Generating more B2B sales starts with generating more high-quality leads, which means that your company must learn how to reach your ideal customers in new and evolving ways. With the increasing amount of B2B purchases taking place online, more buyers are apt to start and finalize a sale by searching the web, social media, maybe a review or two, and their knowledge and biases on the product or service.
Can you see what’s missing from the activities in that buyer’s purchase process? That’s right — many B2B buyers don’t bother to interact with an actual salesperson.
And why are B2B customers avoiding salespeople? According to a Forrester report, 60% of B2B customers don’t rely on sales reps for information when purchasing decisions. Additionally, 68% prefer to do independent research online. What’s more, over half of the buyer’s journey (57%) takes place online, meaning that by the time they contact you, they’ve likely already determined that they want to buy. And if they decided against a purchase, then you probably wouldn’t be hearing from them at all.
This shift to majority online research and purchasing makes your digital presence paramount to generating more B2B sales. Today’s B2B sales world is less about your selling tactics and more about the buyer’s overall online experience. Your prospects are looking to you to help them solve a problem, and we’ve compiled 38 tips to help you provide them a clear path to that solution, thereby generating more leads and more B2B sales.
Marketing & sales automation tools
Automation makes life easier and keeps things running smoothly. Using automation tools for your lead generation process can make it easier to manage your campaigns at scale and produce measurable results that can be analyzed and applied to future campaign efforts. You can better align processes between your marketing and sales teams and move qualified leads along the pipeline from one department to the next for orderly and painless conversions. Automation tools also allow for increased segmentation within your database, empowering you to engage in more meaningful interactions with your prospects and customers by sending targeted email messages, resources, and other relevant content. You can even automate the notifications you receive when your potential buyers take specific actions on your digital assets.
Align your sales and marketing teams
Your marketing and sales teams need to work together for optimum lead generation and conversions. Only 17% of the B2B buying process is spent connecting the buyer directly with a salesperson. Conversely, only 5-10% of qualified leads convert to customers for marketers. But the two working together strengthens the conversion process. When marketing implements well-planned lead strategies, the sales team is empowered with high-quality, informed leads for superior follow-up and nurturing, and both departments can focus on what they do best.
“The new reality is that sales and marketing are continuously and increasingly integrated. Marketing needs to know more about sales, sales needs to know more about marketing, and we all need to know more about our customers.”Jill Rowley
Review the data
Sales reps struggle with lead generation due to a lack of quality data, according to 42% of those surveyed. Award-winning social media scientist, keynote speaker and author, Dan Zarrella says, “Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.” Predictive analytics can help you discover trends, probabilities, and user patterns to stay one step ahead of your prospects and enable you to meet their needs better.
You have to know what your audience wants before you can give them what they’re seeking. Understanding your B2B leads’ behaviors, what’s important to them, and what drives them can help you best serve them.
Update your email lists
Outdated email lists often contain incorrect or incomplete information. It’s essential to cleanse regularly, update, and revise your email lists to target the right leads. Updating your email list also means removing already converted leads so you don’t prospect to current customers. You can build an email list on your own or contact a company that sells leads relevant to your target market. If you use automation tools, make sure to routinely unsubscribe inactive email accounts.
“Focus on growing your list all of the time as newer subscribers are more engaged adding to healthier open rates and ROI.”Karl Murray
Send cold (but personalized!) emails
Cold calling is quickly becoming something of the past because it’s simply no longer effective. Only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment, and it takes eight cold call attempts on average to reach a prospect, but most salespeople stop after two attempts. Additionally, 90% of decision-makers don’t respond to cold callers, so you’re missing your key demographic to finalize a B2B sale.
Contrarily, email is a big deal. In fact, it’s presently the most commonly used B2B lead generation strategy. Email marketing has a return on investment (ROI) of $42 for every $1 spent, which is a higher return than expected from any other digital or traditional marketing method. Nearly 94% of internet users in the US between the ages of 25-44 use email and 65% of email users check their email approximately three times a day. Forty-four percent of users depend on emails to alert them about deals from their favorite brands.
So, just under half of all email users are expecting to make purchases based on an email.
