How To Generate B2B Leads in 2021
82 Proven Ways to Get New Clients
If you’re visiting this page you’re probably wondering how to get more high quality B2B sales leads for your business.
Good news! There are TONS of ways to get high converting B2B leads. The list below isn’t exhaustive, but it’ll certainly give you an idea of where to begin.
But before we get started it’s worth remembering you only have to be really, really good at a couple of marketing channels to succeed. It’s better to scale a couple of marketing channels perfectly, than spread yourself too thin.
That said, here are 82 ways to get more, better B2B sales leads. For easy navigation they are grouped by category.
- Lead Generation Basics (1 – 4)
- Generate B2B Leads With Partnerships (5 – 13)
- Website ‘Hacks’ That Drive Lead Generation (14 – 29)
- Share Your Thought Leadership To Attract B2B Leads (30 – 44)
- Get B2B Leads By Networking & Attending Events (45 – 53 )
- Use Paid Ads & Paid Promotion To Generate B2B Leads (54 – 65)
- Participate On Social Networks For Lead Generation (66 – 69)
- Get Good Press For More B2B Leads (70 – 75)
- Generate B2B Leads Offline & Inhouse (76 – 80)
- Other Ways To Generate B2B Leads (81 – 82)
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Lead Generation Basics
With so many ways to generate sales leads it’s tempting to skip to tactics. But big-picture marketing principles never change. In these days of ‘MarTech’ it’s easy to forget that marketing is about people. To sell you’ve got to understand your prospects, and make your communications about serving their needs, not your own.
(1) Schedule Client Research: Companies don’t have a lead generation problem. They have a “know your client” problem. You can save yourself a LOT of time and money just by sitting down with your best clients and finding out more about what makes them tick. You may discover their reasons for buying had nothing to do with what you thought was important.
(2) Do Email Outreach Intentionally: Cold email is the single best way to get in front of decision makers. Precise targeting enables you to identify the exact decision makers who best fit your solution use-case. And you can fully customize your messaging so it’s highly personalized, and relevant. Just remember to put in the effort! When done correctly the high ROI on email outreach makes it the best way to book B2B appointments. At Sales Higher, a full team of professional researchers and copy writers are at your disposal from $350 per month.
(3) Elicit Word of Mouth: The organic nature of customer referrals makes them difficult to scale. But there’s no doubt they’re the easiest leads to close. When a trusted friend vouches for the quality of your work it makes the entire sales process much easier. Do your best to facilitate referrals by reminding your clients that referrals are welcome. Ask who they know that you could potentially help.
(4) Develop An Irresistible Offer: If your prospect leaves your website without taking action, they probably won’t be coming back. Develop a Call To Action (CTA) that’s so compelling prospects feel like they have to engage.
Generate Leads With Partnerships
Sometimes the best way to generate b2b leads is to partner with the right people. There are unlimited ways to collaborate with others to grow your company. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.
(5) Work With Complementary Services: To provide holistic support to clients, many companies require expertise that isn’t within their core capabilities. For example, a website designer may need help with copywriting, paid marketing, or blog articles. These solutions share the same audience and are an opportunity to support one another and ‘cross-refer’ work.(6) Offer Paid Referrals: Some solutions are gateways for other services. They are the first step in a series of solutions that naturally follow. For example, a web designer can potentially recommend a lead generation agency because the client will probably require sales leads soon. Pay gateway providers a referral fee to introduce you to new business.
(7) Be Open To Overflow: It’s natural to think of your competitors as, well, competitors. But they can also be great partners. If larger companies in your industry are experiencing a short term surplus of work they won’t want to add to head count. You can take the ‘overflow’ work off their hands, to both your benefit.
(8) Help With Local Implementation: Partner with global solution providers who need help with local implementation. For example, ERP software doesn’t always work as needed out of the box. So software providers need local experts to help the end user.
(9) Provide White Label Solutions: Building an effective solution requires systems, infrastructure, and trained man-power. There are lots of companies that want to provide your service but can’t because of these barriers to entry. Offer them a white label solution so they manage the business relationship and you handle the work.
