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Top lead generation strategies for B2B businesses

Top lead generation: sales manager using laptop in office

Key takeaways

  • Use top lead generation tactics to gain contacts you can follow up with throughout the lengthy B2B sales process
  • Leverage lead generation tactics, like free online estimates or webinars, to build trust in your brand and offer valuable insights to potential clients
  • Consider using marketing tools or working with lead generation outsourcing companies to speed up your B2B lead gen process

When you’re running a business-to-business (B2B) brand, high-quality leads are critical to success. Regularly winning new leads—contacts who may be interested in your goods or services—allows you or your sales reps to follow up and build relationships with professionals who are likely to buy. Essentially, lead gen makes it easier to close deals without wasting time.

So how do you start building your list of contacts and ensure they align with your target market? Start by leveraging the top lead generation strategies and tools listed below, and learn how to work with B2B lead generation agencies to streamline your workflow, if it makes sense for your business.

What is B2B lead generation?

B2B lead generation is the process of attracting potential clients—ideally, decision-makers who make purchases for your target companies—to your business. It includes all the marketing strategies and tactics you use to drive interest in your products or services and capture the contact information of your target audience members.

Why is B2B lead generation important?

B2B lead generation helps your business achieve its growth and sales goals with precision and efficiency. With the right lead generation campaigns in place, you can continuously reach your target audience, build your contact list, and gain sales leads you can follow up with.

While all businesses can benefit from a robust lead gen strategy, B2B firms are among the companies that need lead generation the most. The B2B sales process can be lengthy, with potential customers often taking a month or longer to make a purchase. Consistently capturing leads is the best way to ensure a constant flow of new clients, even if prospects take weeks to make a final purchase decision.

B2B lead generation also ensures potential customers stay engaged with your brand as they compare their options. With their contact information in hand, you or your sales team can conduct outreach on a regular basis. As a result, you can decrease drop-offs in the sales process and increase your conversion rate—that is, the percentage of prospects who become paying clients.

Top lead generation strategies for B2B firms

Marketing manager using laptop in office

The best lead gen strategies are those that build trust, usually by providing social proof or offering valuable information to potential customers. Unlike business-to-consumer (B2C) firms—which often attract leads by appealing to their emotions and running sales promotions—B2B brands must convince highly knowledgeable industry experts about the business benefits of their solution.

Follow these top lead generation strategies to win more contacts from your B2B marketing campaigns.

1. Create a referral program

Business buyers are smart shoppers. While your marketing campaigns might catch their attention, you’ll still need to prove your products or services can help them achieve their business goals. When professionals receive a recommendation from peers they trust, it can provide the social proof they need to also trust your offerings and their capabilities—and become high-quality leads as a result.

Creating a referral program can help you drive these recommendations and win the contact information of high-potential buyers. All you need to do is offer a compelling reward—such as a gift card or free product or service—in exchange for successful referrals, and your existing clients can send you leads and promote your business on your behalf. Be sure to promote your referral program on various channels, like client emails and social media, to make the most of your referral marketing strategy.

2. Offer a sample of your product or service

There’s no better way to prove the value of your products or services than by giving potential customers a sample of what you’re selling. Offering a free “sample” in exchange for contact information is an effective way to attract leads and keep them engaged. For example, software as a service (SaaS) brands often offer free plans or free trials of their tech products, while business lawyers and interior designers might provide free consultations.

Beyond digital marketing tactics, a great way to promote your freebies is by offering them to attendees at local events, like business expos, in-person workshops, and networking events. Once you’ve spent some time building rapport with potential customers, this can be an excellent way to ensure you’re actually generating leads from the conversations you’re having.

3. Complete your Yelp Business Page

Leveraging your business page on Yelp is one of the best local lead generation strategies for B2B firms, allowing you to attract and connect with nearby shoppers who are ready to make a purchase. In fact, 57% of users contact a business they found on Yelp within a day, and 83% of users hire or buy from a business they found on Yelp.

When you add or claim your Yelp Business Page, you can captivate users by uploading high-quality photos and filling out your business information, including your website, business hours, location or service areas, and business categories. You can further impress visitors by responding to reviews—including both positive reviews and critical feedback—to show potential customers you care what clients have to say.

