Building a B2B lead generation system can feel a bit like assembling a Rube Goldberg machine.
You’re lining up activities, messaging, and your audience.
You put it all together, launch a campaign, and pray the timing is just right so you can deliver qualified leads to sales.
It’s okay to have this kind of optimism when the stakes are low – like when you drop a marble onto the track of a Rube Goldberg machine and hope it stays on course and knocks over a row of dominoes.
Blind faith cannot be your mindset every time you launch a B2B lead generation campaign.
You want to know you’ve designed the optimal system that will consistently pass qualified opportunities on to your sales team.
Here are the 3 proven steps you can follow to build a B2B Lead Generation System for your business.
Step 1. Evaluate
When you first create your B2B lead generation system, it’s not unusual to spend 6 weeks in the evaluation stage. It’s the first leg of your Revenue Generating System. Give it the time it deserves so you are confident in the lead generation strategies you plan. After you’ve implemented campaigns and analyzed the results, you’ll evaluate your lead generation system again, adjusting it.
The evaluation stage has 2 parts.
In the analysis step you are looking back at who you’ve sold to, what you’ve sold, and why companies bought from you to determine what your future B2B lead generation approach should include. It’s a deep dive into your sales successes and your failures.
Here are the things you want to examine:
Before you begin any lead generation, you must know what types of companies you want as new clients. These are your target markets. Examine who you have sold to in the past, which of your current clients are most profitable, and what types of companies you’d like to sell to now.
Target market personas
Identifying your potential buyer is crucial in understanding their needs, fears, challenges, communication style, and goals to craft compelling messages. Both Marketing and Sales use this information in their roles. Once you know who your target market is, define your key decision maker and recommender contacts. These are the target personas for your lead generation strategies.
Target market triggers
The prospects you want to get in front of have problems and challenges that will lead them to need your solutions and consider making a change. You have to be able to articulate those problems and trigger events to offer them relevant solutions.
Trigger events may change as industry and economic circumstances change, so you want to continually review them to adjust your lead generation system. Past problems and challenges may not be issues right now. If you’re focused on the wrong trigger events, your campaigns will fail.
What you sell first
Whatever you sell first should be the focus of your B2B lead generation strategies. If you are targeting prospects, consider which solution they buy first. If you’re targeting existing clients, consider what they buy after the first sale. The target market triggers you identified must directly align with these solutions. If they don’t, the leads you uncover won’t convert to sales opportunities, your sales funnel will dry up, and you’ll be frustrated.
Your competition is intense and getting smarter every day, so you need to analyze in detail their strengths and how they might be doing better than you. Evaluate their SEO, Google ads, social media, solutions, target markets, and everything you know from selling against them. There is significant data available that the right analysis can help you create a B2B lead generation system and sales process that positions you above the rest.
What truly sets you apart is what will help you attract prospects who will consider buying from you. Examine why your clients bought from you in the first place and what they love about your solutions and working with you. Consider where you outshine your competitors. These are key points you want to highlight throughout all your B2B lead generation strategies.
2. Create your lead generation strategy
Your lead generation strategy is the plan you and your lead generation company follow on a daily basis. It includes all the activities, your messaging, and campaign timelines.
Select B2B lead generation activities to use.
You want a mix of B2B lead generation activities to minimize your risk if one is not performing well, such as referrals during the pandemic.
Economic changes aren’t the only reason you want a mix. Prospects don’t monitor only one medium. They read blogs, attend webinars, search the internet, read social media, and more. If you only post to social media, they may miss you and read your competitors’ blogs. That won’t help your revenue growth.
In my book, The Sales Magnet, I describe the Attraction Trifecta of lead generation activities. You want a wide mix of the following B2B lead generation strategies:
1. Personal Attraction Strategies
Personal activities use methods where the prospect feels that you’ve reached out to make a personal connection, even though you may be using the same content. It feels like a one-to-one approach.
Some examples are:
- Cold calling
- Direct mail
2. Digital Attraction Strategies
Digital activities use tactics that employ the internet to reach your prospect. Unlike personal attraction strategies, you often can’t control who will see your content. You’re reaching a whole new audience of potential buyers.
Some examples are:
- Search engine optimization
- Social media
3. Collaborative Attraction Strategies
Collaborative activities are those methods where you collaborate with others to capture prospects’ interests. These are strategies that typically you wouldn’t do alone because of the amount of work involved in executing them.
Some examples are:
- Local events
- Alliance partnering
- Influencer marketing
Activities are combined into campaigns to create a connected strategy.
Your B2B lead generation activities link together to form campaigns with different purposes based on what you’re trying to accomplish. You may want to convert appointments, nurture a list until it’s ready, or close sales.
Plan your B2B lead generation messages.
While the B2B lead generation activities you use will get you closer to potential buyers, it’s the message that puts you in front of them. Your message is based on the target market, triggers, and personas you identify in your evaluation stage.
There are 2 types of B2B lead generation messages you’ll use.
