Lead generation is an inevitable element of any business sales strategy in any industry. A well-thought-out lead generation strategy will help businesses identify the ideal customer profile, attract potential customers and grow their business by expanding their customer base. With the 2022 economic downturn, attracting new customers and solidifying the customer base are more relevant than ever.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about lead generation, in particular B2B lead generation, and review the most effective strategies to use lead generation to your advantage.
What Is Lead Generation?
First things first – when we talk about lead generation, what are we talking about?
Lead generation is the process of finding potential customers for a product or service and cultivating a relationship with them to convert them into paying customers. A lead is, simply put, someone who has the potential to be interested in a business or service.
In B2C, leads are individual consumers, while in B2B leads will be managers, CEOs, founders, and other relevant team members in a business that might seek the solutions offered by your company.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to lead generation as the best practices will be highly dependent on the specific industry, the ideal customer profiles, and the product/service. Nevertheless, having high-quality leads directly correlates to higher revenue.
What if Your Potential Customers Were in a Maze?
Let’s look at how this works.
Our goal is to identify potential customers and guide them to convert into paying customers. Naturally, there is no surefire strategy to guarantee the sale, as leads can back off at any point. But with a clear definition of the ideal customer, a list of high-quality leads, and an impactful outreach strategy, lead generation could be the crucial step in your sales pipeline that gives you a headstart on your competitors.
To better illustrate how this happens, let’s imagine that your ideal customer is in a maze and there are 5 exits – only one of them leads them to buy your product. While you won’t block out the other exits, and the customer will maintain their freedom of choice, you are going to attempt to guide them to your preferred exit.
You could do this by leaving incentives on every important turn that would increase the likelihood of them making the right choices for you. If you suspected that your ideal customer was particularly fond of Bebop jazz, you could play some Dizzy Gillespie in an intersection. Or if you knew that they felt homesick for their childhood foods, you could lure them with the smell of a freshly cooked Sisig.
While the full scope of their decision-making would still be outside your control, these nudges would increase the likelihood of them making the choice you’d want them to.
Now let’s imagine 100 customers are in this maze. Statistically speaking, at least a few of them would end up making the choice you want them to unprompted, but you would achieve the best results by guiding them in the right direction.
A user journey is not like a maze, and in the path that brings leads to convert to paying customers, there are certainly more than 5 exits. But this imperfect metaphor illustrates the power of effective lead generation. The more leads you reach out to and guide in direction of conversion, the more paying customers you’ll have!
This example also highlights an important point about the lead generation process: you need to get to know your customers. You need to know who they are, what they are looking for, and at what stage of the user journey they are.
What is B2B Lead Generation?
As the name suggests, B2B lead generation applies the general principles of lead generation to businesses that cater their solutions to other businesses. Despite their similarities, understanding the specificities of B2B processes is crucial to succeeding in increasing sales.
For example, B2B processes are usually longer because, unlike B2C, the decision to convert faces different levels of approval. Plus, you will not benefit from impulsive buys.
The success of a B2B lead generation strategy will rely on convincing people across different functions of the value of your solution. This process especially benefits from a deep dive into each stakeholder and developing targeted marketing and outreach campaigns.
These characteristics should be taken into account alongside the general principles of lead generation to get the best return on your investment.
What Are Inbound and Outbound Leads?
Inbound and outbound describe different types of leads, based on how they came across your company and how they interact with it.
Inbound leads are potential customers who find your company without your direct intervention. They could visit your website, blog, or social media accounts, or even get to know you through a referral from a colleague or friend.
They are identified by collecting their contact details whenever they interact with a call-to-action (CTA) or fill out a form. Inbound lead generation strategies are slow to build, require specific skillsets, and need different channels that organically captivate potential customers (social media, a blog with valuable content, web pages that rank high on the search results page, for example). On the flip side, inbound lead generation has high potential as we know that they were interested enough to leave their contact information.
Outbound leads, on the contrary, are potential customers that did not interact with your brand. Outbound leads are proactively sought out based on the characteristics of your ideal customers and are targeted by cold outreach campaigns.
