An Agency’s Guide to B2B Lead Generation
We see this too often: start a business, attend networking events, cold call strangers, blast unsolicited emails and finally hope for referrals.
In most agencies, this is the preferred strategy when it comes to lead sourcing. No wonder 20% of new businesses fail in the first year.
The above lead generation method is old-fashioned and won’t cut it in today’s digital-first world; it will put you out of business faster than you’ll realize.
But done the right way, lead generation can be a game changer for your agency.
How, you ask?
That’s what this article covers. Discover what b2b lead generation is, which best lead generation tools are the best, and get inspired by B2B lead generation examples that can help scale your agency.
What is B2B lead generation?
Any process that involves finding, attracting, and nurturing potential buyers for your agency is B2B (Business to Business) lead generation.
This may sound like a pretty straightforward process, but according to research by Ruler Analytics, 37% of marketers found generating high-quality leads to be one of their biggest challenges.
Related: lead generation challenges
And the reason isn’t far-fetched. Lead generation is not as easy as it used to be. It has gone far beyond cold calling/emailing in the hope that prospects will become clients.
If you want to generate quality leads for your agency, you need a more structured approach, this includes:
Identifying and targeting the right prospects
Providing value to your target audience
Building and nurturing meaningful relationships with potential customers
Providing excellent after-sales support as it’s cheaper to retain clients than to get new ones
As such, the goal of a B2B lead generation campaign is not just to get leads for the sake of it. Your goal is to ensure you generate relevant, qualified leads that will become clients. This way, you’re sure of a positive return on your investment.
Further reading: inbound marketing for agencies
Why B2B lead generation still matters
What’s the goal of every agency owner?
To generate revenue for their company. To achieve this, you need a steady stream of ready-to-buy clients.
But according to this Hubspot report, 60% of agency owners said finding new clients is their biggest pain point. The lack of a solid lead generation strategy that will bring in new clients is a major issue.
Lee McKnight, the Sales Vice President of RSW/US, corroborated this point. When asked why it’s so difficult for agencies to find and break through to new clients, here’s what he said:
They (agencies) don’t have a new business process to find new clients. Agencies often start out with the best of intentions, planning out the initial few weeks with some email blasts, buy into a CRM, purchase a list and write a blog post or two. And that’s about it. Rarely is there a value-based, repeatable process aimed at multiple touches through a variety of channels.
John Doherty, Founder of Credo also shared a similar opinion:
I have seen many agencies over the years struggle to grow their lead pipeline and expand their business because they are so reliant on referrals and personal networks that they have not learned how to get in front of a larger target audience.
Agencies that are struggling with profitability and revenue would do well to understand where their potential clients are, as opening up the funnel of leads allows you to set more aggressive pricing, and ultimately take a lot of the financial stress out of a business.
What are two important lessons we can deduce from these quotes?
- Relying on referrals and your personal networks to get clients will make it difficult to keep your agency afloat.
- You need a solid lead-generation process to capture the interest of potential buyers across different channels and create a sales pipeline for your company.
So the question shouldn’t be whether lead generation still matters. Instead, it should be “what are the best and most effective ways to get qualified leads for my agency?”
And that’s part of what you’ll learn in this article. First, let’s take a look at a few tools you can use.
5 effective B2B lead generation tools
We live in a technology-driven world where new tools emerge almost every day, each with its unique features and benefits. As such, there is no shortage of tools designed to capture leads for marketing agencies.
When choosing a lead gen tool, there are some key factors to look out for, such as:
Ease of use
Let’s take a look at some tools that tick the boxes above, and can be used for lead generation.
1. LinkedIn Sales Navigator: connect with B2B decision-makers
If you’re searching for your ideal B2B clients, look no further than LinkedIn. It’s a social platform where founders, CEOs, CMOs, and other top decision-makers hang out. According to the platform, 4 of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions.
If you want to give lead generation through social media a try, it makes sense to start with LinkedIn. There’s even a tool that makes this process a breeze. It’s called LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a powerful lead generation tool that allows you to find, connect, and engage potential customers on LinkedIn.
With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you can:
Target your ideal clients and companies
Get powerful sales insights
Access connections outside your network
2. Hunter.io: find email addresses of B2B buyers
I mentioned earlier that cold emailing is an archaic method of generating leads—but it still works if you do it right.
