing up for a free download on your website). There are a few common strategies for inbound lead generation:
Your company’s website and blog can be a great source of inbound leads. Every time you publish a new article (like this one!) you are helping to create a “goody trail” of information online that might serve as a first impression to one of your prospective buyers. Content marketing can include everything from blog articles to white papers to YouTube videos and podcasts. It’s all about building an audience and deepening relationships with your sales prospects, by giving them valuable information that answers their questions and builds credibility for your company.
When people are looking for answers with a specific business problem that your company can solve, what does Google tell them? By improving your search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing, you can make it easier for people to find your company website to answer their questions and solve their challenges – and generate a steadier pipeline of inbound leads.
It’s important for your business to be active on social media, and there’s a lot of crossover between advertising and social media. Most social platforms will require your business to pay for ads if you want to extend your brand’s reach and get in front of the right customers.
With a good mix of inbound lead generation strategies, new business leads will come to you. Keep experimenting with new techniques and keep building relationships with customers.
Outbound lead generation is about reaching “out” to prospective customers. With outbound lead generation, instead of hoping that customers will visit your website or click on your social media ad, your company proactively contacts potential customers and puts a message or offer in front of them.
Here are a few common outbound lead generation strategies:
Contacting prospects via email is still one of the most effective ways to get a message in front of them. Every business professional spends time with their email inbox each day. Email marketing programs can put an ongoing flow of messages in front of your prospects, educating them about your solutions and giving them multiple chances to reply or respond.
There are so many great digital marketing tools nowadays, but the U.S. Postal Service still delivers to every physical address in America. Direct mail – done in a strategic, targeted way to high-value prospects – can be an effective part of your B2B marketing mix.
Sometimes people get bombarded and overwhelmed by social media and email, and the best way to reach your prospects might be something more traditional: picking up the phone. B2B cold calling can be a great strategy for lead generation, because it’s simple and direct. You can quickly establish contact points within your buyer’s organization, create a conversation, and start to build a relationship with a prospective buyer. Phone conversations are valuable too, because they help you understand the human nuances of communication. Talking on the phone can help you assess each prospect for how eager they are to buy, how interested they are in each aspect of the solution, and what level of “pain points” they are experiencing in their business.
Outbound lead generation strategies are popular with companies that like to be proactive and do their own outreach to customers. Depending on the size of your business and your marketing budget, how well you know your market, and how precisely you identify your buyer personas, you might get great results from outbound lead generation.
How can you decide the right approach for what is lead generation in B2B and how to make it work for your company? It depends on a few factors. If you have a strong marketing team that is good at social media and SEO, you might want to do more inbound lead generation. If you have a small sales team, you might want to rely on outbound lead generation and cold-calling, building upon the sales people’s own networks and expertise.
But ideally, you shouldn’t have to choose between inbound vs. outbound lead generation. The most successful B2B marketing is usually a blend of inbound and outbound. Just like you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket by betting your life savings on a single stock, you need a diversified portfolio of lead generation strategies.
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