What do B2B tech companies need for successful lead generation in 2021?

What do B2B tech companies need for successful lead generation in 2021?

2020 saw it all – the closing of offices, working from home, and for us here at inside, a temporary goodbye to the traditional ‘sales floor’. But amongst all this uncertainty were big opportunities as the tech industry continued to boom.

With employees and businesses adapting to working remotely and a complete shift in consumer behaviour, there was a huge need for tech solutions at the start of the pandemic.

However, there was also a lot of noise…

Due to increased competition, innovation and a flurry of new market entrants, sales teams are under even more pressure to keep the pipeline full and take advantage of market growth. In fact, 49% of CSOs interviewed for Gartner’s Q4 2020 report placed ‘Accelerating Early Pipeline and Lead Generation Efforts’ in their top three initiatives for sales success in the next six months (Gartner 2021).

So what are some of the ways to achieve this? Taking what we’ve learned from the past year, as well as our experiences driving growth and revenue for some of the world’s biggest businesses, we’ve pulled together five of our tips and considerations for successful lead generation in 2021.

1. Optimise your traditional sales channels with intent data.

When we asked our clients recently about their priorities and plans for the upcoming year, many answered that they would be ‘investing more budget into digital’.

It’s certainly true that the buyer journey is becoming increasingly digital so it makes sense to invest in these channels, but what’s often missing is how they’re linked to your wider sales initiatives.

Throughout 2020, we found that the telephone continued to be the most effective channel, and even saw an increase in open and reply rates for email – so these more traditional sales techniques are still crucial for creating and nurturing leads.

The key is to invest in intent data so that your sales teams are able to identify which businesses are in market for your solution, and are then armed with as much information as possible before making their initial outreach.

Online events and content are a great way of getting this intent data more organically – if the topics are aligned to your services, this gives your team an instant route into a conversation. Alternatively you can purchase intent data for your company, or find an outsourced partner that uses it.

2. It’s all about the mobile numbers

One of the biggest challenges right at the start of the pandemic was actually getting hold of people. As we mentioned in the previous point, nothing quite beats a phone conversation for progressing a conversation into a meeting or demo. But with everyone working from home for most of the past year, all those office contact numbers were rendered a little bit obsolete.

And while we’re all optimistic for a semi-return to normal this year, judging by the countless LinkedIn polls and posts, it doesn’t look like full time office work will be on the cards going forward for many organisations.

Post-pandemic, working from home (at least partially) will probably remain the norm – and this could be even more true amongst senior decision-makers given the higher likelihood of them having families and living outside of major cities.

Right at the start of the pandemic, we made sure to invest in more mobile phone data and will continue to do so – something which truly made the world of difference when it came to how effective our sales team could be.

One thing to consider is that people are a lot more sensitive about being contacted out of the blue on their mobile when compared to more ‘public’ channels like LinkedIn and email. As much as possible, try to get your Mobile data through a value exchange e.g. including it as one of your required fields in any of the contact forms you use for events or content. This may seem obvious but many people forget and only ask for business phone numbers!

3. Webinars still have value – when used correctly

We get it. If you work in marketing, you might be as sick of webinar invites as you are of virtual pub quizzes.

But we can assure you, webinars are still an extremely valuable tool and continue to have proven success in generating qualified leads. The key is not to get lost down the rabbit hole of making it a ‘great event’ so that you end up losing sight of what the original purpose was – to build your sales pipeline.

So before planning your webinar, really think about what you want to achieve with it.

For example, is it to get as many MQLs as possible to then start moving them down the funnel? Or is it to reach those who are already in the stage where they’re looking to buy; potentially creating a smaller pool of people but who might be more easily converted? And when it comes to your audience, what are their biggest challenges and how could your tech products or services provide a solution to them?

These types of considerations are important for dictating the topic and content of your webinar. Fit the topic around your audience and objectives – not the other way round!

4. Solutions over Selling

Any good salesperson will tell you that for effective prospecting, there needs to be some sort of ‘value-exchange’. Buyers are constantly being targeted with marketing and sales communications about new products or services. To get cut-through, you need to be able to demonstrate how they can provide solutions to their current business challenges; whether that’s the need for improved marketing automation, a DMP or internet services.

As we mentioned in our points around webinars and intent data, knowing upfront what the likely challenges and desired outcomes of the person on the other end of the phone is crucial – as this will hugely help with how open they are to a conversation.

At the same time though, if you’re not sure what that information is, don’t be afraid to ask! We’ve found that on average people over the past year have been more open to discussing what it is they’re exploring or looking for within their business; as long as they don’t feel too pushed.

This leads us to the second part of ‘solutions over selling’. Now more than ever, there’s a real need to be sensitive to people’s current situations – whether that’s homeworking with young children, ongoing furlough, job security worries, or even uncertainty over the business as a whole!

Our advice – find out when a good time is to chat and schedule it; don’t be pushy and be more willing to fit yourself around those you are wanting to talk to. We’ve also found that the number of ‘touchpoints’ needed to achieve a sale has increased. So be patient and accept that you may have to offer even more value upfront than previously.

5. Outsource to a trusted partner

In what is still likely to be a challenging year of uncertainties, and combined with the fact that prospecting time has increased further, now may be a good time to take stock of your current sales capabilities and explore whether it might be the right time to outsource parts of it.

Now, we know what you’re thinking – ‘Well of course you’d say that!’

And to be fair, you’d be right. As an agency that offers these services to B2B tech companies, we would! But we can promise you it’s for good reason.

In fact, last year we found that clients achieved an average of 59.77% cost saving when outsourcing to an on-demand sales solution. And even more impressively, they saw a 4x higher return on investment than when running everything in-house.

Big factors that led to this were the constant cycle of recruiting, hiring and training new sales and business development representatives (who could end up leaving before the year is out), as well as a lack of data capabilities and expertise internally.

At inside, we’re able to build and scale you an on-demand sales solution that can instantly integrate into your existing sales and marketing function – zero stress needed!

Would you like some more tailored tips on successful lead generation this year? We’d love to have a chat!

You can read more about our services here or get in touch for an intro call.