B2B Lead Generation—Challenges & Strategies That Work
June 10, 2020
Which B2B lead generation strategies really work?
Which tools can you implement to start growing your firm’s contact list—and winning those new accounts—today?
Without leads, B2B marketers don’t have prospects. Without prospects, your company has no way to expand its client base. Without a robust and growing client base, you can’t earn a revenue or build your brand.
However, with the right leads, everything else falls into place. You can get your product in front of more decision makers at more companies and win more accounts as a result.
Below, we’ve compiled a near-comprehensive guide to all things B2B lead generation. Read on to learn more about the strategies and tactics that will take your marketing to the next level.
The Challenges of Generating B2B Leads
Before you can start building a successful B2B lead generation strategy, it’s important to admit the hurdles that you are facing. Generating leads for any marketing purpose is difficult, but it’s doubly challenging in the business-to-business realm. Here are three of the biggest challenges you will face in your sales lead generation efforts:
1. Assessing the Market Need
Identifying or analyzing market need should be the very first step of your lead generation strategy. You can’t merely start hitting every company you see with emails or direct mailers, trying to land an account. At best, this kind of approach will result in you getting lucky once in every thousand or so lead touchpoints. At worst, your tactics will be seen as what they are—spam—and you will alienate even the prospective clients that might have had a relevant interest in your product or service.
Before you send a single email, put together a mailer, or even add a person or company to your contact list, you need to gauge their interest. B2B marketing is all about coming out of the woodwork to present a prospective client with solutions. You can’t do that without extensive research, identifying pain points, and flagging the companies that honestly need your product or service.
This process can indeed be frustrating. No one likes homework, and there is a lot of homework involved with identifying high-potential leads. Since so many companies in the B2B space serve very niche markets of sub-markets, the process can be even more irritating. Depending on the product or service you are trying to sell, there is a good chance that your target market isn’t sizable. With a limited number of potential prospects out there, it’s vital to find them all. The marketing process is also extremely high stakes because you can’t afford to blow your chances with a prospect with only a finite number of high-potential contacts. As such, it’s important to research each lead enough to know exactly what they need from you and precisely how to make the marketing pitch. This process takes time and patience.
2. Determining the Right Strategy
“Where do we start?”
This question is one that has repeatedly been asked by companies at the outset of the B2B lead generation process. There are many B2B lead generation strategies that you could try. Knowing which ones are right for your business—or which to try first— is easier said than done.
What are your options?
- Email marketing
- SEO (Organic Search)
- Content marketing
- Social media (Paid & Organic)
- Search marketing (Paid Search)
- Direct mail & Telemarketing
- Plus many more
So, Which B2B Lead Generation Strategies Work?
According to Chief Marketers, email marketing is the most effective channel for B2B lead generation.
Email marketing is the go-to lead generation strategy among B2B marketers. With the right pitch, an email can pique executive interest and start a conversation that leads to conversion. Getting the email addresses and knowing how to structure your pitch, though, goes back to the research phase mentioned earlier. In other words, B2B marketing is less about choosing the right lead generation channel or strategy than it is about using that channel or strategy in the right way.
On the other hand & according to Hubspot’s study of the best B2B lead sources, SEO is at the top.
Organic Search might be at the top for others. But, which lead generation strategy are right for you depends on your industry, target market, and what you are trying to sell. You might find that if there are trade shows or conferences relevant to your market, being there is a great way to make connections, grab email addresses, and improve the visibility of your brand. Social media—with a focus on LinkedIn—can be the ideal way to research contacts at companies of interest, but isn’t always quick or efficient. Traditional advertising isn’t usually popular among B2B companies but might work if you are targeting businesses in a local area.
3. Building the Infrastructure
Always remember that lead creation is just the first step in a larger pipeline. It doesn’t exist in a vacuum. What you do throughout the lead making process will impact every other part of your marketing, sales, and account managing methods.
To keep track of what your leads and lead approaches are doing, you need to have an efficient infrastructure in place. A strong sales lead creation setup will help you:
- Respond to inbound inquiries from potential clients
- Track leads throughout the buyer’s journey
- Measure different lead sources and monitor their success
- Qualify leads, to identify the best prospects
- Build buyer profiles, to understand and target them better
Having a good system for managing your leads will impact every other part of the B2B marketing process positively. Qualifying your leads will help you focus on those with the most promise without wasting your time on those not likely to buy. Tracking your B2B sales prospects through the buyer’s journey will help you decide when a prospect is most likely to purchase. Monitoring your lead creating tactics will help you unravel which tools are bringing the best ROI. Collectively, these benefits will give you the tools to convert more leads and the knowledge to do lead generation better in future.
