20 Proven B2B Lead Generation Strategies

20 Proven B2B Lead Generation Strategies

Generating B2B leads is one of the most important parts of the sales process. The number and quality of leads have a direct correlation with a variety of critical KPIs and sales metrics, such as win rate, quota attainment, and revenue. 

It’s important that the lead generation process is targeted, efficient, and repeatable. Sales teams and B2B marketers can ensure these things by following a set of strategies and tactics for generating leads.

In this article, we’ll go over some of our best-proven tips from successful sales teams for researching and engaging with high-quality leads. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is B2B Lead Generation?

B2B lead generation refers to the process of finding well-qualified potential customers for your product or service and then engaging them with targeted marketing strategies to persuade them to buy. 

Lead generation is the first step in the sales process, and its importance cannot be understated. The way you populate the top of your sales pipeline has a direct impact on the success of the stages that follow.

B2B Lead Generation: Sales Pipeline

Much of lead generation relies on gathering accurate, up-to-date contact information for good fits from your target audience. The more data, the better.

This doesn’t need to be complicated — oftentimes B2B sales teams can find a plethora of data on potential leads using only a simple search engine. There are also a number of lead gen tools that can help B2B businesses run automated lead generation campaigns that will populate their CRMs with new contacts. 

Once sales reps gather the necessary data, they use that information to take action in the next steps of the sales funnel. Salespeople should work closely with their marketing teams to ensure they have engagement strategies to nurture a wide variety of new leads, including: 

  • Inbound marketing campaigns
  • Email marketing for outbound leads
  • Content marketing tailored for your ideal customer
  • Optimized SEO strategies that lead to high-converting landing pages

The ultimate goal for B2B marketing and sales is to generate a consistent and robust pipeline of leads who have a high chance of converting into customers.

user-groupReach more buyersSend multi-touch, multi-channel campaigns and track how buyers engage

Why Your B2B Company Needs a Lead Generation Plan

As we mentioned earlier, lead generation is one of the most important components of the sales process. The best B2B companies emphasize the need for a predictable, repeatable lead generation plan. Formalizing a strategy for this process comes with a number of benefits.

Consistently Sign New Customers

A well-thought-out lead generation process allows B2B companies to consistently generate new customers for their businesses. It goes without saying that more new leads directly correlates to increased revenues, so it’s no wonder that this is a top priority for most sales and marketing teams.

B2B Lead Generation: Marketing Priority

Even for those prospects who don’t convert right away, adding them to an email list can create future opportunities to nurture and engage through the process until they’re ready to buy. 

Increase Conversion Rates

The best lead generation tactics are the ones that attract best-fit potential customers from the very beginning. Content and marketing optimization can help your lead generation strategies lead to higher conversion rates across the remainder of the funnel.

Learn More About Your Perfect Customers

B2B lead generation is about much more than locating contact information; it should also help your team create and/or refine your Ideal Customer Profile.

B2B Lead Generation: Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Persona

When completed with care and attention to detail, the sales prospecting and lead generation processes can help businesses learn more about what makes decision-makers tick — their goals, pain points, budget, and more.

Create a Strong Pipeline

The effectiveness of your lead generation efforts has a direct impact on the health of your overall pipeline. Let’s take a look at an example.

In the pipeline below, each stage starts with a certain number of leads or prospects. Each stage also has a specific conversion rate.

B2B Lead Generation: Sales Funnel

Imagine that your lead generation tactics successfully boost the numbers and conversion rates at the top of the funnel — you’re able to make initial contact with 4,000 good-fit leads and, because your lead generation strategy is highly targeted and optimized, you’re able to convert 80% of them. Those two shifts would lead to over 600 new closed deals.

As you can see, the health of the top of the pipeline has a dramatic trickle-down effect on the stages that follow. 

Who Conducts B2B Lead Generation?

The companies that enjoy robust lead generation and a full, ever-increasing sales pipeline know that both sales and marketing are equally and symbiotically responsible for its success.

