Building a Solid B2B Lead Generation Strategy in Today’s Digital Climate

This B2B lead generation blog was written for Crunchbase by Radial Path CEO and Founder, Ruth Plater.

Expectations are high on marketing teams now in today’s digital climate and data overwhelm. Consumers are more in control of the narrative and are self-directed, they expect real-time engagement and hyper-personalized communications, when it suits them on the platforms they use.

As a result, the role marketing plays in lead generation and the sales cycle has increased dramatically, while at the same time the sales team has shrunk. Considering,“Online buyers go through about 57% of the buying cycle on their own without talking to sales” (Executive Board), teeing up top-quality, ready-to-buy and nurtured leads is paramount to any successful B2B marketing team in today’s business world.

Afterall, it makes no sense to use your expensive sales teams to cold-call when it’s: A) no longer as effective as it used to be, and B) it consumes hours of your sales team’s valuable closing time searching for the right prospects to approach in the first place.

How sales and marketing roles are changing in lead generation
The expanding role of marketing for lead generation | Image: Iris.xyz

What does this mean for lead generation?

Queue… the rise of inbound marketing

This expanding role of marketing teams in the buying and sales cycle, means marketers now need to be excellent technically, understand data, be creative and work across teams to deliver great experiences for customers where they feel, at least in some part, they’ve entered the conversation on their terms.

“If you have more money than brains, you should focus on Outbound Marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on Inbound Marketing," - Guy Kawasaki.

That means, gone are the days of batch and blast spam email techniques or other volume-over-quality methods to get as many leads through the door to hit quota. Inbound has changed the way marketers look at potential prospects in B2B lead generation. It takes the view that if you start helping instead of selling, the right leads will eventually make their way to you through the narrowing of their own research in finding solutions that move them further away from ‘pain’ - or specific business challenges you just so happen to sell a solution to.

Modern marketing in tech and telecoms

Ways to provide a more consistent lead generation workflow via inbound that keeps a sales team happy all year round and between trade shows, are...

  • Marketing technology - having a solid marketing tech stack that nurtures visitors to your website and leads, will help a business take care of every lead, score and qualify further (MQL to SQL) before handing to sales. This creates a better experience for leads, customers and sales teams.
  • Social selling and networks - or as I like to call it, digital-door knocking.
  • Content strategy and SEO - applying inbound thinking and seeing content as the driver behind successful SEO and lead nurturing. A solid content strategy will put the buyer persona, and their buying journey, at the core of content planning - what topics to write about for who, what format, when and where to disseminate it, and what collaborators to involve who can ultimately share on your behalf. Without content, you have nothing to say.
  • Partners - brand collaborations (or collabs), influencers and partner ecosystems are all powerful channels to generate excitement and awareness in your business community, as well as increase visitors and demand.
  • Modern PR - this is a step toward inbound marketing through influencer marketing, thought-leadership and social media - new PR methods are presenting businesses as saviours to specific business challenges.

Still need convincing?

  • Properly executed Inbound Marketing tactics are 10 times more effective for lead conversion compared to outbound methods. (Gartner)
  • Companies that automate their lead nurturing cycle see a 10+% increase in revenue within 6 to 9 months. (Gartner)
  • 80% of business decision makers favor getting brand information via an article series more than ads. (Content Marketing Institute)
Modern marketing
The stats speak from themselves. Read more on Ironpaper.com

Outbound-Inbound hybrid approach

Inbound is a great way of mapping a client’s journey from initial search terms they type into Google (topics around their pain points), to validating their decision to buy from a business (through case studies, testimonials and peer reviews).

However, inbound is a long-term game that doesn’t help most businesses fill their pipeline in the short-term. For many tech companies I’ve worked with at my tech and telecoms marketing agency, Radial Path, who have investors to please and high targets with short runways, they simply can’t wait around patiently for their inbound efforts to kick in and start showing results.

That’s why I always recommend a hybrid outbound and inbound lead generation approach to all my B2B clients. That looks like this...

The new sales funnel | Image: Radial Path

By outbound, I don’t necessarily mean paid advertising in the typical sense, more a way of using outbound methods in a more targeted and controlled manner. The best example of this, is via LinkedIn.

By using filtering criteria within Sales Navigator for example, one can quickly pinpoint an ideal buyer profile - where they are in the world, type of industry, size of business, job titles and seniority etc.

Reaching out to targets that fit this profile with messaging that is going to resonate with them regarding their business challenges, is a far less cold (or traditional outbound) approach than loosely targeted email blasts and cold calling. It’s narrowly targeted, with specific messaging that is intended to help the buyer and is far more likely to convert into a conversation with sales.

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