‘Lead Generation’: the holy grail of sales success!
Imagine you’ve entered a flea market bustling with deals and stuff you will kill for. Will you be a bystander or will you jump in and start looking for the best stuff you need?
Similarly, as a sales rep, your objective is to engage with leads most likely to convert but unlike the flea market, you will not be able to touch and feel these leads.
You’ll need the right lead-generation strategies and tools to identify them in the crowd. Making this endeavor both enlightening and rewarding.
After COVID-19, lead generation for B2B sales has never been the same. Most of the buyers now prefer to buy big online using remote & digital mediums.
As a result, businesses are now rapidly adopting digital mediums and using new channels to reach out to prospects.
What are these new ways of lead generation in 2023?
In this article, we’ll discover the best-performing B2B lead-generation strategies from an outbound (sales development) perspective. These will help your sales team reach the next level in the sales game.
If you are looking for detailed lead-generation strategies from a marketing perspective, please check out our blog on Digital Marketing Lead Generation Strategies.
Let’s get started.
What is Lead Generation?
A ‘Lead’ refers to an individual who has expressed interest in your company’s offerings, possibly a potential customer. These leads typically provide essential details, including their name, contact information, and relevant company information.
‘Lead generation’ is the method of attracting prospects to your business, increasing their curiosity and interest in your product, and eventually converting them into paying customers.
Types of Lead generation processes?
The lead generation process depends on the marketing methodologies a company adopts. Based on that, the lead generation process can be inbound, outbound, or both.
- Inbound Lead Generation Process: It’s the way your prospects find you on the internet, interact with you as leads, and become your customers. It consists of the following steps:
📌 Step 1) A prospect discovers you on the internet from sources such as Google search. [Note: there can be many sources, we have limited the example to Google search only]
📌 Step 2) They click on a link or image that contains a CTA provided by you.
📌 Step 3) They redirect to a landing page where they fill in their information.
This is the way inbound lead generation works for almost all B2B businesses.
- Outbound Lead Generation Process: It’s the proactive way you find prospects using multiple B2B lead generation strategies (discussed in this article), interact with them as leads, and turn them into customers. It consists of the following steps:
- You find prospects who match your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile).
- You determine their needs and pain points and how you can solve them.
- You reach out to the prospects via email, LinkedIn, text messages, calling, social media, etc.
This is the way outbound lead generation works especially for B2B offerings.
Significance of Lead Generation for B2B Sales
Lead Generation is the foundation on which a B2B company builds its sales pipeline. In the case of B2B companies, lead generation is essential to their sales success. Here are the 5 ways lead generation contributes to any organization:
- Increase sales & revenue
- Grow prospect base
- Improve Marketing ROI
- Discover TAM (Total Addressable Market)
- Build Brand Awareness
B2C v/s B2B Lead Generation: What is the difference?
So, what sets B2B lead generation apart from B2C?
💡 B2C is about talking to everyday folks like you and me. It’s usually quick and simple because we’re the decision-makers based on our own needs.
💡 B2B is all about connecting with other businesses. It’s a bit more complex because businesses make choices based on what’s best for their company.
The choice between them depends on the nature of your business and who you’re trying to cater to. It’s like picking the right tool for the job.
|Elements||B2C(Business to Customer)||B2B(Business to Business)|
|Target Audience||Individual consumers||Other businesses|
|Sales Process Complexity||Simpler, transactional||More complex, longer cycles|
|Product/Service Complexity||Less complex||More specialized and complex|
|Lead Generation Channels||Social media, email, ads||Online/offline, networking|
|Messaging and Content||Emotion-driven, desires||Rational, solution-oriented|
|Lead Nurturing||Often quicker decisions||Longer-term, relationship|
|Metrics and KPIs||Conversion rates, revenue||Lead quality, ROI, CLV|
Best B2B Lead Generation Strategies
In this section, we’ll uncover the best B2B lead generation strategies. These proven tactics will help you not just gather leads but quality leads that are ready to be pushed into your sales pipeline.
Prospecting is the process of identifying and reaching out to potential leads who match your ideal customer profile.
Unlike inbound marketing, which waits for customers to come to you, B2B prospecting involves actively seeking out opportunities and initiating contact with the prospects.
Prospecting helps in lead generation by pinpointing the right prospects who are more likely to convert into paying customers. This focused approach minimizes wastage of resources and time, ensuring that your efforts are invested where they count the most.
Prospecting requires a structured approach. This is how to do it:
- Ideal Customer Profiling(ICP): Start by defining your ideal customer. Understand their industry, job roles, pain points, and buying behaviors. This profile will serve as your guidepost.
