The sales industry can’t stop talking about lead generation. Unfortunately, that’s not because it’s popular—it’s because it’s impossible to nail down a formula.
Lead generation is the one aspect of business that we may never fully understand. There are hundreds of successful lead nurturing and sales plan templates once a lead is found, but even the most successful companies struggle with gathering leads in the first place.
Though there may never be a single foolproof formula to generate leads for your business, there are certainly proven strategies you can use in the 2022 market. In this piece, we’ll give you 20 B2B lead generation strategies you can start implementing today.
B2B lead generation might not be simple, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it easier. Let’s dive in.
What are B2B leads?
B2B leads are people, organizations, or businesses that have the potential to become customers for B2B (business-to-business) products or services. Most of the time, these leads are other companies, and not necessarily individuals as in B2C (business-to-consumer) sales. However, certain personal contacts and self-led small businesses can also be B2B buyers.
B2B leads aren’t necessarily harder to find than B2C leads, but they can be much harder to qualify and convert. This is simply due to the nature of B2B lead generation.
While B2C leads will always be a discrete, known individual, B2B leads can be somewhat of a mystery. B2C leads may not respond to nurturing, but at minimum your sales team has a full contact with a name attached—they know exactly who to reach out to. With B2B leads, many companies get stuck because so many traditional B2B lead generation tactics only lead to general contact emails (no one responds to anything sent to an email@example.com address).
Your sales team can only work with B2B leads that have a person at the other end of the line. That’s why generating leads isn’t enough—you need qualified leads from promising sources.
Marketing qualified leads
There are two kinds of qualified leads your team should be on the lookout for. The first are marketing qualified leads (or MQLs). What are MQLs? The short answer is that MQLs are leads that are deemed likely to make a purchase based on the marketing department’s key target audiences. Generally, these are any individuals that have subscribed to your website or downloaded content.
MQLs are passive leads (or outbound leads). They’ve shown interest in the company, but they’ve never spoken to the sales team. These are contacts that should absolutely be passed down the lead funnel for a bit of nurturing to see if they’re ready for a sales representative.
Sales qualified leads
The second type of lead you want to gather is a sales qualified lead (or SQL). SQLs are active leads (or inbound leads). These are people/companies that have directly engaged with your company and your sales team in some capacity. They may have requested a demo, called your sales department, or sent an email/message indicating their interest in a particular product or service.
These leads are essential for B2B lead generation and must be followed up with. Any lead that reaches out to you before you reach out to them should be fast-tracked through your sales funnel. Treat your SQLs as a top priority and your sales statistics will soar.
B2B lead generation strategies
MQLs and SQLs are fantastic, but they don’t fall out of the sky. Sure, you can generate B2B leads through the traditional methods of door-to-door sales or cold calling, but there are strategic ways in 2022 to find the same people more efficiently. Below, we share 20 proven techniques for B2B lead generation alongside prospecting tools that will give your sales team a serious boost.
1. Use ongoing content campaigns that outmatch your competition
Your content marketing campaigns to attract outbound leads are only as good as their practical search value. You might have the No. 1 spot on Google for “super special ooey gooey cheese fries” when typed in that exact order, but if your target audience and your competitors are focused on searches for “best french fry creations,” then you’re not really winning the competition.
Even if your company only sells cheese fries, invest in optimizing your content about general french fry creations. Write white papers as a lead magnet, create videos, and publish blogs—then continue to track clicks, and optimize accordingly. You don’t have to have the most unique content out of your competitors: it just has to be the most clicked-on.
2. Run an A/B test
You don’t have to get marketing and outreach perfect on the first try. Most companies don’t. That’s where A/B tests come in. Experiment with different formats, colors, and messages on your webpage and marketing materials to see what generates the most traction.
B2B contacts might be on the hunt for the best products, but they’re also humans with specific (if sometimes odd) preferences. Even something as simple as a button change can make a massive impact on visitor engagement—and therefore boost your B2B lead generation rates. You just have to track the numbers and see what sticks.
