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Building a B2B lead generation campaign that works requires managing a different set of variables than a program targeting the general public. The most fundamental of these variables is your target audience. Unlike a consumer-oriented campaign, B2B lead generation campaigns target a limited marketplace with significantly fewer potential customers. This requires every interaction with your prospect, no matter how trivial, to be well-thought out and planned in order to move your prospect to a favorable buying decision.

The second most important variable is the concept of the sales cycle. B2B consumers are not impulse buyers. Their sales cycle is long, complex and, more often than not, incorporates numerous decision makers. In fact, a large percentage of your buyers’ research and evaluation will take place even before they directly contact you for information.

This drives the need to be well-represented in the public domain. Start with your website and external, third-party reviews of your products and services. Then build marketing processes that focus on lead acquisition at different stages of the buying cycle. Each campaign should provide your prospects with the content they need while encouraging them to contact you to request more detailed information.

Once your target prospect has been identified, the job of marketing is just getting started. Next you should accurately qualify that prospect by capturing critical buying criteria. This will provide sales with a more complete and accurate representation of the opportunity. The process can take months based on the complexity of your products and requires a highly structured lead nurturing campaign. The timeframe will depend on your sales pipeline, the bandwidth of your sales team and where your priorities are set. For example, if your sales team simply needs leads to work, you may pass them less qualified prospects. If however, your priority is to engage your sales team with only those deals with a high propensity to close, then your task is to develop a lead nurturing campaign that goes much farther down the sales pipeline.

Nevertheless, developing a quality lead nurturing program is perhaps the most important element of building a B2B lead generation campaign that works. As a matter of fact, companies that truly excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead, according to a report by Forrester Research. In addition, it will directly influence the relationship between sales and marketing and make it possible for the two groups to not only coexist, but also develop a mutually beneficial relationship.