As you improve your Yelp presence, users may be compelled to reach out—perhaps by calling your phone number or messaging your business to start a conversation. You can grow your lead list faster by investing in Page Upgrades, like a Call to Action that drives users to a webpage (like an appointment-setting form) or allows them to call your business directly.

You can also leverage Yelp’s free Request a Quote feature to capture leads. Users fill out a project form that captures all the information you’d need to provide a quote for the service. This option helps you quickly gain qualified leads from high-intent consumers.

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4. Make your email marketing valuable

When potential customers are early in the sales funnel—meaning they’re still finding and learning about different solutions, not yet evaluating specific products—they may not be ready to provide their contact information for a consultation or free trial. However, information can be useful to all members of your target audience. When you create a high-value monthly or bi-monthly email newsletter, you can convince people to sign up and, therefore, join your email list (even if they’re not ready to buy).

Try these compelling topics in your email campaigns:

  • Industry news, like housing market updates for commercial real estate agents
  • Business tips, like search engine optimization (SEO) suggestions for a digital marketing firm
  • Links to interesting, curated content from industry publications or your own blog

Be sure to promote your email newsletter on other channels, like social media and your website, to increase the number of leads you generate. Email marketing tools like Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign provide sign-up form templates you can leverage to attract more contacts.

5. Offer free estimates on your website

Marketing manager setting up an email campaign using her laptop

When decision-makers evaluate B2B products and services, they need to take pricing into account. Understanding your prices allows them to determine if your offerings make sense for their budget. Plus, it allows them to logically compare the cost and value of potential solutions.

If your business has a complex pricing model—like SaaS products with customizable functionality or cleaning companies that account for square footage in their costs—offering a free estimate on your website can be a great way to generate leads. It can also provide your business with valuable insights about potential clients’ needs, helping you spend more time on qualified leads.

To collect free estimates, you can simply add a form to your website and manually reach out with a price—ideally within one business day to keep your leads engaged.

6. Engage website visitors with chatbots

One of the top lead generation strategies for B2B brands with complex products or services is using a website chatbot. While people are often hesitant to make a phone call—due to the time-consuming waits and growing anxiety around calls—chatbots are attractive because they provide instant customer support, even after hours. Plus, chatbots can help you grow your lead list by collecting names, phone numbers, and email addresses before a “conversation” even starts.

While chatbots might sound daunting, you don’t need to know how to code to install one on your site. Tools like ChatBot and Intercom can help you set up a chatbot fast so you can start improving your online customer experience and win more leads.

7. Host a webinar

Small business owner hosting a webinar using his laptop to help with his B2B lead generation strategy

During the buying process, 30% of B2B buyers will engage with a potential supplier’s virtual event. Webinars are not only valuable to customers but also enable you to grow your contact list and engage directly with potential buyers in real time.

To get started with this B2B lead generation strategy, choose a specific topic related to your business that you know a lot about. For example, a tax advisor could host a webinar on ecommerce tax laws or how to optimize bookkeeping for startups. It’s common for presentations to last about an hour or more, including a Q&A with the audience, so you should be able to speak on the topic for a significant amount of time.

When you’re ready to get the word out about your event, you can use marketing tools like Zoom Webinars or BigMarker to build an event page, collect RSVPs (including contact info), and host your live presentation.

8. Offer high-value content

Content marketing is often viewed as one of the top lead generation strategies for B2B firms because it provides helpful insights for shoppers, all while proving your expertise. When content is particularly compelling—offering more value than the average blog post or landing page—potential customers may be willing to trade their contact information to receive it.

Examples of gated content can include:

  • E-books, like an in-depth guide on choosing employee healthcare benefits from an insurance provider
  • Worksheets, like a small business budget worksheet from a financial advisor
  • Templates, like customizable call scripts from a telemarketing firm
  • Case studies, such as a robust story of how a marketing firm used SMS texting campaigns to reduce customer turnover for a client

You only need to create each piece of gated content once to continue generating leads with it over time. This makes content marketing a great passive lead generation strategy. You can also leverage pop-ups on your website to promote your newest pieces of gated content to visitors.

