While the term "lead" generally corresponds to the first stage of a sales cycle, it is of particular importance.
The need to generate BtoB leads is a daily preoccupation for any company wishing to develop its sales because they represent the "raw material" that sales people will work with.
The quality of these leads has a direct impact on the rest of the sales cycle and the transformation rate. The search for "qualified" leads is a very profitable investment as soon as the sales organization follows.
Many means can be used to generate these leads (channels, techniques, media, know-how, etc.), for which the specificity of BtoB must be taken into account.
Before looking at the different marketing methods for generating leads, it is important to understand what a lead is.
A lead is a marketing term for a business contact that a company wishes to convert into a customer. A lead can be either an individual (BtoC) or a professional (BtoB) who is likely to buy a product or service from a company. In order to convert them into customers, a company will keep a set of data concerning this potential customer, in order to contact them again and convince them to make a purchase.
This information can be collected in several ways:
- through a paper form or an online information request form sent to each lead;
- following a telephone call as part of a telephone prospecting campaign;
- through an e-mailing campaign;
- by contacting them on LinkedIn;
- by subscribing to a newsletter;
Once this information has been collected, the company must sort it in order to prioritise each lead according to its degree of maturity in wanting to buy one of its products or services. In marketing, this stage is called " lead scoring ". It consists of assigning a score to each prospect, according to the probability that the latter will become a customer. Of course, this score can change as you interact with a lead.
A qualified lead is a business contact for whom a company has a lot of information. This can be their age, their socio-professional category, their function, their activity, etc. This information can be obtained by setting up a call to action (CTA) or call to click on a landing page of a website for example, by proposing a registration form for a newsletter, a webinar, etc.
With this information, a company can identify the needs of the prospect. The company can then find out whether:
- the qualified lead corresponds to its target clientele;
- the products or services marketed by the company can meet the needs of the lead;
- the lead is ready to buy a product or service.
If a qualified lead has all the characteristics of a sales contact who is ready to make a purchase, he or she is a hot lead. If not, he is qualified as a cold lead who requires further solicitations to mature his willingness to buy a product or service. The qualification of a prospect can be obtained through lead scoring.
A qualified lead - also known as a "hot lead" - represents a potential customer for a company. This type of commercial contact is therefore the subject of increased attention from sales staff. These are prospects who only want to be definitively convinced to make a purchase.
Leads are business contacts that can possibly be converted into customers. It is therefore in a company's best interest to generate as many leads as possible, in order to increase the opportunities to gain new customers. In marketing strategy, this step is called " lead generation ", which means collecting the contact details of new prospects. With this information about potential customers, a company can adapt its sales pitch and communication channels to each lead profile. Some leads may quickly forget that they have contacted a particular company because of their interest in a product or service. The company that implements a lead generation strategy - by multiplying the contact media - will then be able to recontact the interested parties, thus making each potential customer mature in his or her desire to acquire a particular product or service. This well-known marketing strategy remains relevant and effective in significantly increasing the conversion rate of prospects into customers. It should be noted that this lead generation requires the implementation of various actions to encourage prospects to provide information about themselves. The challenge here is to personalise thecustomer experience as much as possible, in order to differentiate yourself from the competition and build customer loyalty.
The new digital tools have profoundly changed the market for customer marketing. In 2021, 41% of companies recognised that a digital marketing strategy contributes to increasing their turnover. These new remote communication channels also lead to a wider competition, beyond the local market. Adopting a BtoB lead generation strategy in 2022 allows you to avoid becoming invisible to other competitors who are using digital tools massively to conquer new market shares. Moreover, a B2B lead generation strategy adapted to the challenges and objectives of a company will ultimately save considerable time for sales teams. The communication channels are predefined and the data management tools allow for the precise management of each lead action, so that the company's sales representatives only have to follow the strategy defined internally in order to maintain a coherent approach to making contact with potential customers.
