From Top to Bottom: B2B Lead Generation Services for Each Stage of the Marketing Funnel

September 28, 2023

ViB Editorial Team

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B2B lead generation in digital marketing is the strategic process of identifying, attracting, and nurturing prospects, and retaining them as loyal clients. It’s what we marketers do on repeat.

The catch? Lead generation is tough. It can be time-consuming and overwhelming, especially when you feel like you don’t have any avenues effectively set up to reach new customers. According to some recent B2B marketing trends data we gathered, 54% of B2B marketers are challenged with improving lead quality and conversion rates, and 41% with generating more leads.

When it feels like you don’t have the right resources, time, or budget to crush your lead gen goals, that’s when outsourcing to B2B lead generation services can do most of the grunt work for you – to save your team time, and energy, and if done effectively, money.

What are B2B lead generation services?

B2B lead generation services are specialized outsourced solutions that help companies identify and engage with prospective buyers to generate qualified leads for the client company’s products or services.

Lead generation services are an umbrella term and encompass a wide range of specific services, each targeting different goals you may have. 

For instance, if you’re looking to increase your brand’s reach, services like email marketing lead generation can help you cast a wider net and generate a higher volume of contacts. On the other hand, if your goal is to secure more sales meetings with leads who are closer to making a buying decision (and you have a larger budget for that), B2B appointment setting is a great service to include in your marketing mix.

You may be wondering, how do I know which are the best services to use at which point?

To help with that, let’s think about the stages in the B2B lead generation process

Understanding the B2B lead generation funnel

When deciding which product or services to buy, prospects go through a customer journey. Given the longer and complex B2B sales cycles, there are many frameworks for B2B marketing and sales teams to visualize this journey. 

For example, you can think of the B2B customer journey as an infinite loop. You can also map out the stages: awareness, interest, consideration, and decision. For sales, the sales pipeline stages look more like prospecting, qualification, meeting, and closing

To keep things a little more simple, we like to visualize the B2B lead generation funnel like this.

The 3 lead generation stages

📢 Top of funnel (awareness) – Prospects become aware of their challenges and needs, and discover your brand. 

🎯 Middle of funnel (interest) – Targeted leads seek more detailed information about their needs and potential solutions.

🤝 Bottom of funnel (decision) – Potential buyers assess your solution, including detailed specs and pricing.

So when it comes to B2B lead generation services, consider which parts of the funnel they address. This ensures that you choose services that align with your specific goals and needs. Plus, it’ll help you better approach targeting, content creation, and resource allocation.

Best B2B lead generation services for different stages of the funnel

Let’s now go over the range of B2B lead generation services and where they sit in the funnel, so you know exactly how to implement the right outsourced marketing strategy.

Top-of-funnel

At the top of the lead generation funnel, you’re introducing your brand to your audience. When learning about a company and its products or services, it’s important the company:

  • provides light, value-added content aimed at informing and educating
  • includes fewer sales-centric calls to action (CTAs), because they won’t be ready for that.

 

This is where your informational and attention-grabbing assets, like blog posts, webinarsand ads, come into play. Your goal is to get your brand in front of them so they’re aware of offerings and your story and start seeing how you might be a potential solution to their problems.

When outsourcing lead generation for top-of-funnel goals, services that generate awareness-level leads include: 

1. B2B data providers and lead list rental services

Utilizing contact data from B2B data providers or buying lead lists helps you easily generate targeted leads, with various activation options. Adding these services on a recurring basis is a nifty tactic to combat data decay in your email marketing database as well.

One thing to note is that leads are cold. It’s crucial to follow up with awareness-level activations, such as awareness campaigns and engaging content, to warm up these leads for further engagement.

See the 10 B2B data providers we trust

2. B2B email marketing and cold email services

Expertly crafted email marketing campaigns are great for strategically reaching out to potential leads, piquing their curiosity, and starting conversations. In fact, according to Hubspot, “brands get back $36 for every $1 spent on the channel on average.” 

At the top-of-funnel, cold email campaigns are effective in driving attendance to events, promoting valuable content, and even improving your ABM (Account Based Marketing) results, 

Do you see a similarity between this and lead list services? They’re definitely related, but email marketing services involve sending cold emails as well, so there’s less legwork on your part. An example is ViB Emails, which is an end-to-end service that amplifies your existing email — and takes care of list building, filtering, cleaning, and email delivery.

3. B2B content and creative services

Outsourcing content creation especially for the top-of-funnel help is a smart move to enhance awareness. When prospects are just starting to get to know you, they’re more sensitive to powerful visuals, emotional appeals, and a compelling brand story.