1. A Company message
This is the overall message about how you help clients and the value of your solutions to their businesses. Your company message is always the same although you may say it differently depending on the situation.
For example, our company message is: We help you get more customers because you shouldn’t have to worry about where your next client will come from and when.
Sometimes we use the whole company message. Sometimes we abbreviate it. Your company message is the overarching message in your B2B lead generation system.
2. B2B Lead Generation Campaign messages
Each lead generation campaign will have its own message and link to the company message. It will focus on the problems and challenges you believe your target markets and personas are grappling with today.
As you create your B2B lead generation strategy, you will also create each campaign message.
Campaign messages will include:
- The problem
- How you can help
- A call to action
Before you develop content, you want to identify the keywords you should use. You might be using industry terms you are familiar with while your prospects might be using terms in a more plain, simple, and broad perspective.
Like the messaging, keywords are a strategic element in your B2B lead generation system. They enhance your prospects’ and customers’ experience while also supporting SEO. You’ll use them across your campaigns.
Create your campaign timeline.
The final step in creating your B2B lead generation system is planning the timeline. Remember that lead generation is a system comprised of campaign activities. There is no end. Establish timelines for each campaign. Outline when you’ll implement each campaign, then work backwards to create your project plan and action steps.
Take into consideration:
- Your prospects’ and clients’ buy cycle
- Market fluctuations
- Your time
- Your lead generation company’s process
Step 2. Develop and Do
With this stage, you’re in the heart of your B2B lead generation system. Your timeline is in place. You’re ready to develop the content and implement.
1. B2B Lead Generation System Content Development
Regardless of the activity you’re using, you will be creating content. The form of a Google ad looks different than an email campaign, but both are based on content.
Determine the content purpose.
Each piece of content you create needs to have a purpose aligned with the campaign strategy and your overall B2B lead generation system.
When you know the purpose of the content you’re creating, you can determine the best way to frame your content messaging and how you’ll communicate it.
Think about the Customer Journey and your sales process. You may want to:
- Drive active buyers to your website.
- Position the sales team to make calls.
- Educate active buyers.
- Build awareness for your brand.
- Uncover upsell opportunities with clients.
- Keep prospects warm until they’re ready to engage.
Or, you may have some other objective. These are just examples to get you thinking.
Define content performance goals.
With your purpose in mind, you can set performance goals for the campaign and/or the individual content pieces. This is where many business owners get into trouble. They are so anxious to generate leads and avoid revenue loss that they set unrealistic goals for their content.
Campaign goals may include:
- Inbound leads
- Downloads and other form completions
- Click-through rates
- Open rates
- Appointments set
Other marketing content goals might be:
- Contact Us form completions
- Website traffic
- SEO keyword ranking
- List growth
Key influencers on goal success
As you set marketing content performance goals, keep in mind these key influencers. They impact your ability to realize ROI you desperately want from your revenue generation system:
- How well known your brand is in your target market
- Consistency of your lead generation
- Age of your email list
- Investment you are willing to make
- Your sales readiness to receive leads
- Your sales ability in competitive situations
B2B lead generation content should reflect your brand, style, format, length, and voice.
This tactical step involves decisions about what you’ll say to prospects and how you’ll say it.
Your content should reflect your brand voice and image. If that statement has you wondering what the heck a brand voice is, then you probably aren’t creating content that sounds the same no matter the platform where it appears.
Your content should look and sound the same. Prospects should be able to spot it and say, “I remember that company!”
2. B2B Lead Generation System Implementation
Implementation used to be the easiest part of your lead generation system. As long as you had a staff person who knew how to create an email in Constant Contact, add a blog to the website, and post a social comment, you could implement your campaign.
As with all technology, implementation has become very complex. If you only focus on those 3 responsibilities, you will be extremely frustrated with your lead generation results. As you implement your campaign, consider how you manage your list and how you’ll automate.
Manage your campaign list.
List management is critical to target content messaging, improve email deliverability, and increase sales rep productivity.
Here are 3 simple guidelines for maximizing your B2B lead generation list’s performance.
1. Use your list frequently.
Contacts on your list will be accustomed to hearing from you. Read and click-through rates will be higher. You will be top of mind when prospects have a need.
We recommend you email a minimum of monthly, ideally weekly, or more. For direct mailing, send at least once every 2 months. People change companies often. Frequent use allows you to catch those changes.
2. Keep your list clean.
Continuous use allows you to maintain the bounces and unsubscribes at a reasonable pace.
There are tools you can use to remove known spammers and complainers from your email list. We use these tools to scrub every list a client gives us before using it.
3. Build an organic list.
40% of typical purchased lists have inaccurate data, causing bounces and complaints. This is costly and ineffective.
Reaching a contact’s inbox when they never requested information from you is challenging. Your domain may gain a reputation for sending unwanted content, further hurting email deliverability. Avoid these issues and build your list organically.
Your list is your B2B lead generation system’s silver bullet. These strategies help you increase the probability that your emails will reach prospects’ and clients’ inboxes.
Automate your B2B lead generation system.
