So, you’ve got yourself a great product or service, invested in a slick looking website – now all that’s left is to reach out to potential customers and tell them all about it? 

It sounds like a simple task, but in reality, many businesses find lead generation the hardest part of growing their business. Successfully generating leads, even for more established businesses, can prove tricky – particularly if businesses use the wrong tools or approach for their audience. With a sales potential of 20% from a nurtured lead alone, compared to a ‘cold lead’, businesses who focus their attention on good lead generation are far more likely to benefit compared to a company who doesn’t focus on lead generation.

First, we look to explore just what B2B lead gen is and why it sounds simple but often proves the most difficult aspect of any business.

Lead Generation guide

What Is Lead Gen?

Lead generation, also referred to as lead gen, is the process of reaching out to potential customers, using tools and various methods to communicate and entice them with products or services that will encourage them to convert to a customer

The term ‘lead’ is used to refer to a customer or individual who may have shown interest in a service or product previously by leaving their contact details. Marketers often then use their details to re-market to the lead in the attempt to convert them, too.

What is B2B Lead Generation?

So, how is lead gen different in the world of B2B? There will be a lot of differences between B2C and B2B lead generation but one of the main differences is that B2B lead gen is the process of creating interest around a business or company, reaching potential leads (other businesses) using various methods to eventually convert them. In the B2C world, the customer is an individual who may be interested in a product or service.

How Different Is B2B vs B2C Lead Generation?

There are a few main differences between B2C and B2B lead generation, namely the audiences and how best to reach them, as well as the length of time it may take to finally convert. For example, in any B2C lead generation, there is usually only one decision-maker who will either be persuaded to convert or not. In B2B lead generation, there will no doubt be a few more decision-makers who will want to know what’s in it for them, whether it benefits the business and even what the ROI could be before deciding whether to convert or not.

Our starter guide to B2B lead generation for businesses aims to address some of the concerns businesses can have as well as offer some advice on generating some high-quality leads that will hopefully result in conversions.

First- patience is a virtue!

The average lead generation process for a B2B company takes 5x longer than a B2C company which in the business world can feel like forever! Patience is, therefore, an essential part of this initial process for any budding B2B sales professional who may be new to the world of B2B lead gen.

Outbound lead gen needs patience

The length of time it takes is partly due to the number of people involved when it comes to making decisions with company money. You may have the right contact, or ‘lead’, within the business, but ultimately the person signing off a deal between your business and theirs will probably be the one responsible for the purse strings. Having more people involved in the final decision-making process often indicates a delay in moving any deal forward. Sadly, it’s just one of those things in the world of B2B and having patience with this process will help eliminate pressure and potential stress.

Identify your buyer

The first thing to establish when reaching new leads is to identify who you’re speaking to. Whether it’s a salesperson, a CFO or someone of mid-senior level, identify the audience you want to speak to. Then decide how best to reach these leads; would your business benefit more from the inbound or outbound marketing approaches?

  • Inbound marketing– Generating a broad awareness of a company first, then re-markets the lead with engaging content before reaching out directly to high-value individuals within a company to convert the user. 
  • Outbound marketing– Also sometimes referred to as ‘accounts-based’ marketing, outbound reverses the inbound approach, identifying high-value individuals within companies, then nurtures them, encourages them to convert and continues to nurture the relationship after they convert.

….Then Focus on Their Needs

Once you’ve got your personas locked down, think about what they may be lacking or missing currently, and do some research to try and spot general pain points within their business. Identifying their issues will help you target them with solutions that your business can bring theirs- use their business’s pain to your business advantage! Giving them potential answers will help build a trusting relationship, giving more authenticity to your services or business. 

Choose The Right Tools

Whether it’s CRM, jazzy re-marketing tools, an email marketing tool or a squeeze page generator – pick your tool to gain your leads. Make sure it’s fitting to your business and the audience you want to attract- is an email campaign going to help you gain more leads than a targeted squeeze page, for example? Will investing in great CRM be the best option for your business? Never underestimate the power of social channels- remember, LinkedIn is a free tool that can often be overlooked in lead generation. There are also a number of B2B lead generation tools that may be worth investing in.

lead gen tools

Use The Right Content

Once you have chosen your tools to reach the leads, the content will need to complement the channel of choice. There is no right or wrong type of content to use when reaching leads, it depends on many factors such as industry, the audience type and persona.

The lead generation process can take various shapes, for example:

  • A company representative writes a great thought-leadership blog, using keyword research to identify what people are looking for, as well as being loosely related to the service their business provides. They then share it on LinkedIn.
  • Some senior-level people in other companies see the article and are intrigued, clicking through and reading the article. A squeeze page then interrupts the reader after the third paragraph. It just asks for an email address then disappears and lets the reader continue.
  • The contact information is then collected in the tool used, in the CMS in this instance, creating a database of high-quality, potential leads.
  • After a couple of days, the company then re-targets these leads using an email campaign containing more engaging and relevant content, addressing the particular problems identified in their thought-leadership pieces and offering further advice and guidance on the topic.

After they have been re-contacted, it can then take time for them to get back to you or even to decide whether their company needs the service at that time. Whilst this example is just one of the many ways using the right content can help bag those lead generations, it highlights how using several different types of content complements the overall lead generation marketing approach. 

Using social media and blog content to generate leads with ‘free information’, capturing their details on the squeeze page and then reaching out again with further, more informative content with the ultimate goal of generating a quality lead that will convert.

Generating New Leads For Business

Generating new leads for any business is by no stretch of the imagination as simple as just applying one of the methods above and kicking back to wait for the sales to flood in. Indeed, 61% of B2B marketers stating that generating high-quality leads is still one of the hardest parts of their jobs. It takes a lot of time and dedication, not to mention the time it takes to understand your core audiences and how best to reach them. Ultimately, it’s down to a combination of things, such as how regularly you invest in creating campaigns, the size of the target company, whether your lead is the right contact, as well as industry and even the quality of the ‘hook’ to generate leads into converting customers. 

Be prepared to test as many different approaches as possible too, as there certainly isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to B2B lead gen. Test everything from the content, the marketing approach, the platform- all aspects of your initial communications has the potential to be tested to see which version your potential ‘leads’ respond best to. A/B testing will really help your business gain meaningful results to learn from and hopefully create further communications that reach high-quality leads, using their preferred platform and giving them just the right amount of information to want to learn more from your business.