Examples abound: in 2007, an A/B test increased the Obama campaign’s donation rate by 18.6 percent simply by changing their “Sign Up Now” button to read “Learn More.” Follow the data. It’s the small changes that make the difference.
3. Collect buyer reviews
It doesn’t matter how honest your marketing department is, buyers will always trust fellow buyers before they trust you. B2B lead generation still relies on finding influential individuals, and those individuals are reading buyer reviews. 95 percent of consumers say they read reviews before buying anything, and 94 percent of consumers say they’ve avoided businesses due to negative reviews.
Since reviews have such an enormous influence on lead engagement, you need to ensure they’re there in the first place. These days, no reviews can be just as harmful as negative reviews. Make solicitation for feedback, reviews, and testimonials a regular part of your sales process.
These days, no reviews can be just as harmful as negative reviews.
If you’ve had a long-term relationship with a client, they’re usually more than happy to give a testimonial. Take those positive reviews and display them front and center on your marketing materials to lure in new opportunities.
4. Get survey results
Most companies see surveys as a way to judge current customer satisfaction, but they’re also indispensable tools for B2B lead generation. If your customers are reporting that it takes too long to get in contact with a representative, you shouldn’t just be addressing that concern in your customer service department.
Look at other places where you can increase communication so that leads are never stuck waiting. There are so many ways you can improve: install a chat bot, increase email automation, or simply expand your personnel. When you look at your company holistically, you can solve problems for current and future clients at the same time.
5. Embrace case studies
Case studies are on the rise in B2B marketing and B2B lead generation. Previously kept to the dark corners of company websites, case studies now rank third in the top-used content types in B2B sales (behind email newsletters and blog posts, and tied with pre-produced short videos).
Case studies now rank third in the top-used content types in B2B sales.
Case studies are usually only pulled out in the middle and bottom of the funnel to convince buyers to complete their journey, but the fact is that B2B buyers love hard facts. B2B sales don’t just impact one person—they’re made to benefit an entire business. So if you have cold, hard evidence, make sure people are seeing it.
6. Invest in real research
Speaking of hard facts, make sure that anything you’re posting is backed up by linkable data from a reliable source. Any company can slap “Best Product of 2021!” on their website and generate interest, but it takes actual statistics to keep that interest alive.
If you’re posting short-form or long-form content on your website, LinkedIn, or email marketing blasts, don’t hide the data. Professionals know the ins and outs of their industry, and B2B lead generation often relies on proof of quality, ROI, and customer satisfaction.
While your leads might not always click through to your sources, seeing those hyperlinks lets them know that you’re not just making things up—you’re pulling information from esteemed publications with no stake in your business.
Half of B2B lead generation is about building trust with your leads. Nothing builds trust like staking your reputation on credible, outside-sourced facts.
7. Don’t let leads escape your landing page
People are naturally drawn to interactive content. In fact, 81 percent of marketers agree that interactive content is more effective at grabbing people’s attention than static content. So, why are most landing pages still static?
81% of marketers agree that interactive content is more effective at grabbing people’s attention than static content.
When leads click on your landing page, you have to work fast to grab their attention. Catchy headlines, clear CTAs, and large-font statistics help, but pop-up boxes do more.
When you use a contact pop-up box on top of your landing page, you are forcing your prospect to engage with your content. Even if they simply close out the pop-up box, their attention is more specifically drawn to your site than to whatever else is going on around them. And that’s the worst case scenario.
The best case scenario is that you grab an email from a lead by simply creating a box with a subscription entry form.
8. Personalize your web content for your B2B lead personas
B2B sales and marketing can no longer afford to be generalized. While mass emails and marketing automation are useful tactics, personalization is a secret weapon. B2B lead generation tactics are always evolving, and 2022 is the year of ABM (account-based marketing). With ABM, you can tailor your website and marketing materials to more personally appeal to individual leads or segments that you find the most promising.
You can also code your website to key in on a visitor’s location via their IP address, which enables you to create different content for different geographical demographics.
Personalization is always more effort, but since more than 70 percent of B2B marketers are doing it, you can’t really afford not to.
