Lead generation is a top marketing objective for B2B sales and marketing teams, yet 61% of marketers consider it the most challenging aspect of their jobs.
When done right, lead generation is a means to attract new customers and inform decision-makers in your target market about your products and services.
In this article, you’ll learn about the most common B2B lead generation challenges and how to solve them. You’ll also find a list of common lead generation mistakes to look out for before launching your next campaign.
Top B2B lead generation challenges and their solutions
Whether you’re an SDR in search of your first lead or a sales manager looking to improve the quality of the leads you generate, there are a few challenges to expect in the process.
Here are 8 of the most common lead generation challenges gathered from sales and marketing professionals like you and how they solve them:
1. Creating your lead gen. strategy
Lead generation strategies are not one-size-fits-all. This means you need to figure out the lead gen strategies that exist in your market and how to optimize them to fit your audience.
If you’re struggling with creating your lead gen strategy, here's some advice from Tidio’s Digital Marketing Manager, Nina Król: “Make sure you have all of the information about your customers, such as their preferences, most common queries, and methods they use to find their solutions. If you have all that information gathered, it will be easier to form an ideal strategy, and you’ll be much more confident about its success.”
2. Figuring out where to start
In developing your lead gen strategy, understanding your customer isn’t just routine. It’s key to figuring out where to start.
“The first step is to identify your audience and what they're looking for,” says Will Yang, Head of Growth at Instrumentl. “Are they interested in learning more about a certain topic? Or are they ready to make a purchase now? Once you know that, you can create content that speaks directly to their needs.”
Next, Yang recommends making your content easy to access and digest through visual aids like infographics or videos because they are often more engaging than plain text or images.
Yang adds, “Optimize your content for search engines. This will make it easier for people searching for information about your product or service online to find you instead of one of your competitors.”
3. Finding the right email
You can’t execute your lead generation strategy if you can’t connect with your prospects. That’s why contact information like accurate email addresses is vital to the process. Plus, having the correct contact details ensures you don’t waste your time.
But finding the right email address can be tricky.
Corey Haines, cofounder of Swipewell, says “One of the ways I get around this manually is by typing in different variations of what I think the email could be. For example, email@example.com vs firstname.lastname@example.org vs email@example.com ,into my Gmail search bar to see if any of them return a profile picture. It’s almost a surefire way to validate that it's the right email.”
You can also save time by using a contact tracking tool like UserGems to find verified email addresses in seconds.
Stephen Desch, Sr. Account Development Representative at UserGems, notes, “Common databases typically see a 6-9 month lag period. You know who you want to reach, but your data providers still show them at their previous company. UserGems surfaces contacts directly into my CRM with up-to-date contact information!”
4. Finding the path of least resistance to break into an account
Finding a warm path into an account can effectively shorten the sales cycle and make it easier to close a deal. But targeting new accounts with no previous relationship is a lot more challenging. It means you have to figure out how to break through any competing pitches they could be receiving and find a way to capture their interest.
Desch is no stranger to this scenario. “Check out any medium-sized account's org chart, and you’ll feel extremely overwhelmed. Multiple SVPs, naming conventions that you're unfamiliar with, and the ever-present job title inflation. Needless to say, it can feel overwhelming.”
Here’s his advice on what to do if you are in a similar situation. "When I’m in these situations, I typically start from the bottom. Target a handful of SDRs or AEs. Ask them for help — more often than not, they're willing to point you in the right direction and give you some valuable insights into the company's immediate objectives. Not only will you have the right prospects, but you'll also have information that you can leverage in your conversations."
5. Getting your first leads
As a startup in a competitive market, getting your first leads is challenging for new sales and marketing teams.
When Code200.io needed to provide leads to beta-test a new AI tool for their client, they encountered major challenges, like fierce competition in a saturated market.
In addition, their target audience was already committed to the tools in their tech stack and reluctant to change.
To find users who could beta-test their product in their day-to-day work and provide data for feedback, they used Quora, LinkedIn, and Reddit to find network engineers discussing challenges with their current software.
“We focused on the negative sides, which our client's product fixed, and invited the experts for discovery interviews with us,” says Vanda Mahas, Marketing Consultant at Code200.io. “We created user personas for decision-makers and found the profile matches on LinkedIn. During our target outreach program, we:
- Highlighted the problems we've learned from the network engineers who directly work with the software to showcase authority
- And enhanced the pitch with the business benefits of NetSequency's product.
This led to finding three potential representatives ready to beta-test the product.”
Finding your first leads is a rigorous process, but it can be done. The most important thing you need to do is highlight the benefits of using your product to a prospect by emphasizing its value in your messaging.
6. Figuring out how to passively generate leads
Passive lead generation is when you create other channels that generate leads without a dedicated budget outside of your active channels. While it’s a great way to keep a full pipeline, a lot of teams don’t know how to get it started.
Simon Bacher, CEO and co-founder of Ling App knows this all too well. “This can be seen with word of mouth. While it is a powerful tool, one can’t rely on the assumption that clients are simply going to tell others about your company.”
But he also has a solution for how to leverage passive leads. “What we’ve done is actively remind clients of the advantages of our language tool, get their feedback through simple surveys, and actively ask and encourage them to tell others about Ling. It has worked like a charm!”
Another way to passively generate leads is by tracking customer job changes with UserGems. Your past customers already know and trust your product, and are more likely to become your customers again. By keeping tabs on when they change jobs, you can reach out when they start at a new company.