(10) Create An Affiliate Program: Affiliate programs are less common for B2B than retail solutions, but they do exist. Platforms like ShareASale accept some B2B providers, which gives you immediate access to thousands of possible promoters.
(11) Do Partnered Opt-in: The majority of B2B websites don’t have a meaningful opt-in email marketing list. Fortunately you aren’t limited to your own list. Ask a company that has a similar target audience as your own to share your solutions with their email list.
(12) Suggest In-Kind Trade: Your services have value. So why not exchange your services for promotional assistance? Companies that can send clients your way may be very happy to be paid in services rather than cash.
(13) Collaborate On Shared Content: Creating great content that gets widely shared and becomes an industry reference isn’t easy. Sometimes it requires the combined expertise of two or more firms to make it happen. Partnering gets you double the expertise and double the promotion.
Website ‘Hacks’ That Drive Lead Generation
Your website is your company ‘face’ and positions your brand to the public. It’s also your primary tool for lead generation. Here are some ways to improve the efficacy of your website for generating B2B sales leads.
(14) Optimize Your Keywords: Generating leads begins with getting found. Keyword optimization goes a long way towards ensuring the right people are finding you for the right reasons. Think about what your best clients will be searching for on Google. And make sure those search phrases are reflected in your copy.
(15) Check Your Site Experience: Google is putting a lot of emphasis on user experience on your website. If your site isn’t mobile friendly or doesn’t load quickly then it will impact your ability to rank well in search results. Website fixes are easy to do and generate quick wins on Google.
(16) Do Internal Linking: Your website has some authority, but that authority may be concentrated in a small number of pages on your site. Link from your authoritative pages to your most important pages. You may see a boost in search ranking on pages that generate the leads with the most potential to convert.
(17) Get Backlinks To Your Site: OK, this one is actually pretty hard. Google relies in part upon ‘backlinks’ to know whether one website should be ranked above another for a search query. For example, if lots of websites cite an article as a source, Google will infer that article has value to the reader. Getting backlinks from strong sites in your niche can go a long way towards increasing your visibility in search.
(18) Set Up A Chatbot: The little chat icon in the bottom right hand corner of the website is becoming ubiquitous. And it’s easy to see why. In addition to providing a channel to connect, chatbots are a potential first step in conversational marketing. Advanced chatbots are able to provide detailed answers to difficult questions, which can further improve on-site conversions.
(19) Enlist Live Chat: AI gets better and better every day. But let’s face it, sometimes you just want to speak with a real live human. The biggest barrier to live chat on your website is that you don’t have someone available 24/7. But not to worry, you can hire live agents starting at a couple hundred dollars per month (depending on your ticket volume).
(20) Do Visitor IP Lookup: The problem with most website visitors is that they leave without identifying themselves. So how great would it be if you knew what companies visited your website? A reverse IP lookup tool shows you what companies are associated with the IPs that visit your website. So you can reach out to the appropriate contact and start a conversation.
(21) Perform A/B Testing: Sometimes you get your website copy and design perfect the first time. But it usually takes a few tries. An A/B testing tool enables you to optimize your conversion rates by trying different copy and visual elements. This helps you achieve better site outcomes, while improving site experience for your users.
(22) Install Exit Intent: “WAIT! Before You Go…” messages are a bit annoying. But the thing is, no matter how many times you’ve seen one, their ‘interruptive’ nature forces us to pause for a moment before leaving the site. It’s a last ditch attempt to get a conversion from someone who may not come back. And sometimes it works.
(23) Optimize Your Webforms: Getting people to fill out a lead capture form usually involves a bit of friction. So make it as easy as possible for them to take the desired action. If you’d like your site visitors to fill in a form include only the fields you feel are absolutely necessary. If the form is a bit long consider a multi-stage form so it looks more inviting.
(24) Use Push Notifications: When you visit certain websites you get a prompt asking whether you’d like to receive notifications. When someone subscribes you can begin sending them messages (ie via desktop messages).
(25) Register For Search Console: Google’s free Search Console tool will tell you how your site is performing on Google. Check your account regularly to find areas Google thinks are a problem for your website. Search Console also enables you to see exactly what pages are getting traffic and what search terms brought users to your website. It’s one of the best tools for getting more, qualified traffic.
