Do you have enough leads?
“No!” says just about every B2B salesperson on the planet.
Some claim Marketing gives them bad leads. Others say good leads get mishandled. And many B2B salespeople say they don’t have time or resources to generate enough leads. (To be fair, many marketers complain salespeople don’t nurture their good leads.)
There’s plenty of conflicting research on the best B2B lead generator – one says it’s SEO, another says it’s email, and others say it’s all about content.
The best bet? Just like most sales functions, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Generate leads from a variety of sources.
Here are 14 unique tips and ideas to generate more B2B sales leads.
Generate more leads online
Social media reaches far and wide. That wide net might capture a lot of leads, but they won’t always be a quality leads. To use social media to generate more quality leads:
Join and participate in a big LinkedIn group
B2B leads hang out in LinkedIn more than any other social media channel. They’re smart and want high-level, professional information and exchanges. That creates an opportunity for you to connect as an expert. Three steps:
- Find your group. Type industry keywords or topics in the search bar to get a broad list of groups. You can whittle it down to specific niches. Pick a group that’s big, active and truly professional. Ask to join – but understand you can be rejected if you don’t pass as a professional in a niche, or if your intentions are to sell.
- Get involved. Join conversations, like and share posts, spark discussions and provide answers. Be helpful and proactive with valuable (not promotional) content.
- Connect. Once you build a high level of interaction and authority, connect with individual group members, who can become strong leads.
Join Twitter chats
Groups of people regularly meet on Twitter to discuss topics, trends or a common interest using an agreed-upon hashtag. You can search hashtags that are in your expertise. Like LinkedIn, you want to join in to be helpful and insightful with valuable (not promotional) content.
The Twitter host often shares a series of ordered questions (Q1: What do you think about …? Q2: What’s your biggest challenge with …?) and participants reply similarly (A1: I think …, A2: I’m challenged with …)
You can reply to answers with links to helpful articles, a hack another customer has used or a tip. But don’t offer to do a product demo! Build rapport before you offer to follow up off-line.
Answer questions in Quora
Look for questions that are relevant to your buyers, industry or niche on Quora. The more consistently you give helpful, educational insight on the question-and-answer site, they more you’ll get noticed as an expert by your target audience.
When you create answers and content that specifically and originally address a question on Quora, you can put a link within your answer – and potentially see leads come in.
Launch a viral movement
Don’t be shy. You put up good content. Now ask the people who connect with it to connect others with it.
You can start “local.” Ask friends, colleagues, customers and family to share your content (a blog post, white paper, article, etc.) Post it on Twitter and ask readers to retweet. Share it on Facebook and LinkedIn and ask readers to share.
Ask anyone who opts in to content to share it. Even better, give those who share a bonus (perhaps a complementary, gated piece or access to training or a trial).
Generate more leads with SEO
Every salesperson wants his or her company and solution to be on the first page in a Google search. In B2B, ads help, but there are other ways to win the SEO game.
From customers’ mouths to your content
B2B salespeople can help their marketers who create content by sharing the trends you see and hear on the street with customers. Tell your SEO pros when you hear a lot of talk or questions about a specific subject. Give them the exact words customers use so they can target keywords in content, paid ads and other SEO strategies.
Figure if customers are talking about a trend to you, prospects are Googling it online, too.
Get more reviews
Almost three-quarters of B2B buyers look at product and service reviews online before they buy. The more reviews you have, the higher you’re placed in a search.
Honest reviews generate leads. Dishonest reviews can kill search engine rankings.
So thank customers who’ve done reviews, and personally appeal to loyal, happy or frequent customers who haven’t done online reviews. To make it easier for them to post reviews :
- send links to your social channels or website where they can type and submit
- ask them to write something in an email or Word document (in case they aren’t comfortable with online platforms) that you can copy and paste to your online channels, or
- do a verbal interview and use their quotes (with their permission, of course) online.
Generate more leads with content
When it comes to generating leads through content, act more like a publisher and less like a salesperson. You want to consistently create new and different content that customers and prospects like to read and share. As you get more prospects to opt-in, the more they’ll pay attention to your messages.
Add interactive content
Nearly every salesperson or marketing team put out typical lead generation content such as white papers, eBooks, case studies and tip sheets. What’s not seen as much in the B2B industry: Interactive visual content.
Interactive infographics take some time to create, but they can entertain and engage prospects. You might create (or get help creating):
- polls and surveys
- quizzes and tests
- contests, and
- infographics that evolve as responses come in.
Offer templates and spreadsheets
If you (or your audience) isn’t quite ready for interactive visuals, give away templates and spreadsheets that are customized to the profession of your typical buyers. B2B prospects often opt-in for templates and spreadsheets that make their job easier or simplify workflow.
Even better, you can probably offer templates and spreadsheets you already use within your company and transform them into tools prospects can download and use immediately after they give you their contact information.
Generate more leads through email
Some say email has the best ROI for B2B lead generation. Even if it’s not the best, it’s a powerful tool on a large-scale (such as automated messages to the masses to opt in) and smaller-scale (such as personalized messages to your growing network). A few tips:
Make the signature matter
Make it easier for readers to find your (or your company’s) online content with links to social media profiles in your signature. You can add a link straight to your LinkedIn page or a blog. If you aren’t doing much social posting on a personal level, link to your company’s content.
Even better, get more (or everyone) in your organization to include links to valuable content in their signatures.
Add a tag
You can also add a tagline and link to your email signature, teasing content – such a blog post, podcast, tip sheet or anything that prospects will find valuable.
The key: Change the tease in your signature periodically. For instance, if you’ve written a blog on a new industry trend, embed the link to something like this: “Robotics will change the way we do business, and here’s how it will affect you as soon as next month.”
After a month or two, change it to something about a new product, such as: “Our Byte200 exceeded industry standards and it’s ready for delivery. See if you can get it tomorrow.”
Generate more leads with grassroots efforts
As much as sales has evolved into a digital experience, some of the most profitable deals start from grassroots efforts and personal contact. Here are effective strategies.
Send a package
FedEx, UPS, DHL, USPS packages get opened. For prospects, it’s like a birthday gift – there’s some anticipation and excitement with what could be in the package.
Send a book, a magazine, a notepad with inspiring quotes – something of value that prospects can use or get ideas from. Follow up with a call to ask if they received and if they found it useful.
Ask for introductions
Top salespeople who get more leads and win more deals than average performers ask for more introductions more often.
Don’t just ask for “referrals,” which can come across as a request to help you make the next sale. An introduction is less intimidating and more easily made. Ask every customer and prospect if they can introduce you to another person (ideally, someone you’ve already identified as a great lead, and with whom your customer or prospect is friendly).
Speak at industry events
This is a particularly useful strategy in B2B sales. As a salesperson, you’re an expert in solving problems your potential customers face. You know more about solutions – and not just your own – than some consultants (after all, many of them were salespeople before they consulted).
Give insight on your industry, marketplace, major challenges and resources to overcome them at industry events or in local seminars you set up. Refer to independent research and unbiased recommendations (so your talk doesn’t come across like a sales pitch).
For those who don’t feel comfortable speaking at industry events, you can write an article for an industry publication, your company blog or a user forum. Write with the same expertise you have when you share information with prospects, identifying challenges, potential solutions and results of using each.
Share links in social media, or mail print publications.