B2B sales. The right way.
Are you spending money on the right lead generation strategy? You might be burning resources without a solid plan for an easily scalable, predictable “backbone tactic” and without it, the future of your company might turn out lead-less.
What’s a “backbone tactic”? The most important part of your overall lead generation strategy. The company-specific tactic that generates new clients even when everything else fails. I know many companies that rely mostly on one inbound, or one outbound tactic – simply because it works.
What’s the right backbone tactic for your company? It depends. If you’re among the 68% of companies that report struggling with lead generation*, this article will help you pick a tactic to find your own Glengarry leads (without Alec Baldwin screaming at you). Read on!
The best way to generate leads is finding: who needs you the most, and what’s the easiest way to reach those people.
It’s a game of numbers, and those numbers add up in well-planned strategies – low success rates are standard, you win by the margins. The first tactics you pick should be the ones that require the least additional resources (expenses). Your main aim is quality, and “quality” here means that you’re generating pre-qualified leads that you can approach with personalised, industry-specific messaging.
You can’t generally label any strategy the “best lead generation strategy” or the “worst”. For each one you can find companies that get enough clients doing just that (be it email marketing, SEO, or content marketing). B2B marketers say that the biggest obstacles to lead generation success are the lack of resources in staffing, budgeting, or time.*
To me that means they’re not fully thinking their tactics (and whole strategy) through. Why don’t companies look for backbone strategies first?
When you explore different tactics, you definitely think about ROI. But ROI won’t be positive for a while if you don’t have tactic know-how and resources, which should be your first concern when considering tactics.
I’ll do a breakdown of 6 of the most popular lead generation tactics. Hopefully this will help you avoid the common pitfalls and inherent risks. The chart below outlines the effectiveness of online tactics – and it will be interesting for you to see that “effective” can be a misleading term in case of lead generation tactics.
1. Content marketing
Verdict: If you have interesting things to share, then go ahead and start writing. And encourage your employees to write and post the best stuff on your company blog. You’ll be building your online footprint and allowing people a closer view into your company – which is priceless, good content will support your brand image and prove your expertise. But for this to become your backbone tactic, you need to fully research your target group – learn their pains, language, what content they enjoy, when they enjoy it, who do they listen to and who do they ignore. And then create awesome content, narrowly targeted at their needs. In other words, it will require a lot of patience (or mind-blowing content) to start generating the amount of leads you need to sustain your business.
2. Search Engine Optimization
Verdict: This is another tactic that takes a lot of time and resources, and is best done by an experienced specialist. If you don’t have those things, well – basic SEO is a must. It’s an incredibly powerful tatic- but also very risky and expensive. But if you have cash lying around, advanced SEO could become your most successful tactic. Plus, if there’s no huge keyword competition, then the costs will be lower and you’ll have less problems to deal with. But that’s highly unlikely.
3. Cold outreach
Verdict: Recognizable brand and a precise Unique Value Proposition are good boosts for this tactic. That’s because the tricky part of it is enclosing huge value in the smallest number of simple words possible (tough to sell complicated solutions using this tactic). Many say cold-calling is dead – it’s still very effective under the right circumstances. It’s hard to scale though, so I’d say it’s best for companies that don’t aim for fast growth. Email and social media are better if you plan on scaling and penetrating different markets. Out of all the tactics here, this one requires the most sales know-how and experience.
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End of plug! Let’s carry on.
Verdict: Might work if you find a way to out-do others creatively, and have huge experience doing it (or have someone like that on your team). Not a good one for early stage start-ups, unless you already have the proper branding and messaging to attract your target group. In general, better for medium and big companies with cash to spend and a recognizable name, looking for additional tactics to increase their online footprint.
5. Email marketing
Verdict: This can become your backbone tactic for your lead generation strategy if you know your target audiences’ needs and can offer awesome resources in exchange for visitor e-mails. Creating a separate landing page just for getting your resources will allow you to promote it effectively on social media. Emailing lists are the most valuable assets in marketing today – they can be used for lead qualification, nurturing and direct sales outreach later on.
6. Website optimization and landing pages – must have
Verdict: There are no pros and cons – you have to create a well-designed website that will attract visitors and hold their attention for longer. No questions asked. If you think it doesn’t matter what your website looks like (do such people still exist?), then you’re extremely wrong. Poor design = poor conversion from visitors to paying customers.
This is actually the first thing you should really focus on, and try to make it the best possible. It’s your piece of the internet – make it attractive. If you’re already spending your resources on generating traffic to your website, then you also have to find the time to make sure your website is optimized for conversion.
Remember – less is better. For B2B tech companies in general – it rarely happens that people want to read about all the features that you promise. They want to know how you can help them. Where the value is. And they won’t read long essays about it, you have to make it short. Leave small incentives on your website (like call-to-action pop-ups and banners) and synchronise your messaging – if your PPC banners say one thing, your website has to state the same thing. Otherwise it’s a badly converting mindf*ck.
Every company is looking for the highest potential ROI, right? But hold up – 49% of B2B marketers confess to not measuring ROI.* In this case it would be better to work with outside lead generation companies, because those marketers are spending resources without worrying about actually generating leads.
Or, if you can’t measure ROI effectively, answer these questions too:
Smaller ROI is OK if you pick a tactic that is right for the current stage of your company’s lifecycle.
Even when a tactic is working and generating the leads you need, don’t stop looking for the next best tactic for your company. After all, the amount of customers you attract determines success or failure of your company. You want to make sure you’re able to constantly find new customers.
And just in case you’re wondering if direct outreach is the best lead generation strategy for your company – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a few details and I’ll tell you if it’s currently the right move for your company.
The best way to generate leads for your company is the most cost-effective one in your company's current situation.
For an early-stage start-up, this usually means tactics that are not easily scalable - network sales etc. Lucky entrepreneurs have a special "ingredient" (employee that rocks at SEO, incredible expertise that instantly picks up traffic online), others have to look for tactics that will sustain their business without ripping a hole in their budgets.