Digital Kungfu

B2B Lead Generation

The Ultimate Guide to B2B Lead Generation

B2B lead generation is designed to attract the attention of potential buyers, qualifying them based on specific criteria and then closing deals and growing your business’s revenue because you are engaging with your ‘best opportunities to win.’

A B2B lead is a business that demonstrates an interest in your product or solution but is not yet ready to buy. The process of qualifying that lead ultimately results in a lead being disqualified or to a closed deal and revenue generation. 

1. Attract the attention of the right buyers

Understand the sales funnel

The sales funnel, also known as the marketing funnel, outlines the buyer’s journey. All B2B buyers begin their journey in the awareness phase. They are aware that they have a problem, and they are researching the various brands and solutions available to them.

Many events can trigger the awareness phase:

  • The buyer sees digital marketing or reads a blog post that speaks to a pain point they are currently experiencing. This can trigger the awareness that a solution is available.
  • The pain point has made itself felt within the business, and the buyer is researching a solution.
  • A cold call from a salesperson prompts the prospect to want to know more.

From the awareness phase, the buyer moves through the funnel into the interest phase and then the consideration phase. In these stages, prospects are researching specific products, reviewing referrals and even accessing demos or free trails. A buyer who reaches out to your business or agrees to send you their contact details or email address to receive more information is known as an inbound lead. Gathering inbound leads is an important step when generating B2B leads.

A buyer will only move through these stages into the evaluation and purchasing stages if they believe the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of changing.

Ultimately, before a deal can be closed, your marketing team needs to capture the attention of a prospect who fits your business’s ideal customer profile and who has a pain point you can solve, and then your sales and marketing collateral and processes must move that prospect through the funnel until the customer is ready to sign on the dotted line and the deal is closed.

Many elements work together to ensure a customer moves through the sale funnel:

  • First, know who your ideal customers are and what pain points they are experiencing
  • You need to craft messaging that engages them and makes them want to learn more about your business and your solutions
  • You need the ability to determine which inbound leads meet your criteria and which do not – this lead qualification process ensures that your sales team focuses only on your best opportunities to win
  • Finally, you need to be able to close the deal.

Generate the right B2B leads

This might sound straightforward and simple, but many businesses waste a lot of time and resources, attracting the wrong leads and chasing deals with companies that do not suit their ideal customer profile.

The solution is two-fold. First, if you understand who your ideal customer is, you have a much higher chance of capturing their attention because you have a solution that solves their pain points. Second, through understanding who your ideal customers are and why they will buy from you, you can communicate the right marketing message to them. 

The ability to craft compelling stories that speak directly to your customers, therefore, begins with creating ideal buying personas.

Your best customers need the solutions and services that you have to offer, and they’re valuable to your business.

It’s essential to understand who you are targeting from a lead generation perspective, both broadly and per campaign, before you build your marketing strategy. 

Broadly speaking, this ensures that your solutions and messaging are aligned to your target customers. However, it’s important to match campaign budgets to potential customer spend as well. Every campaign must deliver a solid return on investment. 

This means you should be able to capture the attention of the right customer without over-spending, and their customer value should provide a solid return on investment. We delve into how to determine your Actual Customer Value (ACV) a little later in this guide.

Craft engaging campaign collateral

Your campaign messaging forms the basis of performance assets that you use to attract the attention of your target audience. This is known as inbound marketing – you ultimately want to generate B2B leads that come to you.

Digital marketing can take the form of social media posts across various social media platforms, email marketing, pay-per-click banner advertising, video or audio adverts, content marketing and even website pages.

It’s important to build messaging that speaks to your B2B buyers and encourages them to take a specific action, such as click-through on a social media post, click on a banner advert, send an email or visit a webpage. This action creates the inbound lead you’re looking for and your prospect is officially in the buying cycle.

To create compelling messaging, ask these key questions:

  • What do they care about?
  • What challenges are they facing?
  • What values influence their decisions?
  • Are there specific rules within their industry that you need to know?
  • Why should they care about your business, product and solution?
 
 Remember, personalisation is crucial. Here’s why:
 
  • Personalised messages speak directly to key, high-value customers, taking their specific needs, challenges and preferences into account. You’re essentially telling your customer: I know you, I understand what you need, and I’m able to provide a tailored solution for you.
  • Knowing your customer better means you service them better, leading to repeat business and referrals. 
  • Speaking the same language builds trust, which is essential in B2B selling.
 
Pro tip: Particularly in digital marketing, you’ll have between three and seven seconds to capture your customer’s attention, so make sure your messaging is targeted, compelling and to-the-point.

Understand the fine line between your customers and your products

We’ve spoken about addressing your customers’ pain points and the importance of personalisation, but this customer-centricity also needs to be balanced with the products or services that your business brings to the table. 

Customer-centricity lets your customers know that you understand them and their world. This builds trust, but it’s also vital for them to understand how you can solve their problems, and this requires unpacking your solutions. Leading with features and benefits is unlikely to capture the attention of your target audience, but linking them to pain points will. 