Ads, short videos, and punchy copywriting are more likely to resonate with them. For such specialty content, creative design services or freelance writers can help give your materials a necessary professional touch, making them more appealing and shareable, thereby expanding your brand’s reach.

Thumbnail of ViB Guide - The ultimate quickstart guide to B2B tech brand storytelling
Get simple tips on how to resonate with your tech audience with a unique brand story, and infuse it in every marketing campaign you launch.

4. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising 

Strategic PPC campaigns provide a quicker and more predictable way to drive initial interest if you have the budget for it! To ensure you’re fully optimizing your ad spend, digital marketing agencies and contractors are your best bet here.

By placing targeted ads, you capture attention and direct potential leads to relevant landing pages, creating an effective entry point to your funnel. 

5. Attendee generation and event promotion

Have events you’re already planning but want to increase participation? Event promotion lead generation services can help exactly with that. By amplifying your upcoming event to your target audience, these services simply piggyback on the work you’ve already done, and help you generate more results.

Specialized attendee generation services aren’t common in the industry, but many lead generation vendors are able to offer similar services, like email marketing, that generate the same outcome — more attendees. 

With ViB Emails, generate hundreds of qualified leads consistently, just like AtScale.

“VIB is my favorite vendor and the easiest I work with. The turn-around time is incredible, the process is smooth, the team cares about our success. Their customer service could not be better.”
– Mary O’Hara. AtScale

Middle-of-funnel

As prospects learn more about your company, they’re getting more interested and want to understand your unique value to help them evaluate their options

This means your touchpoints can become more personalized and geared toward differentiating your brand from your competitors and identifying solutions to their challenges. 

Some recommended actions are to share in-depth insights and valuable resources like:

 

Remember, at this phase, they’re also exploring your competitors. You’ll need to show them you’re not just another option – you’re the solution.

B2B lead generation services here focus on sourcing more engaged leads, with clearer interest in what you offer. Some of the best services for this phase are:

1. B2B research services

Conducting B2B market research gives you data-driven insights such as relevant industry statistics, trends, and competitive analysis. This service isn’t commonly considered as part of a lead generation strategy, but generating original insights has powerful repurposing opportunities in the middle-of-funnel stage, and also guides product strategy. In turn, research helps leads make informed decisions, that’s especially valuable when they’re in the consideration stage.

If you’re looking for a service without the steep price tag, try ViB Research. Have the opportunity to co-design each survey to gain the exact information you’re looking for, plus leverage the ViB Community to survey consumer profiles specific to your target market. ,

Thumbnail of ViB B2B Marketing Trends Report

Discover the latest trends and statistics — and the key actions B2B marketers and leaders need to take today. 

2. B2B content syndication

Content syndication marketing allows you to maximize the ROI of existing assets by promoting content to a wider, target market, especially one that’s actively looking for solutions. 

It’s particularly useful to leverage these services to promote high-value, conversion-focused assets. And in exchange for access to such assets, leads provide their contact information.

You’ll also effectively foster engagement and can strategically position your brand and offering as they consume your asset.

Remember: it’s important to continue nurturing syndication leads through their customer journey.

Keep offering value-add content and slowly push the topic towards your offering and its differentiators.

If you notice your leads engaging well, esepcially with evaluation focused content, then they’re prime for a discovery call!

number of content pieces required in b2 lead generation

One last tip. When choosing the best content syndication service provider that’s effective in the middle of the funnel, consider a pay-per-lead content syndication service where you’re generating and paying only for qualified downloads. This guarantees a predictable volume of leads with higher interest and the chance of greater conversion.

3. B2B webinar and virtual event services

Hosting engaging B2B virtual events that provide valuable insights, and address industry trends and pain points, are great at deepening interest while positioning your brand as a reliable source of expertise.

Because webinar marketing can be pretty resource intensive, outsourcing the planning and hosting to webinar marketing services help you easily reap the benefits — increased reach and engagement, thought leadership, and lead generation. 

Look out for webinar services that help out with both event production and promotion, so you’re sure to gain qualified leads. For example, our team at ViB runs end-to-end webinars that come with a guaranteed registrant or attendee quota. It’s cost effective too, since we’re able to tap into our community of millions of tech professionals actively looking for solutions to their challenges. This way, you can enjoy a fully orchestrated virtual event without the stress.

Bottom-of-funnel

At the bottom of the funnel, you’ve got your prospect’s attention and interest, and they’re likely deciding between just you and a very small handful of alternatives. At this point, your accounts are bringing in stakeholders or upper-level management into their decision-making, looking at implementation timelines, and weighing the costs against their budget. 