“Personalization – it is not about first/last name. It’s about relevant content.”Dan Jak
Pump up your email signature
Take full advantage of the potential of your email signature. You can sign off your emails with product promotion banners, links to content, a plug for an upcoming event, social media buttons, or a clear call to action (CTA) to help generate leads. CTAs are incredibly effective lead generation tools in digital marketing. You can urge your email recipients to act immediately or take notice of something that propels them to action in the short-term. By clicking on the CTA, they are showing clear intent and interest in whatever you are promoting.
Additionally, including a photo of yourself alongside your email signature provides a personal touch. While 94% of marketers are aware that personalization is essential to a company’s success, reports show only 5% do so extensively. Use this unique spin to personalize and highlight an otherwise often predictable message.
Build high-quality lead lists
In the marketing and sales worlds, your lead list is your lifeline. Many companies make the mistake of skimping on the list because list building is a time-consuming task, but not taking your list quality seriously can be detrimental to your short- and long-term success. You can’t simply buy your list and expect to receive high-quality leads.
It’s crucial to ensure that you use skill, determination, a high level of industry knowledge, and a thorough understanding of data metrics and analytics when creating your targeted list of ideal prospects. Curating a high-quality list of B2B leads is a timely process but is likely to produce significant outcomes.
Follow-up with warm leads
Cold calling is a bit outdated, but you should certainly reach out to your warm leads via phone, email, or other messaging channels. Whatever action they’ve already taken to show interest in your product or service should be the inspiration for your conversation starter. For example, if they attended a webinar, ask them what prompted them to sign up and ask if they have any questions. If they took advantage of a free trial, ask for their thoughts and how you can help them move forward.
Data shows that nurtured leads generate a 20% increase in sales opportunities over leads, and businesses who take advantage of lead nurturing make 50% more sales at less cost. For your prospects teetering at the finish line, your one more call, text, email, or LinkedIn message might be what it takes to close the sale.
Focus on solving your customers’ problems
Building relationships is an integral part of marketing and sales. Since most (if not all) of your interaction is taking place online, it’s necessary to let your virtual audience know you’re available. To do so, you need to spend some time interacting with your potential and current customers in meaningful ways. Instead of simply directing people to your website or providing them with content when they have questions, strive to become their primary resource for information and content that will help them do their jobs better. Take some time to personally address their concerns and give them the answers to their problems that they’re seeking. Make their experience memorable by just being present.
“Customers only care about improving their business. It’s easy to forget this in the heat of a sales cycle.”Aaron Ross
Use website live chats
Website live chat software makes you readily available to your audience. Users are more likely to convert when they have the added benefit and convenience of immediate help and answers to their questions. Additionally, this puts you back in the driver’s seat, so-to-speak, because you can walk the buyer through the buying process versus giving them the independence to go it alone. Statistics show that when you follow-up with web leads within 5 minutes, you’re 9x more likely to get the sale.
Use personalized videos
Videos often boost your appeal with your audience. Videos perform more effectively than other content to convert users to qualified leads, say 70% of B2B marketers. Videos can also increase click rates by 300% when included in marketing emails. People love visuals, and videos can add that extra sense of personalization, excitement, and urgency to inspire your prospects to act. Free tools like Drift Video give you the ability to create personalized videos to send to your prospects via email, text message, or LinkedIn.
List your business in online directories
If you want people to find you, you need to get on online business directories. When someone uses search engines to find a product or service, search results often yield a directory listing the most relevant and known brands to take care of the prospect’s needs. Simply listing in an online directory contributes to your trustworthiness and authority as a company. Examples of directories include Google My Business (GMB), Bing, and Yelp. Showing up on these lists allows people to learn more about your company, read customer reviews, and decide whether to move forward with a purchase. Be sure to research both generic directories and industry-specific listings.
Use Q&A websites
Join a Q&A site—like Quora—and answer questions relevant to your industry. You can provide expert information to rank yourself as an authority on subject matter related to your company’s goal. By the end of 2018, Quora had an estimated 300 million monthly users. That’s also the same year Quora introduced Broad Targeting, created to recognize ads as they come across the platform and learn who’s engaging with which ads to target your ideal audience better. Additionally, posting answers on Quora allows you to link to your own content that addresses the inquiry and directs users to your website.
Use digital advertising campaigns
A B2B company’s overall marketing effort should include paid digital advertising (commonly referred to as SEM or PPC) in addition to organic traffic generation efforts. Google Ads is a paid advertising option that can help you break through an already saturated market by targeting specific keywords searched on Google. The idea is to boost brand awareness and make your online presence readily known in the short-term while guiding prospects to your website, where your content and services will keep your potential and existing customers coming back in the long-term. Additionally, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Twitter all offer their own paid advertising options to increase your social media visibility.
