The Art of B2B Lead Generation: How It Works, The Process & Examples

Every sales leader, business development manager, or business owner needs to learn the art of B2B lead generation in order to increase sales and stay afloat.

There are many B2B lead generation strategies that companies use. In this post, we will share with you a comprehensive build to B2B lead generation.

But first, what is B2B lead generation?

B2B lead generation is a process that businesses use to generate leads (people who have the potential to buy from you). Generally, in-person or digital avenues like LinkedIn, Trade Shows, websites, cold calling, conventions, networking events, Facebook, and more are the best way to obtain leads.

Continue reading if you’re curious about B2B lead generation, the process, and how to build your own strategy!

The B2B Lead Generation Process

The B2B lead generation process can be broken down into three steps: marketing, qualification & nurturing, and conversion.


Marketing is the first step in B2B lead generation because it’s what draws people to your company, offering, and website.

If you don’t have a good marketing plan, it doesn’t matter how good your lead generation system or strategy is, because nobody will have any idea that you exist. Therefore, hardly any leads will enter your funnel.

Some businesses run entirely off of a sales strategy, which works for many, but it’s not as effective as having both the sales and marketing engines turned on and running at full power. Smart leaders know the impact of a great marketing strategy.

At RainmakerDots, we provide a hybrid type of sales and marketing service that is extremely effective for B2B companies. We pair the effective short-term outbound marketing strategy with a long-term nurturing campaign to increase your chances of getting conversions. Check out our marketing services here.

Qualification & Nurturing

Once someone has filled out a form on your website, responded to an offer via email, or called you, the next step in B2B lead generation is qualification.

Now your goal is to understand if this person is indeed a potential buyer. So how do you qualify a lead?

You can qualify a lead in several ways.

First, have an automated email, form sequence, or chatbot ask them basic questions about their business, industry, and goals.

These questions could be “What’s your job title?”, “How many shipments do you do each week?”, or “How many employees do you have?” It all depends on what you need to know.

Second, have a sales rep handle the leads that come in so they can get answers to any questions you need.

Finally, you could use an automated marketing tool that will help qualify and score all of your incoming leads based on their behavior or email address.

There’s a lot of data out there that we can “enrich” to see whether or not we can get our basic qualifying questions answered even without asking for the lead to do anything. is an example of a lead enrichment or lead “grading” company. By using their system, you can qualify a lead with only an email. It’s really impressive stuff.

Once these questions are answered, a person from your team can reach out. Or, the smart play would be to nurture the leads with email content or Facebook retargeting ads.

Pro Tip: Make sure your qualifying questions aren’t too long. No one likes to give away too much information before they can see the value you can bring to them. Information is hard to come by. Less is more here.


Conversion happens when someone fills out an online form on your site or contacts you via phone, email and asks for a quote or more information about what you do.

The previous steps (marketing, qualification & nurturing) are absolutely necessary before most conversions happen. Why? Because most B2B purchases demand and include longer sales cycles.

Where Do B2B Leads Come From?

Here are the top places B2B leads come from:

  • Purchased leads lists
  • Cold calling/emailing
  • LinkedIn
  • Trade Shows/Conventions
  • Referrals from current customers
  • Content marketing

Purchased Leads Lists

It’s sad, but far too many B2B companies still purchase leads. The major downside to this is you have no idea if they are remotely qualified or not. Also, when you send emails to them, you can easily be marketed as spam because they never consented to receive any emails from you.

The typical email open rate from a purchase list is around 13.72%. Not amazing. While some businesses see a great return from it, we find that there are better off and more effective lead generation activities.

Cold Calling/Emailing

It’s the hard grind of a B2B sales rep: cold calling. For many businesses it is a necessity to have a team of 2-20 people who can hit the phones every day and try to gain new business.

The average B2B cold call conversion rate is around 1%. That means for every 100 calls, you might get 10-16 who agree to meet with you. Out of those meetings, you will get one or two who do business with you.

It’s not the most effective lead generation activity, but most companies still rely on cold calling for pipeline development.


LinkedIn is a phenomenal place to find B2B leads. If you are not leveraging this platform to its fullest, then you’re simply leaving money on the table.

Most businesses hire a LinkedIn lead generation company, like us, to work with their sales team to send nurturing messages to prospects. These messages are sent through the LinkedIn messaging platform to individuals who meet your exact qualification criteria.

Messages can be personalized from each sales rep to each prospect and include nurturing content or simple offers about what you do.

Click here if you’d like to learn about how LinkedIn lead generation works. At RainmakerDots, we’ve generated over 53,476 leads for B2B companies.

Trade Shows/Conventions

It’s no secret that everyone who goes to a B2B trade show or convention is almost always looking for new customers. Literally, everyone is, which is kind of funny because you know you’re going to an event where you’re going to be sold too.

But many B2B companies still find success at shows like this because of that very fact: your audience knows they are going to be sold to, which makes them possibly an easier sell. Plus, you’re going into a specific industry you know will need your help.

On average, B2B Trade Shows or events have a conversion rate of around 11.76%. BAM! Not bad.

Referrals from Current Customers

When a customer refers someone to you, that is the ultimate “easy sell.” They’ve already been vetted by their friend and trust them more than they trust any salesperson.

By our estimates, customer referrals account for 10-20% of a company’s leads. Of that percentage, a good majority will convert into customers.

Content Marketing

One incredible B2B lead generation activity is content marketing. If you provide valuable, relevant information to people who are actively looking for your services online, they will be likely to engage with you and give you their contact information.

The best way to generate leads through content marketing is by creating a freebie in the form of a checklist, resource list, worksheet, short video course, quiz, infographic, ebook, or free trial.

B2B Lead Generation Examples

Some companies do B2B lead generation really well. We can learn from their examples to help us formulate some of our own ideas.


DocuSign is a successful B2B software company that provides eSign services to brands across the world. Their B2B lead generation efforts have been a huge success.

Here are some of the ways they do lead generation:

  1. They publish blogs, videos, social posts, and other content to share their thought leadership on eSignatures and digital transactions.
  2. DocuSign partners with organizations and businesses to promote the eSign way of life.
  3. They offer a free trial of their software


BairesDev offers outsourced IT services like extended teams, software development, and staff augmentation.

One big example of how they do lead generation is through a lead magnet on a landing page. When someone searches for “IT Outsourcing,” BairesDev’s page will come up and offer them a free download of an infographic that will help clarify to the prospect how they can keep their team working at high levels even from home.

Once the prospect downloads the free guide, they will be entered into a lead nurturing campaign that continues to communicate BlaireDev’s offer and services.


With so many different methods to generate leads, it can be difficult for you to determine the best strategy.

One of the most effective lead generation strategies is our LinkedIn method. It works better than cold calling and is a less pushy approach that allows your customers to reach out on their own terms.

If you’ve been struggling with generating quality B2B leads, then please contact us. What sets us apart from other lead generation agencies is our unique approach to how to engage with prospects through LinkedIn. You can’t just send sales messages and expect it to work. There’s more to it.

Schedule a meeting with us by clicking here and we’ll introduce you to the LinkedIn Process we use that has generated over 53,476 leads.