One of the biggest challenges business-to-business (B2B) marketers face is lead generation, especially if you are competing in a smaller pool or facing increasing competition.
So, how can you get a competitive edge and land more customers?
If your current lead generation strategy isn’t working, it may be time to pull a few more tricks out of your B2B marketing sleeve. Here are 10 effective lead generation strategies for B2B customers to consider.
1. Draw leads through conversational Marketing
Conversational marketing is becoming a top marketing trend. Most customers prefer to kickstart a conversation with a company through an automated chatbot or live chat agent. They like the fact that they can get an immediate response and resolve minor queries quickly.
Chatbots can be a great lead generation tool when linked with customer relationship software. Inquiries about your products or services can automatically flow into the CRM or lead tracking software where a sales rep can take the conversation with the customer further, hopefully all the way through to closing on a sale.
2. Enhance the customer’s digital experience
Customer experience is a strong focus in business-to-customer (B2C) companies, who are strides ahead of B2B companies. B2C companies score between 65 and 85% for customer experience compared to less than 50% for B2B companies.
This is shifting as B2B companies are recognizing how digital transformation can improve customer experience and lead to more sales.
B2B customers want the ease of being able to place orders, process upgrades and have problems resolved online. In a survey by McKinsey & Company, around 86% of respondents said they prefer using self-service tools for reordering, rather than talking to a sales representative.
3. Switch to account-based Marketing
With B2B clients, you may have multiple contacts or decision-makers at the company. Taking an account-based rather than individual approach is more effective.
In account-based marketing (ABM), you target a key set of accounts with highly tailored campaigns to generate leads. The key is personalization and many B2B companies are grappling with how to implement it.
In Demand Gen’s 2021 ABM Benchmark Survey, “personalization” overtook “sales and marketing alignment” as the biggest challenge in ABM.
How effective is ABM as a lead generation strategy? According to Salesforce B2B companies with ABM programs report a 38% higher sales win rate, 91% larger deal sizes, and 24% faster revenue growth.
4. Maximize lead generation
Are your sales teams dropping the ball on leads? Are they not able to see where a lead is in the sales pipeline or are they jumping from one platform to another to perform different activities?
If the tools at your disposal are poor, your sales are going to suffer. Generating and tracking leads in a B2B context is much more efficient when using dedicated lead management software.
Choose a lead management system that can capture leads from multiple channels, such as email, website, phone, or messaging apps so that all leads are centralized and agents can immediately see what the last communication entailed.
One of the biggest benefits of a lead management system is that it can prioritize leads by placing the most purchase-ready leads at the top. This allows your sales team to focus on the most sales-ready leads rather than pursuing leads that are less likely to convert.
5. Leverage value-based Marketing
Every customer, whether they’re an individual or a business, wants to know they’re getting value in return for handing over money to you. How can they ascertain that? By seeing what other customers are saying about your product.
Value-based marketing uses the power of social proof to attract more customers. Don’t be afraid to do a little boasting. Show how your product or service has brought value to current customers through reviews, testimonials and case studies.
In the B2B context, case studies are very effective. If you can demonstrate how your company solved a problem for another business and how that impacted their revenue, other companies are going to feel more confident to do business with you.
6. Implement B2B influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a common strategy in business-to-customer marketing. Now it’s catching on fast in B2B marketing.
Who are the people with clout in your line of business? These can include industry authorities, business leaders, your high-profile business customers, prominent board members or shareholders. These are the people who can help spread the word about your business.
Influencer marketing can overlap with value-based marketing. The main difference is that customer testimonials are typically displayed on your website or social media while influencers will endorse your business to their audience on their channels.
Both, however, are tooting your horn and potentially bringing new leads your way.
7. Create Marketing campaigns based on intent data
Sloppy marketers take the ‘toss spaghetti against a wall and hope something sticks’ approach to marketing. This rarely produces outstanding results. Smart marketers, on the other hand, use data to segment their leads so that they can tailor their messages to each group.
Data-driven marketing involves analyzing your data to identify where your B2B leads are in the sales funnel.
- Are they just browsing?
- Are they looking for information?
- Are they comparing prices?
- Are they ready to buy?
That’s what intent data is about — recognizing what the customer’s intent is so that you can reach out to them with relevant marketing campaigns.
8. Strengthen alignment between Sales and Marketing
Sales and marketing should never operate in silos. Remember, leads turn into customers and to retain those customers, you’ll need to continue nurturing them.
If the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, then your sales and marketing efforts may clash. This could lead to duplication with both teams engaging leads and customers. Not only does this waste your employees’ time but customers may feel hounded and turn away from your business.
How can you avoid this? By streamlining operations and keep both teams in sync. The best way to achieve is by using lead management software that integrates with a CRM system.
Lead management software keeps your sales team focused on leads only, while CRM software keeps your marketing on track with marketing campaigns. The two systems should be able to talk to each other, so that both teams can see what the other is doing.
9. Get personal
Personalization has become an integral part of B2C marketing and it’s just as important in B2B marketing. The companies you sell to don’t want to feel like just another number. Small personal touches may be what differentiates you from the competition.
But first, you need to know your customers. It’s unlikely that every customer has the same needs, characteristics and buying behavior. That’s why it’s important to take the time to identify the types of customers you attract and create buyer personas.
Let’s say you sell tires to companies that operate fleet vehicles. You may sell to transport companies that use trucks as well as car rental companies. These two customers purchase different types of tires and run different types of business.
Once you’ve put together a buyer’s persona list, you can create targeted advertising, landing pages, and email campaigns for each type of buyer. The more specific you are with the descriptions of your buyer’s persona, the more personal your messages can be for each one.
10. Nurture your B2B customers
One of the great things about B2B customers is that, in many cases, it’s repeat business, such as an annual renewal of software subscription, monthly order of material supplies, or ongoing IT support.
Beware, though. Don’t take repeat business for granted. A customer could cancel a subscription or decide not to renew a contract. That’s why your job doesn’t end once a lead becomes a customer. It’s important to nurture B2B customers so that they don’t feel the need to take their business elsewhere.
Most marketers have heard that it costs five times more to acquire a customer than to retain one. But each company is different. So do the math to find out how much your company is spending on customer acquisition vs customer retention.
Whether or not it’s less or more than five times, chances are good you’re spending more on attracting customers than keeping current ones. So it’s worthwhile investing in your existing customers.
- Keep communication going. Send emailers telling them about new products or promotions.
- Retarget inactive customers by offering an incentive like a discount on their next order.
- Provide superior customer support.
- Get feedback from them on what you’re doing right and where you can improve.
- Send the key members on the account a birthday message. It may seem cheesy, but this, again, brings that personal touch to the relationship.
B2B customers have become pickier as to who they give their business to. And with so many competitors vying for their business, it can be hard to survive in the B2B jungle.
No doubt your competitors are pulling out all the stops to snag customers. If you’re not keeping up with the latest lead generation trends, you could find yourself lagging. It may be time to adjust your lead generation strategy get ahead of the competition.