Outbound leads can be found by researching potential clients that may need your product or service. You could also research those who already use a solution from a competitor when you believe you may sway them your way. Despite lead research being time-consuming, cold outreach is more immediate than inbound marketing and requires less investment overall.
It’s important, however, to ensure that you are reaching out to high-quality leads that could be interested in your product or service. If you’re contacting large lists of contacts who in no way are interested in what you have to offer… you’d be wasting your time and resources as well as potentially creating aversion to your company in uninterested consumers. Get high-quality leads with our expert lead generation solutions.
Why Do You Need Lead Generation?
If you’re still not convinced this is necessary for your business right now, let us further convince you that lead generation is not a tool to be ignored.
- Don’t miss out on new customers. Not investing in lead generation means losing possibilities of attracting new customers. Especially for startups and growing businesses, losing opportunities to gain new revenue is not something that can be afforded.
- Learn more about those who interact with your brand. What are leads responding to? And on which platforms? What are the key demographics at play? The insights that you get from lead generation will be valuable to inform your sales and marketing strategies well beyond a specific campaign.
- Define and target your ideal customers. Focus your outreach efforts on the leads that have the highest conversion potential and maximize the ROI of your campaigns.
- Increase your revenue. Simply put, successful lead generation will increase your revenue. With the right messaging, relevant leads, and appealing offers, you will be able to turn prospects into paying customers.
What Are the Challenges of Lead Generation?
No seasoned marketer or sales advisor will claim that lead generation is easy. It’s time-consuming for the sales and marketing team and easy to go wrong, wasting time and resources in an unsuccessful attempt to reach out to leads. Ultimately, there is no clear guarantee of return as leads can end up disengaging, leaving you with the feeling of wasted time and effort.
3 main factors could doom your lead gen efforts:
- You simply don’t have enough leads. Lead generation is, first of all, a numbers game. You need to have enough leads that ensure conversions.
- Your leads are not qualified. Before starting to research leads, you should determine what are the qualifying and disqualifying factors, so as to not waste time and effort in reaching out to people who are unlikely to be interested in what you have to offer.
- You are not following up with your leads. You may have curated an impeccable list of highly qualified lists, but your efforts cannot stop at this stage. Most consumers will not convert after one contact attempt, especially for B2B. Slow and steady wins the race – keep yourself on their radar, cultivate trust, and incentivize engagement for the best results.
How Do You Generate Leads?
As we’ve covered, the process of generating inbound and outbound leads will be very distinct.
For inbound leads, the winning strategy will be to have the platforms in place that are going to attract visitors. This will mean something different to each business, but some staples will be original and valuable content for your target customer, practical resources to offer in exchange for contact details (such as a PDF with a guide, an infographic, or a webinar with experts), impactful CTAs, a newsletter, and active social media platforms with original content that connects with the followers.
For outbound leads, on the contrary, you will seek them out proactively, by researching relevant keywords and matching the results with your ideal customer profile. This could be done in three distinct ways: in-house contact generation, third-party company list generation, or lead database purchase.
Buying lead lists is not advisable, especially as a B2B, because these are typically contacts that have opted in sharing their contact details on a different website. These contact lists will more often than not be unrelated to your business and the potential leads are less likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
On the contrary, to wield the best results, before beginning the research, you should ensure you are targeting the right audience. One way of doing this is looking at your most reliable consumers of the past 6 months and taking note of their main characteristics. You can look at demographic, geographical data, as well as business information. The most recurring characteristics will map your lead research and inform your ideal customer profile.
Where Do Most B2B Leads Come From?
So where do you start looking for leads?
The answer to this question will vary for B2B and B2C campaigns. The largest channels for capturing B2B leads were found to be referrals, email marketing campaigns, and content marketing, through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For cold contacts, the most effective platform for B2B outreach is LinkedIn, followed by email.
Essentially, to get the best results, you’d be searching for keywords related to your ideal customer profile on the platforms they would spend the most time in. You’d start your search in a relevant platform such as LinkedIn, Crunchbase, or even perform a Google search, and snowball your list from there. Depending on the ideal customer profile, other platforms such as Instagram or Twitter could also be relevant.
