B2B Sales Need Some Love from Marketing

B2B sales leads shouldn’t be hard to come by. But without a systematic process, you will never hit your maximum productivity and effectiveness.

It is FALL again and the apples are ripe. Are your sales pipeline full and leads ripe before you begin to harvest them? If not why?

Every fall my family likes to go to the local orchard and handpick apples that grace our table with the tart-sweet crunch of Fuji, Crispin, and McIntosh. Handpicked apples are the best! Now, what the heck does that have to do with B2B lead generation?

80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the meeting. 44% of sales reps give up after 1 follow-up. Click To Tweet

I was reminded of this annual fall event when a CEO said to me, “If only sales leads grew on trees.”

I laughed, but it got me thinking about apple picking, the fruits of our labors, and how, with the right amount of cultivation, a well-developed B2B sales and lead strategy can yield as many leads as an orchard of apple trees. Have you tried a Mutsu apple?

B2B Sales Strategy

An orchard, like a good sales funnel, starts with strategy. Planting all those trees in just the right spot is exactly the same methodical approach you’ll need when developing a powerful lead generation strategy.

We’ve found that this strategy development is really a two-step process that includes:

  1. Creating content that entices potential clients. The Content Marketing Institute confirms that 8 of every 10 people say they read blogs, and 23% of all time spent online is visiting social media sites. Consumers are engaged when the content you’re sharing provides them with the information they’re seeking in the right place and at just the right time.
  2. But don’t stop there. You need to turn that content into what HubSpot calls “Lead Magnets.” Many times your content is read, but you fail to convert those shoppers and surfers into qualified leads. Capturing the visitor’s unique information – at a minimum, an email address – will allow you to build a database of potential leads that you can turn into sales.

In exchange for contact information, these potential leads will receive:  

  • A free training video
  • A white paper
  • An eBook
  • A one on one consultation
  • Access to a webinar
  • Some piece of information that is valued more than their contact information

These are just a few ideas, but this will start the data coming in. Speaking of data, let’s talk about how you’re going to market to these leads and where you’re going to house their information.

advertising firm

Sales and Marketing Technology

Database marketing is like fertilizer to a young apple tree. Using your marketing automation system, like HubSpot or Pardot. Use marketing automation, to track your leads, and automating personalized marketing materials throughout the customer experience will help your sales funnel grow quickly.

Some of you may think “automating and personalized” are oxymorons, but we assure you this phrase is right on target. 

There is no way, once a closed-loop marketing automation system is running, that a salesperson can do with productivity.

86% of consumers cite personalization as playing a role in their purchasing decisions. Click To Tweet

The trick is to tag your B2B leads as they come into the marketing automation tool. Tracking why they came to your site in the first place, in the form of a unique tag, will allow you to automate a response related to the white paper (or another lead magnet) so you can share another piece of content that is on the same, or related topic.

A message like “We thought you’d find this interesting,” accompanying the marketing materials, is a warm, inviting way to invite this potential lead to keep the relationship open.

An Infosys study says that 86% of consumers cite personalization as playing a role in their purchasing decisions. Using technology is the most efficient way to ensure that your company stays in front of customers so that when they’re ready to make a purchase – they think of you first.

Find The Right Marketing Tool for Any Stage You’re At.

No matter where you are in your biz, there are amazing tools that can save you dozens of hours per week, automate key marketing activities, and save you thousands of dollars.


Your sales team is like the branches on a well pruned and fertilized apple tree. If you support their growth with the right technology-driven marketing techniques, they will excel in their role, expand the reach of their sales funnel, and close more deals. 

Using marketing automation and CRM (customer relationship management) technology, you can coordinate and distribute marketing content, set “to do” list ticklers for your sales team, and track any sales metric under the sun.

Depending on your systems, you can track how many sales leads are in the pipeline and what stage they’re in. Historic data, including the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns over a long period, can be viewed and compared. 

When coupled with a website analytics platform like Google Analytics, you can gauge website hits against marketing campaigns, social media effectiveness, and geographic/demographic information.

Combining this with a sales team that is energized and ready to be brand ambassadors for your business will be the one, two punch that will knock out your competitors.

Making sure your sales team has all the right tools at their fingertips, including sales collateral, should be part of your overall B2B sales strategy.

