9+ Top Sales Lead Generation Tools That Work In B2B During Uncertain Times


Reading Time: 25 minutes

While looking for sales lead generation tools that effectively work for B2B in an uncertain post-Covid-19 world, you might stumble on things that sound good but just don’t work for the current world in which we live. Here, we’ll explore B2B sales lead generation tools I’ve found to work well today.

Let’s talk about it:

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What Is Lead Generation Software?

While lead generation software may sound like a somewhat fancy term, it really just refers to a piece of technology’s ability to help you

  • Start conversations with potential buyers
  • Track conversations with potential buyers
  • Capture the contact information of potential buyers

 

 

Start conversations with potential buyers

You need to talk to people in order to sell to them. Very simple, right? You’d think so. But the fear of being rejection seems to be the real thing that holds most people back from creating more sales opportunities, they are scared of being told the word “no.”

 

That fear is what has us all doing a multitude of complex things that waste our time in business instead of just starting a conversation. The good news is your lead generation software should make this rather straightforward and simple to do.

 

Track conversations with potential buyers

But after you have a conversation with someone, how are you supposed to know what you should do next? How can you be sure that you are following your ideal sales process? That is where good conversation tracking comes in.

 

After conversations with potential buyers or new sales opportunities, you need to be able to throw them into some system that sorts and tags them for you. People will often call this a CRM or customer relationship management system. These days a lot of tools have that function built-in.

 

Allow you to capture contact information of potential buyers

A lead isn’t a lead until you get their contact information, in order for sales to follow-up and turn them into a business deal.  This means, your lead generation software needs a way to store or hand that information off to you. 

 

That is the risk of using makeshift-tech-heavy systems, you might create something you’re really proud of only to realize that you didn’t ask for people’s contact information or have not stored it.

 

You want your forms to collect the main information you need to complete your sales process well.

 

Don’t settle for just email addresses if you need to be able to follow up with prospects via text/SMS and don’t settle for social account links and messages when your goal is to email prospects.

 

After your leads enter their information, always make sure that their contact information is correctly synced up with their name and other information (think company, relevant notes, etc.)

 

Now let’s talk specific sales lead generation tools.

 

Sales Lead Generation Tools

 

Sales lead generation tools consist of:

 

Sales lead generation software

Sales lead generation software is typically a paid software offering, that lives in the cloud (behind a password login) and allows you to do the 3 main tasks of sales lead generation:

 

  • Start conversations with potential buyers
  • Track conversations with potential buyers
  • Allow you to capture contact information of potential buyers

 

Sales lead generators

Sales lead generators seek to get past the old 3 part process of lead generation and deliver you leads that are ‘hot-and-ready’(you hope, to buy). It has its own challenges, which we will soon cover. The main thing to know now is that sales lead generators don’t are pitched as a way to avoid doing any prospecting work.

 

An example of sales lead generators are purchased list providers.

 

Free lead generation tools 

These less complex tools are the unpaid cousins of sales lead generation software. Expect these tools to be more simple. Depending on your best type of lead, free lead generation tools may work. 

 

However, if you sell niche software or something similarly complex, expect these free sales lead tools to offer limited value.

 

An example of a free lead generation tools are those attached to the basic versions of social media accounts.

 

Let’s talk about the specific details for each of these sales lead generation tool categories.

 

Sales Lead Generation Software

Drift

Drift is a chatbot software platform that allows you to generate sales leads from your website or blog. Use it to keep tabs on web leads as they take the conversation over to LinkedIn and email. 

 

Its biggest strength is that it allows you to create 24/7 chatbots that turn your web presence into a sales lead generator. The software, at the pro version, comes with the bot templates for turning web visitors into leads.

 

Price: The professional plan starts at $400/month.

 

Pros: The software is rather intuitive to use, relying on visual drag-and-drop displays for bot building and does not require coding ability. All you need is the ability to communicate the broad strokes of your lead qualification process or, in other words, how you know someone is a good sales lead for your team.

 

Really, the one unsung quality of lead generation bots is the ability to disqualify leads before they become wasted time on your or your sales team‘s calendar. There is nothing worse than a meeting you’re forcing yourself to take that you know will be a complete waste of time.

