B2B Lead Generation versus B2B Direct Marketing Services

You’re expanding into Europe and you need to work rapidly on producing the baseline — those sales-ready market qualified leads (MQLs). Setting up your internal and field sales agents with a solid pipeline of prospective tech buyers is the foundation of a good build and a step towards ROI, whether your business is a startup or a scale-up.

Or perhaps you’re already set up but are experiencing a little trouble with your existing, traditional lead generation strategy and just want to shake things up a bit? Where’s the best place to start? Let’s take a look at B2B lead generation versus B2B direct marketing services in order to clarify the difference.

Modern marketing strategies are played out at breakneck speed and the techniques of different types of marketing sometimes get lost in that race. Lead generation and direct marketing services are two different terms, although in a way we tend to use them interchangeably. What we have to agree on is that both strategies come under the same umbrella and both should be used to deliver an effective campaign that brings effective results. Generating business is not the simpler game it used to be. What used to be a knock on someone’s door or a phone call or two is now on average 12 points of direct and indirect contact. Instead of one 'salesy' role, business development has become a blend of mainly three roles: Lead generation, marketing and sales.

Competition and changing consumer habits

Today, there is so much competition in Europe that you need to have a spot-on marketing campaign to contact the widening database of customers that are looking for your product and that need you. If, on the other hand, you don’t see much competition then your product is so niche that you will be required to develop a marketing strategy where you can really convince customers that they need your unique product.

One thing is certain, as detailed by our Boston-based sales efficiency partners, SFE Partners: “Modern sales and marketing are no longer siloed, departmental activities. Consumers have changed, requiring a more hands-on and referral-based approach. Direct sales and marketing tactics are now being replaced by online shopping and social media. Today's salesperson must also be a marketer and a customer service rep, because consumers insist on a one-to-one relationship before they will buy…there isn't much difference between lead generation and sales these days. They may be separated by time, but not so much by function, and in today's online shopping world, the time factor can be seconds instead of days, weeks or months. The impact for the C-Suite is that the entire sales-marketing-service cycle needs to be well understood, and your company needs to be tailored (or in many cases remodeled) to fit the new paradigms.''

Connecting to revenue with B2B lead generation

So what is lead generation? It’s the first step of your business development. It’s all about helping your sales team by driving those results required in the field and connecting it to revenue. Your lead generator (or team) is the researcher, who will not only create lists of good qualified leads, but maintain those lists — remember that in big corporate companies that staff turnover is high and your sales team does not have time to waste contacting ‘dead’ leads.

“Lead gen isn’t just go-to-market. The key of a successful campaign is the data,” said our business development partner and VP of business development at BNZSA Tim Perlerin.

A good lead generation team will initiate consumer interest in your vertical by examining data, defining leads and compiling a pipeline. They will use a variety of analytical and communications techniques in order to do this. The definition of a lead is anyone who expresses interest in your goods or services, and they have been fed into your peripheral by lead generation — whether that’s a well-written blog post, a social media post, a live event where they’ve picked up your details, or Google has driven them to you. Let’s look at those lead generation strategies:

  • Content marketing: Blog posts, informative industry articles
  • Intent data: not only lead qualification, but industry trends. A lead gen team will track industry words across traditional and social media to develop highly relevant outreach
  • Social media: Facebook corporate pages, LinkedIn posts, Instagram pictures, direct messages, Twitter. This can be free or you can perform successful paid social media marketing to promote individual posts or just to drive traffic to your website. Retargeting campaigns specifically target those who’ve visited your website but haven’t converted to an inbound lead yet.
  • Live events, webinars: Not so many in-person live events during the pandemic, but most have seamlessly transferred to online events and webinars — which may not be as personal but it’ll put exponentially more leads into the top of your funnel. Not only is it a chance for you to be viewed as a thought leader, you get a chance to network with influential industry names, identifying the big customers as well as the competition. This can lead to many points of contact, phone calls and in-person meetings for your sales team.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Before anyone uses you, they will Google you. Lead generation will act administratively to keep your ratings and reviews in check by curating and cultivating as much as possible. 
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM): This is also known as pay-per-click or PPC, usually done on Google or Bing. We’ve been outsourcing this marketing for years to our partner Think Strategy.
  • Email campaigns: Useful to remind clients about new products or services, and done right, they can set the tone for your business. It can be challenging to capture and keep the attention of busy professionals, so it’s essential to make sure that the emails you send stand out from all the others in their inboxes and an experienced lead generation service will do this seamlessly. Sign up to our monthly newsletter now! (Just scroll to the end of the screen.)

What are B2B direct marketing services?

First, you will have identified your company’s next strategic step. You want a steady stream of qualified sales leads or face to face appointments with the decision makers within the companies so that your sales teams can go out and immediately target warm leads.

This is where B2B direct marketing services come into play. As per Investopedia: “Direct marketing consists of any marketing that relies on direct communication or distribution to individual consumers, rather than through a third party such as mass media. It is called direct marketing because it generally eliminates the middleman, such as advertising media.”

This can be done through marketing and lead generation outsourcing partners or within your own organization. Often, in order to reach scale at the top of the funnel, organizations use a mix of both.

So B2B direct marketing services will focus on the prospective customers who have already been identified by lead generation.Those who you confidently know probably require your product or service — whether they realize it or not — and then move that prospective buyer through the sales funnel. These BDRs continue to create a content strategy and work closely with the researcher to understand who to create content for, and then feed this content to the sales team to leverage.

If the whole strategy is performed correctly, your direct marketing team will cement relationships with MQLs for the sales team to build on, with repeat customers who will not only buy again, but will refer others in the industry and build your business’s reputation and trust.

Outsourcing your lead generation and direct marketing teams

So you now know the differences and where you need B2B lead generation and direct marketing teams. Why outsource these functions? If you’re entering a new marketplace in Europe, the time is now to focus on creating that pool of qualified contacts with the most efficient content strategy possible.

There will always be different stages to your sales cycle and you will need to be ready for that. You may have lots of qualified leads and require more budget spent on your sales representatives in order to convert those leads to sales. And the flexibility of outsourcing works as it reacts to those differences. Outsourcing lowers your risk, so none of the roles in your startup or scale-up need to be full-time or set in stone. Your growing company may be restricted somewhat on budget. Instead of one contracted lead gen person, why not hire three part-timers via lead generation outsourcing? That also gives you the chance to set targets and compare and contrast between them, a little healthy competition. Plus, by working with a lead gen outsourcing partner, you can have a single contract with a sales agency like us, so you always know where you stand.

Outsourcing lead generation and direct marketing services in Europe offers flexibility, low risk, efficiency and working closely with you — achieving your goals and targets, starting with these two sides of your marketing strategy and ending in done deals.

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