Pro tip: The key question that you need to be able to answer here is why your customers will buy from you. Be critical when you answer this question. Based on the answers you come up with, you might need to make some adjustments to your messaging.

2. Choosing the right digital marketing channel

The most critical step in effectively generating B2B leads is to be where your customers are. Which digital channels are they interacting with? Where will they engage with your messaging?

There is no single silver bullet in B2B lead generation. You need to research where your ideal customers are and work out how to draw their attention. It’s also important to ensure you include a strong call to action that customers will respond to. A call to action makes your prospect take a specific action – such as fill in a form, download an eBook, or send an email – based on your messaging.

There are several digital channels available that will help you achieve your goals.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO refers to targeting terms that are likely to draw in relevant, high-quality traffic from search engines. These terms must relate to your business and the types of questions your target audience will be searching. For example, a business owner might search ‘best accounting software for mid-sized businesses in London.’ 

If this is a solution you offer and your target audience is mid-sized businesses, you would need to ensure that your content contains these keywords. There is a lot of competition (after all, only one business can ever rank first on page one of Google), so the more specific you can be the better. 

Content Marketing

High-quality content that is tailored to your target audience and their pain points. This includes articles and blog posts. The goal is to establish yourself as a trustworthy brand leader, so the more expert advice you can offer, the better. 

Content marketing does not push product or features and benefits. Instead, it focuses on actionable insights that readers can use to improve their businesses within your frame of expertise. It lays the foundation for your business to become a trusted advisor down the line.

Email Marketing

This is an established way to nurture leads through building relationships with prospective buyers through carefully planned emails sent regularly to target audiences. These emails should also offer advice and helpful information and resources, and they must be GDPR compliant. 

With email automation software, you can also set up rules based on potential customers carrying out a set of predefined actions on your site, such as downloading an eBook or filling in a form. If they follow a key step, you could email them additional and useful information, for example, which will continue to move them through the sales funnel. 

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising

This tactic targets key terms or phrases within search engines with a specific landing page or website page that will only appear at the top of the searched page once all specified criteria are met. If we use our accounting software example, if a buyer searches accounting software for mid-sized businesses, your advert would appear at the top of the page. You only pay for the advert if someone clicks on it, and pricing is based on competition for specific words. 

 

Paid search re-marketing: Whether you attract buyers to your website or landing page through content marketing, PPC advertising, SEO or social media, it’s very rare for someone to become a viable lead immediately. The Marketing Rule of 7 states that a person will need to interact with a brand seven times before they’re ready to fill in a form, pick up the phone or speak to you.

 

Re-marketing allows you to keep track of who has engaged with your performance assets so that you can target them with additional content. For example, if a prospective buyer reads an article published by your business and then sees a Facebook or LinkedIn advert a few hours later, they are more likely to convert into a lead.

Social Media

In today’s media landscape, social media is where a lot of the action is. It’s cost-effective and powerful when you get it right. It also delivers your messaging to your customer’s device, which means you are where they are. There are many social media platforms to choose from, so first determine which platforms your target audience favours.

The key to any social media campaign is data. Plan, experiment, track, measure, and evaluate your results. Make sure you know what is and isn’t working. The ability to see exactly who is engaging with your posts and advertising collateral is a super-power if you use it correctly.

With social media, it’s important to create your voice. The key to success is building a differentiated presence through authenticity and consistency:

  • How will you differentiate your posts from thousands of other brands competing for attention each day?
  • Do your posts authentically align with your brand values and the solutions you offer your customers?

Track your conversion rates

Ultimately, your marketing budget isn’t unlimited, which is why after you’ve completed these steps and launched your marketing campaign. It’s therefore essential to track what’s working – and what isn’t working. You must know what your conversion rates are so that you can determine whether your digital marketing efforts are making you money – or costing you money.

Determine your Annual Customer Value (ACV)

Your ACV is the value of a lead to your business based on how much a customer will spend with you per year. 

To calculate your annual customer value, take how much they will spend with you and subtract how much you spent acquiring the lead plus what it will cost to service them throughout the year.

Based on this, you can determine how much you can spend per lead. It’s important to note though that cost per lead is impacted by the size of the business you are targeting. For example, a small business typically comes in at a lower cost than a large enterprise, but their ACV will also be substantially lower.

We would recommend a 10 to 1 spend to sales-qualified pipeline return on investment ratio.

In the news

Digital Kungfu - Expands into the UK

After generating sales qualified leads in excess of £12 million in under 12 months for its clients in Africa, Digital Kungfu is launching in the UK.

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B2B lead generation

3. Vet your leads

Generating leads is one thing, but are you generating the right quality and number of leads that you need?

You’ll close more deals and increase your revenue if your sales and marketing teams’ energy can be focused in a targeted and systematic way on those most interested in buying from you.

But – and here’s something most businesses know but many struggle to really get right – not all leads are the same. If you put everything into the same bucket and then hand over to sales to qualify and close, you’re asking your team to use the CRM system to score arbitrarily.

