Once upon a time, sales was predictable. You had a product — it might have been the only one on the market — and you sold it to the people who needed or wanted it. But times have changed.
Now, your product probably has at least two direct competitors and a ton of others offering something similar. With such a saturated market, standing out is imperative. Especially when it comes to capturing the attention of potential leads — the folks who barely know you and are getting inundated with sales emails, pay-per-click, and retargeting ads from you, your competitors, and the tons of other tools on the market trying to get noticed.
Luckily for you, we've got some tips on creative ways to ignite the right sales conversations and connect with B2B sales leads, to move them through the funnel fast.
What is B2B lead generation?
Unlike B2C lead generation, which focuses on individual consumers, B2B lead generation (short for business-to-business) is a thoughtful and mostly inbound marketing lead process that involves identifying and nurturing potential business clients who might be interested in your company's products or services.
It’s your chance to provide value to your potential customers and help them grow with your business. An effective B2B lead generation strategy, therefore, tailors its approach to capturing the attention of fellow businesses and perfectly aligns with their buyer’s journey.
It usually begins with identifying an ideal customer profile (ICP) in the sales process. From there, teams create a comprehensive list of potential leads through various channels such as content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, videos, advertising, and tradeshows, webinars and other events designed to attract and engage prospects.
Most companies then use lead scoring to prioritize and categorize qualified leads based on their level of interest and engagement, helping sales teams focus on the most promising opportunities.
The main goal of B2B lead generation is to gather information about these prospects, nurture their interest, and guide them through the sales journey until they become prospective customers ready for conversion.
The advantages of B2B lead generation are both meaningful and valuable for businesses, ranging from increased conversion rates to improved brand awareness and a better understanding of customer needs and preferences, enabling them to tailor their offerings to meet market demands more effectively.
How to generate more B2B sales leads?
To say that B2B lead generation is challenging would be an understatement—Hubspot’s State of Marketing Report states that 61% of marketers find traffic and lead generation as their number one challenge. When it comes to B2B SaaS, the challenges amplify.
One prominent difficulty arises from the intricate nature of SaaS products and services, often requiring a deep understanding of the client's specific needs and pain points. For instance, consider a SaaS company offering a complex project management solution.
Your company’s sales and marketing teams must not only identify potential clients within industries that benefit from such a solution but also delve into the unique challenges these industries face. This demands a high level of industry knowledge and the ability to communicate how the SaaS product effectively addresses those challenges.
Longer sales cycles and conveying value with intangible offerings also often come in the way of lead generation efforts and a sale. That being said, there are still ways that you can generate high-quality marketing-qualified leads that align with your product and offer great benefits to your clients.
Let’s look at twelve lead-generation campaign ideas you can use to gain the right customers.
1. Create a conversion-focused home page
Misalignment between sales and marketing teams costs companies 10% or more in annual revenue. Conversely, 56% of companies with both teams aligned met their revenue goals, and 19% exceeded them. One easy place for sales and marketing to collaborate is on their website’s homepage content and possibly high-value landing pages.
Your sales team can provide critical insights on customer needs that help make that content truly meaningful. In contrast, Marketing can produce copy that speaks to the user’s pain points and attracts new users by kickstarting a relationship of trust and providing immediate value.
A great example of this is the Checkr website—a background check software for employers that includes drug, criminal, driving, and educational background checks.
The Foundation team did a marketing strategy teardown showing how Checkr turned its core product page into an acquisition channel. They highighted the way that they drove $53,000 worth of traffic to their product page.
The copy in Checkr’s hero section clearly outlines its value proposition. This is supported by the before and after imagery, which clearly illurstrates the solution the prospects can expect, which helps website visitors make complete sense of the product offering and gives them confidence their purchasing decision.
Social proof on the website in the form of testimonials and case studies further enhances trust and builds credibility. Clever CTAs ensure that the user takes action—all good tactics in ensuring that your homepage is a lead conversion machine. It’s also important to note that the team invested in search engineoptimization (SEO )techniques to ensure their website ranks for their most important keywords.
2. Scan your marketing content
Before making a purchase, B2B buyers spend 27% of their time doing research. A majority of them (77%) also identify their purchase experiences as "complex or difficult.” Your marketing content has the power to solve both of these for your B2B sales leads.
Pay attention to what’s happening on any of your marketing materials. Watch for blog comments or social media responses just as you do with your support inbox. Even better: consider adding a chatbot to your marketing pages and invite users with questions to reach out. Consider Intercom as a sales tool to simplify the setup.
These personalized touches let the sales leads come to you rather than you seeking them out. They're already going to be on your site researching your product, so help them save time in their purchasing process by making it easy for them to get started.
3. Introduce complementary product resources
One of the tactics that can help you generate a ton of leads is offering a free tool that complements your main product or something that works well in tandem.
