B2B sales cycles are long and high-stakes. A recent survey from TrustRadius found that enterprise tech buyers consult an average of 6.9 information sources before making a buying decision. For these sophisticated buyers, some lead generation strategies make more sense than others. A SaaS company can’t run the same customer acquisition strategy as Skittles; it needs a strategy tailored to its business model. Here are six effective B2B lead generation strategies to consider.
#1: Account-based Marketing (ABM)
ABM is a marketing approach that helps you stand out from the crowd by offering a more targeted message and experience to a small set of high-value prospects.
The ABM strategy acknowledges that talking someone into adopting your B2B product almost always requires a champion inside the organization. ABM targets likely champions in a long-term effort to build awareness and ultimately drive adoption.
Instead of emailing or sending direct mail to a large list of recipients, send a carefully crafted, customized message to fewer, more precisely targeted decision-makers. Develop a multi-stage campaign featuring high-value gifts that play into your campaign theme. Think quality (of pitch and presentation) over quantity (of prospects or outgoing emails).
To see an example of ABM in action, read PGM’s RGP case study.
#2: Role- or sector-based webinars
Your B2B technology solution may appeal to a wide range of industries. But industries don’t make purchases. People do. Instead of webinars focused on your product’s place in the wider technology landscape, drill down to the specific job roles and industry sectors your prospects occupy.
Create one template of your presentation, then customize different versions that speak to the concerns of different segments of your audience. You can then plan a series of live and recorded presentations addressing multiple customer personas. Inviting experts or customers from the targeted segment shows your audience that you understand their interests and concerns.
This strategy acknowledges that in B2B, there isn’t just one buyer. Individuals from all over the org chart need to approve the purchase and implementation of your solution. Plus, role- and sector-based webinars allow you to get highly granular and precise with your content. The audience is more likely to register and attend when they know the event will specifically address their priorities.
For an example, check out this webinar from Mulesoft targeting CIOs (Notice that although the live webinar happened more than 18 months ago, the recorded webinar is still available and generating leads).
#3: Live Product Demonstrations
B2B products and services enable complex, mission-critical processes. Often, B2B prospects want to cut to the chase and see your product in action. Give them what they want!
Live demos can illustrate the fundamental differences between your B2B solution and the competition’s better than any other format. More importantly, a willingness to demonstrate your product shows your prospects that you understand the long-term impact and importance of their decision. It’s also a gesture toward transparency that can help build trust in the long B2B sales cycle.
Consider these tips for consistently stellar product demos:
- Choose a use case and data set that make your complex product stand out.
- Develop a script that draws connections between the software’s features and the benefits they provide to users.
- Maintain your demo on a dedicated computer or environment so it’s always ready to show.
- Promote the availability of live demos through marketing channels such as web, social media, newsletters, and download thank-you pages.
Demos make your product real. A prospect who attends your demo, stays for the whole show, and asks questions is highly motivated and ready for further engagement with sales.
Hootsuite’s demo program stands out as an example of effective demo promotion.
#4: Public Relations and Analyst Roadshows
B2B prospects are sophisticated information consumers. They want content that gives them new insights into a topic, not marketing fluff. Engaging with journalists, consultants, and analysts in relevant fields can help build credibility with your audience.
But these influencers can’t weigh in on your product if they’re not familiar with it. Meet your influences where they are with an annual or semi-annual roadshow. Send your top executives and product experts on a tour to visit with leading influencers. These events give you quality time with people who can sway your prospects and recommend your product.
First, make a list of the leading influencers covering your industry. You can invite them to a central meeting place, visit them in their offices, or both. Providing food and beverages helps make the event festive and enticing.
#5: Customer Testimonials and Referrals
Even more than they listen to established industry experts, your prospects will listen to your customers. They understand as well as you do that a B2B purchase is a commitment to a long-term relationship. Managing customer testimonials and referrals is a powerful way to build your business.
Work with happy customers to build case studies that explain how you resolved their problems and added value with your solution. Publishing those case studies gives real-world context to the work you do.
Prospects who are seriously considering your product also will want to speak to your customers directly. Talking to prospects on your behalf is a significant effort for your customers. It’s crucial that you make it easy and worthwhile. Arm your customers with messaging and collateral, and reward them with discounts, upgrades, and other perks.
Turning customers into advocates requires effort from your sales and account management teams. Because that effort doesn’t translate directly into commissions, consider developing a separate reward system to support testimonials and referrals.
ZenDesk takes an interesting approach to customer testimonials on its website.
#6: Co-branding and Co-op Marketing
Showing prospects that you have strong industry partnerships helps convince them that you’re easy to work with and capable of delivering a complete solution.
Team up with your partner marketing organizations to create campaigns targeting your mutual audiences. In these campaigns, you can promote your respective offerings and how they integrate together. Over time, you and your partners may develop a full solution that you work together to promote, sell, and deliver to your shared prospects.
Working with partners not only gives you access to your partner’s customers; it also bolsters your brand through association with other quality brands of interest to your prospects.
For example, check out how Infosys joins with partners in events and activities.
Tried-and-true B2C lead generation strategies don’t necessarily translate to success in the B2B space. The good news is that B2B-specific customer acquisition strategies can generate substantial ROI when executed correctly. Learn more with our guide to advanced content marketing strategies.