Similarly, if Sales isn’t feeding back to marketing, how can marketing be sure they’re targeting and attracting the most sales-ready leads?

The key is for sales and marketing to work together.

Creating Sales-Ready Leads

In lead generation, the only equation you need to care about is MQL > SAL > SQL.

Why? Because a Market Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) are not necessarily the same thing. Between them lies the critical SAL – Sales Accepted Lead, which means bridging the divide between the leads that solid marketing campaigns can generate versus the leads that Sales considers ‘warm’ or ‘hot’ and will lead to opportunities.

In Digital Kungfu’s world, we call them Sales-Ready Leads, which means taking a marketing campaign that understands precisely who your ideal customer is, connecting with them, capturing their details and then vetting them according to your Sales Department’s criteria. 

The Secret? Sales and marketing have different views and relationships with your customers. Both are golden, though, so when they work together is when you can generate leads that will result in substantial sales.

Marketing’s KPIs

In today’s competitive landscapes, B2B marketers are being held a lot more accountable for their contributions to a business’s revenues. 

Marketing is no longer about branding, thought-leadership and community building. Instead, marketing must deliver leads that can convert into sales – which is the ultimate goal of any organisation.  

Sales’ KPIs

This hasn’t changed – the role of sales is to close deals and make their number, but often this isn’t achieved, and the first reason given is quality of leads – Mining the CRM system doesn’t equal good-quality sales calls or meetings.

So, what’s the solution?

Defining qualified leads

First, let’s define the different leads you’re working with:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL): An MQL is a lead that has achieved a predetermined score based on a set of criteria. These leads are ready to be vetted. 
  • Sales Accepted Leads (SAL): Leads that have been accepted by the lead vetting team, who are now qualifying them further to move the prospect through the sales funnel.
  • Sales Qualified Leads (SQL): Leads that are ready to be handed over to the sales team to convert into opportunities.
 

Align Sales with Marketing, and Everyone Wins

Most organisations follow a variation of this process: 

  • Marketing assigns a numerical score to each lead and hands it off to the sales department, usually through the CRM system (MQL).
 
  • Sales execs mine their leads, which have been assigned via the marketing department via their managers. If the sales exec secures a meeting or tele call, the lead is considered a potential opportunity, and therefore become an SQL.
 

What would your sales results look like if you could improve MQLs and SQLs? You’d need a more significant pipeline coming in, but a better vetting process as well. In this way, your sales team would focus their energy and attention on the best prospects, increasing win rates (and profits).

This is where SAL comes in.

Sales Accepted Leads (SAL) bring sales and marketing together in a unified definition of a qualified lead. 

You’re nurturing a lead upfront to ensure that only the right leads with the highest chances of success are loaded onto your CRM. You’re making sure that Sales and Marketing are working together, and that based on shared criteria, you’re uncovering exactly who your Best Opportunity To Win (BOTW) is.

Focusing on your best leads

First, set up scorecards. Scorecards are based on firmographics (what you know about the businesses you work with – or could work with), demographics (the people in those companies and what they care about) and behavioural data (the challenges they face and how they try to solve them), assign each lead with a score. 

REMEMBER: A SAL requires Sales and Marketing to weigh in with their scorecards so that the lead vetting team can move them through the sales funnel.

Lead scoring best practice requires: 

  • Alignment. Marketing and sales working together to define what a market qualified, sales accepted, and sales qualified lead looks like for their particular business.
  • Compare prospects with engagement. Lead scoring should be based on both profiling of the best prospects (company size, industry classification, job function, etc.), which are all things that Sales knows best, and visitor engagement (site activities), which Marketing knows thanks to analytics and reports.
  • Work together. In order for a proper MQL > SAL > SQL system to work, Sales must agree to undertake all follow-up actions before rejecting an MQL.
  • Tweak where necessary. In return, Marketing must be willing to adjust scoring rules based on feedback from sales to refine lead scoring for optimal results.

Qualify that lead

A good rule of thumb for qualifying leads is to focus on the following four criteria. Make sure Sales and Marketing each weigh-in and then compare their answers. 

Budget: Can they afford what you’re selling? Google industry news and speak to other suppliers where appropriate for financial insights into the industries you are targeting.

Authority: Is the person you’re contacting the decision-maker or a gatekeeper? Sales reps will often spend a lot of time building a relationship with someone who isn’t the decision-maker. This doesn’t mean they can’t be an influencer, but it’s important to know who you are speaking to. You should also try to figure out where the hidden stakeholders are that you’ll need to convince as well.  

Need: Do they have pain points that you can solve? Are they reaching for a goal that you can help them achieve? Ask plenty of questions, listen to the answers, and always frame your presentations around how you can address their deepest needs.

Timing: Is their need immediate, soon, or eventual? An eventual need does not disqualify them; it just means you need to plan how and when you will maintain contact with them and continue to nurture the relationship.

4. Pulling it all together

If you can follow these three steps, attracting the attention of the right buyers, choosing the right marketing channel and vetting your leads, your lead generation will improve, your sales pipeline will grow, and your sales team’s ability to close deals will increase.

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