(26) Register For Google Analytics: Google’s Analytics tool tells you everything you need to know about how your visitors arrived at your website, and what they did after arrival. Among other things, you can track what pages generated traffic, what pages generated a sales lead, and what pages your prospects visited after landing on your website.
(27) Request Testimonials: Getting people who have used your solution to share their successes is very convincing! It works especially well when the testimonial is from someone who comes across as a real person with real challenges. Testimonials can also help your website by increasing the density of keywords related to your industry.
(28) Create Video Testimonials: Reading about others’ success is powerful, but nothing compared to hearing them explain it in their own way on camera. Unlike text, video is a medium where emotion can be experienced. And the more your prospects identify with your client’s challenges, the more connected they’ll be to your solutions.
(29) Set Up Opt-in Email: Email marketing is believed to have one of the highest ROI out of any b2b lead generation channel. And the reason for the high returns is obvious. It doesn’t cost much to send an email. And your subscribers are already interested in your brand and communications. For smaller companies, opt-in email may not be a viable marketing channel until website traffic hits a minimum level.
Get B2B Leads By Networking & Attending Events
B2B lead generation is ultimately about connecting with the right people. And what better way to do it than in person. Connecting with people face to face makes it so much easier to share your message and connect at human level. Here are some event types that’ll put you in front of the decision makers you want to meet.
(45) Request An Introduction: How did people meet one another before Linkedin even existed? Well, one common way was to find shared contacts and request an introduction. Nowadays that functionality can be replicated on Linkedin. But it’s worth going off platform. Why not give your mutual connection an old fashioned phone call to reconnect before asking a favor?
(46) Join Clubhouse: Clubhouse is a free phone app that functions like an audio-based social network. As of June 2021 it’s still available only by invite, but that appears set to change soon. It’s a great place to host events, and participate in discussions related to your interests.
(47) Join Podcasts As A Guest: Podcast hosts need a regular stream of experts who are interesting to interview, and will add value to the show. Reach out to shows that have an audience that could benefit from your solutions. If the host likes your pitch you’re in! Some podcasts are quite popular and will give you exposure to a very broad audience. Also, most include a backlink to your website, which can be very valuable.
(48) Offer A Webinar: Tired of 1 to 1 meetings that don’t scale? Webinars enable you to meet with large groups of people, while maintaining elements of personal connection. For example, you can do a Q/A session at the end of the discussion so everyone has a chance to speak. Focus your webinar topics on areas of relevance to your target audience. The discussions don’t need to be specifically about your solutions – you can generate sales leads by working your solution into conversation or just doing a brief intro at the beginning of the discussion.
(49) Speak At Organizations & Events: If you’re an expert on a topic, groups and organizations will be open to hosting you to share your expertise. Do a search for groups, clubs, organizations that host speakers. Reach out to introduce yourself and you may have a new gig!
(50) Sponsor An Event: If you can afford it, sponsoring an event can generate long term awareness of you and your solutions. Ask the organizers for a few minutes to introduce yourself to the audience so the value of your contribution isn’t just a sponsorship logo. Let the audience see that there are real people behind the corporate brand. Also, ask the organizers to link to your company on their website. It costs them nothing and can have value.
(51) Host An Event: These days, creating your own event is a fantastic way to generate sales leads. Small scale, local events can be created on sites like Meetup. For larger events, work with a virtual sales assistant who will help you create and contact a curated invite list.
(52) Attend A Networking Session: In every major city around the world there are networking events designed to bring together people with shared interests. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider using Meetup to find interests that overlap with your own. Being part of the local scene in your industry is a way to find new b2b leads.
(53) Join A Lead Network: Consider joining a lead network like BNI International. You’ll get a steady stream of referral leads from business people, similar to yourself. BNI (and similar networks) are a BIG commitment, and not for everyone. Participate as a guest for a few weeks before making a long term commitment. But if you decide to join you may discover you get a sales lead channel that’s more than enough to establish your business.