Use remarketing efforts
Remarketing ads keep your past visitors coming back to you. If someone visits your website and leaves before committing to a sale to conduct more research, you can use remarketing efforts to remind them why they should choose you. Other visitors might intend to return to complete their purchase, but distractions pull them away. Use remarketing to let them know you’re excited to see them become your customer.
Make use of SEO best practices
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an inbound marketing tactic that uses keyword strategy, content marketing, and technical optimization to drive organic (non-paid) traffic to your site. As you use SEO strategies to rank your website, you become more visible in search engine results. Your landing pages, blog content, and product and services pages should be high quality and contain keywords that your target customer is likely to search when looking for your products and services. Additionally, SEO includes technical aspects such as improving your site’s design, page loading speeds, and acquiring backlinks to your content from other high-quality websites. It can be a technical and time-consuming process, but it yields significant long-term results.
Create targeted content
Publishing relevant content is vital to generate leads and close B2B sales. Content marketing is the third most commonly used B2B lead generation strategy, with 85% of B2B marketers saying lead generation is the primary goal of content creation. Nearly 90% of B2B buyers say online content directly influences their purchasing decisions. Additionally, content marketing is an investment that generates perpetual returns, generating three times the leads as outbound marketing for 62% less cost. Ninety-three percent of B2B companies claim its effectiveness at generating leads over traditional marketing strategies.
As useful as it is, though, it can’t be just any content if you want to make a real impact. Your content needs to be relevant, valuable, and targeted to your ideal customer. For example, if you offer legal services, you don’t want to write content about refurbishing bicycles for the homeless unless you can tie it back to your business. Additionally, if you practice personal injury law, providing information about family law is confusing and likely not helpful to your followers.
If you’re looking to expand your content marketing, check out our full-service content services. We’ll research, write, and edit for your business, delivering ready-to-post content at scale.
Start a blog
Blogs provide helpful information boosting your credibility and influence in your industry. Regular blog posts can also help establish a brand and personality for your company, and when you include a short byline, you can present yourself as someone personable, approachable, genuine, and trustworthy. Blogging yields 67% more leads for B2B companies that rely on the written word to reach their potential buyers versus those who don’t, and just over 80% of businesses say their company blog is “useful” or “critical” to the success of their B2B lead generation efforts.
Once you decide to start a blog, it’s essential to have a strategy. Plan your topics so that your blog posts speak to your audience and spend less time trying to out-explain your competition. Instead, be sure that your content answers your target customers’ FAQs and brings awareness to solutions to their problems. Provide them with actionable advice and a clear call to action (CTA) so they know what steps to take next.
Create a newsletter
Newsletters are a great way to help people learn more about your business and what you do. You can create and send digital newsletters monthly or quarterly as a form of communication to keep your prospects updated on events, promotions, new products and services, and other happenings within your company and the industry. This is a great way to nurture leads and stay in touch with existing customers.
Plan a webinar
Webinars are a great way to generate interest in your expertise and educate participants on how you can benefit their businesses. Most webinar participants are in the later stages of the buyer’s journey, ready to make a purchase or gathering the last bit of research to solidify their decision. Hosting a webinar can thereby be an excellent way to get your B2B leads over that threshold and on the way to a completed B2B sale.
Publish white papers and eBooks
White papers and eBooks are useful when you have extensive or unique expertise to share. While often time-consuming to write, these forms of content can really pay off when used as lead magnets or gated content to help build your email list. A 2017 survey found that 63% of customers are willing to provide personal information in exchange for eBooks, and 76% of survey participants were willing to divulge personal details for white papers. In other words, business professionals are aware of the value your expert content can yield, and they’re ready to barter for it.
Offer downloadable guides and resources
Suppose you offer your website visitors or social media followers resources they can easily and quickly download. In that case, you provide them with an immediate, valuable service that will remind them of you every time they refer to the valuable information contained in the download. Free downloads for your prospects can include guides, templates, spreadsheets, and other helpful materials. Gate these guides to collect email addresses or keep the content ungated and add pain-point addressing calls-to-action throughout.
