When looking to increase sales in 2021, B2B lead generation strategies are your best friend. While generating leads is imperative for many businesses, best practices may not always be obvious. Your company's sales goals, market health, and customer behavior can all be factors worth considering. Moreover, ever-evolving technologies are constantly opening up new opportunities for communication and engagement.
If if you feel like you've already tried a variety of strategies and your resources are limited, you're not alone. In this post, we'll not only introduce strategies for generating more leads, but also when you might try them and how - regardless of your budget.
Every type of lead-gen marketing needs to be customized to where the buyer is in their buying process. After reading this post, you'll learn how to ask the right question at the perfect time to significantly grow your leads. You’ll also understand how to better use tools like Google search marketing, content, email, and social media to connect with possible buyers and lead them through your buyer's journey to a sale.
The B2B Sales Life Cycle
Few people want to go from finding a company on a listicle to calling a stranger. So, how can you understand the sales life cycle and use it to improve your lead generation B2B ideas? Let's go through the cycle first, from prospecting to sale and follow-up.
There are two main ways to prospect on the internet when trying B2C or B2B lead generation strategies. The first is outbound, which means you're trying to find people who need what you sell. The second is inbound, where people find you during their search for what you sell.
With outbound, you make the first contact with a potential buyer and try to get the best response possible. That response could be a "not right now" or an "I'm not sure," both great starting points — anything that’s not a firm “no.”
With inbound, you create enough quality content or offer content that inspires or incentivizes a potential buyer to engage with you.
During this phase, the B2B seller will inform themselves on the prospect. It seems like this step should come before sending out messages, but a deep dive should be reserved for serious leads that show interest.
Learn about their needs, who they usually work with, their core values, and their revenue streams. The better you know them, the more you'll be able to speak their language and answer questions before they even arise.
Luckily, there's no need to knock on doors anymore. Sales now get full support from marketing platforms that automate the process of reaching out. Using tools to find leads turns hundreds of disorganized leads into only those most likely to close on a deal.
Once your leads are lined up, it's time to show them how you can solve their problems.
Today, salespeople have options for presenting solutions to buyers. Choosing the method best suited for your particular offering and prospect will be specific to each company — and sometimes to each salesperson. Zoom chats, online workshops and seminars, highly produced media (videos, slide decks, catalogs, etc.), as well as in-person meetings are presentation options that can be arrived at by considering preference, effectiveness, and budget.
During tailoring, also called lead nurturing, you'll address whether you’re a good fit for the client. Can you meet their individual needs? After all, the client needs something. They just want to find the best way to get it. Help them achieve their goals and they'll choose you time and time again. Tailoring the approach and reminding them of why they'll benefit from choosing you may take time, but the earned trust is priceless.
While this is the peak of the B2B sales cycle, it's in your best interest not to rush or push. Sales that take time are the ones that close strong and pave the way for new clients. Happy and loyal clients can even become another source of lead generation.
This is a vital — and often overlooked — part of the sales cycle. Amateur salespeople will drop off after closing. If your contact post-sale doesn't match the pre-sale enthusiasm, you leave the client with a bitter taste in their mouth. Start the relationship off strong by following up strong.
Understanding the buyer's journey
While the sales cycle looks at the sales process from the seller's side, it's the buyer's journey that governs lead generation for B2B.
Businesses trying to sell products or services need to understand where their customers are coming from in each stage. What questions do they have? What are their concerns? Who else are they considering? Learning how to listen, when to offer appropriate educational material, and how to address the competition is key.
The buyer's journey goes like this:
- Awareness: Leads learn about your business.
- Consideration: Leads research whether they'll benefit from this product or service.
- Decision: Leads compare you to competitors and weigh their choice.
- Loyalty: Leads assess whether your product or service was worth it and whether they'll buy again or recommend.
Understanding your current customers
The best way to get to know your future buyers is to understand your current ones. Survey them to find out how they behaved in each part of the buyer's journey. You can ask questions like "what did you search on Google?" or "are awards important to your buying decision?" and even "what do you think of our customer service?"
These answers will help you improve your buyer's journey.
Top Lead Generation Strategies to Try in 2021
To reach, inform, and vet leads, companies can use multiples strategies throughout the course of a single sale. Below are some B2B lead generation strategies that can be utilized to meet prospective buyers, as well as potentially increase inbound sales.
With search marketing, you have two options to catch leads. When they're for a solution to their problem, they’ll search online and see two types of results: paid and organic. Organic search content can be applied to the aforementioned Awareness, Consideration, and Decision stages, while paid, since it’s most likely to make the sale happen, is best used for Decision content.