Use Paid Ads & Paid Promotion To Generate B2B Leads
Sometimes the best way to get in front of your intended audience is to simply pay for the privilege. If your solution has high enough margins to sustain paid advertisements then getting found quickly is just an ad network away. Advantages of using paid ads include predictable cost per lead, immediate implementation, and scalable audiences.
Here are some ad networks that’ll help you predictably scale your b2b lead generation.
(54) Try B2B Intent Data: Knowing who is in the market for your solution at the moment they are looking is the holy grail of lead generation. Intent data looks at the actions of a company or individual to decide whether they are likely to purchase a solution. For example, websites will look at what pages were visited, time on page, downloads requested, and other metrics. When these actions are combined across multiple websites a clear picture is received about their buying intent. And yes, it is a bit creepy.
(55) Sign Up For Google Search: What could be better than bringing prospects to your website at the exact moment they are actively looking for your solution? The correct answer is, nothing! If you have strong conversion rates then Google Search is incredible for lead generation. Since prospects are in research mode, they tend to be high quality, and faster to convert than prospects from other channels.
(56) Set Up Retargeting: Ever shopped online and then saw ads for the same thing you were looking at? That’s retargeting, and it can work for B2B. When someone leaves your website without taking action the odds are high they aren’t coming back. Retargeting enables you to display ads to past website visitors. They’ve possibly forgotten you exist so it doesn’t hurt to remind them you can help. The two big platforms in the retargeting space are Google and Facebook.
(57) Custom Intent Audience: Just like Google Search, Custom Intent Audiences (from Google Ads) helps marketers target buyers who are lower down in the purchasing funnel. You can show ads on Google’s Display Network to people who have proven interest in topics related to your solutions. The idea is to get higher conversions at a lower cost per lead.
(58) Access Google’s Display Network: Find niche websites and forums where your target audience likes to visit. If they show display ads on the site you can (probably) use Google Ads’ display network to run ads on those sites. Display ads tend to be much more affordable than search ads. And you can sometimes include a visual element (ie a banner ad). The display network will also show you 100’s of sites related to your niche that run advertisements. You may find web properties you didn’t even know existed.
(59) Try Bing Ads: Yeah, it’s tempting to ignore Bing Ads. After all, compared with Google, they don’t own much of the search market share. That said, in some areas Bing is surprisingly strong. In North America, Bing accounts for over 9% of desktop searches (but less than 1% of mobile). But the main reason to consider Bing is that most of the time it’s a LOT cheaper than Google. Sure, there’s less search volume. But the ROI on your ad campaigns will be better, most of the time.
(60) Consider Using Linkedin: Ads on Linkedin are a tough proposition! On the one hand, your ability to target decision makers is unparalleled. With Linkedin you know your ads are going in front of the very people you want to see them. On the other hand, those clicks are EXPENSIVE. Linkedin is pricier than other ad networks like Google. And it may be a challenge to demonstrate a high Return on Ad Spend.
(61) Sign Up For Sales Navigator: Linkedin has a paid search tool called Sales Navigator. No matter who you want to find, the odds are good you can find them on Sales Navigator. Linkedin has over 750 million users and Sales Navigator enables you to sort through them all by location, role, industry, and so on. Subscriptions include InMail credits so you can reach out to the best opportunities you find.
(62) Explore Linkedin Automation: There are automated tools that will help you create connections and leads on Linkedin. The tools typically work by visiting a target profile. The prospect gets curious about who visited their profile and becomes aware of your services. More robust tools have functionality similar to email outreach. They include multi-step campaigns and customizable content options.
(63) Set Up Linkedin Retargeting: When people think of retargeting ads the ‘go to’ platforms are Google and Facebook. Which makes sense. The two ad behemoths make up roughly half of all online ad spend. But Linkedin has it’s own retargeting program. And if your customers are professionals then they’re probably on Linkedin. It’s a great way to reconnect with people that interacted with your website, but left without taking any action.