This strategy lets your leads take your product for a test drive before committing or give you a robust opt-in offer that drives high-quality Marketing Qualified Leads (mqls) into your sales funnel.
Take, for example, Quickbooks—an accounting software that offers its prospects a wide range of free accounting tools, resources, and templates, such as a Goods and Service Tax (GST) Calculator and a Free Invoice Calculator.
These gated resources offer a ton of value to their users and are very effective lead-generation tactics. Everyone who signs up for their trial or lightweight product provides contact information and data about their in-product habits. You can customize your pitches and outreach strategy to ensure their buying experience fits them perfectly.
4. Score your leads
Have you ever heard the saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink?" It's the same way with B2B sales leads. No matter how ready you are to sell to them, if they don't want to buy, it's just not going to work. That’s why knowing the type of leads you are chasing is crucial.
When it comes down to it, 73% of leads are not ready for a sales pitch. Some need nurturing, others need to try your product, and some might even be comparison shopping. Lead scoring enables you to rank leads according to their engagement level and purchase readiness, considering elements like website interactions, email replies, and content engagement.
Employing lead qualification and scoring allows you to concentrate your sales endeavors on the most promising leads, saving valuable time and resources by steering clear of unqualified or unresponsive prospects.
Of course, the whole lead generation process can be enhanced with marketing automation tools like a powerful CRM such as Hubspot. (Pro tip: Qwilr is easily integrated with many popular CRM systems, including Hubspot.)
Research the habits and score your leads accordingly. With this information in your back pocket, you can better prioritize who you’re spending time on and dedicate your efforts to those most likely to become customers.
You might also reduce the number of emails your team needs to send before hearing back. Trust us, those repetitive cold emails annoy your team and your customers.
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5. Experiment with video-based content formats
On average, B2B sales leads encounter 13 pieces of content from brands before making a purchase. Now, these content pieces needn’t be boring vanilla PDFs!
The time to experiment and try something your company hasn't done before, like TikToks, Instagram Stories, and similar interactive content platforms, is now!
Research states that B2B companies plan to increase their investments in TikTok (62%) and Instagram (54%), and 88% of marketers report a positive ROI from using a video-based platform.
These platforms aren’t just for entertainment; given their social nature, they can significantly amplify your product’s awareness, thus attracting more and more prospects.
Zendesk, for example, does a stellar job of educating its audience through TikTok. Here’s an example of this technique action. In this video, they share tips on how small businesses can build on customer experiences.
@zendesk Start building big customer experiences for your small business, with Zendesk. #smallbusiness #smallbusinessowner #shopsmall #customerexperience #customer #tipsandtricks #tools #smallbusinesstips #zendesk #smallbusinesstiktok ♬ Synchronize (Instrumental) - Milky Chance
6. Speak at or sponsor events
Did you know that only 29% of buyers want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product? The rest would rather do some form of self-guided learning, either by reading blog posts, watching demos, or hearing their colleagues talking about it.
Speaking at and sponsoring events is a great way to open your brand up to those self-guided learners. If you're giving a talk, you can talk tangentially about your product and any testing you're doing. If you're sponsoring, you can do demos for people who want it — otherwise, people can learn from any materials that you have at your booth or on vendor tables. This tactic garners better prospects than what you bring to the funnel via cold calling.
Events are a great passive way to gain additional B2B sales leads you might not have touched otherwise.
7. Use your support team
Support channels are often an untapped resource for connecting with leads. For instance, if a lead asks about functionality or has a simple question about your produt’s features, your support team can answer and then send them back to sales for more in-depth, one-on-one guidance, perhaps on a phone or video call.
Outreach to your support team is a good sign the lead is engaged and interested in learning more about your product. Joining in with a high-touch assist can help you show even more value and kick-start your sales relationship.
You can also leverage customer support to find leads by responding to inquiries on open forums like Quora. According to a Forrester report, 59% of buyers prefer to research online instead of interacting with a sales rep because reps generally push a sales agenda rather than offer help. When you answer questions or provide support, you gain the trust of your leads and make the sales process much smoother.
8. Create an unforgettable experience for your clients
We’ve all heard about the power of personalization in marketing activities, but imagine if you could make your prospect’s day!
The idea is to stay unique in a crowded B2B market, and one way to wade through it is through a “sending strategy” using personalized gifts, branded merchandise, or virtual experiences that will increase the likelihood of lead generation and conversion.
Corporate gifting through direct mail is an excellent way to create a wow moment. Research states that 79% of consumers will act on direct mail immediately, compared to only 45% who say they deal with email immediately.
But here’s the thing with corporate gifting—a successful and distinctive corporate gift should trigger a reaction from your prospects, so a goal must be attached to the activity. Consider whether you’re offering a gift at the initial stage to enhance brand recognition, in the middle stage to foster engagement, or further down the line to expedite the sales process.