9. Run online ads

Inbound lead generation strategies, like the marketing methods mentioned above, are designed to attract customers—but they require your business to wait for shoppers to come to you. While this is an excellent, non-disruptive way to build trust with potential clients, it’s a slower method of lead generation than running ads. Pairing your inbound tactics with online ads—an outbound lead generation strategy that intentionally puts your brand in front of your target market—can help you get more contacts into your sales pipeline faster.

For example, Yelp Ads allows your business page (along with your call to action) to show up above or below relevant search results in the “Sponsored Results” sections and on your competitors’ pages. You can display your ad to users who fit your ideal customer profile by specifying their location and the keywords they’re searching. Yelp can even optimize your ad on your behalf.

Online ads are often cost-effective lead generation tools. Yelp and social media ads, for instance, only require you to pay when you receive a click (called pay-per-click or PPC ads). Plus, you’ll have full control of your budget and can pause your ads whenever you like.

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Top lead generation tools for small businesses

Building your contact list can take a lot of time—especially for small business owners who don’t have much spare time to spend on lead generation efforts. However, lead generation software can help you automate and streamline workflows. Here are five of the best lead generation tools for B2B firms.

1. OptinMonster

OptinMonster is designed to turn website visitors into leads. It powers up your web pages with features like geolocation targeting, scroll tracking, and spin-the-wheel pop-ups that help you attract and engage your ideal customers.

This lead generation software starts at $9 per month. However, upgrades can unlock helpful advanced features like countdown timers and A/B testing, which lets you compare how different content and designs affect your conversion rate (the percentage of visitors who become leads). You can leverage these features to support your lead gen efforts over time.

2. LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Marketing professionals in a meeting

Often used by the top lead generation companies in the U.S., LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a powerful tool that can help you engage with the right professionals. It’s designed to help you keep track of your relationships on LinkedIn, providing real-time notifications when decision-makers change their roles or might need your services. Plus, it unlocks advanced search functionality on the LinkedIn platform so you can narrow down your search for top prospects and focus your outreach.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is one of the costlier options on this list, starting at $79.99 per month. However, due to the prominence of LinkedIn in the B2B sector, it can be one of the best tools for identifying relevant decision-makers if you want to prioritize outbound lead generation.

3. Yelp for Business

One of the best free lead generation tools for B2B companies is Yelp for Business, which allows you to manage your Yelp Page and ads from your computer or on the go. With the Yelp for Business app, you’ll receive real-time notifications when you get new reviews, messages, or leads. This empowers you to stay on top of your online reputation and lead generation efforts wherever you are.

Yelp for Business also provides useful data, like the number of page views and ad clicks your business is getting, so you can continuously optimize your lead gen strategy.

Hear from Rescue Air and Plumbing on how they use Yelp to capture leads and drive long-term ROI.

4. Pipedrive

Sales team meeting

Pipedrive is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool designed for sales. It offers hundreds of integrations with popular marketing platforms and tools, making it easy for you to keep track of all your prospects—including names, organizations, and contact info—on a single platform.

Pipedrive doesn’t function solely as a lead management tool. It also supports lead qualification capabilities—for example, automatically scoring and categorizing contacts based on how well they match your ideal customer attributes (i.e., lead scoring)—so you can spend more time on the right prospects.

Once you start generating leads, you can continue using Pipedrive to build relationships with contacts who aren’t quite ready to buy (also known as lead nurturing). Plus, you can track your contacts as they move through your sales pipeline and toward a purchase decision. Pipedrive pricing starts at $14.90 per user per month.

5. Zapier

Zapier is a workflow automation platform that can connect your business software together to enable totally hands-off processes. It offers a broad range of use cases that can be applicable to your lead gen efforts. For example, you can set up a marketing automation in which all your new Meta Ads leads are instantly sent to your sales CRM. Or when you receive a form filled through Typeform, you can instantly send a notification to a Slack channel so your sales team knows to follow up.

Zapier offers a free plan, making it a top lead generation tool for businesses on a budget. Upgrades allow you to set up more automations and unlock new customization capabilities.

Should I leverage B2B lead generation agencies?

Woman standing outside a building using her phone

While building your own lead list is a cost-effective strategy, you could hire a third-party lead generation company to do the work on your behalf. There are pros and cons to taking this approach.