9. Learn the savvy side of social selling
Social media isn’t just for companies targeting B2C consumers. As more and more businesses move into the social selling sphere, B2B lead generation now extends to B2B connections that are available on different platforms.
You’re likely already posting and interacting on LinkedIn (and if you’re not, you should be: 55 percent of decision-makers use LinkedIn to vet other companies). But don’t stop there. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all provide unique and casual B2B lead generation and interaction opportunities for your team. Making your company appealing on social media doesn’t just attract amused scrollers—it also attracts other businesses who see that you know how to market.
10. Try your hand at video content
You don’t need to be an expert editor to create lead-generating videos. Even if all you put together is a video of different marketing graphics with a bit of smooth jazz behind it, you’ll still have video content to put out online. And that’s essential.
After Google, YouTube is the second-largest search engine on the web. Depending on the demographics of the businesses you want to work with, it might actually be the first place they turn to.
Video content on YouTube can impact B2B lead generation in several ways. YouTube is a popular platform for detailed criticism and analysis videos of different products, courtesy of individual users. But you’ll also find in-depth product videos and instruction guides produced by your competition. If your video content isn’t equally high quality, you’re falling behind.
Let’s say a potential prospect is interested in accounting software, but they need to make sure there’s an online tutorial. If they search on Google, they’ll get a mixed set of results, but if they search on YouTube, the companies with filmed tutorials will be prioritized. Videos let you stay at the top of the search no matter what platform your leads are on.
11. Optimize B2B lead generation through SEO
You’re likely already looking at SEO for your long-form written content, but did you know you can optimize any company content? From your website to your press releases, SEO lets your company cut to the front of the line.
If you’re struggling with finding the right SEO angle, take a look at your competitors’ webpages and look at what words they repeat. Additionally, you can reexamine your target personas and try and match your SEO to their specific interests. For instance, if we look back at accounting software, one of your demographics might be independent small businesses. Crafting content with that specific group in mind may help you identify more targeted SEO questions and keywords to focus on when you implement B2B lead generation strategies.
12. Hook a high-profile client to gain the attention of smaller leads
Sometimes, it’s about quality, not quantity. Generating thousands of leads is really only useful if your company can make an impact on them. If you’re not a top player amongst your competition, leads might need more persuading to provide you their information.
The best way to convince them? A high-profile client.
It can be useful at times to divert your teams away from overall sales and have them focus on a few VIPs. VIP client names on your website is a demand generation technique that will automatically draw more inbound leads from smaller, related businesses.
13. Entice B2B leads to click the subscribe button
Having a subscribe button on your website is a great start, but you need potential leads to actually click it. One of the easiest ways to increase your subscriptions is by adding incentives. A lot of B2C sites use discount offers, but B2B companies looking to up their B2B lead generation game can also try offering anything from a free consultation to an extended demo. These types of lead magnet strategies translate well into the B2B arena.
Remember, your subscription button is for gathering lead emails, so making offers is a means to an end. It’s unlikely that you’ll get overwhelmed with actual requests for the offers, but if you do, that’s a good thing. Interest in the product means a qualified inbound lead. Embrace it.
14. Ensure all of your content is optimized for mobile viewing
An alarming 40 percent of consumers will turn to a competitor site after a poor mobile experience. That should be more than enough to motivate you to optimize your content for mobile viewing, but here are a few more numbers to persuade you:
- 73 percent of mobile search devices trigger additional action and conversation.
- Mobile commerce in 2021 accounted for 23 percent of online sales.
- Only 35 percent of businesses have a mobile-optimized site.
That last statistic is especially important. If customers are paying attention to which companies cared to optimize for mobile, and only 35 percent of businesses are optimized, that means your company has a wide open window to make an impact on traffic and B2B lead generation.
15. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals
If you play your cards right and build successful relationships with your clients, a fair number of qualified leads should fall right into your lap. Just like with reviews, your leads care what other buyers think. A full 92 percent of consumers trust referrals from friends. Not only that, but customers referred by a friend have a 16 percent higher lifetime value than non-referred ones.
A full 92% of consumers trust referrals from friends.