Optimize your landing pages
A well-designed landing page should be a lead generation machine. Many of the tactics we’ve talked about here will need a good landing page to execute. Planning a webinar? You should use a landing page to capture registrations. Do you have downloadable guides or other gated content? Your landing page is the actual “gate” to the content, capturing some of your visitor’s contact information in exchange for the right to download your resource, turning them into a lead in the process. Unlike the other pages on your website, a landing page should be free of other links and distractions and focused on one thing: generating conversions from your site visitors Landing page best practices include crafting a headline that focuses on the benefit of your offer, writing compelling copy, and of course, utilizing a short form to capture your lead’s information.
Podcasts & Livestreams: Interview high-level guests
The more you know, the more others want to hear from you. You can use this concept to capitalize on others’ knowledge, too. As you make expert connections within your industry, make a note of their success for a future podcast. Interviewing these high-level professionals helps to increase your credibility as you feed off of their influence. Your guests will likely share the episode, expanding your reach to their audience. The content you produce from the interview is also prime bait for backlinks, improving your website’s SEO. If you’re not livestreaming or podcasting yet, review our guide to B2B Live Streams and Podcasts.
Podcasts & Livestreams: Interview prospects
Podcasts are taking off, with 20 million more people having listened to one in 2019 compared to the previous year, and 14 million people labeling themselves as weekly podcast listeners. In total, more than half the people in the US have now listened to a podcast, and about one in three people listen to at least one monthly. It’s not just a craze among young people anymore, with those aged 55 and older jumping on board with the spoken word (audio) series distributed digitally. By 2019, 17% of the older demographic took up podcasts compared to 40% of listeners between the ages of 12 and 24.
With so many people listening now, podcasts offer great exposure to generate more B2B leads. Additionally, you can find prospects in those you interview. Inviting someone to participate in an episode of your podcast can open the door to a future sale. Essentially, you derive great content, build a beneficial professional relationship and later talk business.
Write guest blog posts
Tap into another professional’s audience by writing or posting content for them. You can also agree to be a guest on their podcast. You can reach out to people in your network or contact industry-related websites, podcasts, or social media channels for guest blogging and other content opportunities. The idea is to further your reach, increase your domain authority, and generate increased relevant traffic, and thereby increased leads, to your website.
Be a guest speaker
Opting to be a guest speaker at an event is a great way to establish your authority in a specific industry, reach a large audience, and benefit from word-of-mouth marketing. If your speaking resonates with your listeners, they will come to you to do business, saving you some legwork.
Make sure if you decide to use this lead-generating tactic, though, that you practice speaking. Guest speaking is a skill requiring development before you take to the stage, knowing that your speech can positively or negatively reflect on you. You want to leave a supportive lasting impression that stirs your audience to act in a way that boosts your sales productivity.
Guest speaking used to require traveling to in-person events. COVID-19 expanded the breadth of virtual events either as replacements or compliments to live events. This shift gives you more opportunities to present as a guest speaker without incurring the cost and time associated with traveling.
Publish a press release
Press releases are a great way to share some exciting news about your company quickly. You can publish them on your website, link to them on social media channels, or submit them to major publications. Bloggers, influencers, news media, and other business professionals are prone to sharing good news. Press releases can be powerful lead generators by creating brand awareness and sparking interest in a new product launch, new research-packed publication, new partnership, new industry ranking or award, and other newsworthy happenings.
Ask customers for reviews
Customers love reviews. Forbes reported that 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to complete a purchase after reading a relevant review. Additionally, when displaying five trusted reviews versus having no reviews, you can increase your conversions by 270%. When your existing customers are happy, they are more likely to share that joy with others. Prospects expect you to believe in your product or service’s benefits, but hearing from other customers offers a raw, unbiased perspective and boosts the credibility of your business. It also lets them know you genuinely care about your customers’ satisfaction.
Ask for referrals
Word-of-mouth (or referrals) is one of the best ways to generate B2B leads. For this reason, relationship nurturing is just as important (if not more important!) than relationship building. When an existing customer, friends, family member, former colleague, etc. refers a potential buyer to you, that prospect is usually already qualified because they’ve been given the go-ahead from someone they know and trust. Fifty percent of surveyed B2B marketers reported that referrals brought their businesses the largest number of qualified leads.