(64) Use Facebook Ads: It’s common to think of Facebook as a platform for B2C advertising. After all, most of the ads are aimed at consumers. But B2B marketers can still do well on the platform. Think about your best buyers – who are they? Facebook uses audience metrics to determine who sees your ad. That means you can layer audience filters to get your ads in front of the most relevant targets possible. Facebook also has retargeting options that can help you bring hot prospects back to your site for another chance to connect.
(65) Consider Using Outbrain: You know when you get to the bottom of an article and you see recommendations for other content. Quite often those offerings are provided by Outbrain, which serves 344 million article recommendations every month. If you’ve got high quality content that’s accessible to a general audience then this can be a cost effective way to get it in front of your audience.
Participate On Social Networks For Lead Generation
No discussion about how to generate b2b leads would be complete without a look at the social networks where so many of us spend our free time. Here’s an overview of options to consider. Building a community can be really time consuming so focus on a single platform until you’re seeing strong results.
(66) Share On Linkedin: You can’t escape Linkedin when it comes to B2B lead generation. No other platform even comes close to having the same power to connect you with decision makers. There are lots of free ways to generate leads on Linkedin. Posting regularly will give you lots of exposure across your network. There are professional groups you can join and contribute to. And you can even use the platform to publish articles.
(67) Answer Questions On Quora: You’ve got specialized, niche knowledge and people have questions about your area of expertise. Enter Quora. It’s a question and answer site that covers pretty much every topic in the universe – including yours! If your answer is popular and ‘upvoted’ enough you’ll get lots of views. Which can translate into real website traffic from people who are looking to solve a legitimate problem.
(68) Participate In Linkedin Groups: If only there was a dedicated group for any professional topic. Well, Linkedin Groups comes pretty close. You can find a group that’s based around any professional concern. Want to connect with people in the rope manufacturing industry? Linkedin Groups has you covered. And if you don’t find the perfect group for yourself, create your own! You can invite the people you want to know better and bond over a shared interest.
(69) Use Facebook: Yeah I know, Facebook is for B2C. And you’re partly correct. But here’s the thing. Facebook has billions of active users and a big chunk of them are working professionals. They love joining groups that are related to their industry. And are looking for ways to grow their professional footprint. So while Facebook isn’t a dedicated B2B platform, it’s too big for you to ignore.
Get Good Press For More B2B Leads
Getting a quote in a ‘high authority’ publication or website can do wonders for your business. If the article gets lots of distribution you’ll get exposure to new audiences that aren’t already familiar with your work. Online articles usually include a powerful backlink to your website. For Google, that’s a strong trust signal and that good backlink may drive loads of new site traffic.
Best of all, getting mentioned in leading publications in your industry isn’t as ‘impossible’ as you might think. In fact, sometimes it’s pretty easy. You see, editors have a never-ending requirement for new content. If you can make their content calendar less burdensome then they’re happy to hear from you.
(70) Make An ‘As Seen On’ Banner: When prospects are visiting your website the first thing they might be greeted with is an As Seen On banner. Here you show the logos of prominent publications that have quoted you or otherwise showcased your work. The idea is you get some ‘reflected authority’ of those organizations by establishing a link between their site and your own. After all, if authority publications feel comfortable working with you, then you must have considerable expertise.
(71) Use PR To Nurture Leads: Moving prospects through your sales funnel requires multiple touch points. Each of which has to have high value for the prospect. If it’s relevant to the prospect, sharing an authority piece on your area of expertise is a great way to demonstrate you are a thought leader in your industry. But without tooting your own horn!
(72) Syndicate Your Content: Making ‘best-in-class’ content isn’t easy – it’s pretty hard in fact. When you’ve put so much effort into creating truly solid content, consider sharing it with other websites that are open to publishing it (content syndication). Syndication can bring you valuable backlinks and expose your work to a new audience that wouldn’t otherwise be familiar with your content.
(73) Write A Guest Post: Unlike content syndication, a guest post is a unique piece of content you write for a 3rd party website. It’s a lot of work to write articles for other websites, but there are many advantages. You get to share your expertise with a new audience, and usually earn a valuable backlink in the process. If the site you are posting on is well known you also get some ‘bragging rights’ for having your work featured in a well known publication.