When you hire an outsourced lead generation company, you gain access to an experienced marketing team that can do market research and quickly build a list of leads on your behalf. Some companies, like specialized IT services lead generation firms, even offer niche expertise in connecting businesses in your industry to quality contacts.

Working with B2B lead generation agencies can increase your productivity by helping you save time and keeping you focused on the rest of the sales process and closing deals. However, converting the leads you get may prove to be a challenge. It’s likely that a handful of companies are receiving a similar list of contacts, which increases your competition. Plus, since your team has no prior relationship with these leads, you or the lead gen agency will be making cold calls and sending cold emails. A lot more work will need to be done before you earn their trust.

Some lead generation database companies may also prioritize quantity over quality, so it’s critical to do your research to ensure you’re working with a trustworthy firm.

Top B2B lead generation companies in USA

If you choose to work with a B2B lead gen agency, finding legitimate firms is key to maximizing your return on investment (ROI). Take a look at these top five lead generation companies to start.

1. Belkins

Belkins is a B2B demand generation company that helps businesses develop lead lists based on their ideal customer profile and creates personalized messaging to target each group. The company uses tactics like cold emailing and LinkedIn marketing to acquire leads on your behalf. Beyond supporting your lead acquisition, Belkins can assist with setting up a sales CRM and creating outreach campaigns to help you win appointments and close deals.


CIENCE is one of the largest lead generation companies around with a database of over 140 million contacts that are regularly verified to ensure you have accurate insights into potential customers. It combines machine-powered and human-led research and outbound lead generation campaigns to curate as many high-quality leads as possible for users.

CIENCE also uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze customer intent data. This helps you pinpoint which leads are ready to buy and need to be engaged immediately as well as who needs to be nurtured for a longer period of time. CIENCE’s AI capabilities can further help you automate campaigns, produce content, and instantly book appointments.

3. Callbox

Woman sitting at desk using her phone to speak to B2B lead gen agency

Callbox is one of the best B2B lead generation companies for firms that want to build an international business. It supports over 15 languages and staffs more than 800 lead gen experts in six global offices, helping you build targeted lead lists in North America, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region.

Like CIENCE, Callbox uses AI to automate multi-channel outreach and target the right contacts with cold calls. Callbox also takes an account-based marketing (ABM) approach—which means you’ll have a designated contact person to work with—to ensure you get results that are fully tailored to your specific business needs.

4. Martal Group

While Martal Group is based in Canada, its lead gen efforts extend to the United States, Latin America, and the European Union. In total, it has over 100 million contacts across four databases.

Martal Group is known to leave behind old-school lead gen tactics, like telemarketing and mass emails, and focus on helping you build rapport with leads. In fact, the Martal Group team can even send lunch to your leads ahead of a scheduled discovery call with your team.

This lead generation group also works with you to improve your online presence—a big part of building contact lists in the digital age. You can also hire Martal Group to handle your customer onboarding and long-term account management.

5. Leadium

Leadium is a premium lead generation service that leverages experienced market research teams and modern tech to build verified lead lists. They can find key contacts at specific organizations you want to sell to and provide data like company revenue, seniority, department, and beyond. Leadium can also help you clean up your sales CRM to ensure you’re only working with high-quality customer data.

In addition to generating leads, Leadium specializes in B2B appointment-setting services. It can manage email and SMS campaigns, cold calls, and more to help you score meetings with quality prospects.

Elevate your lead generation efforts

If you want to make the sales process smoother and more efficient, optimizing your lead gen strategy is crucial. The top lead generation strategies on this list—from offering gated content to filling out your Yelp Business Page—can help you build a high-quality contact list that you or your sales team can reach out to time and time again.

Lead generation tools can help you streamline your efforts, automating key marketing processes and helping you prioritize contacts based on your target market. If you’re really crunched for time and have the budget, you could also work with B2B lead generation agencies that conduct market research, provide marketing services, and deliver a list of leads on your behalf.

Some of the top lead generation companies in the U.S. can even help you keep leads engaged until you close a deal. However, you can also DIY your way to successful purchases. To keep your lead-generation efforts going, try these low-cost ideas to promote your business—especially helpful on a limited budget.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.