Everything You Need to Know About B2B SaaS Lead Generation
Any company that fails to build a robust pipeline for growth and business opportunities will struggle in the face of increased competition, rapidly changing market conditions, and continuous tech advancements.
That’s why effective B2B lead generation and SaaS marketing strategies aren’t just tools — they’re the very backbone of any thriving company today.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn what lead generation for B2B SaaS companies is, why it’s important, and the best lead gen strategies to jumpstart your business growth.
Let’s get started.
What Is a Lead for SaaS Companies?
In the B2B SaaS industry, a lead is any potential client (individual or organization) that has shown interest in the company’s offers. Displaying interest shows that the prospect is willing to buy if they’re well-engaged throughout the sales journey.
Leads show interest in products and services through the following actions:
- Engaging with published content on social platforms
- Downloading case studies, white papers, or eBooks
- Signing up for free trials of software demos
- Reaching out through contact forms, social media, or email
- Attending product demos, webinars, or live events
Now, while all of these actions suggest that the lead is interested, companies need proper segmentation systems to increase their sales and marketing effectiveness. Prospects in different stages of the sales journey must be engaged based on their readiness to buy.
There are three types of leads in B2B SaaS:
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
MQLs are leads who have engaged with the company’s content and marketing message but are yet to display a strong intent to purchase. For instance, a prospect that downloads a whitepaper from your website is probably interested in the solutions you’re offering. However, that doesn’t mean they’ve made their final decision and are ready to buy your SaaS product or service.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
Sales qualified leads are a step ahead of MQLs in that they’ve shown clear intent to buy your SaaS solution. An SQL could be someone who has requested a demo or filled out a contact form to reach out to your sales team. This type of lead is typically passed on from the marketing team to the sales team for further follow-up and engagement.
Product Qualified Lead (PQL)
The term “Product Qualified Lead” is specific to the SaaS industry as it refers to prospects that have tried the software and have experienced its value firsthand. Because they’ve used the product through free trials or freemium versions — PQLs are typically more likely to convert into paying customers.
What Is Lead Generation in B2B SaaS?
Lead generation for B2B SaaS is the practice of attracting prospective buyers to your company, getting them interested in your products and services, then converting them into paying clients.
The process of generating B2B leads involves a lot of education and nurturing through quality content and high-value interactions. That’s because — in the B2B space — sales cycles tend to be longer, and purchase decisions are made on a larger scale where more than one party is involved.
The customer’s journey in B2B SaaS typically involves four main stages:
- Awareness: A new lead must first become aware of the SaaS company and its offerings. This can be achieved through various marketing strategies such as content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), and more.
- Interest: Once the lead is aware of the company and its solutions, they need to be educated about the product. For example, they should be encouraged to read more blog posts, whitepapers, webinars, or explainer videos. Free trials or product demos may also be efficient ways to help potential leads understand the product better. This is the stage where MQLs can be found.
- Consideration: Potential clients at this stage are considering your product and comparing it to alternatives on the market. Since those will be SQLs, this is where the sales team steps in to address their concerns and answer their questions. Offering detailed product descriptions, customer testimonials, and case studies is crucial at this level.
- Action: The final stage of lead generation is when a lead decides to purchase the product. This is the point where leads sign up for a paid subscription or negotiate special deals with the sales team.
How Can B2B Lead Generation Support Your Sales Growth?
B2B lead generation is one of the most efficient sales growth strategies for SaaS companies. With a solid lead gen plan in place, your company can turn a lot more prospects into customers and keep them loyal to your brand.
Here are four benefits of lead generation for B2B SaaS companies:
1. Expand Your Sales Pipeline
A well-strategized lead generation process is a guaranteed way to fill your sales pipeline with potential customers. By attracting new leads to your business regularly, you’ll maximize your chances of success and get more promising sales growth opportunities.
2. Increase Brand Awareness
An effective lead generation plan will also help spread the word about your SaaS offers and products. This increased brand awareness can attract more relevant leads with no additional effort on your part.
3. Shorten The Sales Cycle
A huge part of lead generation is about targeting the right customers, nurturing them with relevant content, and presenting them with the best offers. If you do all of that successfully, you’ll be able to provide each prospect with a personalized customer experience that eliminates sales friction and helps you close better deals quickly.
4. Nurture Solid Client Relationships
Lead nurturing and engagement are crucial parts of any lead generation strategy. By paying close attention to the needs of leads throughout the sales journey, SaaS companies are able to form stronger relationships with clients after they convert. Consequently, those customers are more likely to stay loyal to the business and continue using its services over a longer period of time.
What Are the Best B2B SaaS Lead Generation Strategies?
Lead generation strategies in B2B SaaS can vary based on a company’s specific goals, target audience, and resources. However, several strategies have proven to be particularly effective in this space:
LinkedIn is the biggest lead generation website today with over 300 million monthly active users and 58 million companies. This platform is designed specifically for professional networking and business content, and that makes it a natural fit for B2B SaaS interactions.
LinkedIn users come with a business or career mindset, which is why it’s a great option for B2B lead generation. Many SaaS businesses are leveraging the various features of LinkedIn to connect with those professionals and try to convert them.
As a lead generation platform, LinkedIn allows companies to share content in many formats, showcase company culture and achievements, and build thought leadership, all of which are essential for attracting potential leads.
In addition, this business network offers advanced targeting capabilities that will enable you to reach users based on their job title, industry, company size, geographical location, and more. Such an advanced search functionality will increase your chances of reaching interested, high-quality leads wherever they are.