Rather than blasting generic emails to a list you bought, you can send personalized emails to targeted decision-makers in an organization. They are more likely to respond to your email.
To do this, you need to have their correct email address— and that’s where Hunter.io comes in: it’s an email address finder tool that allows you to locate anyone’s corporate email address. You can either enter the domain name of the company you’re interested in or the name of the person whose email address you want to find.
Hunter.io will then search its database of over 10 billion email addresses to find the email address you’re looking for.
3. Intercom: live chat with website visitors
Prospects who visit your website are already closer to the bottom of your sales funnel. As such, you should prioritize converting them into clients because they are aware your agency exists and are probably close to making a buying decision.
That’s why it’s advisable to have a live chat feature on your website. It allows you to quickly respond to your prospects’ inquiries and help them make a quick decision instead of going through a long sales process.
One of the most popular live chat tools is Intercom: intercom is a customer messaging platform that helps you connect with your customers across all channels in one place. You can use it to send automated emails, live chat with your website visitors, and even create a knowledge base.
With its live chat feature, you can proactively chat with prospects on your app or website in real-time and even convert them into clients depending on where they are in their buyer’s journey.
And According to data from Intercom, 82% of website visitors are more likely to convert to customers if they’ve chatted with you first.
4. Optinmonster - Capture website visitors’ email address
Research from CSO Insights shows that the average B2B sales cycle is between 1 and 6 months. This means not everyone who visits your website is ready to buy.
Some are still early in their buyer’s journey, which begs the question: how do you remain top of your prospects’ minds so they’ll consider your brand when they are finally ready to buy?
Simple! By capturing their email address.
Grow your industry knowledge
This way, you can nurture them via email campaigns. It will help you build authority and trust. Remember, people only buy from people they know, like, and trust.
However, asking website visitors to give you their emails isn’t as simple as it sounds. You need to offer them a compelling lead magnet like an ebook, checklist, or a whitepaper in exchange for their emails.
That’s where Optinmonster comes in, a lead generation tool that makes it easy to create beautiful forms and popups for capturing your prospects’ emails and offering an incentive in exchange.
It comes loaded with thousands of pre-built templates. You can also use their simple drag-and-drop builder to create lead capture forms.
5. Service Provider Pro (SPP)
Service Provider Pros (SPP) is a client portal tool packed with various features that makes running an agency less daunting. Among these features are
Order forms: allows leads to choose from any of your services and pay for them with ease on the same page.
Contact forms: can be used for quote requests, support queries, and feedback collection.
B2B lead generation examples
Let’s take a look at b2b lead generation strategies at your disposal to grow your customer base.
1. Build a personal brand
In a world where competition among all sectors is at an all-time high, the fastest way to generate quality leads as an agency owner is by building a personal brand.
It’s not uncommon to see agency owners shy away from putting themselves out there. Little do they know that they are leaving money on the table.
Building your personal brand will:
Differentiate you from your competitors
Position you as an authority by sharing your expertise
Help you build trust with your ideal clients
Get you speaking engagements
And generate high-quality leads for your agency
Neil Patel is an example of someone that has used personal branding to grow his business. Founder of Neil Patel digital agency, he has positioned himself as an online marketing expert on different channels. This helps him to get a consistent stream of high-quality leads.
Now that you’ve seen why building a personal brand can help you generate leads, the next question is how.
Here are five tips for building a personal brand:
Define your niche: decide what you want to be known for. This will help you narrow your focus.
Choose a platform: you don’t have to be on too many platforms at once. Choose a platform where your ideal clients mostly hang out. If it’s LinkedIn, start from there.
Create content: content can be in different forms depending on what your audience prefers and the platform you choose.
Post consistently: growing your personal brand is not something that will happen overnight. It takes time, patience, and consistency. If you’re serious about growing your brand, then you have to be willing to post content consistently.
Engage with your audience: interacting with your audience will further endear you to them. You also get to learn more about their challenges and motivations.
2. Optimize your website for search engines
Why do some B2B companies pay big bucks to get their website to rank on Google’s first page? Well, 90% of B2B customers start their buying journey with an online search.