For a coaching activity for company managers, a qualified lead can only be the contact details of a company manager who is certain to be the only one in control of the company. All prospects in this situation enter the target, the next step in the sales cycle consisting of having them formulate their difficulties in order to offer them adapted and individualized support.
For a specific IT hardware sales activity, a qualified lead will be made up of the contact details of the IT purchasing manager within a company that plans to replace its hardware within 2 years. Any company that does not meet these criteria has a too low probability of conversion.
The levers for generating qualified BtoB leads are varied. Depending on its specificities and targets, each campaign must define the levers to be used and test them continuously in the interests of continuous improvement.$
In addition, digital is taking an increasingly important place among the lead generation levers.
Teleprospecting is one of the historical methods of prospecting. This method continues to be successful when the prospects contacted are selected in advance. The prospects must correspond to the target clientele defined by the company, in other words the buyer persona. Teleprospecting allowsdirect contact to be made. A company's sales team can thus have a face-to-face discussion with a lead in order to assess its degree of maturity before making a purchase. Moreover, a finely argued sales pitch can trigger a purchase more quickly than an advertisement or the sending of an advertising email. Teleprospecting therefore remains a relevant lever for commercial prospecting, if it is carried out by experts. For this reason, companies that obtain the best results in terms of conversion rates do not hesitate to call on a telemarketing company to outsource their telemarketing.Read our full article
LinkedIn is an important source of leads (16 million users in France in 2022). This professional social network is having an increasingly important impact in B2B. According to a 360 survey published on LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, the LinkedIn audience has twice the impact on a purchase decision compared to the average audience.
These results come from the tools offered on LinkedIn to significantly increase the conversion rate of leads into customers. The main tools used in a btob relationship are:
- Matched Audiences to create relevant marketing campaigns;
- Sponsored Content which offers several advertising formats (single image ads, video ads, carousel ads, event ads);
- LinkedIn's Lead Gen forms which allow LinkedIn users to automatically enter their data when they are interested in a product or service offered by an ad on LinkedIn.
As LinkedIn is fully aware of its impact on B2B prospecting, more tools are expected to be developed according to the needs of companies.
Inbound marketing has become a must in recent years to acquire leads. As a reminder, this marketing strategy consists of publishing content with high added value in order to attract prospects to you.
Inbound marketing is closely linked to search engine optimization (SEO). The use of keywords allows search engine algorithms (e.g. Google) to place well-referenced sites in a good position on the SERP (results page of an internet search).
SEO copywriting therefore represents a powerful lead acquisition lever, whether in BtoB or BtoC.
E-mailing remains the easiest, fastest and most affordable way to solicit a large number of prospects. As proof, here are some key figures concerning e-mailing marketing operations in 2022:
- 42.2 million French people have an e-mail box according to a study by Médiamétrie;
- 68 million e-mail messages are regularly opened in France according to a study by ContactLab;
- e-mail marketing has an average return on investment (ROI) of 28.5% according to Chief Marketing statistics;
- e-mail represents a marketing lever that is 40 times more effective than communication on social networks according to the McKinsey consultancy firm;
- the rate of opening an e-mail in BtoB is 15.1% according to a Campaign Monitor study;
- 83% of companies use the newsletter as a BtoB marketing strategy according to a study by Imagepub
It should be noted that the rate of opening an email in BtoB has been falling slightly in recent years. This is due to the ever-increasing number of e-mails sent each day. In order for recipients to feel the desire to open an e-mail, it is necessary to think about a relevant e-mail subject.
Once the e-mail is opened, it should also be written in such a way that it captures the reader's attention and arouses their interest in finding out more. A call to action (CTA) at the end of the email that links to a landing page, an e-book or a white paper will also increase the click-through rate.
In addition, it goes without saying that for this type of marketing strategy, marketing automation software is essential with the automatic sending of e-mails.
Artificial intelligence (AI) now makes it possible to have a number of relevant and highly effective tools for generating qualified leads.