Despite the wide variety of digital marketing channels, email marketing remains a highly effective marketing strategy for B2B and B2C SaaS. Regular newsletters, personalized email marketing campaigns, and automated drip campaigns are excellent tools for connecting with prospecting buyers and nurturing them.
Another type of email marketing is cold emailing — which is a cost-effective strategy that can allow you to directly reach any lead you want without much hassle. Businesses can use cold emails to introduce their solutions and offerings by sending unsolicited emails to prospects that had no prior contact with the company.
The great advantage of cold emailing is that it allows businesses to reach out directly to potential clients, including those who may not be aware of their company or products/services.
Cold calling is the practice of contacting — via the phone — potential customers that haven’t expressed interest in any of your SaaS solutions. It’s a proactive lead generation method that lots of B2B companies use to attract leads and get new clients.
Cold calling is an outbound technique, which means you’ll be the one finding leads and reaching out instead of waiting for them to come to you. This approach is excellent for growing your client base faster and escaping the industry giants in highly-competitive markets.
For cold calling to work, you need to be both targeted and strategic in your approach. It’s not effective to make thousands of calls each day if the prospects you’re going after don’t match your ideal client profile (ICP.) Only when you have a complete understanding of your target leads, their needs, and their biggest challenges will you be able to convert them successfully.
Top companies around the world use cold calling as part of an omnichannel approach in conjunction with other sales strategies. After a cold call — for instance — a sales rep can follow up with additional information via email, nurturing the prospect more efficiently and making the interaction more memorable.
Producing high-value, relevant content is an essential element in any lead generation B2B SaaS strategy. The process involves creating, publishing, and distributing valuable content pieces to attract targeted prospects and educate them.
Due to the highly-competitive nature of the B2B SaaS industry today, companies must capitalize on content marketing as a growth strategy. Before a target buyer makes a purchase decision, they first need to understand the value and utility of a software solution and why they need it.
Another reason why content marketing is a non-negotiable for B2B SaaS companies is that quality content is also important for the success of other lead generation tactics. For example, SEO, email marketing, and social media marketing all require helpful content to leave a positive impression on new leads and capture their interest.
There are a lot of content formats that your B2B SaaS business can use for lead generation. For example, blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, webinars, ebooks, videos, infographics, and even audio podcasts are all efficient ways to educate audiences and demonstrate upfront value.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most efficient lead generation tactics for B2B companies today. In fact, top SaaS businesses around the world are using SEO to increase their rankings on Google and attract laser-targeted organic traffic to their websites.
Many SaaS companies are now investing in specialized SaaS SEO services to optimize their informational content and improve their visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs). This strategy ensures that potential buyers find valuable and educational content at the top of their search results, effectively engaging the target audience and driving conversions.
The way SEO works is pretty simple:
A SaaS company will start publishing informational content on its website to engage its target audience. This content is usually purely educational, intended to answer specific questions or solve precise challenges that the prospect might be facing.
When Google sees that content as high-quality and valuable, it will rank it high in the search engine results pages (SERPs.) And whenever a potential buyer uses a relevant keyword on a search engine, they’ll be served that content at the top of the page.
Paid advertising, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, is a method of attracting traffic to websites by displaying ads on ad networks. This method is a powerful lead generation tool to drive brand awareness, generate B2B leads, and increase conversions.
Paid ads are so effective because they can help any B2B company reach a highly targeted audience quickly and at scale. This lead generation medium enables SaaS brands to appear prominently on various platforms and reach targeted users based on their industry, job title, company size, and other specific criteria that align with the company’s ideal customer profile.
There are a lot of ad platforms that B2B SaaS businesses can use to display their ads. For instance, Google Ads, YouTube, Bing, LinkedIn, and even Twitter are all great options for promoting your offers and reaching potential decision-makers within your target market.
Biggest Lead Generation Challenges For B2B SaaS Companies
Developing an Efficient Lead Scoring System
Due to the lengthy and complex nature of B2B sales deals, creating a lead scoring system that accurately reflects a lead’s potential value is often a major challenge. Also, in most cases, many parties are involved in making the final purchase decision — each with different needs, roles, and degrees of influence. All of that can make it difficult for you to score leads and prioritize them effectively.
Sales and marketing teams must develop a deep understanding of both the product and the target market before they can score unique leads properly.
Creating Relevant Content for Lead Nurturing
Another reason why B2B SaaS lead generation is challenging is creating content for lead nurturing. Producing educational content pieces that increase brand awareness and attract more prospects is often a daunting task. And that’s primarily due to the complex and technical nature of many SaaS products.
In addition, the rapidly shifting technological landscape requires content to be continually updated and improved. Introduced new features, integrations, or use cases? You must constantly inform your ideal buyers about those changes and why they matter. All of that can make content creation one of the most costly, and time-consuming tasks for your SaaS company.
Tracking And Optimizing Lead Gen Campaigns
Launching a lead generation campaign is in itself a complex process with a lot of moving pieces. And unfortunately, tracking and optimizing those campaigns on your own is no easier. The process involves numerous variables, such as ad copy, target audience demographics, bidding strategies, etc — all of which interact in intricate ways that can be hard to understand and predict.
Moreover, data collected from lead generation campaigns is usually vast and difficult to interpret when you have no prior experience. Which metrics are truly indicative of a campaign’s success? And how do you know which ones are merely vanity metrics that can mislead your company vision?