Searching for leads involves deep dives on Google, LinkedIn, and other relevant platforms. Collecting the leads, collecting the relevant data, and inputting them into CRM software is an extremely time-consuming and repetitive task. Get high-quality leads that match your ideal customer profile hassle-free with Pareto’s help! Share with us your desired criteria and try us out with a project pilot.
Ok – you now have a list of high-quality leads with high potential to convert. Now you may be wondering: What is the relevant information that you’ll be needing? What is the best way to contact your leads?
We’ve got you.
What Information Should I Collect From Leads?
When collecting leads, you’ll want to have enough information for future targeted outreach and to collect insights that may inform subsequent marketing and sales decisions. The specific information needed will be catered to your specific needs, but here are some details you may aim to collect:
- Name: To personalize outreach messages, you’ll want to divide it by first name and last name. You can also use the full name to search for more information on Google and LinkedIn.
- Email: This one is a basic one – you need a way to get in touch with your leads. Alternatively, you could collect LinkedIn URLs when the email is not available.
- Phone number: It might not be needed if phone calls are not part of your sales strategy.
- Company name and URL: This is crucial to understand how your lead might benefit from your product or service and allows you to investigate them deeper.
- Number of employees: Are your products/services more geared toward small, medium, or big companies? Noting this could help you in designing the ideal customer and better target your outreach campaigns.
- Location: Is your offering local-based or worldwide? Determining in which location you are serving your current customers could narrow the search.
You don’t need all this information at once but should strive to understand your leads better as you keep interacting with them. An important note is to make sure you are complying with current data collection regulations, such as CASL (Canada), GDPR (European Union), and LGPD (Brazil).
When you are deciding which information to collect, keep lead scoring in mind. Lead scoring is a method of labeling leads based on certain attributes, which helps you predict how interested leads will be in your company and which stage of the user journey they are at. After collecting your list of leads, you can make sense of the raw data with our data labeling services.
How Do You Get in Touch With Leads?
Creating positive experiences during outreach is a fine art and widely escapes the scope of this article. However, there are a few do’s and don’ts to communicate the right messaging and avoid being perceived as intrusive, thus creating antibodies for your brand.
- Remember that outbound leads did not agree to be contacted by your company. Be mindful of timing and frequency of contact. You don’t want to be repeatedly flagged as SPAM.
- Create a compelling offer. You can’t contact someone out of the blue and expect them to do business with you. Solve a pain point they have, offer a free trial or a discount coupon, or offer free resources that can be useful for them.
- Be ready to follow-up. More than once. Sales are not made in one introductory email or call so be ready to try different ways of reaching out.
- Personalize, personalize, personalize. Research the company’s industry and the lead’s role and adapt the way you’re addressing them accordingly.
- Learn what’s working. Track results through CRM software, perform A/B testing, and finetune strategies.
- Feel entitled to their time. Make sure you are delivering value in each contact attempt, but keep it short, concise, and don’t make demands in the first contact attempt.
- Send the same template to everyone. The most effective outreach is tailored to the recipient, so be sure to incorporate their first name and adapt the content to the type of lead.
- Be generic. Explain concisely exactly how you can assist the recipient. Don’t use generic taglines, explain your detailed company mission, or present solutions that do not apply to this lead.
Are You Ready to Get the Best Strategic Data for Your Lead Generation?
The success of B2B lead generation relies heavily on having relevant and strategic data available for your marketing and sales teams. Without good-quality data, B2B lead generation simply cannot be successful.
Manually searching for leads is time-consuming and risks you ending up with leads that are low quality, unfit for your industry, and ultimately unlikely to convert. With our lead generation solutions, you can get pre-vetted lead lists that match your exact criteria, with actionable contact details, so you can start growing your sales pipeline hassle-free.
Get the data your sales pipeline needs and accelerate revenue growth with qualified B2B leads. Share your criteria and get started with a project pilot.