Ideally, each department should make their own contribution to the process, but it should ultimately be collaborated on and seamlessly jointly executed.

Sales

There are generally two types of sales professionals that deal with lead generation: sales development reps (SDRs) and business development managers (BDMs). Each has their own unique role and responsibilities in lead generation.

SDRs interact with new leads at the beginning of the pipeline. They generally handle the sourcing and initial scoring of leads, and they book meetings for business development managers.

BDRs are responsible for conducting demos with well-qualified leads, and closing deals that generate revenue for the business.

These two groups work together to meet the needs of leads throughout all the stages of the pipeline.

Marketing

The marketing department is responsible for creating and curating the content and other campaigns that attract leads in the first place.

Most marketers are categorized according to one of two approaches: demand generation marketing or growth hacker marketing.

Demand generation marketers take a holistic approach to plan their campaigns, with a big-picture focus on the entire journey from lead generation to creating customers who advocate for your brand.

Growth hackers, on the other hand, take a faster and, usually, more economical approach to generate leads. They work to fill the pipeline as quickly and as affordably as possible. Growth hackers are great at stacking the front end of the pipeline, but their strategies are typically not as scalable as those of demand generation marketers.

Despite their differences, both groups focus heavily on attracting a large volume of leads and use data from the process to continuously improve it. 

Types of B2B Leads: MQL and SQL

Remember: leads, in general, are people who have been identified as people who would likely benefit from using your product or service. They may or may not have the intention to purchase at the moment you’ve identified them as a good fit, but they are a good fit nonetheless.

There are two main types of B2B leads: marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads

  1. Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs): Marketing-qualified leads live higher on the funnel than sales-qualified leads. MQLs are businesses that are very likely to benefit from your product or service, and have shown interest in your product based on their engagement with your marketing campaigns. Website visitors and people who download lead magnets (whitepapers, case studies, infographics, etc.) are good examples of MQLs.
  2. Sales-qualified leads (SQLs): Sales-qualified leads have moved beyond browsing; they have shown more direct intent to buy through any number of avenues. A phone call, email, social media message, or a request for a demo might all represent the transformation from an MQL to an SQL.

Both MQLs and SQLs play an important role in the funnel; one is not necessarily better than the other. Instead, the goal is to generate as many MQLs as possible, and convert the highest possible percentage of them into SQLs. B2B Lead Generation: Marketing Qualified Leads and Sales Qualified Leads There are many marketing automation tools that can ease the process of generating MQLs and SQLs — check out our post here on some of our favorites.

20 B2B Lead Generation Strategies

Here are 20 of our best tested-and-proven strategies for filing your pipeline with highly qualified leads.

1. Align Sales & Marketing

If you take only one step in improving your B2B lead generation process, it should be to implement a sales and marketing alignment strategy to get teams on the same page.

These two teams absolutely must collaborate with one another in order to generate the best results. And the benefits don’t stop with more and better-qualified leads; aligning sales and marketing leads to improved results across the board.

B2B Lead Generation: Sales and Marketing Alignment

2. Don’t Skip Cold Outreach

Cold calling and cold emailing get a bad reputation in the sales world for being time-consuming, awkward, and unproductive. Don’t buy into this negativity!

Cold outreach can be a very effective strategy for generating new and productive leads.

B2B Lead Generation: Generate More Leads

As shown above, studies show that many sales reps believe cold outreach generates as many leads as inbound strategies.

Tip: Looking to do more cold outreach? Grab some of our proven cold email formulas below.

10 Cold Email Formulas That Just Plain WorkSee how B2B sales professionals are using these cold email templates to engage more prospects, fill the top of their funnel and build more sales pipeline faster.

3. Divide and Conquer

Many sales teams choose to split into specialized groups to streamline the process. The specific organizational structure will depend on the unique needs, talents, and goals of your team.