Social Media and Social Selling

Your social connections are people who will eventually come to collect on the fruits of your labor. This is your extended community and the people you want to spread awareness of your products or services to.

Businesses have started seeing the value in social media and in the B2B space, the likes of LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and SlideShare are rated highest in their effectiveness by people in the field (Content Marketing Institute).

Today 92% of businesses in the B2B space have reported they use social media in their marketing strategy. It’s not just because “everybody’s doing it” these stats are because for the grand majority, it’s increasing sales.

Ranked as the #1 most effective social media site for B2B, LinkedIn is an incredible platform to publish posts on.

Not only will it notify everyone in your network but it helps build valuable connections when work is seen by second or third connections if your content gets re-shared, commented on, or liked by a first-degree connection. Going viral is like a catalyst for brand authority.

92% of businesses in the B2B space have reported they use social media in their marketing strategy. Click To Tweet

Part of the problem with generating leads is getting people to convert. No matter what you do leads have to be willing to fill out a form or give something in exchange for exclusive content or a free tool.

As B2B marketers know, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. This is why LinkedIn is such a great first step, it literally only requires the click of a button to connect with you and once they do that they’ll be more willing to take extra steps in the future.  

Once they’re a connection every new post will show up in their feed helping you to stay top of mind with minimal effort.

What you want to happen is for these LinkedIn readers to go to your website and ideally be able to measure the effectiveness of this method. Using services like bit.ly, goo.gl, or snip.ly you can track link clicks to your website and measure your marketing efforts on LinkedIn. We recommend making site-specific links to the same page. It may also be worth directing people to different pages of your site depending on the content that you post.

SaaS Marketing Case Study

TrackVia also saw the potential inbound marketing offered to attract visitors, convert leads, and close more deals.

B2B Sales Using Twitter

Be consistent. Link your LinkedIn in profile to the page you want them to go to. Typically the best practice in the B2B space is to link your Twitter and LinkedIn.

There’s a place in your user settings that allows you to put a URL in your profile description on Twitter. Most often, people will put their business URL or LinkedIn URL. 

Listen and Monitor for Purchase Intent

For businesses, especially B2B businesses that have a technology or service-oriented business model, using Twitter’s search feature is a great way of finding people.

People who are tweeting about looking for a product-specific demo or asking their followers for suggestions on which company could provide the product or service that they’re looking for? Interacting directly with these Twitter users is a great way of finding leads.

Begin a Conversation with Your B2B Sales Leads

Twitter isn’t just a great platform for listening to thought leaders, influencers, and potential customers, it’s a place where you can initiate the sales process.

Doing this requires tact, you can’t just jump into a sales pitch, you have to start a thoughtful conversation to gauge what a person’s wants and needs are. If they’re looking for a new piece of technology why do they need it? Did the old one not meet expectations? Are they expanding? Could they not afford to renew their contract?

Twitter gives you an incredible opportunity to have someone willingly tell you about their needs with no guesswork on your end or forms to fill out on their end. Be attentive, keep the conversation going, and hold off on a sales pitch until you understand if what you have to offer matches their needs.

How to Start with Social Media Selling

Should you DM or comment? Should you ask a question or introduce yourself? Twitter is a space overflowing with auto DM’s if you want to reach a person re-tweet them, follow them, and comment on their post or tweet at them.

Why not try both. Try it out here. Or blast it out to a friend and see how it works.

Just like talking to a stranger in real life, or else the initiation of a conversation can feel awkward. Here’s what you can do to try to ease the tension.

  • Use their first name
  • Tailor your message based on their past tweeted content
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Ask about their needs
  • Offer them content that has value to them

People want a personal experience and as long as you show genuine interest and concern, you’ll be on the right track. Like any good conversation, asking questions that promote conversation is the key to engagement.

Lastly, by offering quality content (not necessarily written by your company) if nothing else you’re going to get positive PR. Even if you lose the battle, you’re winning the war.

Make Someone Convert

When it comes to getting information from people they want things to be as fast and easy as possible.

To get a lead you have to make the process as easy as possible. Instead of asking them to fill out a lengthy form ask them for the pertinent information: name, email, company, and their position. This may even be too much for a first step, you can try only asking for just their email address.