💡 Tip: Use a tool like HubSpot ICP Worksheet to make it faster.
- Data Collection: Build a robust list of potential leads using tools like LinkedIn, company websites, and databases. Use tools and platforms like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, email finders, and lead databases.
3. Qualification and Nurturing: Not all leads are ready to convert immediately. Implement lead scoring and nurturing processes to keep potential customers engaged and informed. Gradually lead them through the buying journey.
Cold Email Outreach
It is a B2B lead generation strategy that still outperforms all the other newly emerged mediums. As the name suggests, it is a process of sending emails and follow-ups to people who don’t know you or your brand.
Cold emails allow you to initiate contact with potential leads who have not expressed a prior interest in your offering. It’s a proactive approach to building connections and driving business growth.
According to TD Insights, emails can generate as much as 320% more returns than any other medium, particularly in the case of B2B businesses.
Cold email Outreach as a lead generation strategy helps you:
- Expand your reach to a broad and diverse audience.
- Target specific decision-makers within a company.
- Create direct lines of communication.
- Build brand awareness and credibility.
- Open doors to valuable sales conversations.
If done properly, cold email outreach can generate qualified leads with the minimum cost, hence you don’t have to break the bank.
Incorporate these 5 checklists for B2B Lead Generation using cold email outreach:
- Segment Your List: Categorize your contacts by industry, job role, and company size to personalize your outreach.
- Craft Compelling Content: Create concise, engaging, and personalized emails that clearly convey your value proposition and use attention-grabbing subject lines.
- A/B Test: Experiment with subject lines, email content, and calls-to-action to refine your approach based on performance.
- Optimize Timing: Schedule emails for optimal engagement times and maintain persistent, non-intrusive follow-up.
- Comply with Regulations: Ensure your email outreach adheres to relevant regulations such as the CAN-SPAM Act (U.S.) and GDPR (Europe).
Don’t worry. If you are new to cold email outreach & wondering how to get started with this strategy. Here’s a resource guide for you 👉🏼 Cold Email Masterclass
SmartReach is a leading cold email outreach tool that helps you write compelling email content using AI, hyper-personalize each message, A/B test your email copies, headlines, etc. So, you don’t have to use different tools for different tasks relating to cold email outreach.
Try a 14-day free trial to see if it fits your needs.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. LinkedIn outreach is a strategic approach for initiating contact and engaging with potential leads on Linkedin.
LinkedIn outreach excels in lead generation with features like direct connections to decision-makers, personalized messaging for engagement, building professional credibility, uncovering prospect interests, and fostering valuable business conversations.
LinkedIn outreach with end-to-end automation utilizes specialized tools and software like SmartReach to connect with prospects and engage in automated actions like connection requests, messaging, and profile views.
Begin your B2B lead generation journey on Linkedin using the following step-by-step guide:
- Segment Your Connections: Categorise your LinkedIn connections into specific segments based on industry, job roles, and company size. This enables you to tailor your messages for each group effectively.
💡 Tip: Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator
- Craft Compelling Messages: Your LinkedIn outreach messages should be personalized and concise. Clearly articulate the value your product or service provides and aim to establish a connection.
- A/B Test Your Approach: Experiment with different message styles and content. Monitor which approaches yield the best responses, and adapt your strategy accordingly.
- Strategic Timing: Reach out during times when your target audience is most likely to be active on LinkedIn. Timing can significantly impact your success.
- Compliance with Best Practices: Adhere to LinkedIn’s guidelines and best practices for outreach to maintain professionalism and effectiveness.
A lot of people these days say “Cold calling is dead”, but that’s not true. These are people who don’t know how to do it right. Cold calling when done with a proper strategy can boost your B2B lead generation numbers to a great extent.
[Remember, this approach requires determination and a Spartan-like mindset to engage with decision-makers and initiate sales conversations.]
To generate leads via cold calling it is recommended that you use specialized cold calling software such as Myphoner, Vanillasoft, etc. Or you may use SmartReach for cold calling as well. SmartReach has some killer cold-calling features.
They save a lot of your time by eliminating manual tasks like scheduling daily calls, measuring call metrics, and prioritizing calls based on varying levels of a prospect’s engagement
Craft your speech, practice it, and understand the kind of customer you are trying to deal with, prepare for all the questions and objections prospects may have, and start dialing.
Need help with the cold calling scripts?
WhatsApp & Text Outreach
WhatsApp and Text are the world’s most used mediums of communication. If you are not using these two channels for lead generation, you’re missing a lot.
These channels provide a straightforward way to reach prospects and initiate conversations, providing an immediate and personal connection.
