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Updated Feb 14, 2024

The 5 Best Sources of B2B Lead Prospects

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Jennifer Dublino, Contributing Writer

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B2B businesses need a constant flux of new leads to maintain their customer base. Existing customers may eventually fall off because they no longer need your product, they find another supplier, or they experience changing needs. You must replace lost customers regularly — while continually adding new customers to expand and grow your business. 

That means your sales team and marketing department should constantly generate and nurture prospects. We’ll highlight five quality sources for B2B lead prospects and share tips for qualifying and developing your leads. 

What are prospects in sales?

Business prospects are potential customers who fit your target audience. They can be new prospects or loyal customers with the means and ability to buy what you’re selling.

For example, say you run an extermination business. Your business prospects might include small restaurants that need regular pest elimination in food preparation areas. However, your prospect isn’t the small business as a whole — it’s the person who can make purchasing decisions for the business. This person is sometimes called a “prospect customer.”

A prospect customer differs from a sales lead. A lead may express interest in what you’re selling, but you don’t yet know whether they fit your company’s ideal client profile. A prospect is someone who fits your client profile, as your sales due diligence process has indicated. The sales pipeline ultimately flows toward selling to this person.

Did You Know?Did you know

Even if you have a full sales pipeline, you should continually generate sales leads to replenish it when current prospects close or fall off.

5 best sources for B2B lead prospects

Prospect customers are crucial for a B2B company’s bottom line. Here are five excellent lead prospect sources.

1. Find B2B lead prospects via customer referrals.

Customer referrals generate the most qualified lead prospects. These companies have likely already heard about you (in glowing terms) from your existing loyal customers. Buyers tend to know other companies in the same industry and have relationships with their counterparts. Companies similar to your existing customers likely have the same customer persona and meet the criteria for a solid lead prospect, which saves you a lot of research time.

Of course, a current customer will only feel comfortable referring you if they’re completely happy with your products and service, so prioritize your customer relationships. 

To generate referrals, regularly ask current loyal customers if they know other businesses that may benefit from your products or services. If they do, reward them with a thank-you gift, handwritten note or discount on a future order. 

TipBottom line

Consider starting a formal customer referral program that tracks referrals and rewards them with a unique promo code.

2. Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find lead prospects.

LinkedIn provides a lot of information you need to qualify a lead, including the industry, company size, location and job title. You can also look at potential leads’ posted content to spot unmet needs and other information to qualify them further.

While a regular LinkedIn business profile will provide some information, it will be limited by your network. In contrast, LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator provides ample information along with advanced filtering tools to help you find the exact people you’re seeking.

Here’s how to use Sales Navigator: 

  • Sign up for Sales Navigator.
  • Filter to find the companies and job titles that meet your criteria. 
  • Examine a prospect’s profile and posts to find something to refer to in your invitation to connect. For example, you might comment on a recent post they made, refer to a commonality (like graduating from the same university), or ask their opinion on an industry issue or trend. 
  • Create personalized connection invitations and send them to all your prospects. 

3. Use web scraping tools to find B2B lead prospects.

You can do hours of internet searching for companies that match your buyer persona — or you can use automated tools to do it in a fraction of the time. Web scraping tools peruse specific websites and gather data according to your preset specifications. They will deliver the information in a spreadsheet. PhantomBuster and Data Miner are two popular web scraping software platforms. 

TipBottom line

If you’re tech-savvy or have an IT team, create a custom web scraping tool in PowerShell to help you gather the data you need to find B2B lead prospects.

4. Use B2B databases to find B2B lead prospects.

Quality B2B databases are excellent sources of B2B lead prospects. For example, Techsalerator lists 320 million companies worldwide, Uplead claims 95 percent accuracy, and ZoomInfo has 65 million direct dial phone numbers and 150 million verified email addresses.

After choosing and signing up for a B2B database, input your criteria and use the database to filter and create a list of likely prospects.

5. Find B2B lead prospects at trade shows and events.

Trade shows are an excellent way to build awareness of your company and collect leads. Since trade shows are specific to products or industries, most attendees — and some exhibitors — will match your buyer personas. 

Exhibiting at a trade show not only allows you to showcase your company’s products, services and capabilities, but also puts your people in direct contact with potential buyers. These potential buyers are warm leads that may have seen you and learned about your company. 

When exhibiting at or sponsoring a trade show, consider the following tips: 

  • Gather leads via a giveaway. Encourage attendees to put their business cards in a bowl for a chance to win something valuable. 
  • Follow up with attendees. Ask the event coordinator for a contact list of attendees for follow-up. 
  • Schedule a private dinner. If you have specific companies you want to target, consider having an invitation-only dinner during the event. Attendees will appreciate a free meal at a nice restaurant and be more open to hearing your pitch. 
Did You Know?Did you know

In addition to trade shows, consider hosting or sponsoring events your prospects are likely to attend in person or virtually. You can even livestream facility tours, webinars and product demos.

