B2B lead generation is the process of collecting information from those interested in your product or service, such as their name, contact details, business name, and business address. This information helps identify if the person is a good potential buyer, or lead, and then generate sales from those qualified leads.
Lead generation is vital to the success of any B2B marketing strategy (and here are some B2B referral marketing statistics that prove it). But how can you ensure you have a steady flow of leads for your product or service? The process that works best for your particular business will vary, based on your industry and target audience. However, several important steps stay the same – meeting potential leads where they are, establishing trust and authority, and crafting optimized lead capture forms and pages.
Let’s examine top strategies to generate sales and leads in B2B Marketing. We’ll cover best practices for designing B2B lead capture forms and landing pages, as well as crucial trust-building techniques that will convince potential leads to become customers.
The lead capture process
First, you’ll need to focus on optimizing your B2B sales and lead capture process. (A good lead generation software may help.) This includes determining how you’ll format your lead capture form, design your landing pages, and direct potential leads to those landing pages.
Designing the lead capture form
Your lead capture form is at the center of your B2B lead generation playbook, as it’s where the majority of visitors formally become leads. To optimize your B2B lead capture form, follow these best practices:
- Balance the number of form fields. Your form should be long enough to weed out those who are not really qualified or interested in your offer, but not so long that it overwhelms otherwise interested parties. Forms that are too long can cause people to simply abandon the form, and your business to lose out on valuable leads.
- Ask only for the information you need to qualify leads. Typically important are the buyer’s name and job title, company name, and work email. Also, consider asking for a work phone number, company location, size, and industry.
- Consider including qualifying questions on your form. This can be an open-ended question or drop-down box to help you learn more about the individual’s company or situation. The most common qualifying questions are about the person’s business goals or challenges, which can help determine if your solution can meet their needs.
- Don’t overwhelm your potential buyer. Your first priority, though, is not to make it too hard for the person to move on to the next step of your B2B sales funnel.
- Include a submission button with a clear call to action. The button should stand out – use a color that draws the eye and text that communicates what you want the lead to do. Click here for some top call-to-action ideas.
An example of a lead form from the Salesforce website.
Hubspot’s example of qualifying questions.
Your landing pages are critical
Your lead capture form will usually be placed on a landing page – a page dedicated to explaining what your company has to offer and convincing visitors to submit their contact information.
Don’t limit yourself to one landing page, though. You should ideally have multiple landing pages that speak to specific needs and desires of different buyer personas, at multiple stages of the sales funnel. Or, if you market to multiple business types, design a landing page for each type of business.
The exact content found on each landing page will greatly depend on the goals and needs of the people you’re targeting, as well as what stage of the buying journey they’re in. However, these best practices apply no matter what your landing page holds:
Have a specific goal for the landing page
- Should they sign up for a course or webinar?
- Is the end result for them to download an ebook or whitepaper?
- Do you want them to fill out a lead form?
- Are they agreeing to a demo or sales call?
Use a concise header to state your call to action. The header should draw in buyers and serve one or both of these purposes, in a single sentence or less:
- Communicate what you want the visitor to do (i.e., fill out a form, download an ebook)
- State one or more benefits of your product or service
Create a clean and uncluttered landing page
- Explain the benefits of your product or service in a concise manner
- Share information using short paragraphs, catchy copy, and bullet points
- Images or a quick video can help you cover more details about your product/service without cluttering your page with text
Place the lead form above the fold
- Make sure your lead form is accessible by saving visitors from scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page
- A lead form is best placed next to the value proposition (the statement of your benefits). This helps them easily see the benefits of leaving their contact information.
Utilize trust-building techniques
- Show how you’re a trusted business by including a few customer reviews and testimonials
- List companies that use your products or services
- Consider including statistics and data, either about your product or the previous usage in recent history
Keep visitors on your landing page
- What should you not include? A navigation bar or link back to your homepage. If visitors are easily able to navigate away from the landing page, there’s less of a chance that they’ll complete the lead form.
