How to generate B2B leads without cold calling

Jane Hillman avatar
Jane Hillman

Jan 11, 2022

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Cold calling is “calling or visiting a possible customer to try to sell them something without being asked by the customer to do so.”

But the chances are you don’t need us to define it for you. Who hasn’t been on the receiving end of an unsolicited call? That awkward moment when you realise it’s a cold call and desperately wish you hadn’t answered. Or those emails you regularly receive but almost always ignore.

Although cold calling might seem worth it, with 90% of all cold calls going to voicemail, evidence suggests it offers very little ROI. It also runs the risk of alienating your prospects.

Instead, opt to attract, engage, and delight your prospects with inbound B2B lead generation tactics.

Inbound vs. outbound marketing: What’s the difference?

Outbound marketing tactics like cold calling, give the marketer control. They choose the subject, timing, and channel of interaction. In inbound marketing, it’s the buyer who gets to choose.

Although outbound tactics can still be of some use, they are becoming less effective. In this internet-enabled world, customers want to choose when they interact with companies, and how.

We understand it can feel counterproductive. We can almost hear your sales team saying “hang on, we’ve got to wait until prospects come to us?”.  However, giving your prospects the control, allows you to build trust and win their business naturally.

There’s no one magic bullet to B2B lead generation. But, in combination, this list of tactics can help build a strong pipeline.

The 9 best ways to generate B2B leads without cold calling:

  1. Set up a blog
  2. Create additional conversion points
  3. Partner with other organisations
  4. Public speaking at events
  5. Follow up with lost deals
  6. Engage your database
  7. Run an event - online or in-person
  8. Attend a tradeshow
  9. Use social media


Read our Introduction to B2B Inbound Marketing here and learn all about this  powerful approach to generating leads and sales.

1. Set up a blog

72% of B2B companies have a blog and for good reason. Not only do they drive traffic to your website and help you rank for competitive keywords, but they are a brilliant way to showcase your expertise.

The best articles help visitors solve a problem. Consistently publish articles that answer your prospects' questions, and you'll gradually build their trust. When they’re ready to make a purchase decision, you’ll be at the forefront of their mind.

Including calls-to-action in your blogs is also a great way to lead visitors to a conversion point. We like the combination of an in-text call-to-action and a banner call-to-action in every blog. And don't forget to include internal links to other blog posts to keep visitors on your website longer.  

Blogging also achieves compounding returns. Long after you hit publish, an article can continue to drive traffic and generate leads for your business. You can't say the same thing for every cold call made.

2. Add conversion points to your website

Optimising your website for conversion is vital for generating B2B leads. Create high-value content that visitors would be willing to give their email address to receive. For example, you could create a whitepaper or an eBook that solves a problem for your visitors. Then, for every related blog you write, create a strong call-to-action that directs visitors to download the whitepaper.

But it doesn’t have to stop there. You could create digital tools like templates or checklists like this ‘Better Creative Brief Checklist’ from the Content Marketing Institute.

Be sure to include conversion points to cater to visitors at different stages of the buyer's journey. A lead that converts through a piece of content is likely to be in the information-gathering stage. But if a prospect converts on a book a demo or consultation call-to-action, it's an indication that they are close to purchasing. 

3. Partner with other organisations

A great way to expand your reach is to tap into the networks of similar, non-competing businesses that target the same buyer as you. 

You could do this by:

  • Being a guest on a podcast. They are a fantastic way to increase brand awareness and demonstrate your expertise. Prepare a strong introduction about yourself, your experience, and your business. Boost leads even further by asking the host to mention where people can contact you.
  • Guest blogging lets you benefit from another website’s readership. Guest articles should be valuable sources of information so avoid the temptation to write an advert for your business. And offering a guest spot on your blog is a great way to return the favour. 

4. Public speaking at events

Speaking at conferences or other events allows you to present on a topic you know inside out. This allows you to speak directly to your target audience and helps build credibility, positioning you as an expert in your industry. 

Be sure to include your contact details so attendees can follow up with you. And take advantage of conference networking sessions, so you can speak one-on-one with audience members after your speaking slot. 

5. Follow up with lost leads

Once you've lost a deal, it's very easy to forget about them. But remember people’s circumstances change. Just because they didn't have the budget or stakeholder buy-in six months ago, it doesn't mean that's still the case now. 

It’s worth following up with lost deals to check-in. You can set up a workflow in HubSpot, for example, that ensures those contacts are followed up with in the future.

6. Engage your database

Don’t forget about the leads right on your doorstep. You probably have a large database of contacts, some of which may not have heard from you in a while.

Segment your database, and tailor the messages your database receives. You could, for example, create a nurture campaign for contacts that haven’t heard from you in six months. Start by sending them a blog they might be interested in, and if they engage, send them a relevant eBook. This helps keep you at the forefront of their mind.

7. Run an event - online or in-person

Hosting your own events can be a powerful tool in generating leads.

  • Online events like webinars have become much more commonplace since Covid-19. Hosting a panel discussion, debate, or a series of presentations on an online platform is a great way to generate leads, while showcasing your expertise and helping grow your reputation.
  • In-person events are also back on the agenda. Consider holding an event at your offices, for example, and inviting your prospects.

8. Attend a tradeshow

Attending a tradeshow or conference is an excellent way to generate B2B leads. It's likely the whole conference centre will be full of prospects.

Consider investing in an event stand. This gives you somewhere to talk to your prospects and demo your product. It also gives you the opportunity to directly capture leads.

9. Use social media

Don’t underestimate the power of social media for generating B2B leads. But don’t be tempted to use it for selling – in our experience, large purchasing decisions are almost never made on social media.

Instead, choose the appropriate social channels to showcase your expertise and to demonstrate thought leadership.

Promote your content at every opportunity. This will drive traffic to your website and increase the visibility of those additional conversion points discussed earlier.

Embrace inbound marketing and generate B2B leads

Cold calling doesn’t work. At best, you’ll go straight to voicemail. At worst, you’ll irritate what could have been potential customers.

But be aware that adopting just one inbound marketing technique for lead generation will not set your company alight with opportunities. It’s the combination of techniques that will win you long-term results. 

Inbound Marketing

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