Tips to qualify and develop business prospects

Generating lead prospects is one thing. Lead conversion success is another. The following tips can help you eliminate unsuitable business prospects and move qualified prospects to the next level of the sales process.

1. Develop B2B lead prospects via email.

Email is a highly effective way to qualify and nurture prospects. With opt-in email marketing, your recipients already have some interest in your company and its offerings. They can unsubscribe if they lose interest. 

Use email to educate, inform and — to a lesser extent — entertain your audience, all while pointing them toward the actions you want them to take. For example, you may want them to make an appointment with a sales rep, request more information, fill out a web form, visit your website or blog, or follow your social media accounts. 

The best email marketing services can make your campaigns specific, personalized and efficient. For example, if prospects have grown cold, previous customers haven’t purchased in a while, or website visitors haven’t taken action, create an email retargeting campaign with personalized offers.

FYIDid you know

Other personalized emails include welcome emails for new prospects, catered content emails specific to a prospect’s needs, and “act now” emails with coupon codes to encourage urgent action.

2. Send B2B lead prospects to your website or blog.

Your website is your online presence, so it’s an excellent place for prospects to learn about your company. Once you contact prospects via email, phone, social media or in person, send them a link to your website. They can see if your products or services are a good fit for them. If so, they can gain the confidence to take the next step on the sales journey. 

When sending B2B lead prospects to your website or blog, keep the following in mind:

  • Ensure your website is high quality. Your website design must be user-friendly, attractive and comprehensive. It should house valuable persona-focused content, contact information, and product and solution data. Your social, event, email and marketing efforts all drive traffic to your website. Encourage leads to go to your website for solutions and relevant information, and set up your website to collect valuable lead insights.
  • Take full advantage of your blog. Blogging optimizes your website for new visitors and is an effective way to nurture existing leads. To generate blog content, ask your social community a question or poll them to see what they think about a particular subject. Find common problems related to your industry and use your blog to outline solutions. You’ll set yourself up as an industry expert, boosting your credibility and hopefully getting people interested enough to take the next step and investigate your company’s solutions. 

Your website and blog should make it easy for visitors to engage with you in other ways, like subscribing to your email list, following you on social media, and attending your events. The more engaged the prospect is, the more likely they are to become a paying customer.

3. Use social media for ongoing B2B relationships.

Social media can help you nurture one-on-one relationships with prospects. For example, you can use LinkedIn to do the following: 

  • Connect with B2B lead prospects.
  • Join relevant LinkedIn groups.
  • Comment on prospects’ posts.
  • Message prospects directly with product information, questions, links to helpful articles and event invitations. 

You can also use social platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to build your company’s credibility by highlighting successful projects or implementations as well as to post testimonials, case studies and thought leadership articles.

TipBottom line

Use social media marketing to promote your blog content, provide lead-generation forms, and share special offers available only to your social media followers.

4. Invite B2B lead prospects to an event.

It’s one thing to be present on the internet and active on social media; it’s another to be physically present at big events and showcase your brand or product as something relatable to your prospects. Events are an investment for brands at all marketing and sales funnel stages, from generating awareness with new prospects to creating and retaining loyal customers.

Events are perfect opportunities to merge online and offline experiences. Generate hype for your event with a social media or email campaign to start measuring lead activity. Be sure to also include the details on your website.

Other sources of B2B prospects

Consider some additional ways to find quality B2B lead prospects: 

  • Mine strategic partnerships for B2B lead prospects. Businesses often make strategic partnerships with complementary companies. For example, a commercial interior design firm might partner with a furniture manufacturer, or an industrial safety equipment company could collaborate with a safety compliance SaaS firm. Strategic alliances are win-win situations that allow you to pool ideas, prospects and resources. Seek companies that can offer a mutually beneficial exchange. If you’re lucky, you and your partner business could even swap industry secrets.
  • Use cold calling to reach B2B lead prospects. Even in the social media era, old-fashioned cold calling still carries some weight. The basics of cold calling are sound: You get to know the prospect’s potential — and a chance for immediate conversion. While cold calling can be a challenge, it’s a chance to grab the bull by the horns. If you’re out of ideas for sources of prospects, review your script and start with cold calling.
  • Use peer lunches to find B2B lead prospects. Instead of investing your resources into a big event appearance, you could create a series of small-scale lunch meetings with other sales reps. The information you share about potential leads you’ve all pursued and products you’ve sold can help you shape your sales targeting approach. If you’re lucky, you may even find other companies to partner with to sell complementary products. Though this is a less common approach, it just might work — after all, what is sales if not constant innovation?

Max Freedman and Vivien Reyes contributed to this article.

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Jennifer Dublino, Contributing Writer
Jennifer Dublino is a prolific researcher, writer, and editor, specializing in topical, engaging, and informative content. She has written numerous e-books, slideshows, websites, landing pages, sales pages, email campaigns, blog posts, press releases and thought leadership articles. Topics include consumer financial services, home buying and finance, general business topics, health and wellness, neuroscience and neuromarketing, and B2B industrial products.
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