 

Cons: The cost of Drift is can be prohibitive. It can easily set you back a few thousand since most teams will pay for a year of the software upfront. I recommend paying for chatbot software a year in advance, as it can take a number of months before you become comfortable enough with the software to use it to move the sales needle.

 

Also, Drift relies heavily on the ability to connect with a salesperson’s calendar, in order to help set up a meeting with a generated sales leads. The obvious problem is that the less dialed in the bot is, the worst sales meeting you will have.

 

With this software, depending on the size of your team, you want to make sure lead disqualification is your first priority.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is the paid sales-focused version of the LinkedIn B2B social media platform.

 

Price: The price of the plan starts around $70/month.

 

Pros: If LinkedIn is your social media platform of choice, LinkedIn Sales Navigator will improve your ability to turn conversations and connections into cash for your business a few times over. The tool is, essentially, a CRM for LinkedIn. Its main benefit is the ability to search for and save specific leads and specific accounts or companies.

 

Cons: Mass communication is LinkedIn’s point of failure and it continues with LinkedIn Sales Navigator. While the tool will allow you to save thousands of potential buyers in a specially-named list, it will do next to nothing to help you message or communicate with these people en masse.

 

Also, I would not recommend their paid InMail messaging offering. In my experience, it has not proved effective.

 

With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, make sure that you prioritize 1-to-1 messaging with prospects in order to start a conversation and build rapport. Using third-party add-ons for automated or mass messaging is pretty much prohibited and they will terminate your account for using them. 

 

Tread cautiously with those tools.

Leadfeeder

Leadfeeder is a tool you can use to start generating leads with your website. And as research suggests, website leads are 3x more valuable than social media-generated leads. Wah wah wah.

 

Price: The premium plan starts at $55/month.

 

Pros: Leadfeeder takes note of the visitors to your site and will let you know the companies that drop-by and where they are located. They also have a nifty connection to LinkedIn’s search function that gives you a list of possible people that might have visited your site, based upon your level of connection with them on Linkedin.

 

Cons: As you will soon see, after trialing this software, while knowing the companies that visited your site is grand, as far as information goes, it has limited actionability. When someone from Apple visits my page, what am I supposed to make of that?

 

Are they a CMO? AN intern? Maybe they are a guest consultant?

Hunter

Hunter is an email finding software that, hands-down, does the best job of finding hidden emails.

 

Price: The plans start at $49/month.

 

Pros: Accurate emails aside, Hunter has a free service with a limited number of credits each month. Very helpful for light users and getting you hooked on their awesome email-finding service. Also, the email tool company rightly understands that people want to do more than collect emails and is expanding into different ways to help you contact sales leads proactively.

 

One of their new tools, Hunter Campaigns, helps you send simple cold email campaigns.

 

Cons: The big cons against Hunter are essentially the cons of cold email marketing, low response rates and the need for email verification, as no service can guarantee 100 percent of their email addresses will work 100 percent of the time. This leads to more costs for senders.

 

YAMM

YAMM is a bulk email sender for Gmail that often feels like a godsend. The tool can help you get around the need for a special sending domain for doing bulk emails.

 

Price: The G Suite plan starts at $40/year.

 

Pros: The lack of a ‘warmed-up’ sending domain is what gets a lot of cold marketing emails sent to the spam folder. Instead, with YAMM, you can connect a Google Sheet spreadsheet to your Gmail and allow bulk emails to be sent through your regular account.

 

This means more hits.

 

Cons: The cons of doing bulk email with YAMM are mostly the same consequences you would find doing bulk email with other tools, such as a low response rate. 

 

However, some added issues with YAMM is that your personal email or business email can become clogged with the un-deliverability reports, bounces, and related messages that come with sending bulk email.

 

It seems obvious but you should also know, not everyone is happy to have a stranger emailing them out of the blue. Some might call this spam. That means you can expect 1 or 2 mean emails out of every couple hundred. Such is the plight of mass cold emails.

CapSumo

CapSumo is an interesting tool that allows you to capture the contact information and emails of people that do not complete a form. 

 

Think about those forms that you started filling out and for whatever reason just decided to ditch. The potential of CapSumo is that you would never lose leads that could have been.

 

Price: The standard plan starts at $29/month.

