The process that B2B buyers go through to find new products, services and vendors has transformed over the last decade. And that means B2B companies are adapting how they sell. Today, businesses more often focus on lead generation. Looking for ways to excel at lead generation has always been at the top of the to-do list for B2B sales leaders. In this post, we'll cover some B2B lead generation basics, and some tips on what you need to excel at it.
What is Lead Generation
Before we dive into how to help your B2B company excel in lead generation, let's define what we mean by lead generation. Because the phrase can have many meanings to different people across your business. Here's how we think of lead generation for B2B companies:
Lead generation is the process of identifying and connecting with potential customers for your products or services. It involves raising awareness of your company to potential customers and prompting them to connect with your company through digital or in-person channels.
In practice, this might mean offering a prospect a fact sheet or pricing list in exchange for their business name and e-mail. it might mean promoting a webinar that they have to register to attend. It might mean them following your company on LinkedIn. These offers are designed with the intent of providing valuable information that you expect your target audience would be interested in.
Your valuable materials (aka content) could come in the form of an eBook, videos (webinar or product demo), whitepapers, fact sheet, pricing information, videos, podcasts, templates, guides, a discount or many others.
In order for your B2B company to excel in lead generation, you must capture your potential customers in the awareness stage of their buyer journey and create opportunities for your company to begin to build a relationship with them. As they learn more about your business and you learn more about how they interact with your company, prospects can be more seamlessly marked as a marketing qualified lead and sales qualified lead as they travel through their buyer journey.
Though creating amazing content is at the heart of your lead generation efforts, what makes an effective lead generation strategy is your ability to attract valuable leads, ones that will move from being a visitor, to a marketing qualified lead to a sales qualified lead much faster.
The Value of B2B Lead Generation
By providing information that is valued by your ideal customers, that answers the question they were originally searching for or delights them with information they didn't know they needed yet, means that they are more likely to exchange their data for your content and in turn leaving your company with two big wins:
1. Your company’s ability to use this new lead’s contact data for continued marketing and relationship building
2. The opportunity to collect data on your prospects for ongoing marketing, sales and support.
Though this approach may seem different to your past strategies, it opens up opportunities to reach more businesses that are interested in your brand and have been helped by the information you provide, so much so that they are open to connecting with your company.
The only difference between your previous lead generation strategies (which probably amounted to trade shows and sales calls) to this one, is that these relationships probably start online, through content.
What it takes to do lead generation well
When developing lead generation campaigns, there are two critical tools that you need to be successful. If you don't start with these two elements, your efforts to build an effective lead generation engine will fail, or at best will have a 'false start'. t
What are the two key tools? Buyer personas and a CRM.
Buyer Personas help you target your lead generation efforts. By clarifying who your ideal customers are, you'll be able to create content and campaigns that speak to the unique needs of your audience. This is important because it means your prospects will be more likely to engage with your content and as a result, exchange their information for your offer and move more quickly through their buyer journey. It also benefits your business to keep these profiles up to date to ensure all your marketing strategies are targeting specific content at the most valuable of your contacts.
A CRM is another essential to have in your marketing toolkit and will be one of the make or break moments for your lead generation efforts.
An effective CRM tool will not only house your contacts' information but help store data on these prospects as soon as they start interacting with your business which you can later use to segment and create lists on your different buyer personas. This data can then be used to better understand your Buyer Personas and build out personalized lead nurturing campaigns that target these specific audiences at different stages of the buyer journey.
Learn more about CRM tools that can help excel your lead generation campaigns in 5 Things to Consider Before Selecting a CRM System.
Why start here for effective lead generation?
The reason these two components are so important is because they will be used to manage ALL your future lead generation efforts. One of your goals could be developing effective landing pages which ask for the right amount of information from your prospect, that they follow your intended path and exchange the requested data for the content you are providing. Another goal could be better directing leads through your website so they will subscribe to your newsletter.
By creating solid buyer personas you can use these to develop contact lists and if you have an effective CRM tool, you will be able to segment and automate. The use of these two elements means that when you are creating your campaign, you can generate content that your buyer personas will love and in turn, attract more prospects like your current customers to your business with content that they are interested in.
There's a lot to getting lead generation right, and these two elements are the absolute best place to start.
Interested in learning more about lead generation? Here are 3 resources to help build out a full picture:
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