To survive and thrive when you’re a B2B business, you need to be generating leads and turning them into paying customers. There’s no getting away from it.
And the higher the quality of the leads you get in, the better your overall results will be.
B2B lead generation is a vast topic and one we’ve looked at in detail on this blog. From key tactics, to clever digital tools that can help support your efforts and tried-and-tested strategies that are proven to be effective.
Here, we’re going to focus on the question of quality. Just how can you go about getting quality B2B sales leads in the 21st century?
The magic formula
On paper, B2B sales appears a pretty simple process:
- Get people to visit your website (drive traffic)
- Convert them into contacts (convert visitors)
- Nurture them along the buyer journey (nurture contacts into leads)
- Pass the hottest ones over to sales (generate opportunities)
- Close the sale (convert leads into customers)
But in reality, things are never quite this straightforward. There will be plenty of shortcuts, hurdles and diversions to overcome along the way.
On the path towards a sale, a potential customer will be in contact with your company at many different times. All these ‘touchpoints’, along with the entire buyer journey, need to be assessed and fully optimised, if you’re to find high quality B2B sales leads.
Driving lots of the right kind of visitors to your website is a vital first step and there are many tactics and tools at your disposal. From offline sources of traffic (such as events and other networking opportunities), to referrals, online advertising, social media and being found on Google.
We’ve pulled together loads of ideas for you here: ‘The ultimate guide to generating traffic for your website’.
To achieve the optimum results, what you need to do really well is:
- Get your buyer personas right
- Understand where contacts are in the buyer journey
- Make sure the right content gets in front of them at the right time (keyword content mapping)
- Get your paid advertising optimized
You need to know who you want to attract and to start building that audience, before turning them into leads for your business.
Turn traffic into leads
There are two main options for grabbing contact details from a visitor when they land on your website:
- Have a solid content offer that encourages them to share their details with you in exchange for downloading it
- Use a tool like Lead Forensics that can identify leads before they convert on a download
As visitors hit your website and you can begin turning them into contacts, it’s important for you to be able to quickly identify what is a good lead and what isn’t.
This will be made easier if you are driving the correct traffic to your website in the first place, so focus on your top of the funnel content marketing plan and ensure it is optimized.
Once the right kind of traffic is hitting your website, you’ve got to act quickly. A contact is likely to have come to the site, after clicking on a link that interested them. It’s therefore vital that they then find what they’re looking for and what they expect to see, otherwise they’ll be gone in a flash.
Once you have a hit, you need to identify who the visitor is as quickly as possible. Tools that can help you do this include the use of forms on your website. They can be used to ask certain questions that are designed to give you an indication of who you are dealing with and will generally have a conversion rate of around 2%.
Other clever tools like Lead Forensics can enhance the process even further. They can help you identify which company it is without them ever needing to fill in a form. This can increase your visitor-to-lead conversion rate dramatically and help you quickly identify the key decision makers, so you can contact them right away.
The software can also provide insights that can be useful for sales calls, such as which pages they looked at, how often they’ve visited the website, when and how long they stayed, etc.
The result being that you have actionable leads at your fingertips.
This becomes particularly important when you’re following an account based marketing (ABM) strategy, as you’ll want to know right away when a target account visits your website.
If your website is fully optimized for B2B lead generation, then that will give you the best chance of converting visitors into contacts and eventually leads. It all comes down to:
- The content you are offering (the lead magnet),
- How you present it (your website structure and design)
- Where you go fishing for leads (channel distribution)
Nurture contacts into leads and opportunities – building a solid sales funnel
Just because someone visits your website, doesn’t mean they are ready to make a purchase. It could happen, if you’re very lucky, but it’s unlikely.
You need to begin building a relationship and to aim to keep them engaging with you, so that when the time is right you’re the one they go for.
Lead nurturing is the name given to tactics that can help you with this. The idea is to build a relationship over time and gain a person’s trust, before engaging with them in a sales conversation further down the line.