Now, it’s time to convince them you’re the best choice. Product demos, direct conversations, and personalized activations based on their intent data or your research all come into play. It’s also useful to extend an offer that’s hard to refuse (i.e “10% off the first order” or “free trial”).

B2B lead generation services here aim to deliver more targeted leads that are highly motivated and closer to being ready to make a decision. To generate such leads, service providers will have a more rigorous qualification process. That will cost you more than a simple lead list rental service for example — but the leads will require much less nurturing on your part. 

Qualified lead generation services are especially helpful for emerging startups, smaller inside sales teams, and filling any sales pipeline gaps with little time to spare. Here are some of the best services at this stage.

1. Outsourced SDR services 

Outsourced Sales Development Representative (SDR) services take charge of the complete prospecting and nurturing process. That means SDRs identify prospects, engage potential leads, address their questions, and get them ready for an effective hand-off to you. 

When considering an outsourced SDR, it’s essential to prioritize thorough training to ensure your SDRs accurately represent your brand, understand your solutions, and effectively communicate the value you offer. The better they are in representing your company, the more qualified the leads they can generate.

 

2. B2B appointment setting

B2B appointment setting services are more focused on the specific task of scheduling meetings between your sales team and qualified prospects. In other words, what makes them different from SDRs is that appointment setting comes with a more guaranteed deliverable — meetings. 

 

These services can be part of a broader outsourced SDR strategy, or they can be employed independently to streamline the process of getting prospects on your sales team’s calendar.

 

A pay-per-appointment model is a good place to start when evaluating your options. Look out for their qualification process too, which will help you determine whether leads generated are truly in the decision-making stage. With ViB Appointments, for example, qualified decision-makers voluntarily apply to set up an appointment with you, which is why over 40% of appointments lead to opportunities. 

“ViB delivered what they promised. We were blown away by the quality of the leads, the quality of our meetings, and the high rate of conversions.”

3. B2B intent data providers

B2B intent data providers analyze online behaviors or collect intelligence to pinpoint prospects displaying genuine interest. Plus, intent data gives you a deeper understanding of your leads’ interests and intentions, to personalize your outreach for higher chances of conversion.

While utilizing intent data, ensure its accuracy and reliability to avoid basing decisions on outdated or unverified information. It’s also imperative to partner with providers who supply decision-related intelligence, such as budgets, timelines, personas, and even competitor evaluations.

Emails

Generate targeted tech leads for your message, offer, or event

Appointments

Generate pipeline by meeting prospects who match your ideal customer profile

Syndication

Generate new content downloads with leads who may never find you organically

Deal Intent

Generate leads with active projects, and explicit intent data from the source

Webinars

Generate a fully planned live or simulated live webinar with a lead guarantee

Research

Generate custom research on your buyers to create data-backed content 

Whether you’re aiming to bring in new prospects, targeted leads, or sales-ready decision-makers, there’s a range of B2B lead generation services to choose from to increase your bottom line.

How do B2B lead generation companies get leads?

Are leads generated by these companies and services legit?

As you know, generating leads in-house looks a little something like this.

In-house lead generation process

1 — A prospective customer discovers your company through top-funnel marketing tactics like your website, social media content, or blogs.

2 — They then click on the CTA (call to action), which can be an image, button, or message that takes them further down the funnel.

3 — The CTA then takes them to a landing page or form that gives them something valuable in exchange for their contact information.

4 — Once they fill out the form and their information has been captured, they’re considered a qualified lead!

So how are lead generation agencies able to outsource this process so efficiently and with flexibility? 

That’s where a range of proprietary approaches and technologies come into play. The exact lead generation methods will differ from company to company, but the general process looks something like this.

Outsourced lead generation process

1 — Data sourcing: Using access to extensive B2B databases, research, and partnerships, lead generation companies can efficiently compile a diverse pool of relevant leads at scale.

2 — Specialized targeting: Companies then segment leads based on various parameters, often using a range of technologies like web crawling tools, AI assistance, and even direct insights from zero-party and first-party channels. This is also a continuous process to ensure data compliance and relevance.

3 — Outreach and engagement strategies: Utilizing their industry knowledge and your brand and messaging, companies deploy tailored engagement tactics to foster a deeper connection with potential leads. Tactics include personalized outreach and value exchanges

4 — Qualification and handoff: Finally, it’s time to make the match! Leads that show substantial interest and engagement are qualified based on predefined criteria, such as whether they align with your ideal customer profile and specific offerings. Qualified leads are then handed off to your sales team for further engagement and conversion.