- The only button you should include on your landing page should be the one to complete the action.
MediaValet offers a solid example of a landing page, meeting several best practices:
- Concise lead capture form, to the right of clear call-to-action and hero image
- List of features, divided into several short sections with images
- List of clients who use the service
- Uncluttered layout
- Review and testimonial section
- No link back to the homepage
Directing visitors to your landing page
Of course, you’ll also have to figure out the best ways to send potential buyers to your landing pages. Just like the landing page itself, the methods you choose should be tailored to meet buyers where they are, both in terms of their location (i.e., website, social media) and where they are on their journey toward a purchase.
Offer an ebook, data report, or whitepaper for free
You’ve probably seen this B2B sales and lead generation technique on other websites – after spending some time on a particular page, you see a pop-up offering a free ebook or other useful piece of content. This offers something of value in exchange for a person’s contact details, and is a great B2B technique to apply.
Craft a piece of content packed with useful information, and place the offer to download this content at relevant points on your website. The link or pop-up should take visitors to a dedicated landing page, where they can fill out a B2B lead form in order to access the free download. Be sure to apply the landing page best practices listed above, and emphasize the download is available for free.
RingDNA generates leads with their free guide to Salesforce.
Include prompts within your blog content
Blog posts filled with useful information are another good place to direct potential buyers to a lead capture form. Whereas the landing page pictured above does offer something useful in exchange for a contact details, placing the offer in a blog post offers useful information first, and then encourages readers to visit a landing page if they like what they see.
Place a call to action with a link to your landing page in a place that is most relevant. This can be at the top of a post, right after the conclusion, or even somewhere tucked into the middle of the article. According to our own lead generation survey, marketers use inline prompts most often to draw attention to their lead capture forms.
An example of how an inline prompt might look, as illustrated by G2.
Host a webinar
Offering a webinar to discuss a topic in your niche is an effective way to not only build relationships, but also generate a large amount of B2B sales and leads among those already interested in what you have to offer.
Webinars allow for direct interaction with potential leads, allowing you to answer their questions in real-time. This is an optimal way to build trust and establish your authority. In fact, a GoToWebinar study reports that 73% of B2B marketers and salespeople believe webinars are the best way to obtain quality leads.
To advertise your webinar, you can place notices on your homepage, pop-ups throughout the website, and posts on social media. These ads should direct interested individuals to a dedicated landing page that details what you’ll cover in the webinar and, of course, contains that all-important lead form.
Take out some paid ads
Paid ads are perhaps the most common way to direct people to your landing page. For example, a business can place a search engine ad at the top of a search results page for a given keyword. However, it’s best to practice careful keyword selection and target settings to ensure the most relevant buyers see your ad. Determine the main keywords that your potential buyers search for when looking for products or services in your niche, and only bid on those relevant keywords.
Social media ads (like those on Facebook or LinkedIn) are also effective options, as long as you play your cards right. Fifty-eight percent of B2B marketers in a Regalix study claim ads placed on Facebook and LinkedIn deliver the highest ROI among social media platforms. Facebook, in particular, allows you to target viewers by exact demographics, interests, and browsing habits.
Another useful tactic is to retarget ads – these are specifically aimed at buyers who have expressed some interest in you. Retargeting ads show up only for people who have previously visited your website and continue to “follow” that person as they browse the web. This is a convenient way to stay at the top of mind for those who have already seen your brand, and therefore increases the odds they’ll return to your website and become a lead.
B2B lead generation strategies can build trust and authority
Before someone gives their information to a business, they usually conduct at least some research to see if the product or service will likely meet their needs. And thanks to the ease of finding answers online, the ball is truly in the buyer’s court.
Gone are the days of cold calls and emails – buyers are able to initiate contact themselves, and don’t want information forced on them. Instead, they prefer to compare solutions carefully and limit their contact with sellers. And they will only send their information with you (and initiate sales conversations) if your business makes their list of potential solutions.
