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How Do You Build a B2B Lead Generation Strategy?

If you Google “B2B lead generation strategy,” you’ll find 12,600,000 results that offer too many ideas mashed into one written piece. The truth is the authors confuse strategies with tactics and methods:

B2B Lead Generation Strategy

According to Wikipedia, ‘strategy is a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty’. In a modern competitive world applying just one of many tactics won’t help you in achieving your goals, especially when it comes to B2B.

For over 15 years I’ve been working at multiple B2B lead generation companies as a Chief Marketing Officer. I’m currently CMO at CIENCE, a lead generation company, where we have helped hundreds of clients build strategies from scratch, then successfully implement them.

What I’ve learned from my experience there is that you need a holistic approach to succeed in attaining new potential clients.

Applying the B2B lead generation strategy that I’ve created in cooperation with our teams here have secured CIENCE a spot among 5000 Fastest-Growing companies in 2019 in the US and the Fast 100 in San Diego.

In the present article, I’m generalizing my experience to speak about building a complex, yet effective B2B lead generation strategy that encompasses both inbound and outbound methods.

Tips on How to Build Your B2B Lead Generation Strategy:

  1. Your Marketing and Sales teams should work together. Non-negotiable strategic imperative.

  2. Clearly define the areas of responsibilities (e.g., marketers create content, sales conveys the message to clients).

  3. Your plan should take into account your budget. The more realistic, the better..

  4. Any strategy is a medium-term plan, minimum (so we focus on at least 12-month periods) but it’s worth it to peel back goals for each month, quarter.

  5. Define deadlines and KPIs – including building the strategy.

  6. First plan then hire/purchase, then implement.

  7. Have a Plan B and alternative tactics. Don’t be afraid to be flexible (and hire people that can be flexible too) with a growth mindset.

  8. What works for others won’t necessarily work for you. Experiment.

  9. What works for your competitors should be deeply understood, and maybe even copied.

Steps of Building a Successful B2B Lead Generation Strategy

Build your plan step by step by answering the following questions:

1. What are you? What are you not?

Figure out your differentiators and areas of promise. Additionally, if you don’t know why your customers should choose your product/service/company among competing offers — nobody knows. And nobody will waste their time figuring this out.

Build your Brand — your content should be consistent with your brand including public website, all collateral, Buyers Journey materials.

At CIENCE, we request our clients to fill in a questionnaire where they describe what they sell, how they sell it and how it differs from similar products on the market among other questions. We study all the available marketing materials.

Tip:

  1. You should be able to explain how you stand out in no more than 2-3 sentences. They should be as simple as possible to your target audience. Phrases like “we’re the best in the market, we’re flexible, we’re here to serve” don’t explain anything. Everyone is flexible today and the best in the market.

  2. Know your weaknesses, accept them and think of how you can make them your strengths.

2. Who are your Customers? Who are they not?

And most importantly – Why do they need your service/product? Analyze your existing customers as well as the clients of your competitors. Run surveys among them, if possible. You might as well buy some reports on market research made for your industry.

Based on this data, build an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) – a detailed description of your buyer (including the title, the company size, geography, industry, some specific features). Your ICP should be consistent with your areas of promise as a business. This is an area that is well worth outsourcing to build highly accurate lead lists that will waste as little time for your sales efforts as possible.

Then define Buyer Personas you will be dealing with (either Inbound or Outbound), including key titles. Each Buyer Persona should include problems, challenges, and goals that are relevant to your product service. Furthermore, the Personas should inform your “voice” that you talk them– on your website, in your campaigns, in your sales collateral.

Tip:

  1. Fill ICP with target accounts, ideally ranked A, B, C, and D.

  2. Create talk tracks for each persona around their pains, needs, goals, and how/why your product/service can help.

  3. Hire a firm to build out that ICP on a regular basis, guaranteeing the accuracy of contact data at 95% or above.

3. What are your goals and resources?

How many potential clients are out there (Total Addressable Market — TAM)? How many of them will you be able to win, taking into account the conversion rates? Will they be enough to cover the expenses on B2B lead generation campaign — and — most importantly will they be enough to give the momentum for our business growth? Or shall we change the ICP?

What are our timeframes? When will we analyze results? (How soon to statistical significance?) How will we optimize campaigns, based on results?

4. What to tell your potential clients about your product/service?

In step 2, you’ve done comprehensive research on your existing and potential clients as well as the customers of your competitors. You’ve also built talk tracks. Now, it’s time to create Messaging that is based on this data.

