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Converting Leads is Still a Top Challenge for B2B Marketers

Image of Michelle Farnsworth
Michelle Farnsworth

Business-to-business companies are always on the lookout for potential clients who can really benefit from what they have to offer. As a result, lead generation has proven to be one of the most difficult yet crucial pursuits of a B2B. A lead generation study discovered that “Generating high quality leads is still the top issue for 59 percent of marketers.” The fact is, targeting the ideal person or company is more important to a B2B than getting a wildly high volume of ineffective prospects. Quality over quantity.

I mean, how often do you hear about a business generating plenty of leads yet closing very few of them (if any)? How exactly do you go about weeding through a high amount of generic leads to find the ones that best match your product or service, ultimately resulting in conversion? The following 4 strategies are suggestions to help you do just that.

1. Sell to the Right People

If you are constantly being turned away from uninterested prospects, you may be focusing your efforts on the wrong businesses. Redirect your energy by developing a targeted buyer persona, which is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your already existing customers (through surveys, interviews, etc.). Maxim Baeten, an inbound marketer at Showpad, notes that by conducting market research you will be able to understand not only the true value of your product but also better understand your customer’s situation. She affirms, “You can uncover key criteria and specific business needs that are important for your marketing.”

Buyer personas help you understand your current and future customers better, which makes it easier for you to modify your content, product development, messaging, and services to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups. The key to building the right groups is to identify customer needs and pains, filter them through the business you are in, categorize their needs and pains by roles or audiences, and then use that information to profile your top customer segments.  

In order to create a complete persona profile, you will want to ask questions from several different categories. You must also look outside your own motives and focus on helping buyers achieve their goals. Steer clear of any questions that only fit your product’s benefits and features, which would give responses a bias tilt in your favor. In her article, “How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for your Business,” Pamela Vaughan mentions categories and questions you may wish to include when researching for your buyer persona. These include:


-What is your job role?
-What does a typical day look like?
-What skills are required to do your job?
-What knowledge and tools do you use in your job?


-Which industry or industries does you company work?
-What is the size of your company (revenue & employees)?


-What are you responsible for?
-What does it mean to be successful in your role?


-What is your biggest challenge? (This is one of the simplest questions to start up a conversation with!)


-What is important to you and what is driving the change?
-What is impeding or speeding your need for change?
-What do you need to know to embrace change?
-Who do you have to sell change to in order to get it?


-How do you learn new information about your job?
-What associations and social networks do you participate in?
-What publications or blogs do you read?

Personal Background

-Describe your personal demographics (age, married, children, etc.)
-Describe your educational background (level or education, schools attended, area of study, etc.)
-Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?

Shopping Preferences

-How do you prefer to interact with vendors (email, phone, in person, etc.)?
-Describe a recent purchase. Why did you consider this purchase in the first place and what led to your eventual purchase or that product or service?

It is important to note that the follow up to nearly every question listed above should be, “Why?” Keep in mind that you will learn more by asking, “Why?” than by asking more superficial questions. Also keep in mind that by asking for too much information up front you may scare away your lead. Ask for smaller amounts of information when a prospect first enters your sales funnel, such as a name and email address. By asking for small amounts of information up front, chances of acquiring them as a lead will increase. As they move through the sales funnel, you will be able to ask them to provide more detailed information.

According to Gleanster Research, only 25% of leads are qualified and ready to buy (known as “sales qualified leads”), 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy (termed “marketing qualified leads”), while the remaining 25% will never actually buy anything.

Every prospect is at a different part in the purchasing process. Selling to the right people includes selling to them at the right point on their buying journey. Shayla Price uses a baseball analogy to really hit this concept home. Picture your clients as being on first, second, and third bases. Those on first base will need more information about your product and company. Prospects on second base may wish to have a one-on-one conversation with a sales rep or may want see a live demo of the product. Third base prospects may wish to read case studies. Those on third base have more information and are more familiar and are thus more apt to purchase.

2. Lower Website Friction

Friction is one of the main reasons for desertion. Lowering friction found on your website simply means removing any obstacles that could distract potential buyers from ultimately purchasing from you. Some of these barriers include:

  • -Required account logins may cause a visitor to get distracted, especially if they don’t remember their password.
  • -Landing pages that are off-topic might cause an immediate bound.
  • Tedious forms may seem overwhelming or unnecessary.
  • -Intrusive popups may become annoying or distracting.
  • Slow page load times will quickly test a visitors patience, often ending with them leaving the webpage.

According to Baymard Institute, 69% of all e-commerce visitors abandon their shopping cart. Companies are struggling with how to best influence their customers to make that final purchase. One possible solution is to send an email three hours after a cart is abandoned, which studies showed achieved a 20% click-through rate. One study also reported that 72% of 25-to-34-year-olds were very likely to purchase a product they had left in their cart when they were re-targeted with a deal on the same item.

To make the checkout process easier, eliminate elaborate copy from your site. Stick to main points and do not overwhelm the potential customer with overbearing text. While you may want to demonstrate that you are the area expert, your potential customer is simply looking for a well-laid-out solution to their problem. Offering financing options is also a wonderful idea in order to allow customers to get what they want right away yet with the leniency to pay for it at a future date.