 

Pros: With CapSumo you will get the benefit of knowing that people who start filling out forms can still be captured for your lead generation campaigns.

 

Cons: While CapSumo is a nifty tool, I would wonder how often people are actually abandoning forms on your current b2b site. 

 

Before investing in it, I would assess the amount of leads I collected while using the tool versus the number of leads collected without using the tool, at least over a month. 

 

And if form abandonment is a big problem for your site, you might try using a chatbot to get around lead generation form abandonment.

 

Sales Lead Generators

Sales lead generators aim to help you avoid the sometimes tedious and sometimes difficult work of obtaining your own leads. 

 

Price: Email lists run from $100 to $1000, depending on your desired number of leads.

 

Pros: Purchase the amount of leads you need for the sort of people you want to reach. You can also factor in a low response rate into your costs. I have seen this work well for advertising experts and agencies who are able to hire out the actual sending of emails.

 

Cons: While leads with little work may sound great, think of the backend work that comes with them. I think a story will help here.

 

Say, you are walking across the beach with your metal detector, looking for valuable coins that were left behind, you might say there are two methods for getting to these coins

 

1) Wave your metal detector about in places of interest and snatch the coins where you find them. Work for sure.

2)Then there’s the other option of grabbing tons of sand and sifting for coins

 

With the second option, there is more crap than coins. That is the issue I have with purchased email lists. They are not bad, as long as you understand they are part of a numbers game, as in, the more emails you have, the better chance you have.

 

Another con to note, if you are dealing with ZoomInfo in particular, I know they deal in high contact quantities, like 7000+ email lists. So, if high-volume email marketing is not in the cards for you, I would try the other options below.

 

With email list providers, you want to make sure that you are going into the transaction with a good belief in what you are purchasing. If you can get a few sample emails to see the quality of said list, I would do it (although I have found it difficult).

 

Side Note: I have not found well-known list providers willing to give a sample of their email lists.

 

That said, here are some reputable list providers. Please check their sites for specifics on email deliverables and guarantees of accuracy.

Info USA

Exact Data

ZoomInfo

Lead Generation Tools That Are Free

Lead generation tools can cost a pretty penny when all is said and done, so it is great to have some free options available. 

 

In this case, all of the services and tools below do have paid tiers — but it is possible to do plenty of good prospecting or sales lead generation without paying for them.

 

Some of these I’ve never paid for.

MailChimp

MailChimp is an email provider that helps you start building your list and sending marketing messages to your best potential buyers for free, up to 2000 contacts.

 

Price: Start for free.

 

Pros: The UI of MailChimp is something I’ve always enjoyed. When I regularly used it, I found it made much of the work of marketing feel more like play.

 

With MailChimp, you can also use automation or triggering events to get your marketing messages to the right people when it matters most.

Cons: Depending on the field you work in, Mailchimp does not work well. For example, MailChimp once abruptly ended my service with them because I was in the field of lead generation. What I found most frustrating was that I was never given the opportunity to talk with their customer service (or anyone) in order to resolve this.

LinkedIn

The premier B2B social media platform, a place that you must play if you plan to create business sales leads online.

 

Price: Free

 

Pros: Linkedin allows you to easily look-up nearly everyone at every company. You can quickly gain an idea of the best decision-makers to approach in order to start that initial sales conversation.

 

Cons: LinkedIn lead generation can often feel overdone , meaning they’re a lot of people on the platform that have resorted to sending spammy sales messages that are totally irrelevant to would-be buyers. 

 

There is also the limited abiltiy to search user profiles for free. This is what leads many, me included, to fork over money for LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

 

That said, the spamming and lack of personalization on the platform could work to the benefit of those who choose a different tact. Think of it as an opportunity to shine by being human and conscious. 

 

Also, you can show more interest and attention to detail in potential buyers by using video-powered messaging.

HubSpot

Hubspot is a CRM or customer relationship management system that has grown to become a complete automation platform, with tools that include:

  • Chatbots
  • Automated emails
  • Document storage
  • Video

 

Price: Starts free.

 

Pros: Hubspot is easy-to-use as far as CRMs go, especially when compared with the often-used Salesforce. Also, their customer service, even for free users, is unparalleled.

 

They will work with you until your problem is solved(as I’ve learned from real experience).