(74) Contribute On HARO: Help A Reporter Out connects journalists with experts in every field imaginable. Register for a free account and you’ll get sent dozens of press opportunities every day. Look for topics where you can add meaningful value and contact the journalist to share. If the writer likes what they see they’ll include your work in their article. Some journalists work for massive publications that get millions of monthly views. So it’s definitely worth a try.
(75) Pitch Editors & Journalists: We’ve all got a story in us that’s fascinating to the right audience. Fortunately there are publications that focus on that exact audience. Reach out to journalists and editors and let them know what you’re up to. Craft a unique angle that will appeal to their readership and there’s a good chance they’ll run a story on you or your company.
Generate B2B Leads Offline & Inhouse
If you’re old enough, you’ll remember a time before the internet inserted itself into every part of our lives. Imagine trying to get leads before the internet! How did they do it? Fortunately many of the B2B lead generation tactics of yesteryear still work to some degree today. And in some cases, the ROI on offline marketing can be better than online.
And the nice thing about B2B solutions is they tend to be high ticket solutions. So you may be able to outbid B2C products for premium visibility. Here are a couple of ‘classic’ ways to connect with people offline.
(76) Do Cold Calling: Nowadays your phone does anything and everything. But there was a time when phones were used to make phone calls (crazy, eh!). Cold calling is both loved and hated. But there’s no denying it’s staying power. Even with digital marketing taking over the world, cold calling is still prevalent. Cold calling’s scalability is the key to its enduring popularity. A success rate of 2% – 3% can build a company if the underlying data set is large enough.
(77) Send Direct Mail: When was the last time you got something in the post with your name on it that wasn’t a bill? At a time when people’s email and social mailboxes are overflowing, the humble letterbox has been ignored entirely. Direct mail requires postage, but it’s not as expensive as you might think. And your message almost always gets seen. If nothing else, it’s such a curiosity these days and deserves a few moments of consideration.
(78) Make A Radio Ad: People tend to be creatures of habit. And that includes listening to the same radio programs every day. And with more people working from home, radio creates a ‘comfortable atmosphere’ for listeners. In other words, despite being an ancient technology, radio isn’t going away any time soon. And B2B advertisers can probably afford to outbid B2C products for premium air time. Some advertisers have found radio to be surprisingly affordable, though somewhat difficult to measure outcomes against.
(79) Get A TV Placement: Getting a B2B ad on TV might not be affordable for smaller B2B providers. But there are still ways to use television to generate interest in your solution, without spending a fortune. If a program has a storyline that overlaps with your expertise, offer to assist. Just like with product placement, look for ways to naturally weave your solution into the episode. If that’s not possible, look for news programs or talk shows with banner ads or sponsorship opportunities. They’re more affordable and you can reach a managerial audience.
(80) Run Print Ads: Yeah print isn’t what it used to be. But it’s not as dead as you imagine. There are a lot of very niche industry publications that are aimed at the EXACT audience you want to reach. And because the subscriber numbers tend to be small, some of these advertising opportunities are very affordable.
Other Ways To Generate B2B Leads
The nice thing about b2b lead generation is there’s always another tactic or strategy you can try. Some don’t fit in neat categories, but they are worth a mention.
(81) Utilize Marketing Automation: Creating a positive, structured experience is key to marketing success. Your prospects want personal communications that are relevant to their business interests. Sounds good! And it’s easy to deliver in small numbers. As your communication channels and data sets grow, marketing automation will enable you to nurture large numbers of people at scale by automating repetitive tasks.
(82) Offer A Free Tool: Ask yourself, what tools do your prospects use? Consider offering a free version of the same just to bring them to your website. Free tools cost money to develop and maintain. But if your data set is large enough or focused then your investment will probably pay handsome dividends. You’ll be making your target audience dedicated users of your website. And it’s hard to ask for more than that.
There’s no shortage of ways to find highly qualified b2b leads. And while lead generation tactics widely vary, the core principles of b2b marketing never change. Put in the extra effort to find a strong fit between your offering and your target audience. When your solution resonates with your audience, only then will your creativity and persistence will bear fruit.
Need More Qualified B2B Leads?
Meet decision makers interested in your solutions
Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.