To acquire more referrals, ask satisfied customers or non-competing professionals to refer you, make the request specific, and be sure to thank them in-person for any leads they send your way. You can also create social referral campaigns online to get things rolling.
Increase your social media presence
Being present on social media is imperative for increased B2B lead generation. Seventy-eight percent of small businesses find at least a quarter of their customers from social media. LinkedIn is likely your best bet for B2B lead generation. B2B marketers boast their majority of leads (80%) from social media coming from LinkedIn, while comparatively, 39% of B2C marketers generate leads from Facebook and 30% have leads coming in from Twitter.
Regardless of where you show up on social media channels, though, it’s essential that you show up. Eighty-four percent of C-level and VP-level buyers are searching social media to make purchases. If you’re hoping to connect with top-tier executives making purchasing decisions for their businesses, you can find them on social media. If nothing else, social media is a great place to network and expand your marketing reach.
“Selling through social channels is the closest thing to being a fly on the wall in your customers, prospects, and competitors’ world.”Jim Keenan
Assess your social standing
As you become more present on social media, you need to not only engage with your followers but listen to them, too. Learn to stalk your own brand. Monitor your mentions and see what people are saying about you. To do this easily, you can use Google Alerts, a free monitoring platform, to signal you when someone mentions your company name, brand, or product. Listening to your audience also gives you the chance to dispel any negativity from your dissenters. Doing so saves your brand’s reputation while repairing existing relationships and generating new interest.
“The customer’s perception is your reality.”Kate Zabriskie
Join social media groups
Joining relevant social media groups allows you to meet people who will likely match your target audience’s criteria. You can create beneficial relationships, discover problems and whether you can offer viable solutions, and become a thought leader establishing your credibility. Listening to and having conversations with your potential buyers can also help you better connect with them and provide them with valuable content to answer their questions and allay their business concerns.
Network often (but be careful during the pandemic)
Networking is a continual effort, both in-person and online. Building authentic relationships takes time, but the outcome is worthwhile, making it time well spent. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are great online platforms to meet other business professionals. Get to know who they are, what they do, and how you can best connect and possibly collaborate with them. Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups for like-minded professionals. You’ll not only learn from their expertise, but you may get referrals if you consistently post and position yourself or your company as the go-to vendor for your niche.
Get on LinkedIn (Sales Navigator)
More than 80% of B2B leads generated by social media come from LinkedIn, meaning if you’re not already, you need to get on LinkedIn. Sixty-five percent of B2B companies claimed to find success when using LinkedIn for lead generation. Additionally, the social platform’s LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool can help you search for potential buyers and build lead lists using advanced search filters to zero in on your ideal customer. This tool also provides you with an exclusive feed of your leads, so you can stay updated on their needs and keep tabs on their activities related to your product or service.
Find influencer endorsements
Have someone at the top of their game endorse you for added exposure and increased authority. Choose an influencer with a large following that falls within your target market. If they can get people to trust them, they can get people to trust you as long as they vouch for you. Influencer marketing is a great way to increase your own social media following or readership and bring attention to a new product or service.
Partner with others
Consider partnering with professionals who have complementary but non-competitive goals to generate new ideas and discover improved strategies and gain access to their B2B sales channels. Ensure that the partnership is equally beneficial by choosing someone who has a similar or relevant audience. Also, attempt to pair your services or products with theirs to optimize your sales potential and offer your buyers a convenient and unique package deal they won’t find anywhere else.
Appeal to your competitors’ unhappy customers
Marketing analytics tools can help retrieve data to tell you about your competitors’ products and services, including price and ideal target audience, so you can stay competitive and strive to yield superior results. Additionally, you can search social media channels for reviews, keeping in mind that not all reviews are positive. B2B review platforms like G2 Crowd and Capterra provide loads of competitive insight. If you see your competitors’ customers voicing concerns about their experiences with post-sales treatment, quality of goods, pricing, or underperformance, reach out to them, pinpointing exact solutions to their current problems and complaints.
Bonus Tip: Consider asking for help
Unless you have unlimited resources, you probably can’t take on all 38 of these recommendations at the same time. You have to prioritize and take on what makes sense given the unique set of challenges facing your business and the resources you have at your disposal. A good first step is to start with an honest assessment of where you are now, where you’d like to get, and what it will take to get there.
And a smart next step might just be looking for a marketing partner to help you execute on some or all of the tips that we’ve listed here.