Simplify your B2B lead generation system by using the right tools. Sure, you can avoid the monthly expense and do a lot manually. You could use basic email tools like Constant Contact and MailChimp, but why would you take that hit to your time – and your ROI?
This could be one reason why your lead generation isn’t delivering results.
Use a marketing automation system.
By using tools like Keap, you can streamline many of the lead generation system steps to continuously communicate with contacts and nurture a relationship. Additionally, you can see who is interacting with your content, which content, and then call.
Implement lead scoring.
Within your marketing automation system, establish parameters that identify leads based on the actions they take. As you watch responses and actions, you can determine which of your prospects are the most likely to buy. Those are the people you want sales to contact.
Use a dashboard.
When we manage clients’ lead generation, we set up dashboards to not only monitor campaign results, but also to identify leads quickly and drill down into what actions they have taken.
Step 3. Deliver and Adjust
This is the celebration stage of your B2B lead generation system. It’s when you pass leads to your salespeople to follow up and convert them to sales opportunities. It’s also when you make adjustments to refine your plan and further improve results.
1. Establish a Process To Deliver MQLs to Sales.
Generating leads is exactly what this system is created to do. Establish a smooth process that triggers a lead, passes it to Sales, and moves into a rep’s daily activities. This is where your marketing automation system really shines. It allows you to score leads and automate lead passing.
If you’re managing a lot of website landing pages, campaigns, and/or events, you want to automate this step quicky so leads pass without delay. The longer it takes to pass MQLs, the colder the lead becomes.
Qualify B2B lead generation system leads in 4 steps.
Every campaign has 4 basic actions that must happen to identify leads, then move them from marketing qualified lead to sales qualified opportunity in your sales process.
Most business owners are great at the first action, but then their B2B lead generation system falls apart. Without the process in place to qualify leads, you waste your time and money and your revenue generation system fails.
Use these 4 steps to qualify and convert B2B lead generation system leads:
1. Offer the prospect something.
This happens as part of the lead generation campaign in an email, on your website, in a Google ad, and as part of other activities in your system. In B2B lead generation, it typically is not a discount. It’s something prospects would value, like a special report, webinar, blog, or even a call.
2. Identify the marketing qualified leads.
Use marketing automation and system tools to proactively identify who is paying attention to your campaigns and may have a problem they’re ready to solve. These are the people you want your salesperson to call proactively, even if those prospects didn’t request a call.
3. Follow up, follow up, follow up to set the first appointment.
I’ll say it again, follow up. So many principals and salespeople are handed marketing qualified leads, call once or twice, shoot an email off, then give up. Don’t do that. Have a strong MQL follow-up strategy in place and call marketing qualified leads to see if they are ready to begin the sales process.
4. Convert the opportunity to a sales qualified lead.
Marketing leads are different than referral leads. They aren’t as warm, often are considering your competitors, and may not remember your company that well. Use prospecting skills to secure the first appointment, leave a lasting impression, and get the second appointment.
Address lead-passing bottlenecks.
It isn’t the automation of delivering MQLs to Sales that causes low conversion rates. The two most common reasons B2B lead generation systems have low conversion rates are:
1. The salesperson doesn’t believe the lead will have any value.
When reps don’t perceive value, the lead sits in your system with no action. To avoid that, keep your salesperson informed about the campaigns you’re running and the types of leads they’ll receive. Get them excited!
2. The sales rep has a poor follow-up process.
Train your sales team in prospecting and objection handling to build their skills, create a disciplined lead follow-up process, and fully prepare for whatever a prospect throws at them throughout the sales cycle.
2. Analyze and adjust.
Analysis is critical to understanding what target markets, activities, content, messages, and keywords were most effective. Your B2B lead generation system can build on that data.
Start with the lead generation goals you set in Step 1. Evaluate. Track the data. Use it to set new goals, change messages, try different activities, adjust target markets, and sometimes, switch up your solutions.
Don’t give up when lead generation isn’t performing. Instead, analyze and adjust.
Your B2B Lead Generation System Is a Cycle
Like a flawless Rube Goldberg machine, perfectly executed B2B lead generation campaigns don’t happen by accident.
Getting leads takes effort at every stage because your B2B lead generation system is a cycle. You’re constantly planning, executing, and adjusting.
When you have multiple activities running simultaneously, you’ll always have something happening in all 3 steps. You’ll reduce the fluctuation that is so frustrating in lead generation.
This is how you consistently deliver MQLs to sales.
But it’s also a tremendous amount of work, and many businesses try a start-stop-start-stop approach.
Constantly starting and stopping disrupts your momentum.
Every time you hit “pause” on a stage in your B2B lead generation system, you hurt your ability to generate revenue.
Processes break down. Sales and marketing fall off track. Suddenly you’re wondering where all your leads went.
Instead of taking a break because the process is overwhelming, get help from a lead generation company.
At KLA Group, we develop and manage tailored B2B lead generation campaigns for our clients.
You don’t have to do it all on your own.
Contact us and let’s talk about your vision and how we can help.