Hottest lead generation trends for 2022 (that you should start working on now)

We have made it halfway through 2021. It’s time to plan not only your next two quarters, but what will set you up for success in 2022 and beyond. Your outbound lead generation strategy — along with its cousins lead conversion and inside sales — are essential to that success.

In this piece, we talk about the trends we see transforming lead generation in the next 18 months and how you can use it to scale your tech startup into, well, a scale-up.

Hybrid demand generation

At least here in Europe the opening and closing of borders and quarantine requirements are changing daily. That means your whole expansion process has to be local in order to be global. This is where hybrid demand generation comes in, which can mean a sundry of things.

First, it’s hybrid in terms of outreach. To stand out, you need a mix of in-person local events to refresh and further qualify prospect lists as well as online demos and webinars. This is all alongside social media outreach and warm calling or one-to-one videoconferencing. People feel overwhelmed with spam and hard-sells, so anything you do has to be focused on offering high-quality information across several different touchpoints.

In short, hybrid B2B lead generation is more about creative, personalized lead nurturing than stale contact lists.

However, at least for the next year, the hottest topic around hybrid will be hybrid working. This is any sort of model that sees either the same or different people working from home and from a location. For the majority of sales departments, this is just called account-based marketing. They’ve always had lead gen and inside sales teams in-house, partnering with sales reps and channel sales teams out in the field. It’s just now whole departments have moved to WFH — and have proven how effective that can be — and are working out their next steps.

Everyone has Zoom fatigue. If your sales reps are comfortable with the idea, while the weather is still nice, try to meet prospects outside for a face-to-face coffee. That’ll certainly make you stand out.

But we know that there will be ongoing uncertainty around travel so it’s best to stay put and send local experts in to make those early-on, memorable in-person connections.

And it’s not just about geographical location. More than ever we want to speak to people in our own language. With accents we can understand. Who understand whatever is happening with industry in the local context.

If you want an international company, you really need a hybrid or distributed team that can collaborate to get your localized message across.

The year of data-based lead gen

A lot of people assume web traffic is a good measurement of success in a new market. And, while it’s always good to have traffic, it can actually be a false measurement of lead generation and conversion. Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and pipeline movement compared with the total leads and inquiries are much more reliable ways to measure lead generation effectively. In 2021, successful lead gen is all about data.

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

He’s referring to many different data types, including specific data on each market and the different segments within it. Then you need to implement systems integration and automation to make coherent sense of it all.

“It’s not only about the lead gen team, but also everything that goes around it — the systems, being able to automate most of the interchange of data, so being able to create two-way APIs that work directly from system to system,” Tim explained.

Our lead generation strategy always has the usual callers, but also features researchers, content marketers and even a data team with researchers and analysts. This means our databases filled with millions of European tech buyers — real people, not info@ emails — are just the starting point.

Next our lead gen team partners with the tech client to identify the specific value proposition and messaging to cater to each market and vertical.

As outreach continues, we collect intent data. Tim explains intent data as not only lead qualification, but industry trends. His team has 3,000 words they are tracking across traditional and social media for just IT industry trends to develop highly relevant outreach.

And then of course there’s that mix of white papers, events and webinars that show further intent or lead qualification. Always with GDPR compliance at the front of mind, our lead gen teams then enact an account-based marketing strategy that targets decision makers within an organization, with a mix of outbound digital and phone interaction.

As a rule, BDRs are usually making 110 and 130 contact attempts a day. That leads to 8 to 12 meaningful conversations with the buying personas our customers are targeting. This means one BDR will have specific, meaningful conversations with 200 prospects per month.

Successful lead generation is about understanding the necessary balance between math and relationships.

What won’t change lead generation in 2022

For now, robots will not be taking over our jobs. At least the jobs of the business development reps. After a year and a half in and out of lockdown, the next 18 months will see people craving personal connections more than ever. Building relationships will be part of all stages of the buyers’ decision-making process.

That being said, we can’t deny that there is a surge in AI-backed lead generation tools. Some of the next-gen conversational marketing tools are quite good. Even our own team has gotten tricked into a chat once or twice by quite specific first contacts on LinkedIn. In fact, they can even be better than the more spammy copy-pasted generic pitches we’re bombarded with. And they far outshine the unsophisticated chatbots that just pull from my  headline with “I’ve been following your work on here as a CEO | Founder for a long time, and wanted to…”  

But, while they are quite persuasive ways to make a new connection, these next-gen lead gen chatbots still have one tragic flaw — once we realize it’s a bot, we lose interest. We feel we’ve been tricked.

It still takes an average of 12 points of direct and indirect contact in order to close a deal. Yes, a few of them can be scheduled LinkedIn posts or tweets. But you cannot automate the human touch out of your lead generation processes.

That doesn’t mean lead generation is still about Rolodexes and cold calls. The advances in CRMs and especially in LinkedIn Sales Navigator are essential to any successful lead gen campaign. This doesn’t automate your outreach, but it certainly allows you to be more precise and measured about what’s working and what isn't. And it helps you hone your cadence of communication.

Partnering with a lead generation outsourcing team like us can really help you hone your global reach. We have over a hundred BDRs across Europe, ready to lend their local touch and technical know-how to your brand. And we put metrics at the forefront of any lead gen strategy. So you know exactly how things are going at any given time.

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