Lead generation is a major factor in any B2B enterprise. Leads become opportunities, which become customers, which (if handled right) become repeat customers and referrers.
Inbound and Outbound
Leads fall under 2 major categories—inbound and outbound. Inbound leads are those caused by sources outside your company, such as blogs, referring websites, 3rd-party mentions, social media and the like. Outbound leads are those generated by your own salespeople, inside reps, or SDRs (Sales Development Reps).
Either way, getting qualified leads in the door in the first place is a major hurdle. To help you out, here are 10 proven strategies for generating B2B leads, along with suggested further reading.
The first step to the creation of inbound lead generation is blogging. A blog, simply put, is a way to create and share quality, educational content that addresses vital issues and questions important to your target audience.
In addition to writing for your own blog, you can and should write guest postings for others. The more blogging you do, and the more your blog is read and followed, the more sources of inbound leads you have.
Entrepreneur and HubSpot both have great advice about starting a blog and creating a lead gen business.
Webinars are an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise and business personality. Because of the time investment on the part of participants, you can assume a strong interest on the part of people who sign up for a webinar—interest that can be leveraged to bring them into the next step of your sales process.
Ultimately, webinars should be used to educate participants about meeting their challenges or giving them solid guidance. This way they can be well informed and be able to see why your product or service is an obvious choice for the issues they are confronting.
Want to learn more about creating great webinars? The Convince and Convert Blog has a great article to get you started.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Your prospects are searching for products like yours every day. You just need to know exactly what kind of person is doing that search, and what terms they’re using.
The key is research. Once you have that well in hand, use the language of your prospects and the right keywords to attract them to your site. Higher inbound traffic to your site will move your site higher in search engine rankings so that your site appears higher up in the list of the search results.
Another vital aspect of SEO is backlinks—that is, links from other sites to yours. These come about through your direct posting on someone else’s site or (better) their mention or recommendation of your company.
You can learn much more about SEO here or watch the video below.
Especially if you’re operating in a highly competitive arena, pay-per-click is a way to put your company name on page one of search engine rankings, or other sites and pages.
5. Use Lead Magnets to Convert Website Visitors
Even though they’re referred to as “lead magnets” items such as white papers, ebooks, and videos provide true value to your web visitors. In order to download or view such items they provide their contact details. And…you’ve got a lead! Be sure to keep your request for information to a minimum — an email is enough to start your visitor on a nurture track!
6. Social Media
Social prospecting has become a tried-and-true way to locate prospects, especially on LinkedIn, the #1 B2B social platform. Search for and connect with prospects. Find out their issues, and provide expertise.
There is much to know about social prospecting and social selling. Here is a great guide.
7. Believe It Or Not…Cold Calling
Cold calling is still very much a viable method of obtaining leads…but the approaches have radically changed. Get your sales force understanding the new approaches to cold calling and reap new rewards from this age-old sales tactic.
8. Conventions and Trade Shows
Exhibiting at trade shows and industry gatherings is another effective method of obtaining leads—especially since you’re meeting them face-to-face. The key to trade shows is qualification; if you can rapidly qualify real prospects in the short time you’ll have when they come through your booth, a trade show will prove quite lucrative as a source of leads.
9. Direct Mail
Some industries have completely left direct mail behind, while in others it is still very active. If direct mail still works for your industry and company, by all means, utilize it. Make sure your list is well qualified with potential buyers of your product, and craft your message to address their general issues and pain points.
10. Last but Certainly Not Least…Referrals
When you create business value for a customer, a referral is a reasonable request, but a lot of salespeople are hesitant to ask. In this #SalesChats video interview with Anthony Iannarino, he talks about the importance of making the ask for referrals (at 14:23).
The strongest type of lead for any industry is word-of-mouth. That means referrals. Create a campaign to reach out to your happy customers, asking, “Who else do you know who should be using our product/service?” You can even offer incentives if a referral becomes a sale.
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