Formulate a gifting strategy by assessing where your recipient stands in the customer journey and how you can maximize the return on investment from this gesture. What kind of call-to-action can you incorporate to ensure your gift justifies the time and effort invested in sending it?
Chewy.com is a company that does this particularly well. They often commission artwork of customers’ pets, send out random gifts, and recognize pet’s birthdays. This type of surprise and delight leads to increased customer loyalty.
9. Host high-value webinars
A lot of companies still see webinars as a time drain, but missing out on sharing insights, showing off your expertise, and having real conversations about the things that matter to your audience should be a no-brainer.
Unsurprisingly, 93.5% of top SaaS companies offer educational webinars, 85.8% use webinars as demos, 74.3% communicate their features via webinars, and 17.9% use them for onboarding their customers, a study conducted by Demio found.
But again, it boils down to two things—the content you choose and the workflows you build to ensure a seamless experience for your prospects. A good example is Mosaic—a resource management SaaS company that combined great content with powerful workflows to drive the highest quality leads.
10. Get your employees to be vocal on LinkedIn
Whether showcasing product-centric content, customer success stories, or simply educating prospects on other aspects of their business, companies have come a long way in “sharing content” on Linkedin.
Why? Because companies that are vocal on LinkedIn attract a ton of interest in their brands. Bit, its not enough to have a robust company page anymore. You want to harness the power of LinkedIn through employee evangelism!
When sales and marketing leaders, CEOs, and others in the C-suite use LinkedIn, it positively impacts the company by boosting personalized interactions with customers and prospects.
Aaron Zakowski, B2B SaaS Leader, explains it in this LinkedIn post:
One company using this tactic effectively is Gong, whose employees constantly engage with their audience, sharing snippets about the product and unique industry challenges. Here’s an example:
Posts like these are chock full of information based on personal experiences, elevating the authors as thought leaders while deepening Gong’s brand value. Because of these tactics, they have created successful product categories, such as revenue intelligence, that attract prospects to sign up for their products.
11. Invest in building a powerful report/whitepaper that demonstrates expertise
Crafting an industry trends report or whitepaper offers a dual advantage in the realm of B2B marketing campaigns – it serves as a powerful lead generation tool while showcasing your expertise. You establish yourself as a thought leader by analyzing and presenting comprehensive insights into your industry's latest trends and challenges.
This builds credibility and positions your brand as an invaluable resource for industry knowledge. Take, for instance, Xero's Small Business Insights, a treasure trove of insights for entrepreneurs. Similarly, Zendesk's Customer Experience Trends Report highlights their authority in customer support solutions.
Beyond establishing expertise, these gated content reports become irresistible lead magnets and aid in demand generation. Decision-makers and professionals eagerly exchange their contact information to access the valuable information you're offering.
In this way, the industry trends report becomes a win-win – enhancing your brand's reputation while nurturing a pool of potential leads primed for conversion.
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12. Work with Influencers
Influencer collaboration in the B2B lead generation may not seem obvious, but a poll conducted by InvespCro seems to point in a different direction. They found that, 74% of businesses use influencer marketing to improve sales conversions, and 67% of them use it for lead generation.
Leveraging industry influencers to endorse your products or services can significantly enhance your brand's credibility and visibility within your target audience. These influencers, respected figures within your sector, have the power to sway decision-makers and professionals.
By associating your offerings with their trusted voices, you establish an instant sense of trust and authority. For instance, let's consider a tech company aiming to promote its new cybersecurity solution. Collaborating with a renowned cybersecurity expert to provide insights and recommendations through webinars or thought leadership articles educates the audience and positions the company as a reliable solution provider.
So whether you want to rope these people for product reviews, ongoing partnerships, or event coverage, know that B2B influencer marketing doesn't just drive leads – it cultivates high-quality leads primed for conversion while expanding your brand's reach in the industry.
Why is B2B lead generation often difficult?
B2B lead generation often proves challenging due to the intricate nature of business-to-business transactions. Unlike B2C interactions, B2B deals involve longer sales cycles, multiple decision-makers, and more complexity.
Moreover, industries vary widely, necessitating a deep understanding of each sector's nuances to deliver relevant value propositions. These complexities and intense competition contribute to the inherent difficulty of B2B lead generation.
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There are so many creative ways your team can find quality B2B sales leads. So, don’t be afraid to get experimental with it. If something doesn't work, you can quickly pivot. If you stumble upon something awesome, maybe you can turn it into a conference talk or evergreen content and keep the flywheel going.
About the author
Marissa Taffer|Founder & President of M. Taffer Consulting
Marissa Taffer is the Founder & President of M. Taffer Consulting. She brings over 15 years of sales and marketing experience across various industries to a broad range of clients.