AI is changing the game in B2B lead generation

6 min read
12.07.2023 21:36:41

Today, most companies can generate leads. Be it through webinars, white papers, benchmarks, or free audits and assessments, the possibilities are vast. The real art lies not in generating these leads, but in nurturing and engaging them continuously until they mature into potential sales conversations.

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New leads, now what?

On average, only 5% of your leads are in-market and ready to buy, according to research done by Professor John Dawes of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. This leaves a significant 95% of them that aren't quite ready to hear your sales pitch. Their readiness to buy depends on an array of factors, including the industry, the product, or service you offer, the quality of the lead, and the length of the sales cycle.

In B2B marketing, these factors become even more nuanced. Complex products or services, sizeable investments, and multiple decision-makers can extend the buying cycle and lower the initial readiness to buy to 1-3% in our experience.

Why nurture your B2B leads?

The majority of your contacts, approximately 95%, are not currently in the market and won't be ready to make a purchase for months, if not years. Contrary to popular belief, even the most skilled marketers cannot convince prospects to become instantly interested in your offerings. Prospects will only enter the market when they personally recognise a need for your products or services.

For instance, if an IT manager recently invested in a brand new B2B composable commerce solution, their immediate need has been fulfilled, leaving no opportunity for a B2B marketer to generate an immediate sale. This is precisely why lead nurturing and building strong relationships are vital in B2B sales, especially when it comes to high-end products and services with lengthy buying cycles. 

Why is lead nurturing so hard?

Nurturing leads is not a walk in the park. It involves providing them with valuable content that is relevant to their needs and interests. The ultimate goal is to stay top of mind by consistently engaging and educating them. However, this process can be both costly and time-consuming, especially when dealing with many contacts in your CRM.

To effectively nurture leads, it is essential to have a well-defined lead nurturing strategy in place. This strategy should include the creation and delivery of personalised and targeted content that speaks directly to the pain points and challenges of each prospect.

Revolutionising B2B Lead Nurturing with AI

Historically, companies have remained top of mind by manually sending irrelevant content such as company updates, product announcements, and their latest blog article to all their contacts.

With AI, you can now build a lead nurturing model imbued with your company's knowledge, blog posts, white papers, and webinar insights. By combining marketing automation, your AI-powered lead nurturing model, and fresh input from your leads, you can now start meaningful conversations with your prospects and deliver individualised value in real-time and at scale.

Starting meaningful conversations with B2B industry surveys

Launching an industry survey is not only the perfect way to extend your reach and position your company as an industry expert. It’s also a unique opportunity to generate leads and receive fresh and timely information about their current challenges and plans for the future. Some popular and widely used survey platforms in the market are SurveyMonkeys and Typeform, which have established themselves as reliable options for conducting surveys.

Industry surveys as nurturing system

Now, imagine participating in a survey that shows you in real-time how you compare to your industry. Imagine getting individualised recommendations at the end of the survey. Imaging getting follow-up emails with further insights and resources that speak to your current challenges. 

Watch our webinar, where we unveiled our solution, that does exactly that.

Providing value and addressing your contacts individually, by acquiring zero-party data, will help enhance your competitive edge and build your thought leadership. These meaningful conversations, which don't sell but instead provide real value to your contacts, become a wow factor. They provide a path for your company to communicate with your contacts consistently, delivering relevant content throughout the year.

Examples using AI-powered industry surveys

One of our clients, MySign AG, has launched a B2B e-commerce automation survey where companies can benefit from the benchmarks. By identifying six success factors - data, processes, organisation, customer experience, marketing, and performance - respondents can make real-time comparisons with the anonymised industry benchmark. Read MySign progress report to learn how an B2B industry survey helps Reto Baumgartner, founder of MySign, to extend his company's reach and gain relevance in its target market.


The more you give, the more you get

By offering personalised insights during and after the survey, you open the door to getting more detailed information. Survey questions can address anticipated investment in a certain area in the coming year, or where the greatest optimisation potential is perceived. You can ask about satisfaction levels or the likelihood of seeking external support in the next 12 months.

Engaging with your prospects through the year

The survey becomes your hero content piece and is at the core of your annual communication plan. It serves as a powerful tool to engage your leads throughout the year, offering them valuable insights and actionable information. By inviting leads to webinars and presenting interim results, you create a sense of exclusivity and involvement, making them feel like they are part of a special community. This ongoing communication helps to build trust and credibility, positioning your company as a thought leader in the industry.

Publish your industry report

In addition to webinars and interim results, publishing a significant annual report based on the survey findings further establishes your expertise and authority. This comprehensive report not only showcases the overall industry trends and benchmarks but also provides in-depth analysis and recommendations specific to each respondent's needs. It becomes a go-to resource for your leads, offering them valuable insights and guidance for their strategic planning and decision-making.

Converting Engaged Leads into Sales-Ready Leads

How do you go from having meaningful online conversations and qualified leads to actual demos? You've already identified the sales-ready leads from all your contacts, but how do you transition from benchmarks and webinars to making a sale?

As your objective is to increase the number of demo sessions with relevant customers, it is crucial to leverage the insights gained from the survey to avoid wasting time selling to disinterested prospects. By feeding the survey answers to your AI powered nurturing model, you can segment your leads based on their sales readiness (using a 1 for ready and 0 for not ready approach) and evaluate their responses as a whole automatically.

This valuable information allows you to personalise your follow-up emails at scale, ensuring that each contact receives relevant and individualised content. The goal is to convert these engaged leads into sales-ready leads by offering them a pre-product, which is an easier and more accessible option compared to a complex software solution that requires a lengthy integration process. An example of a pre-product could be an audit that focuses on the identified success factors.

Key takeaways

Leveraging AI in lead generation processes can effectively resolve the challenges B2B companies face in manual processes. By focusing on delivering value, asking the right questions, and maintaining continuous engagement, companies can generate and nurture leads more efficiently and effectively.

  • Automated Follow-ups: With AI, lead nurturing becomes effective and successful as it provides significant value and individually caters to each contact. The collection of new, unique data enables a competitive advantage and helps build thought leadership.

  • Surveys and Benchmarks: The power of asking the right questions can help determine purchase readiness. Conducting surveys and creating benchmarks helps gather zero-party date. This data can be used to individually address the contacts and deliver value.

  • Annual content plan: Throughout the year, you maintain an active conversation with your potential customers, fostering the relationship. At the same time, you are learning and understanding when their purchase intention changes.

Learn more about how to master benchmarks for B2B Lead Generation