Roles may include:

  • Sales development reps (responsible for sourcing leads and booking meetings)
  • Business development reps (responsible for conducting demos and closing deals)
  • Customer success reps (responsible for ensuring a smooth onboarding process and upselling when appropriate) 

4. Leverage Social Media

There’s no way around it: social selling is here to stay. And for good reason — check out some of the most popular benefits of this digital strategy:

B2B Lead Generation: Social Selling

If your team isn’t already tapping into the enormous reach that social media can offer, now is the time to start. In addition to the benefits outlined above, social selling also provides a very effective avenue for remarketing.

5. Go Outside the Box

There’s a new buzzword in the sales world, and it’s gaining well-deserved traction: growth hacking. Growth hacking blends marketing, product, and data strategies to identify the most efficient methods of growth.

B2B Lead Generation: Growth Hacking

Growth hacking strategies are also typically known for being simple and low-cost, making many of them easily accessible for startups and small businesses.

6. Content Is King

Content marketing is another important piece of an effective B2B lead generation plan. Like social selling, content marketing provides a number of overall benefits to your business.

B2B Lead Generation: Content Marketing

If your team uses content marketing strategies, this is another important reason to align sales and marketing teams. A sales enablement strategy can also assist in making sure salespeople have the appropriate content for each unique client. 

7. Automate Everything

It’s no secret that salespeople today are busier than they’ve ever been. Unfortunately, this increase in workload doesn’t always translate to an increase in new business. In fact, sales reps today only spend about 36% of their time on revenue-generating sales activities; the rest is spent on non-productive administrative activities.

B2B Lead Generation: Sales Rep Tasks 

We’re fortunate to live in a day and age where automation is literally at our fingertips — use this to your team’s advantage. Automate whatever you can, so that your team can focus on the sales activities that matter most. 

8. Try Your Hand With Webinars

The webinar is another “trendy” sales topic that seems to have some staying power. That’s because they’re low-cost, high-engagement conversion machines.

B2B Lead Generation: Webinar Marketing Stats

While it may seem intimidating to consider adding yet another marketing tactic to your toolbelt, it’s worth the effort — and probably not as challenging as you might think. In fact, there are many webinar templates and other free tools available online that can get you off the ground running. 

9. Build Your ICP

Trying to generate leads without a defined ideal customer profile is like trying to find a light switch in the dark.

Spend some time developing your ICP if you haven’t already.

B2B Lead Generation: Developing ICP​​

Your ICP will act as your marketing North Star, ensuring your efforts are directed at the right leads from the very beginning. 

10. Make Yourself Visible

Having your own content library in the form of a blog or some other kind of public forum is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader in the industry and generate leads.

You can also consider taking that strategy a step further by arranging guest posting opportunities on forums like Quora or other blogs adjacent to your field. This offers a number of benefits, even beyond lead generation.

B2B Lead Generation: Guest Posts

11. Make Your Web Pages Dynamic

Certain technology now gives website owners the ability to create dynamic pages that change and adapt according to a visitor’s name, location, and other criteria.

B2B Lead Generation: Dynamic Web Pages

This is a relatively easy, automated way to personalize the buyer’s journey, even in the early stages of lead generation.

12. Perfect Your Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is a powerful tool for attracting lots of well-qualified leads in a way that makes them feel like they’re getting something of value.

B2B Lead Generation: Lead Magnet

Offer your lead magnet in exchange for leads’ contact information to fill your pipeline with engaged prospects.

13. Run A/B tests

Data is your best friend when it comes to lead generation. Use A/B testing to determine which strategy, copy, content, or platform is most effective for each of your campaigns.

Even something as simple as button color can make a dramatic difference in your results.B2B Lead Generation: A/B Testing

There’s no limit to what or how much A/B testing you can do, so play around with as many variations as you like until you’re confident your lead generation strategies are fully optimized.

databaseData that helps you sell smarterDaily activity, engagement data, and outcomes

14. Consider Visual Learners

Video is becoming a more and more popular format for marketers, and for good reason — data shows that online video is 6000% more effective as a marketing tool than print and direct mail combined.