Remember that the pain points of your potential clients (as well as their fears, uncertainties, goals, and ambitions) should be the heart of your message.

You’ll have two types of B2B messages:

  • Outbound to turn an AIDA Model (Attention—>Interest—>Desire—>Action), with the goal of Action here being a sales outcome (meeting, demo, briefing).

  • Inbound — that enables sales to run a sales cycle (any supporting content, whitepapers, ROI calculators, etc), starting with capturing inbound interest (form fill, registration, etc) moving through the necessary meetings booked for sales team members to kick-off a sales cycle.

Tip:

  1. Create playbooks that will help train new sales and become a reference sheet for reps in their day-to-day work.

  2. A/B testing has proven a valuable technique, so make sure you have several scripts, email templates for a campaign.

5. What to do every day/week/month?

Create Campaigns. Start with a thesis of where your target ICP might best find you or be made aware you exist. With outbound this involves direct campaigns, hyper-targeted to the ICP. Additionally, with inbound, this involves creating content, leveraging SEO, placing bets on referral traffic and advertising, as well as what else should be in the marketing mix (PR, Events, Channel, Social Media, and Influencer Marketing, to name a few).

Isolate sales Cycle steps + validation points that are measurable steps in your customers’ journey to purchase.

Tip:

  1. Create measurements, KPI’s and Dashboard to monitor each step, including attribution + Conversion Rate.

  2. Don’t forget that it’s also important to measure the number of activities of all salespeople.

6. Sales Specialize Your Organization

Hire or Outsource the Sales Development Rep (SDR) function. This cannot be understated. On the outbound side, the benefits are obvious– sales prospecting and setting appointments. In comparison, on the inbound side, the ability to take an interest, in the form of a web registration or similar, to action, in the form of a booked appointment, will streamline your entire workflow and produce a better sales prospect experience for everyone kicking the tires on your company.

Define the channels your SDRs will be using (e.g., email + phone). Then, determine the number of leads one SDR processes on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Specify the cadence for your campaign (e.g., 1st letter – day 1, 1st call – day 2, 2nd letter day 4, etc.).

When it comes to outbound B2B lead generation, it’s crucial that your Sales Development Reps had activity plan and knew what to do in every particular case. Example: an SDR receives a positive reply. What shall she/he do next? How?

Tip:

  1. Use conversion rates to action (usually appointments) as your baseline for bonuses and compensation. Employ percentages that ensure that no lead is wasted.

  2. Set strict qualification criteria, based on your ICP above, to enforce what can and should be worth sales’ time for appointments.

7. What do we need to succeed?

This is the step dedicated to analyzing your existing tech stack and talent pool. Think of people you’ll need to hire, define the necessary competencies and requirements to them. Analyze the available market of software for B2B lead generation. What do you have? What do you lack? Define the must-haves and order.

Tip:

  1. At this stage, you might introduce some changes to your B2B lead gen strategies (e.g., if you see that some solution will increase the efficiency, but will be over your budget).

  2. Create and share overall goals for revenue, sales pipeline creation, and any particular KPIs you feel will move the needle (Sales Accepted Leads, Marketing Qualified Leads, etc) with the team responsible for generating these results.

  3. Tie the results from Tip b. Above to compensation.

8. What are our timeframes?

Define when to start implementing your B2B lead generation strategy and the ramping time. It’s obvious that in the beginning, you won’t have all the necessary talent on your team. Also, you’ll be experiencing some problems (learning curve).

Hypothesize when your campaigns should start working using metrics above. Course correct based on this hypothesis.

Tip:

  1. Define regular dates when you’ll be analyzing the results.

  2. This is also the time to optimize processes above by changing advertising spend, adding new channels, new ICP’s (working your way A-D), or new Personas as you learn your market.

Key Takeaways on Building a B2B Lead Generation Strategy

Building B2B lead generation campaigns requires aligned work of Marketing, Sales and all budgets. You should start with analyzing your existing clients, the market on the whole, and any direct competitors. Then proceed to set your goals, creating compelling messaging, and defining daily activities for each member of the team


Eric leads all Marketing efforts at CIENCE, from Awareness to Zealous fans, bringing a unique combination of marketing, digital media, technology and strategic experience to the role of CMO.

Previous to CIENCE, Eric served as CMO of Pipeliner CRM, Nimble and Sorenson Media. Other prior appointments include VP, Marketing at SightSpeed (acquired by Logitech, 2008), Director of Business DocuComp (acquired by DocsCorp) and News Corporation, as West Coast head of the Fox Online Properties.