Therefore, a key component of B2B sales and lead generation is to build trust and help potential customers find the information they need. (The right B2B marketing influencer are great ways to help establish this type of trust.)
Once a buyer trusts you and sees you as a reliable authority, they’re much more likely to turn to your solution. Top trust-building techniques include thoughtful website design, content creation, SEO, referral programs, and more – which we go over below:
A high-quality website
Before they decide to contact an actual sales person, your potential leads are repeatedly consulting your first “salesperson” – your website. Therefore, it’s important your website is professional, easy to navigate, and clearly shares your authority and offered benefits. Follow these best practices for a website that generates B2B leads:
Make sure your website loads quickly – in under three seconds. Otherwise, you may lose your shot at leads who choose not to wait and simply click away. Studies show if a webpage takes over three seconds to load, 40% of buyers will leave the site before they even see the first page.
Optimize your website for mobile. If your website doesn’t work equally well on smartphones and other mobile devices, you’ll lose out on numerous potential leads who do their research on mobile. According to Swiftcloud, more than half of B2B-related online searches are done using smartphones. A reported 60% of B2B buyers share that “mobile played a significant role in a recent purchase,” and about 42% make purchases on mobile, both at work and at home.
Use SEO to help people find your site. When a potential buyer is searching for a particular product or service, it helps if your site shows up in the results for those relevant keywords. After all, a high-quality website design won’t do you any good if your competitors are always showing up first. Optimize your content for relevant keywords that describe your business and its offerings, as well as for keywords your market is likely to search for at different points in their journey.
Motivate your buyers to take action. Create clear calls to action and value propositions, especially when directing visitors to a landing page. Someone won’t take action if they don’t know why they should become your leads in the first place. Make sure any visitor to your site can easily find and understand the benefits your product or service offers, and how you are different from other competitors.
Engaging, helpful content
Content marketing is vital to establishing your expertise in a niche, while building B2B leads in the process. Marketing Blender reports 80% of B2B decision-makers prefer to gather information about a company from articles, rather than from ads.
It’s best to create content that’s relevant and speaks to the needs of the buyer. Don’t simply sing praises about your business. (If a piece does this, it’s practically the ad that buyers tend to avoid.) The best content gives potential buyers the answers they are actively seeking at different points of their journey.
Also, remember a single B2B purchase can involves multiple buyers. And each of these buyers has distinct points of view, usually shaped by:
- Their distinct position and priorities
- The challenges of their role and their pain points
- The knowledge they have and seek to gain
- The goals they hope to accomplish through a purchase
- The obstacles (actual and in the mind) that might impede them from making a purchase
How can you speak to each of these buyers and deliver the specific information they’re searching for through different pieces of content?
Let’s go over the main channels used to create authoritative content for B2B sales and lead generation:
Text-based content is the most popular option.
This includes informative blog posts on both general and specific topics your buyers often search for. Be sure to optimize these posts for SEO, and include links to landing pages on the content page. You can also create round ups, which are essentially surveys and compilations of insights from other experts and individuals relevant to your industry.
For those who enjoy your content, but don’t visit your site regularly, it’s best to offer the option to sign up to a newsletter. Newsletter sign ups are an easy way to gather emails of those interested in your insights, and stay at the top of mind when they actually need your product or service.
With a wealth of industry information, it’s also a good idea to put these together in an ebook or whitepaper. Alternatively, you can also assemble this information into a “hub” or “microsite.” This is a version of your website targeted towards a specific topic, where buyers can access all your content on that topic. This structure will help with your site’s SEO, increase the volume of potential B2B leads, and build trust in your expertise.
Content can also be posted on other sites, such as LinkedIn or Medium. A guest blog on a related website lets you share information with another audience (an easy trust-builder). Plus, these sites usually allow you to include a link to your website. So if someone thinks you can help solve their problem, they will to seek you out themselves.
But visual content is easiest to digest.