 

A free plan with them does not feel like your typical freemium offering. They do not scrimp on the features they make available to free users. 

 

A small company could easily run their sales with software without having to pay for a bigger plan.

 

Cons: You can expect to pay in order to connect HubSpot with other tools. Not a con per se, just something to be aware of.

Automated Lead Generation Software?

I once heard of a computer whiz who had automated his entire sales process, lead generation and all. I repeatedly tried connecting with this person so I could finally get the skinny on how he managed to do automated lead generation.

 

We never connected and I never learned how automated his process truly was.

 

Outside of that situation, I have heard of legitimate businesses with a fully automated lead generation software situation. 

 

That definitely does not stop people from selling the dream. So keep an eye out.

 

There are LinkedIn (semi) automated software offerings that claim to be plug-n-play. And sure, while these services may auto-connect and auto-message people, they have no way of getting people to auto-buy. 

 

By now, I would say your typical user has gotten adept at spying automated LinkedIn messaging because, on a personalized business networking site, automated messages feel and sound as canned as those auto-generated credit card offers you get in the mail.

 

Even in the event these services or any software were able to get you a sales lead, there is no guarantee you could sell them.

 

Remember, the ability to sell to a specific company depends on a number of factors including:

  • Familiarity
  • Authority of the sales lead
  • Buy-in from teammates
  • Specific need
  • Ability to buy or their buying window

 

These are super-difficult, if not impossible for some automated software to ferret out.

 

Should You Buy Leads?

Generally no, unless you have the ability to dial-in the specific type of leads you can convert to sales. 

 

If, for example, people in a certain industry in a certain region all made similar buying choices at a similar time, I could see purchased leads working.

 

Or, as some do, if you are able to hire some crackerjack sales reps who are skilled closers to close relatively low-priced deals, then that might work as well.

 

But that is nothing close to the typical situation businesses find themselves in.

 

The lesson here is to know the game you are playing and act accordingly.

 

Are Lead Generation Companies Worth It?

In my experience, having run a lead generation company, it’s not entirely the lead generation company’s fault whether you can turn sales leads into sales. That is why I’ve resisted performance-based pay structures in the past.

 

Why should I or my team lost money because your company doesn’t know how to sell?

 

What often trips up businesses when it comes making the most of a lead generation company’s generated sales leads includes:

 

  • The actual amount of time you can devote to sales.
  • Your current service time commitments.
  • Your availability to take meetings.
  • Your ability to get sales help. 
  • Your ability to follow-up with people after sales meetings.
  • A clear understanding of your sales process.
  • A clear understanding of what lead qualification looks like for you.
  • Your ability to clearly express your concerns.

 

A Note About Time: Beleive it or not, too many sales leads can be a serious problem when people do not have a time-availability. It’s a problem that can cause certain smaller companies to fail, when an already swamped executive is bombarded with several sales meetings leaving him or her unable properly to serve the customers they have while disappointing new sales with their rushed attention.

 

As the old adage goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” Often times people will approach a lead generation company with the desire to get more general leads then demand more specifications and qualifiers as time goes on.

 

That’s fine, as long as you allow time for that process to occur. What does not serve anyone is making it sound as though you will accept any lead and then demand a refund over lack of quality. 

 

What?

 

Remember, lead generation companies (generally) want to deliver you great results but do not have the years of experience you have in your field. So, guide them. Also, make sure you can both agree on what success looks like.

 

I once worked with a customer who complained his last company never got him sales appointments, when their metric of success was visits to his profile page!

 

Looks like they had their heads pointed in different directions–and got upset when they didn’t see eye-to-eye!

 

Know your sales process. Know yourself and your constraints. Know the resources, time included, that you currently have available. Then act accordingly.

 

Final Note

When I think of sales lead generation tools, I remember what a photographer once told me about picking the right camera,

 

“Technology is just a tool. It’s more about what someone does with the tool than the tool itself.”

 

While talking about sales lead generation tools is great, they are never typically what make or break your sales strategy. At the end of the day, what matters is

 

The details of on your sales process

How aligned that is with your buyers’ journey

How well you understand your best buyer

 

And that you 

 

  • Start conversations with potential buyers
  • Track conversations with potential buyers
  • Capture the contact information of potential buyers

 

All the best on your journey to success!

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