As per a report by MailChimp, WhatsApp has an average open rate of 98%. That means out of 100 messages you send on WhatsApp, 98 messages are opened.
On the other hand, text messages carry an average open rate of 82%.
The process of lead generation using these two platforms is somewhat similar to emails. Create a list of prospects with contact information(Whatsapp No., Contact No.), and send personalized messages at the right time & frequency.
[Note: Ensure that your outreach adheres to relevant regulations, such as the TCPA in the United States]
For text messages, you may use tools such as ClickSend.
Use SmartReach to automate sending texts and WhatsApp messages from a single user interface without buying subscriptions for two different tools.
A B2B omnichannel strategy is a combination of cold outreach using multiple communication channels (such as Email, Social Media, Calling, Text, etc.) for generating business leads.
An omnichannel strategy will make your interactions seem more personal and engaging. This method uses data to create different kinds of multi-step journies to get your message across effectively and boost the chances of turning potential leads into real ones.
Follow this 5-step checklist for implementing the perfect omnichannel strategy.
- Identify Target Channels: Determine the most effective channels for your audience, which may include email, social media, webinars, and more.
- Consistent Branding: Ensure a unified brand message and design across all channels for a cohesive customer experience.
- Content Tailoring: Customize content for each channel while maintaining the core message and value proposition.
- Data Integration: Implement systems that enable data sharing and tracking across channels for informed decision-making.
- Segmentation: Categorize leads based on behavior and interaction to deliver relevant content.
Account-Based Sales (ABS) is a highly focused approach in B2B sales where efforts are directed toward specific target accounts. You will still reach out to prospects, but the idea is that you will shortlist prospects from the account that fits your ICP.
It involves personalized, strategic outreach to engage and convert these high-value accounts.
ABS helps in your lead generation efforts through the following:
- Personalization: Tailoring your approach to each account fosters strong, individualized connections.
- Relationship Building: ABS enables deeper, more meaningful interactions with key decision-makers.
- Efficient Resource Allocation: Resources are allocated to high-value accounts, maximizing ROI.
To generate leads using ABS, implement the following:
Use tools like ZoomInfo, and Builtwith for getting the target accounts info and use a sales engagement platform for the outreach to prospects.
SmartReach has a few niche settings for account-based sales where you could limit the emails sent out to an account per week, or pause campaigns if one of the prospects from an account responds.
Target your competitors’ customers
Every business has competitors. This strategy will help you identify the customers of your competitors and reach out to them for lead-generation purposes.
To target your competitor’s customers, use a sales intelligence tool.
What is a sales intelligence tool?
It’s software that helps businesses identify, research, and connect with potential customers. It provides access to a variety of data, including contact information, company information, and industry trends.
Sales intelligence tools such as Zoominfo & BuiltWith can help businesses like yours with the list of companies that use your competitors’ products or services.
Some tools can also tell if any business is in the process of shortlisting your competitors’ products. This information can help businesses determine which leads are most likely to convert into customers.
Cognism provides a database of contact information for employees at over 20 million companies. Use this database to find out your prospects. It has a feature called “Competitor Insights” that allows you to track your competitors’ sales activity and learn about their customers’ pain points.
B2B community outreach is the strategic practice of connecting with potential customers within specific B2B communities or groups, aiming to cultivate relationships, offer valuable insights, and promote products or services.
This approach targets niche audiences, builds trust, provides valuable insights, fosters long-term relationships, and potentially turns satisfied community members into business leads.
It involves selecting the right communities, actively participating and sharing valuable content, maintaining a social media presence, and engaging in webinars and events.
💡 Tips: Employ social media management tools, actively join and participate in relevant forums and groups, and use webinar software for effective community outreach.
Content marketing is becoming increasingly popular for its long-term success among B2B companies.
One of the key reasons for this is that every company is trying to establish itself as the thought leader in their respective industries. So, through content B2B companies are educating their prospects into the purchase.
According to the latest demand generation report published in 2023, it’s estimated that 47% of buyers read between 3 to 5 pieces of copy before contacting a sales rep.
Content Marketing revolves around 4 stages:
- Publish high-quality original content
- Get traffic to your site
- Fetch the emails of the visitors
- Launch an email nurture campaign for those emails to encourage them into your desired CTA.
Content Marketing helps acquire both MQLs and SQLs by educating and engaging potential customers throughout the buyer’s journey, from awareness to purchase.
Include High-Quality Infographics, Case studies, ebooks, white papers, etc. to facilitate content marketing as an inbound lead generation process.
