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What is B2B Lead Generation?

B2B lead generation is the process of identifying the ideal customers for your product or service, then attracting them to buy. It is an essential activity for B2B marketing and sales teams.

This knowledge hub contains several resources that will help explain the importance of B2B lead generation and provide practical advice for starting it at your business today.

Why is B2B lead generation important?

B2B lead generation is fundamental to the success of a business. We’ve identified several factors that demonstrate its importance for B2B sales and marketing teams and the wider business.

Focusing on lead generation helps your organisation:

  • Discover your TAM.
  • Provide contact data.
  • Build a predictable pipeline.
  • Assist with content creation.
  • Build brand awareness.

And most importantly:

It helps generate revenue if you’re doing it right.

Everything you need to know about B2B lead generation summed up in under 10 minutes - press to watch Cognism’s tutorial!

The success of your campaigns depends on the lead generation data that sales and marketing teams have.

If sales reps have inaccurate or incomplete contact details for their B2B leads, it becomes impossible for them to cold call or send outbound emails.

If demand-generation marketers have imprecise data on their target accounts, then it becomes much harder to create and promote valuable content that converts.

High-quality B2B data is also fundamental to analytics and forecasting. It provides the bedrock for KPIs and benchmarks for individuals and teams; it allows companies to measure their output and results.

The insights gained from studying B2B data can be invaluable. Business leaders can quickly see if there are any failings in their B2B lead generation process and make adjustments. The most successful B2B companies keep on top of their data and use it in their day-to-day decision-making.

B2B companies frequently use B2B data providers like ZoomInfo or Cognism to source B2B sales leads.

If you’d like to learn more about how Cognism’s lead generation data can benefit your team, click the banner below to book a call with a data expert 👇

Cognism B2B Lead Generation

If you want to learn more about B2B data, we’ve created a library of resources to help get you started 👇

List of B2B contact databases | Data sourcing tips for sales and marketing success | Tips for lead enrichment | Total Addressable Market: what you need to know | How to build a compliant B2B data list | Best platforms to buy leads | How to scale effective lead generation [case study]

What are B2B leads?

In B2B lead generation, B2B leads is a business term given to people identified as potential customers for your business. They’re categorised as likely to find value in using your product or service.

There are two types of B2B leads:

Marketing-qualified leads

Marketing-qualified leads, or MQLs, are high-quality leads deemed very likely to become paying customers. The qualification is based on the MQL’s engagement with your business’s marketing efforts.

For example:

  • Repeatedly visiting a page on your company website.
  • Filling out a form or multiple forms on your company’s website.
  • Downloading a piece of gated content that your company has produced.
  • Signing up to attend one of your company’s events or webinars.

Sales-qualified leads

Sales-qualified leads, or SQLs, are MQLs who have progressed along the sales funnel. These types of B2B leads are deemed ready to talk with your sales team.

To be designated as an SQL, the lead must have shown intent to buy your company’s product or service. This intent can be expressed in several ways:

  • During a telephone conversation with a member of your sales team.
  • By indicating their interest in an email or LinkedIn message.
  • By requesting more information about your company and offering.
  • By asking to be shown a demo of your product or service.

Who conducts B2B lead generation?

B2B lead generation is a process managed by sales and marketing professionals. They may work alone or, more typically, in teams.

For your B2B lead generation strategy to work effectively, it’s best for sales and marketing teams to be closely aligned.


A sales team focused on B2B lead generation is often split into two groups. These groups perform separate, clearly defined tasks.

The two groups are:

  • Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) - this group is responsible for sourcing and scoring B2B sales leads, engaging with potential customers and booking meetings.
  • Account Executives (AEs) - this group is responsible for conducting demos, closing deals and generating revenue for the business.

There are several benefits to this approach:

  • It creates a solid B2B lead generation pipeline - the SDRs create opportunities for the AEs to action.
  • It empowers each employee to focus solely on one responsibility - meaning they quickly become experts in their roles.
  • It builds a roadmap for career development and progression - if an SDR consistently hits their sales targets, they will become eligible for promotion to AE.

Sales resources

10 questions to ask when hiring an SDR | Lead generation specialist job description | B2B lead generation KPIs: what you need to track | Sales lead vs prospect


In general, there are two categories of marketers focused on B2B lead generation. While their work may overlap, their marketing approaches are very different.

These two categories are:

  • Demand generation marketers - this group is focused on the entire B2B lead generation revenue cycle. Their mission is to nurture leads, guiding them from simply being aware of your brand to becoming a customer and, finally, an advocate.
  • Growth hackers - this group is focused on generating quick revenue growth while spending as little as possible. They typically work at early-stage startups and tend to be more experimental in approach. As a general rule, the activities they undertake are often less scalable.

Despite their differences, these two groups have one thing in common - they rely on analysing data and testing to drive their decision-making and are laser-focused on successful B2B lead generation.