B2B Lead Generation: Video Marketing Statistics

By adding video content to your lead generation strategies, you broaden your audience and create engaged prospects to fill the pipeline. 

15. Optimize Each of Your Platforms

It’s important that your business has a presence on the major social media platforms — LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are the big ones, but there may be others that are also relevant, depending on your industry.

It’s equally important, though, to make sure you’re leveraging each platform to its fullest extent — that means it’s up to you to get to know the differences between each of them and optimize your various profiles accordingly.

Tip: 40 ways to use LinkedIn for sales here.

16. Pay Attention to Mobile Formatting

Many leads are needlessly lost when a business’s website or content isn’t mobile-friendly. Over 60% of buyers report that they will quickly move on to a competitor if your website isn’t mobile-friendly.B2B Lead Generation: Mobile Formatting This is another easy tech hack that works wonders for boosting your B2B lead generation efforts.

17. Leverage Long-Tail Keywords

Many content creators assume that they need to prioritize the “popular” keywords that get tons of monthly searches. While it’s true that these overarching “umbrella” keywords are important for your SEO strategy, long-tail keywords actually represent the vast majority of internet searches.

B2B Lead Generation: Long Tail Keywords

Make sure your SEO strategy includes a focus on long-tail keywords that can help you capture leads from every corner.

18. Create Chatbots

Chatbots are a great way to draw in leads, even if you don’t have a sales rep immediately available to engage with them.

B2B Lead Generation: Chatbots

AI bots are an easy, affordable way to generate more leads and keep them engaged. They also increase customer satisfaction.

19. Focus on Customer Satisfaction

Speaking of customer satisfaction, it has a surprising effect on lead generation, despite its position at the other end of the funnel.

One surefire way to generate more leads is to make your current customers outstandingly satisfied with their experience. Happy customers make fantastic ambassadors for your brand and can encourage new leads to check out your product.

20. Create Referral Incentives

You could also go the extra mile and sweeten the pot for current customers by offering incentives for successful referrals.

Although it may seem counterintuitive — paying a customer to find new customers for you might seem a bit like cheating the system — referrals are actually incredibly powerful for your business in more ways than just lead generation. 

B2B Lead Generation: Referrals

Bonus: How Yesware Can Help Your Sales Team Connect With More Leads

Yesware can take your lead generation strategy to the next level with our highly effective prospecting features and capabilities.

Our software elevates every step of the lead generation and prospecting process.

The following are just some of the ways Yesware can help generate, qualify, and follow up with leads.

Create Campaign Templates

Yesware’s email template feature allows you to automate and send higher-converting emails, without the repetitive busywork.

B2B Lead Generation: Yesware Email Templates

Our ready-to-go templates personalize in seconds and can be auto-scheduled to send at the exact moment your leads are ready to engage.

Personalize Them

Speaking of personalization, Yesware also allows you to completely personalize all of your automated outreach with our prospecting campaign feature. Here, you can create automated email campaigns or multi-channel campaigns with calls and social touches. 

B2B Lead Generation: Yesware Prospecting Campaigns

You can choose from a variety of different touch types, including automated or manual emails, LinkedIn InMails, and other custom touches.

Automate Them (Including Follow-up and Scheduling)…

Did you know that 70% of leads are never contacted, yet 65% of the marketing budget goes to lead generation? 

This is an absolutely tremendous waste of resources and a problem that can be easily solved with some simple organization and structure. 

Yesware’s meeting scheduler helps you stay on top of who needs initial contact, who needs follow-up, and when they need it. It allows you to insert your meeting link into your templates and campaigns, then watch your calendar fill up all on its own. It integrates with both your Outlook or Gmail calendar. 

Track Them

Our reporting and analytics features allow you to track which content works best for certain kinds of customers. This will enable you to give a customized experience for each recipient, making automated personalization truly scalable.

B2B Lead Generation: Yesware Reporting

Our in-depth Presentation Reports provide a streamlined analysis of the most engaging content in your playbook. 

Try Yesware today: an all-in-one sales toolkit for better sales engagement.

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