 

A big reason why this process works is scalability and expertise. With tried-and-tested approaches, plus a highly curated target audience, lead generation companies can drive down the cost of their process as compared to the in-house option. The result? More assured ROI.

See how we approach lead generation that guarantees results.

 

What sets lead generation vendors apart?

When choosing a lead generation vendor, have them walk you through that lead generation process we just outlined. Figure out — what specific partnerships or proprietary approaches they use for sourcing, targeting, engagement, and qualification.

It’s best (as with most things) to look at the companies they’ve worked with and their average ROI for every campaign as well.
Do the numbers actually back up their promises?  

As a quick guide, here  are some things you should be looking for in an effective lead generation company:

Thumbnail of ViB Guide - Expert lead generation strategies from B2B marketers
We gathered five B2B marketing leaders and asked them to share their thoughts on what marketers should focus on for effective and profitable marketing campaigns

Pay per lead generation companies

Pay-per-lead generation companies provide the same services as other lead-generation companies, but they have a unique, highly beneficial payment framework.

Instead of paying for the action of distributing content across a nurtured network, PPL lead generation companies only charge per lead. Meaning, you only pay for the delivered qualified leads. 

Why is this beneficial? 

Pay-per-lead companies are incentivized to provide high-quality leads in lower quantities rather than a mass amount of unqualified leads — which leads to higher conversion rates and higher ROI.

In the same vein, pay-per-appointment lead-generation companies only charge for each customer appointment scheduled or even held.

ViB is dedicated to providing the highest quality B2B lead generation services designed to help your company grow. With a pay-per-lead focus, we’re confident in delivering on promises, with no risk for you.

B2B lead generation tools to try

In a similar vein, lead generation tools are software applications designed to facilitate specific tasks within the lead generation process. Whether you’re looking to increase your email conversion rates or to gain qualified leads to accelerate your sales funnel, tools offer specific functionalities to help you reach your KPIs.

In another guide, we break down the 10 best lead-generation tools for every marketing function. Some of them include:

  • HubSpot Marketing — HubSpot Marketing has a handful of useful lead-gen tools such as popup forms, live chat, chatbot, and general contact forms. 
  • Mailchimp — Best used for outbound marketing, Mailchimp turns your customer’s behavior data into personalized emails. 
  • Typeform — Typeform is a survey platform that is best used to get conversion research insights. 
  • Hunter.io — Unique in capabilities, Hunter.io isn’t a traditional lead generation tool, but rather a platform that helps you find and validate email addresses. For smaller teams looking to build their email list, Hunter’s free option is a great place to start!

And if you’re looking for a comprehensive demand-gen partner with proven success and white-glove service, reach out to one of our team members to get started!

3 tips for planning effective B2B lead generation strategies

Even when engaging with specialized services and tools, being successful in generating the best marketing-qualified leads (MQL) and sales-qualified leads (SQL) takes careful planning. Here are a few strategic ways to ensure your lead generation strategy is top-notch. 

1. Take a multichannel approach

Expanding your reach across multiple channels ensures your message reaches a wider audience. 

Leverage a range of lead generation services across different parts of the funnel, and even a multi-channel follow-up strategy on leads delivered. This way, you can increase customer touchpoints and allow them to move through the sales funnel in a way that best fits their decision-making process.

Repurposing content allows you to take this approach because it prevents companies from being content-poor and saves your team valuable time and resources.

In fact, 53% of marketers say they are focused on repurposed content this year (ViB, 2023).

Graph of Tools tactics and trends in 2023 - B2B Marketing Trends Report ViB

2. Offer a clear benefit and point of differentiation from your competitors

How are your products or services going to benefit them more than your competitors?

Remember, it’s always about the customer first, instead of what you’re offering. Draw customers in with a unique value proposition that eases their challenges in a way that’s most beneficial to them. Try not to info dump in your content, but rather, focus on what value you can bring them. 

3. Make pricing clear, concise, and worthwhile

When customers reach the bottom of your sales funnel, it’s important they feel the price matches the value they receive. Make sure your price is comparable to competitors offering the same products or services. 

Price gauging can cause immediate disinterest and frustration to new customers. Pricing high enough is also just as important as not charging too much. Make sure your price matches your value.

Wrapping up

Regardless of the size of your company and the depth of your network, lead generation services should be a focal point for your marketing strategy this upcoming year. Generating qualified leads with higher conversion rates is the best way to accrue active, long-term customers. 

If your team is looking for next-gen demand generation services for every touchpoint in your sales funnel, reach out to our team today. 

Growth just got a whole lot easier. 🚀

Need more info to get started with B2B lead generation?

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