The term “lead generation” is thrown around B2B marketing and sales departments like a hot potato, but it’s easy to forget that across different teams and departments, it can mean (and imply!) different things. It’s even easier to forget that some people hardly know what it is! If you’ve transferred from another department, or you’re just breaking into the world of B2B marketing and sales, “lead generation” could be a completely alien concept. Let’s cover the bare bones of lead generation: what it means and how it’s done across different departments.
What is a lead?
A great question that we don’t ask ourselves often enough. A lead is a prospective customer, who has shown an interest in your service. In most cases, you have contact details for a lead, so you can continue the conversation. Lead generation is the process by which you capture this interest and gain inquiries about your product/service, so they can be contacted by a sales rep. The more leads you have generated, the more opportunities your sales team has to close new business deals, so (usually), more leads = more revenue. A lack of lead generation often leads to a lack of sales closed, and a drop in revenue.
Lead quality is important too. It’s all very well to have bucket loads of leads, but if they’re not good enough quality to sell, then it’s pointless (and bad for KPIs!). Quality of lead includes two very specific areas:
1) Product interest/need: If you end up with a load of leads that have been miss-sold the product and expect something different to what they’ll get, or they in fact have no real need for the product- they’re just inquiring out of interest, then your sales team have to work a lot harder to turn those leads into clients. If a business has a problem, and seeks a solution from you, there is a cause for the inquiry and an urgency for the sale- leads without this are difficult to convert, if they’re going to convert at all!
2) Similarity to buyer persona: You buyer persona is the definition of your ideal buyer (see this blog for more on those), and the further away a lead is from your persona, the less likely they are to purchase your product/solution. For example, if you can only sell to B2B organizations, but you generate loads of B2C leads, then you need to desperately change tactic!
And speaking of tactics…
How do you generate leads?
The eternally asked question! Our “learn” page features plenty of resources with in-depth strategies and ideas for lead generation, but let’s run through the main-stream methods…
We’ll start online- it’s where a vast amount of B2B organizations source leads, thanks to all the options available. Also as 94% of B2B buyer journeys start online, you need to be staking your place in the online market if you want to get there first.
- Email marketing– turning 23 this year, email marketing is an old online favorite. Sending out regular emails with concise, sales heavy copy encouraging readers to find out more by inquiring has been a long lasting lead generation solution for many. And with modern advancements, the ability to personalize and automate email marketing has given it a second wind in popularity (and success!).
- Website conversion– You’ve got a website, so use it to generate leads. With a good layout, clear, informative copy and an eye-catching call to action, you can see plenty of businesses inquire about your services thanks to your website.
- SEO– As you’ve got a great website, make sure people can find it with search engine optimization, so you can rank highly when a business searches for a solution like yours. The better your SEO, the easier it is for people to find your website, and with google seeing over 40,000 searches per second (!!) SEO is a sure-fire way to generate leads; see our SEO dictionary for more!
- PPC– Pay-per-click secures the top ranking spots on a search engine. It can be a costly method for lead generation, as every time someone clicks on the advert, you pay, but it’s often worth it to always get there before any of your competitors!
- Content marketing– A reliable way to produce leads of high quality; you offer them something of value in return for their interest, such as a blog, whitepaper or info-graphic. Content marketing is a great way to gain inquiries from people that have been previously unsure, but now know enough about you to say “yes!”. Read more on that here…
- Social media– To a modern audience, social media is a must. From Facebook to Instagram, the power of social media is growing, as is its influence on B2B buyers. With social media, you get out what you put in, so put the work in, and you’ll see lead generation results (also- it’s free!).
- LinkedIn– Though technically part of social media, when it comes to lead generation, LinkedIn becomes a channel in its own right. A social network entirely focused on connecting people who want to do business together, it’s a great place to spread brand awareness and call on people to learn more by inquiring.
This is just a selection of the online lead generation tools and strategies available- there are plenty more. But these are a great starting point if you want to create a stable and reliable flow of high-quality leads for your sales team to work into clients.
As much as there’s online methods, there’s also plenty offline. Though you may not see the point in huge amounts of offline activity as everyone is “online” these days, face-to-face remains the most trustworthy method of marketing to the B2B buyer, and the quality of leads remains consistently high. It’s a balancing act, if you only use online lead generation strategies, your brand will have no face to the public, making you far less approachable and relatable.
- Events– Remaining an incredibly strong marketing channel, events give you that face-to-face activity that many organizations crave to feel in control and in safe hands. You’re also bringing a human face to your organization; when everyone is stuck behind machines all day, there’s nothing more refreshing than a friendly, enthusiastic face that just wants to help others. Never underestimate the power of events, whether attending them of hosting them, make the most of them all.
- Direct mail/printed media– Whether you’re posting out free gift bundles or sending out flyers, this strand of offline activity can bring in a lovely boost of leads. It’s expensive to run constantly throughout the year, but over specific seasonal periods, mail shots can prove a very popular method for lead generation as well as brand awareness. Plus who doesn’t love receiving a free bar of chocolate at work?!
- TV/radio– Not a hugely popular tactic in B2B marketing, but nonetheless, a lead generation technique, using adverts for TV and radio to spread the word about your product is a great way to reach a large audience on a medium they don’t always expect. We spend plenty of time commuting between work and home; what better window to secure some radio time and get people excited about what you do.
- Cold-calling– One of the oldest tricks in the book! Calling people up and trying to convince them you’ve got the perfect solution. Though many of us dislike these calls, it’s been around so long, and we can’t deny, it still works! The trick here is to call data that isn’t cold- call warm data. It’s warm because they already have an interest in what you can offer them. This is where Lead Forensics comes in…
Our marketing-leading software allows you to identify your anonymous business website visitors, and provides contact details along with a visit breakdown, so you have all the information needed to follow up with a tailored approach, in real time. The Lead Forensics software generates high-quality, sales ready leads for 50,000 B2B marketing and sales experts everywhere, we know it will work for you too! Book your free demo today.
Free guide – Discover how a multi-channel approach can revolutionize your approach to business lead generation. Download Effective multi-channel models for marketing and sales for free today!