That’s why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is such a crucial lead generation channel for B2B companies. It helps to drive people with high buying intent to your website. The best part is you don’t have to pay a dime for this traffic.
Ensuring that your website is optimized for relevant keywords should be a priority for your agency. But you also need a solid content marketing strategy to ramp up your SEO game.
Anthony Mastri, a former SEO Specialist at MARION Marketing Agency shared the same thought:
Nothing beats an ongoing SEO campaign with B2B content marketing support in generating leads.
3. Have a solid content marketing strategy
Dayna Rothman of Everstring said it best:
Content is the fuel for your lead generation efforts.
And I agree.
Content marketing plays a key role in attracting leads and nudging them toward your desired action. No wonder around 80% of B2B businesses use content marketing for lead generation.
Creating content is necessary to increase awareness, rank higher on search engines, and position your agency as the go-to expert in your niche. For this to happen, your content must be relevant, helpful, evergreen, and original. Only then will you reap the rewards of your efforts.
Here’s one important thing to note.
Content is not limited to blog posts. Your content marketing strategy should involve exploring other formats like videos, images, podcasts, emails, PDFs, infographics, case studies, etc.
Itamar Gero, Founder and CEO of SEOReseller.com agrees. In his words:
If your agency doesn’t use blog posts, infographics, white papers, or video tutorials, you’re missing an opportunity to optimize for your brand. By leveraging content marketing, you can better answer questions from clients and build a sense of trust and authority in your agency.
4. Leverage social media channels
Social media is another great way to source leads. According to this recent HubSpot report, social media is the top channel for marketers in 2022.
The reason for that is obvious: the average person has 7.6 active social media accounts and spends 2 hours 24 minutes a day on them. So if the saying “meet your audience where they are” is anything to go by, then social media is where you’d find them.
You can easily share your expertise, build a community, promote your brand and generate leads on social media.
If you want to get active on social media, LinkedIn is the first platform to start. It’s home to 875 million users, most of whom are business professionals.
This doesn’t mean other channels aren’t great for finding B2B leads. You can also find your ideal clients on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
In fact, TikTok is an emerging platform for finding B2B leads—nd there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be. After all, B2B buyers are also humans.
5. Host Live Webinars
Another great demand generation strategy is to host live webinars.
Related: what does demand generation mean?
This 2022 Content Marketing Institute research showed that webinars produced the best content in the last 12 months.
Hosting webinars is a tactic that allows you to build brand awareness, share your knowledge, engage your audience, establish authority, and secure new leads.
For instance, if you run a digital marketing agency, you can host weekly or monthly webinars about how your audience can scale their organization with online marketing. Include your sales and marketing teams as they have the know-how to talk about industry specific topics.
To get as much as exposure as possible, promote your webinar on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook groups, and other platforms where your ideal audience is. The next step is to send leads directly to your landing page where they’ll enter their email address to get access to the webinar. After the webinar, you can keep sending them email campaigns to nurture them until they become clients.
Pro tip: Be sure to provide enough value to your attendees before you attempt to sell your product or service to them.
6. Be active in online communities
There are online communities like Quora, Reddit, Medium and even Facebook groups where you can join discussions related to your niche.
Answering questions, educating people, and sharing your expertise on public forums will not only establish you as an authority but also bring you consistent leads.
Here’s how to use online communities to establish authority:
Publish: share short thought-provoking posts in public forums that would entice potential clients. You can also add links to your website or relevant blog posts.
Engage: Provide value by leaving comments on posts seeking help.
An example of someone who has done this to good effect is writer, Nicolas Cole.
He grew his agency, Digital Press, to seven figures in revenue within a few years simply by consistently posting and answering questions on Quora.
Grow your agency with qualified B2B sales leads
B2B lead generation has been the focus of this article, but there’s a caveat.
Effective lead generation boils down to quality rather than quantity. Having a high volume of leads doesn’t guarantee conversion. It’s better to have 1,000 quality leads than 10,000 bad leads.
In all your lead generation efforts, ensure you refine your strategy so you can send qualified leads to your sales team. This will save you a ton of time, money, and effort, boost conversions, motivate your sales team and of course, grow your agency.