Despite this, only 11 percent of sales professionals ask for referrals. This commonly missed opportunity can greatly affect your lead quality and frequency. When you provide a quality product or service, you likely have a slew of repeat or favorite customers—so don’t be afraid to reach out. Be specific and personal in your request, and provide detailed supplemental material for them to forward to their suitable contacts. If they truly love your services, they’ll be game.
Out-of-the-box B2B lead generation ideas
If you’ve tried all of the traditional ideas, but you’re still struggling to generate B2B leads, it might be time to think outside the box and play with more radical tactics.
16. Experiment with creative, spontaneous outreach
Emails and cold calling scripts often get ignored, which can make getting through to leads a hard slog. It’s hardly your sales team’s fault: nowadays, approximately 333 billion emails are sent every day. People simply don’t have the time to read them all, let alone respond.
That’s why businesses need to get creative with attention-grabbing B2B lead generation outreach. One of the best ways to do this is with spontaneous gifts. Let’s say you’re a beverage vendor looking to partner with nearby businesses. You could send them a flier, but you could also send them a complimentary basket of coffees and teas.
That’s a relatively small cost for your company, but it could mean a huge new client if the plan works. At the very least, most people will reach out with a thank you, which opens up an avenue for conversation.
17. Invite guests to help with your marketing materials
Nothing makes your company stand out like expert testimony. If you have big names in your field or in your target audience who are willing to put their name on your marketing content, take advantage of this built-in demand generation potential.
Expert guests add credibility to your products and your brand. They also make you far more searchable. Anyone in your target audience who searches for that expert will also find you under that expert’s recommendations. It’s the B2B equivalent of social media influencing.
18. Turn your disadvantages into leads
All businesses have ups and downs. That’s okay, but don’t assume that a down means you can’t source future prospects. Look at every moment of “have not” as a stepping stone for a future “have.”
For instance, if a large number of your products are out of stock because of a shipping delay or a production hold-up, don’t simply turn people away. Instead, offer them the opportunity to subscribe for a first-notice list. By giving their contact information, they can be the first to know when products are back in stock. It’s a time-saving win for them and a lead win for you.
You could also offer a discount to the first X number of new customers who buy when stocks are refilled. Keep your eye on a positive future and encourage leads to join you there.
19. Shamelessly increase FOMO
FOMO (fear of missing out) may be associated with younger generations, but its impact is real on people of all ages. The concept behind FOMO marketing is that by creating a sense of urgency and missed opportunity, you can generate more leads and purchases. It’s a bit trickier in B2B sales than in B2C sales, but the psychology remains sound.
By creating a sense of urgency and missed opportunity, you can generate more leads and purchases.
By putting time limits on offers or restricting the amount of product available, you can motivate people to click sooner, make decisions faster, and ultimately accelerate the purchasing process. It’s risky, but with the right angle and the right target audience, this type of sales tactic can work wonders.
20. Organize times for dedicated lead gathering
One of the biggest traps with B2B lead generation is that companies think they have to do it year round. Your company should always be advertising, but not every day needs to be dedicated to B2B lead gathering. Some days are better than others for your sales team to reach out to prospects.
If prospects are the most open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, leave those days dedicated to active sales. You have three other days of the week to look at B2B lead generating strategies when your sales team doesn’t have other commitments it needs to focus on.
If you’re not sure when your best sales days are, you can always use a sales tracker platform to zero in on low productivity times.
How to do B2B lead generation better than your competitors
The best way to grab the leads before your competition does is with a fast B2B lead gen platform and a quality CRM. Zendesk offers a unique package of different sales software abilities with the award-winning Zendesk Sell.
Zendesk Sell includes our state-of-the-art CRM software along with a large collection of features including:
- Sales funnel software
- Power dialer for sales
- Sales engagement platform
- SFA (sales force automation)
- Mobile sales app
Generating leads is only half the battle. Once found, you still need to have smart segmentation strategies and align your sales and marketing tactics to turn prospects into customers. Zendesk is the powerful all-in-one tool that allows you to do all of that, while giving you all the benefits of pipeline software: speed, efficiency, and a clear trajectory.