To utilize the maximum potential of your content marketing process, implement the following:
- SEO: It brings free traffic to your site. So utilize the right keywords that suit your business and the type of content you are making.
- Paid Ads: To swiftly boost website traffic, consider leveraging targeted paid advertisements on platforms like Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn. Additionally, think about implementing retargeting ads to maintain visibility with individuals who have previously visited your website, effectively staying on their radar across the web.
- Brand Partnerships: Partnerships will help you promote your content and get free organic traffic. Find some businesses that are complementary to your offering ( and not your competitors). Then co-create content and promote it through each other’s marketing channels.
- Lead Magnets: Provide a free piece of content as a lead magnet where the users will drop their emails, name, company name, etc. It must be practical. You may add the following: e-books, Industry Reports, Podcasts, webinars, templates, etc. They get your resource guide, you get their email IDs. Now you can nurture them through email campaigns and generate leads.
Tap into Social Media
Social media works wonderfully for lead generation.
According to a report by Social Media Examiner, 66% of marketers spend ~6 hours per week on social media to generate leads.
B2B companies can benefit from social media platforms like Reddit, Quora, LinkedIn, and Facebook. To get quality leads, be sure to engage with various groups and communities on these platforms.
Steal this step-by-step guide for lead generation from social media.
- Find out relevant groups & communities where your potential leads hang out.
- Join these groups & communities.
- Engage in the comments, post your content, and answer others’ questions.
- Once you find an ideal prospect posting questions related to your offering, DM them. (also don’t forget to comment on the actual post)
This is one of the trending lead generation strategies B2B SaaS companies are quickly adopting. A course with bite-sized video & text content helps new users to learn and adapt to all the features of the platform.
B2B businesses are also partnering with industry influencers to create high-quality course material.
💡 Recently at SmartReach, we have launched our very own course on ‘cold email’. Check out Cold Email Masterclass.
It serves us 3 purposes.
First, when a customer new to cold email outreach joins SmartReach, our customer success team shares a masterclass with them. This helps them get the most out of our platform.
Second, as more customers become aware of this content, they refer to us and share our content. It generates more leads.
Third, it helps in building a great brand awareness organically.
Want some more strategies that may help you?
💡 Check out this blog on Strategies for Lead generation in Digital Marketing
Top 5 B2B lead generation trends to look for in 2023
In addition to the above lead generation strategies, businesses are rapidly jumping into the 3 following lead generation trends in 2023. Check them out.
- Hyper-Personalization: Tailoring your outreach to the individual needs and pain points of your prospects is becoming increasingly important. Use data and insights to craft highly personalized messages that resonate with your audience.
- AI-Powered Sales Tools: AI-driven sales tools can analyze vast amounts of data to provide valuable insights into your leads’ behaviors and preferences. This can help sales development reps make more informed decisions and tailor their outreach.
💡 SmartReach is an AI-enabled sales tool that provides hyper-personalization and automates your cold outreach process across channels such as email, LinkedIn, text messaging & calling. Thus, you generate more leads and score more deals.
- Chatbots & Conversational Marketing: Chatbots and AI-driven chat support can engage prospects on your website 24/7, answering questions and capturing leads. This provides an immediate response and can qualify leads for your sales team.
- Video Outreach: Video messages can be more engaging and personal. Sales reps are using video to introduce themselves, demo products, and address specific pain points of prospects. Loom videos are becoming popular for video outreach.
- Referral and Advocacy Programs: Encourage your satisfied customers to refer your solutions to others. B2B referrals are highly effective and can help generate warm leads.
Here’s your 1st 14 days of lead generation for free
Let’s Wrap Up
B2B lead generation is a complex and ever-evolving process, demanding a strategic approach, targeted outreach, and ongoing optimization.
To succeed, it is crucial to understand your target audience, create compelling lead magnets, leverage social media, and employ data-driven tactics.
By applying these tips, you can unleash the complete potential of your lead generation efforts and establish a robust pipeline of qualified prospects.
- No matter what type of business you have, lead generation is essential. But it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The best lead generation strategy for your business will depend on your target audience, your product or service, and your budget.
- You may use a number of B2B lead generation strategies such as – Email Outreach, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Affiliate Marketing, cold calling & competitor review hack.
- Cold Emailing works best for lead generation in the B2B space.
- Cold Calling isn’t dead the way sales gurus describe it. Just use it wisely.
- Lead Quality > Number of Leads
- As we conclude this lead generation journey, remember that no matter how many trends emerge, the core principles remain the same – understand your audience, create meaningful connections, and provide value.
Are you looking for software that addresses your lead generation and sales outreach needs?
Schedule a call with us.