B2B Sales

The Only B2B Lead Generation Strategies You Need to Know

As a B2B salesperson, sometimes just getting a prospect interested in hearing what you have to offer is half the battle. Therefore, salespeople need multiple approaches to find, entice, and book meetings with qualified leads. 

So, in this article, you will learn the only 13 B2B lead generation strategies you need to know.

After all, more leads mean more closed deals. 

What Is Lead Generation

Lead generation is the process of identifying ideal customers for your product or service and then attracting them to consider buying through marketing and sales efforts.

There are two types of lead generation.

Inbound Lead Generation

The marketing team attracts leads, like a magnet, to the website through content marketing, advertising, ABM campaigns, or other methods. 

Once on the website, leads might demonstrate an interest in buying, either directly — by filling out a contact form, or indirectly — by downloading a case study or reading another bottom-of-the-funnel marketing material. Then a sales rep can reach out. 

Outbound Lead Generation

The sales team hunts for new leads by making cold calls, sending cold emails, social selling, and performing other outreach methods. 

Usually, a sales development representative is in charge of generating these leads. They can use a dynamic database of companies from tools like Soleadify to find good fit leads.

Once the leads are qualified and interested, the sales development representative will book an appointment with them to go more in-depth on the product or service. 

Related: Guide to Outbound Sales

Some Ways to Generate Leads

Now, let’s go into 13 of the top B2B lead generation methods. 

1. Make Some Cold Calls

Cold calling is when you place calls to accounts or persons who you think might be a good fit for your product or service. Once the lead answers, your job is to introduce them to your solution, qualify them, and try to get them interested in hearing more about it. 

The final goal is to book an appointment. 

This is one of the hardest parts of B2B sales — turning a stranger into an interested prospect. 

You are essentially making something out of nothing. So, if you are any good at it, you are kind of a magician. You can tell your grandkids that, at least. 

Usually, in B2B sales, you should have a list of accounts that fit your ideal customer profile. This list could come from your own research or from a B2B lead generation software. 

Before cold calling, you will research those accounts, find the right decision-maker, and then place a call to them. 

Sometimes, the person whom you thought was the decision-maker actually is not. In that case, ask to be pointed in the right direction. This is a great way to find the best lead in the company. 

Other times, you won’t know who is in charge of making the purchasing decision. When you find yourself in that predicament, call the front desk. 

How to Get Gatekeepers to Point You in the Right Direction

When you reach a gatekeeper, such as an assistant or office manager, ask this

“My name is {Name} from {Company Name}. I was wondering if you could put me in touch with the person in charge of {Area of Responsibility}.”

For instance, if you were selling marketing software, you would ask for the person in charge of marketing. 

Steer clear of asking for a specific title. Titles are vague and could be non-existent at the company in question. Instead, ask about the person’s area of responsibility. 

Related: How to Find Decision Makers in a Company

2. Create Gated Content 

Have you ever come across a piece of content that you really wanted to read but that required you to type in your email address? 

That’s gated content, and it attracts email addresses like honey attracts a bear. 

Gated content is usually high-value and solves a problem that your target market is having. 

The usual types of gated content include:

  • Case studies.
  • Research reports.
  • White papers.
  • Free checklists. 
  • Ultimate guides. 

You can promote this gated content across different platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, blog posts, etc. 

One of the best ways to get people interested in reading the content is the Hook-Line-Sinker (HLS) approach. 

Let’s go through an example of the HLS approach with a pretend post titled 7 of the best cold email templates to use in cold outreach”

  • Hook: Introduce the content you are giving away or the problem that your readers will solve if they read the content. Be upfront and tell them that you are giving away the first 3 templates, but that to get the rest, readers will have to submit their email addresses. Example: Here we will go over 7 research-backed cold email templates that boast 27% reply rates. 
  • Line: A portion, usually less than a half, of your content. This whets the appetite. Example: In the example article, this could be all of the content up to the 4th email template.
  • Sinker: This is where you tell them that to read the rest of the content they have to put in their email address. Example: After the 3rd template, write a variation of “to read the next 3, please type in your email address.” 

That way, they are already interested and invested, and if what they have read so far is helpful, they won’t be so opposed to giving you their email in order to read the rest. 

3. Host an Event 

Events are a great way to both capture lead information and start forming relationships with them. 

Host an online or offline event that will excite and attract your target customers — and be sure to collect their contact information for future outreach.

This event could be any of the following:

  • Webinar.
  • Industry Conference.
  • Seminar. 
  • Virtual Event. 

To sweeten the deal, you can hire keynote speakers and industry experts to attend your event. 

For instance, if you sold to property management companies in NYC, you might want to bring in a real estate lawyer to give a webinar about changing government regulations.

After all, it’s certainly something on their minds. 