Marketing resources

B2B marketing guide | B2B marketing metrics | Content marketing for lead generation | What sales leaders want from marketing | Intent based marketing | Inbound vs outbound marketing

B2B Lead Generation

How is B2B lead generation conducted?

B2B lead generation is conducted through a variety of sales and marketing activities. This section will provide definitions for each of the most common ones.


In sales, B2B lead generation is carried out through a process called B2B outbound.

This sales process includes:

  • Cold calling - SDRs telephone B2B leads, explaining the benefits of their product or service and qualifying the lead for future engagement. Cold calling can be done manually or through automated technology.
  • Outbound email - SDRs contacting B2B sales leads via email, hoping to strike up a conversation. Outbound email is normally managed through email automation platforms.
  • Social selling - SDRs follow potential leads on social media, engaging with them and developing relationships over time. In the B2B space, the major social media network is LinkedIn.
  • Sales cadences - the combination of all of these techniques is known as a cadence. Most SDRs deploy cadences to increase the chances of a B2B lead responding.

These tasks aim for the B2B lead to agree to attend a product demo, which an AE conducts.

Sales resources

How to scale your B2B sales lead list | Top cold calling tips | Lead costs | 5 best cold calling scripts | 7 tips for building an effective email sequence | 5 sales emails that get responses | How to write a cold email


For marketers, the process of B2B lead generation is also known as demand generation.

How to generate leads and demand? There are several tactics that marketers can leverage:

  • Growth hacking is where B2B marketers or growth hackers deploy unusual, unorthodox techniques to create demand and grow their business quickly. Examples include incentives, contests and free tools.
  • Content marketing is where marketers publish relevant, valuable content and promote them to their target audiences. Content can take many forms, including blog posts, videos, webinars, podcasts and eBooks.
  • Account-based marketing (ABM) is where marketers identify the key decision-makers inside a specific company (or account) and create marketing lead generation campaigns personalised to those leads.

The goals of these activities will vary depending on where the target customer is in the B2B marketing funnel. It could be to attract new leads to the business or to steer existing leads towards making a purchasing decision.

Growth hacking/content marketing resources

13 Lead generation strategies | What is content marketing? | Content marketing for lead generation

ABM resources

How to run the perfect ABM campaign | Tracking ABM engagement: what you need to know | What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)? | Lead generation strategies for logistics and transportation | Lead generation for financial advisors

What technology can help with B2B lead generation?

For most sales and marketing teams, technology is a huge benefit to B2B lead generation. Sales activities such as cold calling and outbound emails can be automated. Marketing activities like blogging and social media rely on content management systems and the internet.

Interactions with B2B sales leads (such as target customers filling out capture forms) can be stored in Customer Relationship Management systems or CRMs. The data captured in a company’s CRM can be analysed to improve customer relationships and drive future sales.

In recent years, there has been significant growth in sales and marketing technology, especially in the B2B sector. Many tools and solutions are now available to assist with almost any B2B lead generation task. Most of them are delivered by the software as a service, or SaaS, model. The total number of tools a company uses is known as a technology stack or tech stack.

As you navigate the vast landscape of B2B lead generation technologies, the question remains: which solution fits seamlessly into your tech stack and amplifies your sales outcomes?

The answer lies with Cognism.

Cognism propels your B2B lead generation into a new era of efficiency and effectiveness. With our technology, you can connect directly with key decision-makers and expand your market reach effortlessly.

See the difference that Cognism can make to your sales cycle - click 👇 to speak with us today!

B2B Lead Generation

Not ready for a demo yet? We’ve published more resources on the topic of B2B technology - here are the links:

Technology resources

How to buy tech the right way | The ultimate B2B sales tech stack | The ultimate B2B marketing tech stack

B2B lead generation: influencer insights

Several thought leaders in B2B sales and marketing have contributed to our content.

Check out these insights - they’ll help you level up your B2B lead generation strategy 👇

Kyle Coleman, SVP Marketing at Clari

Cognism’s sales leaders talk with Kyle Coleman from Clari. Why has the sales funnel become outdated? And why do sales departments need to focus on quality, not quantity?


Antonia Wade, CMO at PWC

Cognism CMO Alice de Courcy interviews her counterpart at PWC. How has the B2B buyer journey changed? And what can B2B marketers do differently? 

More B2B lead generation resources from Cognism

Blueprint for sales growth

Delve into actionable tactics for building a winning sales team. From hiring to forecasting and training, it’s all here!

Cognism Blueprint

Free demand generation course

Learn marketing strategy the Cognism way! Includes modules on marketing campaigns, paid ads, B2B lead generation tools, and lots more.

Demand Generation Playbook

Contact Cognism today

If you want to see how Cognism can revolutionise your B2B lead generation strategy with high-quality, globally compliant data, contact us today.

Simply register your interest at the link below 👇

B2B Lead Generation