Bottom line, you need a good setup for your B2B lead creation process. Unfortunately, building one often takes considerable time, effort, and trial and error.
Lead Generation Strategies to Remember
As you can see, there are several significant barriers to entry when it comes to sound B2B sales lead generation. Anyone can find a few email addresses for executives and start putting out feelers. Not just anyone can lay the groundwork—the research, the strategy, and the infrastructure—necessary to turn those leaders into brand converts.
Luckily, just as there are a few common challenges that every B2B marketer faces, there are also a few inclusive strategies that can help you clear these hurdles with aplomb.
1. Find Ways to Have Conversations
Most guides that tell you how to get leads for B2B focus on the more technical side of things. They talk about email lists, market research, and other stuff like that. While these details are essential, though, try not to forget the human side of things. Successful lead generation is about making meaningful connections with prospective clients. You can’t do that without having conversations.
Don’t just rely on one-direction marketing, such as websites or blog posts. You don’t want your prospects to feel you are just talking at them. Remember that you are pitching a product or service meant to help solve their problems or pain points. You can use personalized communications—email marketing, direct mailers, etc.—to start conversations, but give the prospect a chance to get a word in too. Starting discussions will allow you to learn more about clients and their needs. You can use this information to improve your pitch, build even more customized exchanges, and score conversions. Once you make the conversion, you can keep using conversations to aid your CRM efforts and build deep, long-term client relationships.
2. Start Using ABM Before You Even Contact a Client
Some B2B marketers make the mistake of thinking that ABM (account-based marketing) only starts once a prospect becomes a client. That’s not the case. Think of every client as an account, even if you haven’t landed them yet. Then, use the same level of attention to detail on prospects as you would on long-standing clients. Do your homework. Use details about client industry, market niche, target customers, pain points, and more to figure out how to pitch your prospects. Make every contact personal, from emails to website landing pages. The more of an ABM mindset you apply to your lead making process, the better.
3. Use Marketing Automation Technologies to Move Leads Through the Pipeline
A big part of ABM is making sure you respond to where your leads are in the pipeline. You will use different wording on a new lead than you would those about to convert. If you have many leads in the pipeline, it can be tricky to keep track of everything or make sure you are watching every buyer’s journey. Using marketing automation technologies such as Eloqua, Marketo, or Pardot makes it easier to track client data, nurture leads through the pipeline, and maximize revenue. This is all possible without the untenable time frame that individual client contacts can create.
Using Database Marketing to Drive B2B Lead Generation
We’ve learned that effective sales lead generation in B2B is about learning who your prospects are and using that information to create better pitches and relationships. Your most valuable lead generation tool is your database. A detailed database gives you all the information you need to know about a prospect before you ever make contact. Armed with this data, you can execute stronger pitches and do a better job at ABM from the get-go. This strategy is called database marketing.
How can you get your hands on the kind of B2B database you need for this purpose?
- Option 1: Build it from scratch. As we’ve already said, though, doing the research and building the structure takes a lot of time.
- Option 2: Buy a list of leads from a third-party vendor. There are conflicting beliefs about this strategy. Some B2B experts think that data vendors are unreliable, selling out-of-date lists that only shady marketers would use. Others are believers in buying lists, thanks to the sheer amount of research time it can save.
With the right data vendor, purchasing your leads can be a fantastic way to kickstart your B2B marketing campaign. While most people think of databases as little more than names and email addresses, a sound data vendor will provide you with much more. If you do choose to buy a list, make sure it includes contact details, firmographics, and technographics to start. This data will allow you to target companies in specific industries, markets, geographic areas, or even certain technology stacks.
From there, you will be able to expand your database to include details about lead touchpoints or client talks. You can use this added data to build your lead tracking structure and interface better with your prospects and customers. You might also pay attention to which leads convert and then find similar outfits to pitch. With the right data, anything is possible.
At DemandScience, we provide the kind of database marketing solutions that work as flagship lead generation tools. Our data lists offer features such as advanced profile selection, live data updates, technology install base details, and 90 countries worth of geographic reach. We can give you the leads you need, in your target industry, market, and country where you do business, based on the technologies your product services. If you are interested in learning more, reach out to meet with our experienced team.