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B2B Lead Generation

Business to business (B2B) lead generation is an intrinsic activity for any B2B company. It involves gaining the attention and interest of potential customers to increase future sales and boost business growth. It is achieved via several types of B2B sales and marketing activities, including cold calling, outbound email, social selling, content marketing, email marketing and more.

The goal of B2B lead generation is to gain and qualify high-intent prospects that turn into customers.

What are B2B leads?

A lead is anyone who has shown interest in a company’s products or services, but isn’t already a buyer. To qualify as a lead, the potential customer must have shown interest in your product or service.

There are two types of business lead: a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL). These are the definitions:

  • An MQL is a lead who is deemed likely to become a customer. The qualification is based on any engagement the person has had with the business’s content. For example: what web pages they’ve visited or what marketing materials they’ve downloaded.
  • An SQL is an MQL who has progressed down the funnel and is deemed to be ready for the next stage in the sales process. An SQL has displayed intent to buy a company’s services or products - this often happens after a conversation (in person or over the phone).

Who conducts B2B lead generation?

When generating leads for your business, you need to tailor your content and digital marketing strategies to entice the customers you want. This is done by applying a mix of inbound and outbound methods to optimise your sales strategy. If done correctly, B2B lead generation will create greater success rates in new customer acquisition.

The lead generation process is managed by two teams - Sales and Marketing.

B2B lead generation for sales 

The B2B sales team is split into two functions:

  • Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) who manage cold calling, outbound email and social selling.
  • Business Development Managers (BDMs) who negotiate deals and close business. 

B2B lead generation for marketing

The B2B marketing team is split into three functions:

  • Content marketers who create engaging content for a targeted audience.
  • Campaign marketers who run promotional campaigns through various media including email, television, radio, print, and social platforms.
  • Performance marketers who manage both paid advertising and brand marketing.

What are the main B2B lead generation activities?

When generating quality leads, there are a number of B2B lead generation methods your sales and marketing teams can utilise. Here are the most relevant:

The best B2B lead generation methods for sales

  • Cold calling - You can’t beat the classics. Cold calling is one of the best techniques for lead generation, when it’s done right. The SDR will cold call prospective leads to organise a meeting. This is done by following a targeted contact list, researching when the best time to cold call is, and pitching your product or service.
  • Outbound email -  Cost-effective and practical, outbound email is a great way to engage with cold leads, reminding them of how you can add value to their business. The SDR will send out personalised emails highlighting the benefits your company can offer customers who’ve previously engaged or shown an interest in your content.
  • Social selling - Connecting with and nurturing leads is the name of the game when it comes to social selling. LinkedIn is the main platform to generate leads for B2B. The SDR is in charge of identifying new prospects on the social network and engaging with users.

The best B2B lead generation methods for marketing

  • Content marketing - Used to engage and convert customers into leads, content marketing is the foundation of your marketing strategy. Content marketing consists of blogs, social posts, video media, podcasts, webinars and more. It’s created in such a way that each piece of content builds trust with the lead by engaging with them throughout the buying process. 
  • Email marketing - Different to outbound email, email marketing ensures your lead gets the information they need at the right time. If a lead has downloaded a free e-book from your company or filled out a form, your marketing team will contact them via email and build on their curiosity until they qualify into a sale. In this way, B2B companies build stronger relationships with their leads.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) - A quick and effective way to gain digital exposure for your business. PPC is when you pay for every click a user makes on your internet advert. This technique not only increases your advert reach, it also creates opportunities for quick wins.

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How does B2B lead generation help to align sales and marketing?

When your sales and marketing teams come together, they can form one unstoppable revenue team! In fact, it's been proven that brands that align their sales and marketing teams increase revenue, more so than brands whose teams work in silos.

This is because the teams work together to attract and convert the right customers at the right time, accomplishing higher ROI's, better sales productivity and top-line growth.

Why is data essential for effective B2B lead generation? 

To generate sales leads that convert, you'll need to know your Total Addressable Market (TAM) - this is a calculation of the total universe of customers available in your target market or industry.

The next step is to then develop your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Your ICP is a representation of your perfect customer, the person who would derive the greatest benefit from your product or service. Once you have a well-defined ICP, you can then begin to find and engage with leads that match it.

To develop TAM and ICP, you'll need accurate, up-to-date B2B data. Poor quality data will result in your teams targeting the wrong people. Quality data ensures your teams are creating data driven marketing and sales plans that are aimed at the right people, resulting in faster growth for your organisation. 

Can technology assist with B2B lead generation?

Technology is a crucial factor for effective B2B lead generation. There are many tools available which can help salespeople and marketers to easily navigate and optimise the lead generation process.

Cognism has curated 2 lists of technology that can help you with your lead generation strategies. Click the links below to see them.

The world's best B2B lead generation solution

If you’re looking to level up your B2B lead generation for sales and marketing, look no further. Cognism is trusted by 500+ B2B sales and marketing teams worldwide!

Seamlessly integrating with the tools you use every day, our all-in-one globally compliant solution helps businesses fire up sales and marketing campaigns and generate new revenue quickly.

Gain access to a global database of 400 million business profiles and 10 million companies. Make it easier for your B2B sales team to target, qualify and engage leads fast, while your B2B marketing team can power up their campaigns, increasing reach and generating leads that convert.

“In terms of the data it offers and the expertise and diligence of its staff, Cognism is the best lead generation platform I’ve worked with. I’d recommend them without hesitation to anyone who wants to grow a business fast!”

- Jeff Locke, North American Operations Team Leader, Hornetsecurity

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