AI has made it possible to design:
- chatbots, which can automatically and instantly answer questions from website visitors;
- software that can collect relevant data on leads from several databases (company CRM, social networks, website performance analysis, etc.);
- tools that can profile a company's BtoB buyer persona, in order to search for leads with the profile of this ideal customer and provide verified email addresses for each lead selected.
It is likely that AI-based tools will grow in the next few years to improve the performance of the sales pipeline.
- Direct contact with leads
- An effective way to qualify a lead
- A powerful lever to convert a prospect into a customer
- A relatively high failure rate for cold calls (without prior work to identify the needs of the lead)
- A high turnover of staff dedicated solely to teleprospecting
- The increased visibility of this social network
- Multiple tools to promote your business
- A social network with more than 22 million users in France in 2021
- Despite a large number of users, a target of leads restricted to LinkedIn users
Publication of SEO content
- Constant acquisition of leads following the creation and publication of well-referenced content
- Reduced cost for long-term results
- A less intrusive method of acquiring potential customers for prospects who are not receptive to direct marketing
- Increasing competition between companies, which requires a well executed SEO strategy
- Results that are not immediate, but long term
- A high number of email users in France
- A non-intrusive way of prospecting
- The possibility of qualifying leads by offering free content (newsletters, white papers, etc.)
- A low cost for a company
- Increasing competition between companies
- The risk of spam or junk mail
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- A wide range of tools to automate many prospecting and lead qualification tasks
- The ability to customise the tools according to the company's needs
- A more or less high cost for the company, depending on the tool used
- The need to call on specialists or to train its teams in these tools
It is worth remembering that this list of tools is not exhaustive. It only presents the main btob lead generation levers widely used by companies today. But the market is constantly evolving, which is why it is important to keep up to date with the latest developments and to be accompanied by our ReCom BtoB sales prospecting experts.
With more than 7 years of experience, we have developed a real know-how in the field of BtoB multi-channel prospecting. At ReCom we use the best digital tools, coupled with the expertise of our sales representatives. Our rigorous methods and our permanent technology watch allow us to be always at the forefront, and to obtain maximum results for our clients.
We needed reinforcements to speed up our prospecting, and of course there was no question of collaborating with people who were not involved. Based on the elements transmitted, ReCom was able to set up an effective appointment scheduling campaign: quality and quantity are present, very clear reporting and regular exchanges. In short, they are on top!
After an initial initial phase 2 years ago, RECOM is now accompanying us in the long term on the commercial development of Sigilium. Objective: to make the solution known on different market segments, to identify prospects and to make appointments. The results are good, we have appointments made every week with companies who sign quite often afterwards. The multiplicity of channels considered and the commercial approaches imagined together allow these good results.
At the end of the year, sales representatives do not always have time to follow up on quotes sent to prospects. ReCom offered to do it and we worked together on a list of reminders to be done. The operation was a double success: + €70,000 in validated quotes following calls from sales representatives who had been relieved of this mission in order to be able to respond to all requests with great reactivity!
Due to health constraints this year most of our trade shows were cancelled, which led us to redefine our strategy. To avoid a lack of leads, we called on ReCom, which seemed to be the reference in multi-channel prospecting. Hugo and Vincent, our Business Developers assigned by ReCom, were able to add to our prospecting portfolio by taking numerous appointments for our team. A regular and quality follow-up was also set up by Precillia, our Project Manager, to monitor and optimise these actions. I therefore highly recommend ReCom!!
Looking for new clients, we had a list of highly qualified prospects that we didn't have time to approach live or follow up. We asked ReCom to carry out a telephone canvassing campaign on the basis of this file. Incidentally, ReCom also launched a canvassing operation on LinkedIn. The results are very encouraging and the positive response rate very high. The reactions of the prospects led us to question our positioning with regard to a category of customers. We expect to see a return on investment within a few weeks.
We were facing a very particular and very technical field "Tribology". The ReCom team was able to immerse itself quickly and efficiently in the subject. Working with ReCom allowed us to obtain several qualified appointments per week. We still continue to work together.