Remember, friction is not limited to checkout but can be found throughout your webpage. Possible distractions hampering your conversions can be found on any page. Understanding the business you are in through the eyes of your customer ensures that you will better create a user-friendly, lower friction website.  

Below are several tips to improve your conversion rate with A/B testing from Caroline Malamut, a Marketing Communications Associate at Capterra:

  • Form Length: Change the number of fields in your forms. Too many may discourage leads from submitting information, which means you lose out on a potential sale. Typically 3-5 fields are best, but it is recommended that each B2B tests what optimizes their conversion and qualification rates.
  • Call-to-Action: Your CTA plays a big part in getting those conversions, since it dictates what exactly your prospects are expecting when they click. “Free Demo” or “Free Trial?” “Purchase Now” or “Sign Up Now?” Test a few offers to see which ones will drive more conversions, but make sure you do not offer something you can’t follow through on!
  • Trust Elements: First of all, make sure you have customer logos and/or testimonials on your site! Then, test where they should be placed. Next to the form, near the top, or on the bottom of the page?

3. Develop a Lead Nurturing System

Techopedia defines lead nurturing as, “a marketing term for building relationships with potential clients even if they are not currently looking to buy a product or service.” Why do businesses need lead nurturing?

Michael Meyers, Digital Marketing Coordinator at DataMentors, relates, “A successful Lead Nurturing campaign goes beyond drip marketing. It must be segmented and targeted to not only provide information that the prospect finds valuable, but to also flag interactions so that you can continue to adjust until the campaign is tailored to certain consumer profiles.”

It is crucial to adapt to your buyer’s habits because that is where personalization meets consumer behavior. For example, you may believe that the typical 9 to 5 business day works well for all of your clients when in all honesty it may not be meeting all of their needs. Is your company easily accessible? How about after 6pm or before 7am?

Come up with alternative ways to make your team available to customers. One way to do this is to use live chat on your website which allows prospects to contact you at any time. Buyer’s will get their questions answered immediately by your well-trained agents.

Another possible way to quickly move buyers through the sales cycle is to employ accelerator campaigns. Accelerator campaigns work by sending content to your prospect at the right time, triggered by one of their activities such as visiting a particular web page, reading a certain email, or searching specific terms on your website. For this to really make a difference, you must offer relevant content based on their specific  behaviors.

Pertinent information is the only way to move them from emails to trials and sign-ups and then on to instructional webinars. As prospects move through your sales funnel, adjust your content accordingly. Marketing Sherpa’s #3 lead generation best practice is, “Create content for each stage of the sales cycle.” A person who just made a purchase should not be receiving the same information as someone who just happened to stumble onto your blog. Tailor your material to cultivate your audience, improving their engagement with targeted content and reducing the work your sales team will have to do in the initial stages of the journey.

While email marketing is effective, it is important to remember the advantage of a telephone call in the lead nurturing process. A one-on-one conversation allows you to ask open-ended questions that give you greater insight into a buyer’s needs and how you can help them. It also provides an opportunity for you to answer their questions or even possible objections. After the call, you will better be able to implement a follow-up plan customized to your prospect’s needs.

By learning and implementing these and other lead nurturing techniques, you will help your business convert more leads into satisfied clients. B2Bs with effective lead nurturing strategies in place are able to respond quickly and appropriately to their leads. They provide their leads with the information they need when they need it, helping to make make their buying decisions. Lead nurturing is that difference.

4. Teach Your Sales Force

Collaboration between your marketing and sales teams is the key to converting leads. More than 50% of B2B sales leads are not being converted properly because these two teams are not perfectly aligned. Teach your entire sales force how to effectively move prospects through the pipeline.

Regular standup meetings can help improve your team coordination for reasons like the marketing department can receive feedback from the sales department about the quality of leads they are receiving, and the sales department can work with marketing to understand where the lead is in the buying cycle. As the name implies, a standup meeting is done standing up which helps everyone get straight to the point so that they can get right back to work. Teach them to collaborate.

The co-founder of Venture Accelerator Partners, Mark Elliot, notes, “The most important part of the selling process is understanding the benefits your solution provides. Start with the benefits and elevator pitch and work backwards to the functions and features.”

Train your team on how to handle possible objections. How should they react to the fact that your prospect already has a solution to their problem?

Teach reps the importance of learning what the customer likes or dislikes about their current solution. Stress to them the value of asking for more information. By listening to what prospects have to say your team will learn the value of your product and the key distinctions you have from your competitors.

An informed and unified sales and marketing force is the difference between a missed lead and a converted one.  

Prepare for Success

B2B marketers do not have to go through a major struggle in order see their conversions expand. By implementing the previous 4 strategies, or revamping the ones you already have in place with these strategies in your mind, your company will be better equipped to interact and convert more leads.  

Speak with your team about selling to the right people. Make it simple for prospects to navigate your website. Develop a lead nurturing system, and teach your sales force what it means to sell value. Following these basic strategies will ensure your company is prepared for success.


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