With organic content, you try to rank without paying Google. First, create blog posts following SEO guidelines to answer common search queries according to search intent. The key is to create quality content that establishes you and/or your company as a knowledgeable source in the industry.
For instance, if you run an office cleaning business, you might create blog posts for commonly searched topics and questions. Here are some post examples organized by goal:
- Awareness: Best products for office cleaning, 10 hygiene regulations most businesses don't follow, etc.
- Consideration: Should you hire professional cleaners for your business? Benefits of professional cleaning for businesses.
- Decision: Share a chart comparing your business's vs competitors' services and why they should choose you.
At the end of each of these content pieces, let readers know that you're happy to help if they have any office cleaning needs or questions.. You can ask them to sign up for a consultation or fill out a form to get a quote, so that you can get their contact information and move the sales cycle forward.
Since paid search is mostly for the decision stage, you'll want to focus on search queries your users that indicate a buyer is looking to make a purchase.You can test keywords that indicate a buyer is ready to purchase and survey your current clients to find out what they searched before buying. To do this, you'll create Google Search Ads for searches buyers make right before they buy. To build on our cleaning example, these would look a little something like this:
- Best business cleaning companies near me
- Disinfecting service for business
Content marketing is one of the most comprehensive lead generation methods, and it can be used as lead generation for B2B or B2C. Content marketing goes all across the buyer's journey and includes content for organic search, which we explained before.
Create content for every stage
Reaching and nurturing leads through each stage of the buyer's journey is all about the quality of your content. So, what kind of content do you create to attract potential buyers?
- Awareness content: Vlogs, blogs, social media, infographics, quizzes
- Consideration content: Newsletters, events, white papers, webinars
- Decision content: Case studies, pricing, demos, comparison charts.
- Loyalty content: surveys, feedback requests, referral emails, community posts, newsletters
Every piece of content should sound like your brand and have valuable ideas, methods, and professional tips. If they haven't bought from you, users should walk away from content feeling empowered and ready to take action. If they're already your customers, they should feel like a part of your community.
If you've piqued the interest of possible buyers online, and they come to your website, the last thing you want is to lose them. It's not reasonable to expect that visitors will buy immediately, so how do you stay connected and continue the conversation? Offer them a piece of content in exchange for their email.
Start by creating a series of emails that you'll send to your new leads over a period of time, nurturing them through the buyer's journey. This can be as simple as going through your buyer's journey content and recycling it into email form. Create an introduction to your brand as a welcome email, then talk about topics from the consideration stage and features of your service or product. Next, share how you compare and add social proof from your users (especially from recognizable names). Finally, throw in an offer they can't refuse.
B2C businesses use email marketing year round to nurture leads from the awareness stage all the way until they're ready with money in hand. B2B companies can learn a lot from the success of B2C email marketing and incorporate relevant tactics into their own campaigns.
Social Media Marketing
While social media is a must in B2C marketing, it's often a more challenging landscape for B2B companies. But social media's power to create leads is unmatched by marketing sales methods, especially when brands know which channels to focus on.
The three main social networks for B2B lead generation are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, with each platform providing its own unique pros and cons. Linkedin and Twitter are worth highlighting for their particular features and communities.
LinkedIn is a perfect place to network with other professionals — inside and outside of your industry— especially within Discussion Groups. Businesses can create awareness, generate conversations, and distribute content easily. These are the places where management spends time learning about solutions, whether those are hiring solutions, time management solutions, or anything else that relates to the work. Connecting within discussion spaces opens doors for countless lead generating opportunities.
On the world's most popular micro-blogging site, B2B company owners can follow other key industry figures and keep up on trends through popular posts and hashtags. When your industry topic comes up, join the conversation. You can also start a discussion by posting your own content and asking for thoughts. Many brands and companies, for example, allow employees to “take over” their Twitter account and share videos, gifs, and text.
There are a world of ways to create connections and connect on Twitter to nurture leads and create authority. As an online public forum, engaging in discussions can increase your reach and status Over time, you'll find that adding your voice to conversations can generate more connections and leads.
Start Generating Leads
There are so many ways to connect with potential leads online that where and how to start can sometime be daunting. By understanding your buyer's journey and seeing how it matches your B2B life cycle, you'll be able to create tailor-made content for every use-case.
If you're looking to leverage social media for lead generation, Cleverly can help expand your reach on LinkedIn and create top-of-funnel opportunities for sales nurturing. Once the leads are passed on to you, you're in a prime position to take the next step. Zoom lunch? Discovery call? In-person coffee? It's now your opportunity to do what you do best by showing any interested parties what you have to offer.