7. Getting engagement on your content
Producing quality content is one thing. But getting the right people to engage with it is a completely different ballgame that requires a dedicated strategy.
“You can produce the greatest content in the world, but if nobody reads it, then it will not do you any good,” says Gary Warner, Marketing Manager at Joloda Hydraroll.
To solve this problem, Warner suggests using content syndication — republishing your content on third-party websites — to reach a wider audience. “By syndicating your content on other sites, you can dramatically increase the number of people who see it and hopefully generate more leads as a result,” he says.
8. Constantly changing algorithms
Frequent social and search engine algorithm updates create a challenge for revenue teams trying to find their next leads, especially in terms of getting traffic on your content.
According to Rajesh Namase, co-founder of TechRT, “Just when you think you have a handle on things, the rules change, and you’re back to square one. The key is to stay ahead of the curve by reading industry news and keeping up with updates.”
In addition, providing value to your prospect never goes out of style and will help you attract leads despite algorithm updates.
Common lead generation mistakes and how to avoid them
While there are tons of lead generation challenges revenue teams encounter in their day-to-day, there are also a variety of mistakes they should avoid. Often, lead generation mistakes seem like the right strategy at first but end up causing negative results.
Here are some of the most common lead generation mistakes to look out for and you should avoid them:
1. Only focusing on new leads
Lead generation is when you attract new customers. But they don’t always have to be new to your business.
Andrei Vasilescu, cofounder and CEO of DontPayFull explains “New leads are much more expensive to acquire because you are working from zero. You are building trust and the time it takes from bottom to top of the funnel takes much longer than if you also nurture your current leads and repeat customers.”
Based on data from a UserGems’ survey, 40% of your past customers are likely to become customers again. Which makes sense because, “Those leads are warm and require much less ‘prep work’ to convert into sales because they're already familiar with your brand,” says Vasilescu. “This is not to say you should work on marketing to get new leads. It just means you need to balance it out where you have a budget for both, without breaking the bank.”
However, most businesses miss out on these warm leads because they don’t know how to automate tracking them. With UserGems, you can track your past customers, prospects, and power users when they change jobs and have them surfaced in your CRM as warm leads.
2. Using one touchpoint
Getting a lead’s attention is hard. The best you can do is take advantage of multiple opportunities to increase your touchpoints and engage with your target audience.
“Many sales reps give up after reaching out one or two times, but longer sequences are proven to be 160% more effective,” says Dan Gower, founder of BuddyGardner Advertising.
“The solution is to create sales sequences that use several touches across multiple channels. When I build sequences for sales teams, I like to use email, LinkedIn, and phone.”
3. Overlooking existing channels to reach your audience
Creating innovative ways to reach a new audience or build your own community is great, but you don’t always have to start from scratch.
“While there's nothing wrong with that approach, a huge growth opportunity is to take a different tack and tap into existing audiences and communities where there's already trust,” says Bradley Hoos, CEO of OutLoud Group. “Influencers offer targeted communities that already have trust built in — and when this is handled deftly, brands can experience outsized leads and opportunities.”
Influencer marketing works in B2B.
4. Using outdated means of lead generation
Lead generation has evolved over the years, making it clear that lead volume is separate from lead quality. Thinking of lead generation only as a means to gather any and all contacts only results in generating low-quality leads with poor conversion rates.
Andrew McMenamy, founder of Tommy Cat Media, says, “Marketers run into a problem that I call the ‘Bermuda triangle of lead generation’. If brands want quality leads at a cheap cost they won’t generate large numbers of leads. If they want to generate large volumes of leads at a cheap price, they won’t be quality leads that convert, etc.”
McMenamy explains that, “The solution to this issue is to create helpful website tools and widgets that can be used by large audiences. For example, WebMD is a brand that has no trouble with lead generation. They have a symptom checker where people can input information about themselves and their sickness, then WebMd serves them doctors they could visit.”
McMenamy adds “Lead forms and lead magnets are not effective anymore. Consumers are smart enough to know when their information is being collected. If you create a tool or experience that is seamless, subtle, and truly useful, you’ll have no issue with collecting user data.”
5. Defining lead gen. as "capturing a name/title/email"
Understanding how lead generation has evolved with modern buyers helps to change the way SDRs approach lead generation. As Courtney Rives, Senior ADR at UserGems notes, “There are still teams out there who spend a lot of time and resources defining lead gen as ‘capturing a name/title/email’, typically through a content source like a webinar or gated pdf.”
Rives explains that this is unnecessary because, “with data tools like UserGems today, your sales team could have found that info in just a few clicks. Yet, the problem is this lead source doesn't equal intent. So lead gen teams need to focus on quality sourcing that leads to revenue at the end of the day.”
Rives advises that “Teams should focus on true alignment and marketing sources revenue should be prioritized over quantity of leads. Learning how to track that is important. Then invest in the sources that are actually leading to ARR.”
Getting the most out of your lead generation strategy
The first step to lead generation success is understanding how the sales process has evolved for today’s B2B buyers. They’re smart enough to know when you just want to get their contacts without offering any real value to them.
As a result, understanding your customers and aligning your sales and marketing team on what a quality lead truly means for your business will ensure you build a lead gen. strategy that works for your market. In addition, targeting warm leads such as past customers, prospects, and power users boosts your pipeline generation efforts, shortens your sales cycle and increases the ROI of your marketing budget.
If you're looking for end-to-end automation that identifies your best buyers and helps you act on those insights, UserGems can help!