Salespeople are the profit makers of an organization. Making money for the company is their sole purpose of existence. But one may ask what drives sales? The answer is none other than Leads, that too quality ones. Anyone who has worked in the field of marketing/sales will know about the value of B2B Leads. Lead generation is the process of procuring information of prospects that are interested in your business for the purpose of further engagement. B2B sales cycle is usually longer, which gives enough time for about 94% of B2B buyers for research before buying. Since acquiring high quality leads is one of the biggest challenges for 61% of B2B marketers there is no surprise that lead generation requires tactical skills & sales finesse.
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There is no one particular method for handling the trouble in Lead generation because in marketing, as-in –life in general, everything is case to case. Marketers consider Lead Generation as both science & art, as it takes dedication & precision in skill & experience to create & deliver successful campaigns which produce high quality B2B leads.
With high quality B2B leads being the lifeblood of a successful sales team, understanding what qualifies as ‘lead’ is key. It is essential that the sales & marketing teams involved in the lead generation process comes to an understanding on what defines a lead. To quantify the perfect customer into an applicable buyer persona input should be taken from both the teams & will include consideration areas like:
- Company’s annual turnover
- Employee/IT user numbers
- Job title
- Purchasing power
- Project time scales
It is important to know the answer to each of these points to determine the quality of leads & in identifying the true sales leads which will convert to valuable customers & the ones who are never likely to materialize into anything worth. For this a healthy relationship between marketing & sales team is necessary to exist. Lead generation starts with marketing, & it is through their hands that a lead first passes. By working along with sales, marketing must determine which of overall lead qualification criteria must be identified & met before being deemed ready for sales attention. This is to determine that the lead qualification processes is critical so that sales won’t waste it’s time chasing wild geese.
Let’s check in to the top sources of B2B leads:
1. Customer Referrals
Even though referrals are potentially the most valuable sources of leads, it remains relatively untapped by most businesses. It is said that 11% of salespeople ask clients for referrals, although 91% of clients are open to provide referrals. This is something the B2B marketers should change. We listen to people we trust. It’s wired in to our DNA. And another thing about referrals is that customer doesn’t refer products to wrong audience. More than that, customer referrals doesn’t cost you a dime.
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A customer referral is more likely to lead to an appropriate connection with a prospect, in the B2B segment, which will be far more powerful & likely result in success than methods likes cold call. Treat your customers as partners & make them feel like they are a part of the company and your goals & chances are, they won’t hesitate to mouth a praise or two about you to their friends.
2. Direct marketing with Email
Email turned 23 years old this year and is still one of the few online marketing channels that has stood the test of time. It still trumps the top spot on many B2B marketers’ list of B2B lead generation strategies and remains every marketer’s bread & butter for prospect questions, service and support, and loyalty checks.
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3. Content marketing
88% of B2B marketers claim to use content marketing – (contentmarketinginstitute) Content marketing at the moment is a bit hyped at the moment but justifiably so in many cases. From blogging to microsites, content marketing has been helping B2B companies in generating leads for quite some time. But what marketers have to understand is that the goal shouldn’t be to do content marketing for content’s sake.
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Content can include e-books, blogs, infographics, webinars, white papers or consumer case studies. Video & live streaming is also taking prominence in B2B businesses. Content marketers should sit alongside with sales & marketing teams to identify which type of content will suit more your particular type of business to generate more web traffic in order to generate more leads.
4. Search marketing
The leads that generate through search traffic are active & often are already in an active buying process which is just one of the reasons why search marketing can do wonders when it comes to filling the top of the funnel. Search marketing can include both organic & paid version and it works best when a significant volume of prospects are actively searching for an already- defined solution.
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Marketers should also make sure that their websites are user friendly, catchy & comprehensive. This is because your website houses valuable persona-focused content, contact information, product & solution information & more. It is also the hub that your social, advertising, event, email and other tactics drive traffic to. You should make sure that your website is set to collect valuable lead insights whenever a prospect reaches your website for solutions & relevant information.
5. Social media
Calling social media an effective channel for B2B leads can always spark controversial debates among B2B marketers. But most of the times social media is rated poorly because B2B companies have ill-fitting social media strategies, to put it politely. Social media is a great channel that can be used to promote your content in the internet. Marketers can also hyper personalize their buyer personas, gate the content, offer free trails etc. through social media. Social selling is also gaining more & more importance in B2B business.
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LinkedIn is said to be 277% more effective for lead generation than other competing social networks, according to (HubSpot). It provides an opportunity for its users to engage with professional networks, share intel & find new business opportunities. Besides LinkedIn, there are many other platforms also, which the marketers can take advantage of for generating leads or promoting their brand. But they key lies in identifying the ones that‘ll benefit the most.
- Strategic Partnerships
Forming strategic alliances with industry partners allows B2B brands to consolidate their strengths & the result can be powerful for all parties involved. Companies can exchange information regarding their customers to each other try to see if it possible to generate leads from there. B2B marketers should jot down desired objectives before embarking on any partnerships. Strategies that lacks clear plan can result in partnerships that fall foul of the brand’s ideology. After partnerships are formed make sure that it’s visible through all brand channels. Both parties should benefit from the partnership. The key for successful long-running partnerships is remembering that it’s not just what a company can offer your brand that is important but can be fulfilled in return to ensure both parties are satisfied & engaged.
Physically being present during big events is really important in B2B segment to present your brand or product as something tangible & relatable to prospects. Events can be considered as investments at all stages of the marketing funnel-from awareness with new prospects, through loyalty & retention of existing customers & clients. Events are a great way to merge the online & offline experience. Marketers should focus to generate meetings & hype event excitement with an online campaign to start measuring lead activity. It will also be a lot better if you can get your loyal customers to testify during the event.
- Cold calling
Personally I believe that every salesperson should go through & practice the art of Cold calling. Even though this tactic has been around for decades but even in this era a good calling can still carry weight. The basics of cold calling are very sound. You will only get to know the actual potential of the customer when you visit the office & if luck is on your side, the customer might even convert immediately. All this may sound tough, but if you are out of ideas for sources to prospect, then cold calling can turn out to be your way of reaching potential customers. Also, since majority people want to avoid cold calling at all costs, you can gain an advantage over your competitors by stepping up & doing it.
Integrating all together
Outstanding results in lead generation only come from willingness to experiment with various tactics, and to combine tactics across multiple channels. By experimenting you can identify what works & what doesn’t. When you know this, you can allocate your time & budget more effectively to generate higher rates on investment & overall better lead generation results.