Post-event, follow up with the leads who fit your ideal customer profile and see if they want to learn more about your service or product.  

4. Run an Automated Email Marketing Campaign

To assist salespeople, the marketing team should be automatically emailing potential leads. As many as 79% of B2B marketers say that email is the most effective channel for lead generation.

For those less-qualified leads for whom you have contact information, create series of emails to send out over the upcoming months. 

That way, your brand will stay on top of mind, and if they need your help, they can reach out. 

You can do this by using an email automation tool like Mailchimp. This automatically sends a previously written, templatized email to a lead when they take a certain action. 

So, if someone subscribes to your newsletter, they will automatically receive a welcome email personalized to their name. 

Make sure your emails are sharing valuable information such as: 

  • Blog posts.
  • Research. 
  • Reveals of features that solve a specific problem. 

However, be sure to space out your emails so that your recipients don’t become overwhelmed and hit unsubscribe.

5. Network on LinkedIn

Salespeople can build their network and reputation through LinkedIn, and in the process, generate B2B leads. 

They do this through social selling: interacting on social media with potential buyers and industry peers in order to build relationships that might lead to sales. 

One of the best ways to do this is by joining groups. For instance, if you were selling software to the sales community, you might join a sales group, like this one: 

Inside the group, you can interact with those 361,098 salespeople in a variety of ways:

  • Share your brand’s blog content. 
  • Comment on their posts. 
  • In-message possible leads. 
  • Post questions. 
  • Answer their questions. 

Remember, this is a long game. You are trying to build relationships before you ask for a meeting. 

Only after a few months of this effort will you have built a name for yourself in the community. At that point, you can start in-messaging more group members about your solution and why you think they might be interested. 

6. Blog Often and Strategically 

Content marketing is one of the best ways to generate B2B leads. Businesspeople have questions, and they go to search engines, mostly Google, to find the answers. 

For example, perhaps a business owner wants to know if a CRM is worth the investment for a small business. In that case, they will google: “Is a CRM worth it for a small business?” 

Here is what comes up: a blog post answering the question. 

And guess who wrote it? A company that sells CRM software to small businesses. 

Now, a lot of business owners or sales managers who search this query will read the blog and, potentially, reach out to the company about their CRM services.

When you consistently post valuable content, focusing on answering your customers’ most common questions, you will start to rank on Google. 

Then, more people will read your posts, and if they find them valuable, they will begin to trust your brand — and trust leads to sales. 

7. Reach Out to Past Clients and Prospects

It is always easier to sell to someone who has spoken with you in the past, or better yet, purchased from you. Reaching out to past clients and prospects is a great way to generate new B2B leads. 

You never know if their circumstances have changed until you ask them. 

For instance, perhaps a client left because they were struggling financially and could not afford to keep paying for your service.

However, maybe that was a year ago, and now they are flush with cash. If you reach out, they might be interested in coming back.

The same goes for an old prospect. 

Unlike the client, they have never purchased from you before. Still, if they have spoken with you, and they might have had reasons against a purchase that no longer hold true. 

Maybe they chose not to buy because the timing was off and they were busy with other ventures. If so, maybe things have slowed down — and maybe they are open to revisiting the conversation. 

Here is an example of an email to a past client: 

“Hi {Name},

I was going through my portfolio and saw the work we did together. I forgot how fun it was working with your team. 

Anyway, I know you left a while back due to budget constraints, and I was wondering if anything had changed since then. 

We actually changed our pricing structure, and it might be more to your liking. I also think we can help you {value prop}.

Let me know! And either way, let me know how you have been!”

The client will likely be flattered you remembered them, and thus more willing to re-establish the relationship.

8. Hop Into Quora or Reddit Forums

Forums are good places to find leads who might need your product or service. 

They work like this: someone asks a question in the forum, and then, someone answers the question. Simple. 

If you hop into Quora or Reddit, you can search for questions related to your product or service. There is a search bar at the top to type in your keywords. 

So if your clients are in B2B marketing, you can type “B2B Marketing” into Quora. 

Then some related questions will pop up, some of which you can answer. If your answer is valuable and better than the rest, it will rise to the top and win more views than other answers. 

By answering, you will demonstrate your authority on the matter and fan the flame of trust.

Pro Tip: Don’t disguise your pitches as answers, or plug your product or service in your answer. Just help them solve their problem and reach out to them in the future, directly asking if they need further help with the problem.

This is also great for detective work and research. You get insights into your buyers’ common pains and questions, making you a more understanding salesperson in the long run. 

9. Employ LeadBots

In this day and age, B2B buyers have options. When they search for invoicing software or any other tool, they are going to find a ton of software companies that can fulfill their needs. 

So, if one of them steps foot onto your website, it’s important to grab their attention early, before they decide to hop onto one of your competitors’ sites. 

That’s where LeadBots come in. 