You need to be able to quickly prioritize any leads that are coming in. Just avoid making the mistake that many online marketers do, by trying to ask too much on your initial form. Yes, you’ll want to know as much as possible about anyone who downloads your content, but it’s unlikely they’ll be willing to share that much information just yet.
Instead, use progressive profiling techniques to gradually learn more about the person. Each time they visit your website, ask a few more questions and start building up a picture of their potential as a hot sales lead.
By analyzing visitors’ behavior, you’ll start to gain a deeper insight into the kind of content that works well and what doesn’t.
If you only need a handful of leads then you should be able to do your lead scoring manually, lead-by-lead. If you’re getting more leads in than any one person can handle, then it’s time to consider using an automatic lead scoring mechanism.
Again, there are some common mistakes that first-timers make here. Check out our blog: 5 common mistakes when lead scoring (and how to avoid them), for more detailed advice.
Geographic location, company size, the number of times they’ve visited your website and the number of emails opened etc, are all good parameters that could be used to help you identify the best leads. Lead Forensics can again help you here, by providing you with a greater insight into who you’re dealing with, so you can decide how best to handle them.
By analyzing your data you will be able to see ways that your sales funnel can be improved, so it’s even more effective at pulling people in and guiding them through the buyer journey.
At the end of the day, you want to be able to filter out the solid leads for your sales team, so they can start working their magic on them. There is a lot you can automate in the process, but first you need to build the process up manually, bit by bit, to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Every sales person in the world has a list of dream accounts they’d love to land. Be on high alert for them. Make sure your system has notifications built in so you can be alerted straight away when someone of interest interacts with your website. This is a really important feature of any good tracking software and it’s very easy to do with Lead Forensics. It puts our clients at a huge competitive advantage, simply because that one well timed call can be all it takes.
One of the key tactics you can use to nurture leads will be exceptionally well executed email marketing. We’re not talking about bog standard email newsletters here, but expertly composed drip campaigns driven by quality email content that’s tailored to highly segmented groups of the database.
When someone downloads an asset from your website you need to stay in contact with them. Finding the right balance between being seen as spam, or being completely forgotten about, takes skill.
Make sure you have the right alerts in place, so you can react to specific behavior. For example, when someone not only reads every email they receive from you but also clicks on links. They are showing interest and you need to know that so you can be proactive and get in contact with them.
Convert leads into customers
All the content marketing, lead generation and event marketing in the world, isn’t going to do a thing for you, unless you’re able to turn those leads into paying customers.
Proving a positive ROI is important for any marketer, as if you can show a positive ROI, then you’re likely to be allocated more budget and can increase what you’re doing – and the cycle goes on.
Key to measuring and reporting on ROI, is being able to collect useful data and to analyze it correctly. Thankfully, this is no longer an issue in today’s digital world of big data and data overflow.
The amount of data we produce on a daily basis is just staggering. For any marketer, making sense of it all is the real challenge. The bigger your campaigns, budgets and plans are, the more sophisticated the need for data analysis will become.
For smaller B2B organizations with limited budgets, there are many free basic tools available that can provide lots of good insights. It all starts with figuring out which marketing and sales KPIs you need to measure to get meaningful results.
In order to do that, you need to be able to make sense of your website data and spot the signals that visitors are giving off.
The secret of turbo charged marketing is using technology, tools and tactics that will give you a competitive advantage.
It is partly about being brave and trying out new things, to see if they could work for you. Just remember to put tracking in place before you go for it, so you can compare your results.
Being a data-driven marketer has never been so easy as it is today and it’s the key to bringing in high quality leads that your sales team can work with.
The people element of the process is also vitally important. Never underestimate the benefit of having your sales and marketing team working closely together and in full alignment. That’s how you’ll create a coherent customer experience from beginning to end.
If you go a step further and include customer service and other customer facing departments within this alignment (‘smarketing’ as it’s been coined), then you’ll be in the strongest possible position, taking advantage of the most modern methods to not only find customers but build a loyal customer base.
Our job, as the Lead Forensics team, is to help you transform your sales funnel. With our software and customer success team members, we want to help you generate and work with the B2B sales leads you really need and want.