B2B Articles - January 12, 2022
By Chantel Hall, Marketing Content Specialist, and Lauren Lyons, Senior Analyst and Research Writer
Most salespeople are all too familiar with the experience of spending time working a lead only to realize they’re not a good fit. Their budget might be too small, their business might be the wrong industry or size, or they might not be a decision-maker in their company.
You might think that bad leads are a fact of life, but there’s a lot that you can do to avoid spending time on poorly qualified leads. “Bad” leads can be the result of an unfocused marketing strategy, targeting the wrong audience, or a lack of data and insights around the buying group.
Finding, connecting with, and nurturing leads has changed a lot from the days of flipping open a phone book and cold calling businesses. The pandemic has sped up the transition from in-person meetings to phone calls and zoom meetings. Additionally, CRM and marketing tech available to sales and marketing teams has made it easier than ever to target the right people and spend your time engaging with qualified leads. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can create lead generation and nurturing processes that will weed out unqualified leads and encourage your target audience to engage with your business.
The first step to generating qualified leads is knowing what a qualified lead looks like for your business; you need to have well-researched ideal customer profiles (ICPs) in place. ICPs are similar to buyer personas - often used in B2C marketing - but account for the complexity of B2B buyers. In short, B2B buyers usually have group buying decisions, longer buying cycles, and higher price points, so understanding your buyers is critical if you want to market to them effectively.
If you don’t already have ICPs guiding your marketing and sales teams, you need to develop them before continuing to invest in lead generation. To start this process, you can look at current customers, their demographics, and the processes that sold them. Interview sales teams to find trends and commonalities and dive into market forces to round out this group.
With solid ICPs in place, you’ll be able to build a lead generation process tailored to them and will connect you with businesses that are more likely to convert.
Successful marketing and sales teams today understand one crucial thing: the goal of lead generation should always be to increase the quality and relevance of your leads, not to increase the number of leads by any means possible. Focusing on quality over quantity will result in a better ROI, as these leads are likely to convert to closed-won deals.
Lead generation today is very different than it was even just a decade ago. Seventy-five percent of buyers say they are spending more time researching purchases, and 96% of buyers say it’s important that vendor websites speak directly to the needs of their industry and demonstrate expertise in their area.
To connect with leads during this research process, your marketing efforts need to be focused on creating buyer-focused content that speaks to their pain points. SEO, content marketing, paid advertising, and account-based marketing can help you target your ICPs with educational content and generate more qualified leads that are likely to become customers.
In one HubSpot study, businesses with blogs gathered 68% more leads than those without blogs. If you aren’t investing in content that educates qualified leads and demonstrates how you can solve their problems, you’ll continue drawing in unqualified leads and miss out on connections with your target market.
Once qualified leads come into the CRM, many companies turn them over to the sales team to dive into features or go for the hard sell. However, keeping leads on the marketing side for more nurturing is hugely important.
Nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. Buyers value sales reps with strong knowledge of their needs - so pushing a qualified lead towards a purchasing decision without taking the time to understand their pain points and educate them on your solutions is not the best way to convert.
Nurturing leads also allows you to tailor your messaging to their unique challenges and role and gather insights that can help the salesperson tailor their pitch. Content continues to be important in this stage of the process - a lead that understands your solution and believes you can solve their problem is more likely to convert. Imagine providing a lead with blog posts or case studies that demonstrate your expertise in solving the problems they’re having and the effect that would have on their feelings about your company.
Even a qualified lead may still not be ready to purchase; nurturing leads allows you to maintain a relationship with them through the longer buying cycles standard in B2B sales.
If your leads suck, look at the processes you have in place for generating and nurturing leads: is it tailored to your ICPs? Or is your content marketing so vague that it isn’t creating value for the leads that are most likely to convert?
Working together, your marketing and sales teams can develop a process that will attract and educate qualified leads without bringing in leads that aren’t a good match for your solution. It takes time, research, and continual improvement to develop a process like this, but it will produce a better ROI than a more scattershot approach that requires salespeople to spend time individually weeding out unqualified leads.
Sagefrog, 2021 B2B Marketing Mix Report, 2021
DemandGen, 2019 B2B Buyers Survey Report, 2019
Hubspot, Lead Generation Tips From 1400 Websites,
JonesPR, 10 Stats to Back Up Your Lead Nurturing Efforts, February 8, 2019
First-party data marketing
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