They are those funky little guys who pop-up on a website homepage and ask if you need any help. Usually, they are disguised as human faces. 

However, this confident little one is showing its true appearance. 

Most of these bots provide the lead with a dropdown menu of a few options for why they are on the website. 

Then, depending on the person’s answer, the bot will direct them to the right staff member on the team, whether that’s in customer support, sales, or customer success. 

These friendly LeadBots make sure your interested website visitors get answers to their questions right away, increasing the chances you will turn that visitor into a lead. 

10. Send Cold Emails 

Cold email and cold calling make a great pair for generating B2B leads. That is because a variety of touches through different channels raises the chances that a potential lead will respond. 

Here are some best practices for sending cold emails: 

1) Send Them to Multiple People at the Company

Instead of just directing your emails to the assumed decision-maker, send them to a few people for whom your product or service might be relevant. 

You never know who might be interested enough to persuade the rest of the team to take a closer look at what you have to offer. 

Also, when a group of people from the same department receive consistent emails from you, they are going to talk about it with each other. And a little bit of chatter about you and your brand never hurts.

 It means they are growing more comfortable with you. As a result, you seem like less of a stranger. 

2) Personalize Your Emails

People like those who did their homework. It’s a sign that the seller is not wasting their time. 

So, show that you did your research and spend some time personalizing your emails. 

Go onto their LinkedIn profile and bring up something you have in common, their job responsibilities, or even just their title. 

A little bit of personalization goes a long way — but a lot of personalization might waste your time. 

Therefore, try to spend less than five minutes crafting a cold email. After that, the personalization isn’t really going to affect their likelihood of replying. 

3) Write a Short Enticing Subject Line

Prospect.io discovered that if the subject line is 3-12 characters long, it has an open rate of 44%. But, if it is 29-45 characters long, expect an open rate of 33%

However, this is an average. If your subject line is interesting enough, you might be able to get away with 50 characters. 

A good subject line might be: 

  • Quick Question
  • Request to Connect
  • Idea for {idea that interests your prospect}

In short, try to make it succinct, relevant to their position, and interesting. 

Recommended reading: Best Email Subject Lines for Sales

11. Post Regularly on Social Media 

Consistently sharing marketing content such as blog posts on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn will increase your brand visibility and drive up interactions with your content. 

It is critical that you are providing content that solves problems for your potential clients. 

For instance, if you sell to financial advisory firms, you might share a useful financial report that they can use to win more clients. 

Also, remember to interact with those who comment on your shared content. They could be sales leads

This is especially the case on LinkedIn, where conversations between industry peers take place in the comments section. 

So, make sure to join that conversation by replying to people’s comments and answering any questions posed. 

And of course, if any of the people seem to fit your ideal customer profile, make a note to social sell to them regularly. 

12. Ask Clients for Referrals 

Referrals are a great way to earn qualified leads. A lot of the time, your clients will know people in the industry who might need a product or service like yours. 

A VP of Sales at a SaaS company probably knows a ton of other sales professionals and decision-makers in the industry. 

So, if you have some clients who have thoroughly enjoyed your service, reach out to them and ask if they know of anyone who might want to discuss your offering. 

Here is an example email asking for a referral: 

“Hi {Name},

I hope all is well! I wanted to say that it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you and your team and that we are so happy to see such an increase in your sales numbers over the past few years. We’re happy to be a part of it. 

That said, I was wondering if you knew of any other sales managers or directors in the industry who might be in need of our service? We’d love to see if we could deliver to them results similar to those you have seen. 

Please let me know!” 

If they’re satisfied with your product, they will probably be just as happy to help you out.

13. Attend Conferences and Events

Whether it’s an online conference or an in-person trade show, these events serve as fruitful places to find and generate B2B leads. 

It might be a trade show for property managers in NYC or designers in Kentucky. Or, it could be a conference with keynote speakers for marketers in the SaaS industry. 

Find the events that cater to your target customers and attend them. 

However, don’t go unprepared. 

Usually, these events provide lists of attendees. Make sure to through the list and figure out who might be a good fit for your product or service. 

Then, before the event, reach out to them via email and ask if they are open to meeting with you. 

Pro Tip: Here are some tips for networking at an online event.

A lot of the time, these events have rooms where vendors can schedule and meet with interested leads. 

Most of the people attending these industry events are trying to learn how to improve their business and connect with interesting people. 

That said, you should see a higher reply rate from these event-focused sales emails than you would from a basic cold email.

Keep the Fire Going

B2B lead generation is the fire in the furnace that keeps your sales team running. Without it, your team would have no one to call, walk through demos, or close. 

So, make sure your marketing and sales teams are aligned in this venture and that you devote to it the right resources and strategies. That way, your phone and your inbox will stay buzzing with interested, qualified leads.