Generating leads can be frustrating when you’re in B2B sales. You’ve got a great product, your conversion rate is good, and your pitch is killer. But you’re just running into a wall when you try to find new leads. What gives?
Rest assured, the leads are out there. It’s how you go about finding them that is proving to be the issue. It’s not an easy task and involves some fresh thinking on your part, but it is possible to get that lead spigot flowing.
Overview: What is B2B lead generation?
A lead refers to any potential customer of a business, and the term B2B leads specifically refers to a business or a representative of that business who may be interested in buying the product or service of another business.
B2B sales leads generation is the process through which a salesperson finds these potential customers in order to contact them and set up a pitch meeting.
Methods and strategies for B2B lead generation
There are a lot of B2B marketing strategies, but we’ve found five key B2B lead generation tactics and methods in particular that will help you boost leads right away.
1. Do your research
The leads are out there, you just have to find them. Your company should have a customer profile you're marketing to, so what you need to do is to research a list of those qualified prospects.
Of course, managing these leads is easier said than done, but you probably have a good idea where to find names. For example, if you do business with government contractors, you might look for names of businesses who have listed interest in projects posted at the Federal Business Opportunities website in your specific field.
Wherever you might find those names, if you're willing to do the legwork, you'll save yourself a lot of time by not wasting it on unqualified prospects.
Tips to help with research:
The best way to research is to have a business development plan for doing so and a goal in mind, and that involves doing a couple of things.
- Create a customer profile: If you don't have a description of what your typical customer looks like, create one. This will help with prospecting.
- Create a list of databases: Where have you gone in the past to find leads? Create a list of those places and a lead generation strategy on how best to draw from these resources.
2. Start conversations
Sales guru Grant Cardone has a lot of mantras, and one of the big ones is this: if someone doesn't know you, they can't buy from you. In order to be successful developing B2B lead generation strategies, you have to get out there and make yourself known.
And there's no better way to do that than with a conversation.
Take advantage of every conversation opportunity you get. If a prospect has a question about a feature, offer to help them out with a quick phone call. This will help introduce you and establish yourself as an expert they can trust at the same time.
Tips for starting conversations:
Starting conversations is all about taking advantage of the opportunities that come to you.
- Treat every inquiry as a potential customer: A simple request to explain a feature should turn into a 10-minute phone call to help the potential customer learn more about your company.
- Go to trade shows: Your clients are probably going to trade shows in your industry with the specific purpose of networking, so take advantage of that.
3. Create a referral program
There's no better lead than one that was referred to you by a current customer, for a couple reasons:
- The customer has already qualified the prospect for you.
- It's a warm call rather than a cold call, making it more likely you'll close a sale.
As a result, you need a program to boost referrals. Offer incentives for referrals, like a free boost to a premium subscription, or 20% off the product price.
Tips for getting referrals:
Referrals are incredibly valuable, but sometimes tricky to get. Here are a couple things you can do.
- Offer something of value: Upon checkout, or when you are closing the sale, offer an immediate discount on the product in exchange for a referral.
- Periodically ask for referrals: Over the course of your relationship with a customer, don’t be afraid to periodically ask if they know of anyone who might benefit from your product or service.
4. Invite reviews
In today's online world, people want to see reviews before they make a purchasing decision. A staggering 93% of customers say online reviews affect their purchase decision, according to Podium.
If you have just one customer who can offer a testimonial that you could feature on your website, that could be the difference between a sale or no sale.
So don't be shy about reaching out to your customers to ask if they'd be willing to offer a review that you could feature. Many customers are happy to do so.
Tips for getting reviews:
No, you’re not Amazon or Yelp where people immediately flock to offer their opinions on a business or a product, so how do you get people to review you? You need to be proactive.
- Reach out to your best customers: Chances are, there are a couple people you can list off the top of your head who you know love your product. Ask them if they would write a quick blurb to be featured on the website.
- Provide a place to leave reviews: You should offer a location on your website where any customer can leave a review, and you can periodically remind them to do so if they have a customer service call every now and then.
5. Put live chat on your landing page
You see it all the time these days, and for good reason: live chats that pop up as soon as you visit a landing page are very effective at B2B online lead generation.
People often have questions about a product when they visit your site, so to offer a live chat function that provides a direct conduit to your team to get the answers is key to developing a relationship right off the bat that you can develop.
You can choose from a large number of live chat software options, so install one as soon as possible and assign someone to monitor it at all times. Just a few extra leads per month would certainly be worth the effort.
Tips for implementing live chat:
This involves working with new technology, which may be uncomfortable for some people, but it’s actually pretty straightforward.
- Demo several live chat software options: Choose from the many live chat software options out there and try a few free trials to see what works best for you.
- Designate someone to monitor the account: This may seem time-intensive, but it’s actually not. You just need someone to keep the chat function open on their computer throughout the day and answer anyone who sends a message as quickly as possible.
B2B lead generation pitfalls to avoid
The work you do generating B2B sales leads is so important because it impacts the rest of the sales cycle. If you don’t do a good job of generating the right leads, you’ll be penalized later in the sales funnel by not having enough leads to close or having the wrong ones and therefore a lower conversion rate.
Here are three major pitfalls to avoid.
Pitfall #1: Not qualifying leads
If there’s one thing you can’t do half-way, it’s qualify leads.
If you don’t spend enough time on this task, you may spend a lot of time moving a prospect all the way through the funnel only to find that they were never going to buy in the first place. Perhaps they didn’t have authority to do so or they just weren’t interested and were too polite to say no. You don’t want that.
You must carve out a specific customer profile and spend the time it takes to ensure your leads fit the profile by researching them and their company as much as possible.
Pitfall #2: Not having a good landing page
As they say, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. If your leads are ending up on your landing page and then bolting, you’ve lost them for good. If traffic to your landing page is mostly bouncing, check and make sure it has the following elements:
- A quick and concise explanation of the problem and how your solution can help
- Images or video demonstrating the product or service
- Testimonials and reviews, if possible
- A call to action directing the customer where to go next, such as to download a report or start a free trial
Pitfall #3: You’re not organized
So many people make the mistake of trying to just keep a list of leads in a spreadsheet and just wing it, but this is a bad idea.
You can choose from many good CRM software (customer relationship management) options out there with excellent B2B lead generation tools. They will keep all of your contacts and meetings organized and help you see where each lead is in the sales funnel so you’re not approaching them with the wrong pitch at the wrong time.
Check out some CRM examples to learn more.
Map out a new B2B lead generation strategy
Does the above roadmap to B2B lead gen success describe you? If not, it’s time to revamp your strategy.
Chances are, you already know where to find the leads, but you may be spending time on unproductive activities. It’s time to formulate a new strategy that incorporates the above information and redirects your efforts into the most profitable use of your time, whether that be attending more trade shows or doing more research on your prospects.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, HubSpot, and Salesforce.com. The Motley Fool recommends Yelp. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.