Images are another effective way to communicate statistics, share testimonials, and condense information into smaller bites.
Infographics and slide decks work particularly well when presenting several ideas at once in a simple, sequential package.
Videos offer an engaging way to educate viewers on particular topics. They can also be used alongside existing content, allowing you to simply repurpose your most popular blog posts into short videos.
Both images and videos are a fun way to complement the text in your blog posts, but also work well as standalone content in social media posts. Social media has proven to be a great avenue for B2B sales and lead generation. In fact, 75% of B2B buyers use social media to support their purchase decision.
A B2B infographic on pitfalls of bad customer service, created by Column Five and Get Satisfaction
Reviews and customer stories are essential B2B lead generation techniques
Where can you source customer reviews for your business? A natural resource would be from existing third-party review sites, such as Capterra, G2, Yelp, and more.
Third-party review sites aren’t just for B2C businesses. They’re a rich source for generating qualified B2B sales and leads from those who are actively looking for a solution like yours.
According to Avangate, “77% of B2B buyers conduct their own research before talking to salespeople” and “buyers who consulted online reviews during the software selection process were ultimately more satisfied with their purchases.”
Therefore, it makes sense to include reviews as part of your lead generation efforts. Find and become familiar with relevant review sites and encourage your loyal clients to leave reviews there. (Most of these sites will allow you to set up your own business profile.)
An example of a Capterra review of Referral Rock
In time, you can feature the best reviews on your website as a way to instantly gain your visitor’s trust.
Your buyers trust the recommendations of other people far more than they trust any message that comes directly from your brand. A good practice would be to dedicate a review page or a portion of your homepage (or both!) for customer reviews, testimonials, and stories. You can also create a rotating carousel as a way to include more testimonials without cluttering a page.
Add a human touch
After receiving someone’s contact information, it’s always good to continue generating B2B leads through a personal connection.
One of the most well-known, classic methods for B2B sales and lead generation is through event marketing. For example, attending (or even speaking at) a trade show is the perfect way to place your brand in front of a select audience and interact with potential leads in person. In fact, several of these engagements will likely result in generating B2B sales or leads on the spot.
Even a live chat widget can generate a number of B2B leads. Live chat, when it clearly indicates an actual customer support person is on the other end, enables buyers to get assistance in real-time. This personalized touch shows the level of service they will likely receive if they become your buyers.
We mentioned webinars above as a way to direct listeners to a dedicated landing page. But it’s worth mentioning again, because of how easily a webinar can build authority through both informative content and direct networking.
Focus your webinar around the needs of your target audience. Choose a topic that lets you answer common questions, or solve common problems, that someone in the B2B industry may have. You can even format your webinar as a Q&A or a panel to share personable, real-life information that solves existing pain points.
Start a referral program
Your prospective clients trust and listen to peers who have already had a positive experience with you – far more than they believe ads and other messages that come straight from your business. Therefore, it’s no surprise that B2B referral programs are one of the strongest methods of B2B sales and lead generation.
B2B referral programs use the direct recommendations of your existing clients to generate new leads, who are in turn, much more likely to purchase from you. Research indicates 84% of B2B buyers start their purchasing process after a referral, and referred leads take less time to close than any other leads. Furthermore, these leads are four times more likely to make a purchase than leads who weren’t referred by a friend.
Check out this comprehensive guide to B2B referral programs, which include plenty of best practices for using these programs to generate B2B sales and leads.
And if you’re looking to start a SaaS referral program, be sure to check out our other article with tips and inspiration just for SaaS companies.
For successful B2B lead generation, you’ll need to implement B2B marketing strategies with two clear goals in mind – to capture leads and build trust.
An effective lead capture process will make you get the right information, while building trust through content and referral programs will help move customers along your sales funnel.
One of the best ways to do both in the same strategy is to start a B2B referral program. Still not convinced? Here are over 60 statistical reasons why your business can benefit from a referral program and sharpen its B2B sales and lead generation technique.