In general, the first conversion should be simple and straight forward. From there on you can start to progressive profile and develop the true intentions of each prospect. There’s a reason why easy to use social sign-ins have the highest conversion rates.

The Call to Action is Critical

Whether you are creating a leanding page or making a sales call, your B2B sales lead need a call to action. Without a call to action there is no business outcome.

A call to action should be the focal point of your page. It should be immediately recognizable by a color that stands out from the background, the text, and images on the page. The three best colors to choose for a call to action button are red, green, or orange.

  • Red creates a sense of excitement and can increase blood pressure.
  • Green is associated with “go”. Green is a perfect color for businesses who are environmentally friendly or who have a very free and open company culture.
  • Orange are both very noticeable and optimistic. Yellow is a high-energy color and symbolizes hope and fun while orange stimulates enthusiasm and emotional expression.

Is there a clear winner? No, not really. It comes down to testing.

These colors are common because they have been proven to work very well depending on their context. If they flow with the colors of the brand then you have a winner.

All of these can work on a white background but what are you trying to tell your consumers about your brand?

Oniqua Case Study: Google Adwords

Grew website?traffic by 486%?in 3 months by using programmatic ad buys and testing over 24 ad variants.

Video, Video, did I mention Video?

Videos have gained popularity on pretty much every social media platform that allows videos to be watched. It’s not surprising that now more than ever decision-makers are watching videos right before they pull the trigger.

Google reported that 72% of B2B customers reported watching at least one video throughout their path to purchase.

Videos don’t have to have a high budget to get results, they just need to have high-quality content.

Many popular tech, review, and business channels have videos of one person talking to a camera. A video doesn’t have to be an advertisement, but similar to SlideShare, tips, and tricks you use in your industry that may be useful to other people.

Webinars and Boosting B2B Sales Leads

Your friends or coworkers have probably talked with you about webinars either the massive disasters or selective people that have earned seven figures from a single 90-minute presentation.

Talk about them can seem like a mixed bag, but in the B2B space where attendees are usually going to be more invested than the typical person and the presenters are usually business veterans with a lot of great personal experience webinars are an incredible tool that can –

  • Get qualified leads to finally convert
  • Gain new followers and connections on Twitter and Facebook
  • Standout as an industry leader
  • Gain word of mouth advertisement among the highly influential viewers

Webinars will require time an effort to find people to attend. Using email blasts, leveraging Twitter and LinkedIn followers, and maybe even doing some paid Facebook advertisements to get people to show up.

Depending on what industry you’re in any and all expenses could more than likely be mitigated with a single sale.

An Apple a Day…Will Keep the B2B Sales Lead Coming

inbound marketing works

If you follow these tips and techniques, the B2B sales process for your business will be as plentiful as the apples in that orchard we visited.

But to get there, we have to make sure you plant the seeds, water, and maintain the young trees so they’ll produce the fruit for apple pie, applesauce, apple fritters and apple cider.

Feel free to contact us to learn how we can help your B2B sales grow — or, of course, for our favorite apple pie recipes!

 I’d love to hear your thoughts about this post. Share your ideas below.

** This post was originally written in 2015 and was updated in September 2019 for additional context and clarity.

General FAQ’s

How does sales automation increase productivity?

Sales automation improves the resource-saving possibilities, and hence the cost of the activity goes down, in our case, the cost of sales is reduced. Sales automation can give useful data on the rep and process, which increases the possibility of analyzing the cause of low or reduced productivity.

What is a benchmark sales conversion rate?

Sales analysis shows that on average, 13% of leads convert to opportunities, and the average time for conversion is 90 days. Conversion rate from opportunity to deal is even lower — only 6% of opportunities turn to deals, but it takes only 18 days, on average, to convert.

Why is sales productivity important?

It is essential to have the right sales tools for your company to maximize productivitySales tools allow reps to keep track of their data, organize it, and sell more. Sales tools are vital for managers because it will enable them to better measure sales rep performance.

Find The Right Marketing Tool for Any Stage You’re At.

No matter where you are in your biz, there are amazing tools that can save you dozens of hours per week, automate key marketing activities, and save you thousands of dollars.

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