B2B Lead Generation Funnel

B2B Lead Generation Funnel & Costly Mistakes

There’s a lot of confusion and debate when it comes to the marketing funnel and as a result lead generation efforts can produce lower conversion rates.

But before we can look at common B2B lead generation mistakes, let’s look at the complexities of lead generation strategies, and all the steps required to deliver quality leads.

Simply put, the marketing funnel is a way to visualize the process of turning your target audience into leads, and then into customers – as understood from a sales and marketing point of view. Imagine a funnel, with a wide rim on top, and a narrow tube on bottom. 

Like that funnel, marketers cast a wide net to capture as many leads as possible at the top, and slowly nurture these prospective customers through their purchasing process, narrowing them down in each stage of the funnel.

The funnel does have its fair share of issues. It assumes that everyone tumbles in from the top (completely ignoring the fact that each stage and journey is unique). The funnel’s visual simplicity can be deceiving, and this article is meant to shine a light on those loopholes.

For example, the traditional funnel completely misses the point and focuses on new customers that enter at the top. It also leaks and lacks effective marketing strategies at the bottom, where leads turn into paying customers.

Think of the funnel as a process of turning your target audience into leads at the top, and then eventually into buying customers at the bottom, with ongoing work in improving the quality of leads. As we go from top to bottom of each stage of this funnel, leads go from being marketing qualified to sales qualified, i.e. MQL to SQL. Each of these leads is measured to attribute to them the right qualifier and decide whether they get to go to the next stage or not.

Company profits are contingent on having this funnel working efficiently and rapidly. If this were working sales funnels would be full and the efforts would be producing lots of new customers.

The funnel is also about ‘nurturing’ each lead through the funnel. Marketers cast a wide net at the top to capture a lot of leads, measure the right ones, and nurture them with different content and campaigns to influence them into becoming buying customers at the bottom of the funnel.

Generate Qualified Leads For Your Business

Funnel Stages & Conversions of a B2B Lead Generation Funnel

The lead generation funnel has several important stages. It’s important to note that these stages are no longer consecutive or linear in the modern buyer’s journey!


At the top of the funnel, where it is widest, we find “awareness.” At this stage potential customers are drawn in with marketing campaigns and their own research and discovery. In this early stage trust is established with advertising, events, trade shows, content like blog posts and video, social media, and more.

This is where you are truly generating leads, as both you and your potential customers collect information and leads are pulled into a management system that allows you to nurture them further down the funnel.


Once leads have been generated, they move to the next level of the funnel, where they learn more about your business, the product or services you provide, and any helpful information you offer.

Here is your opportunity to build a relationship with the people in you lead generation funnel and introduce your positioning. At this stage, marketers are free to cultivate leads with email marketing, content that is more directed, classes, newsletters, and more.


At this level of the funnel, your leads have been refined to “qualified leads,” meaning they are now prospective customers. Now, your marketing team can send more detailed product information, as well as targeted offers.


To reach this stage, your prospects must show that they have become interested in buying your brand’s product or service. There are a few ways to help them show you this, including surveys, product demos, or even when a product is placed in a virtual shopping cart.

This is your opportunity to make a powerful case for why your product or service is the best choice.


At this point, customers are making their final decisions about buying from you. Ideally, your marketing and sales teams should be working closely at this stage to convince the buyer they have made the right choice and should buy.


You’ve made it! As the final level of the lead generation funnel, your prospective customer has become a full-fledged customer. Here, sales takes over completely to handle the transaction.

If you’ve made the buying experience a positive one, you should expect happy customers to refer others, fuelling the top of your funnel, and starting the process all over again!

Key Differences Between B2B and B2C Funnels

While the traditional lead generation funnel remains essentially the same for both B2B and B2C businesses, there are a couple of important differences.

Usually, a B2C consumer will go through the funnel alone, or with a trusted friend or family member. However, B2B buyers usually have a much larger buying group, often with other departments weighing in.

Another key difference is that B2C buyers often never interact with a representative from the company – especially when it comes to eCommerce sites. On the other hand, B2B buyers almost always interact with a sales rep at the lower stages of the funnel.
Though small, these differences are vital to creating your B2B lead generation funnel.

Learn How B2B Funnel Can Get Your Business On Track!

The Evolution of Lead Generation and Sales

What you’ve read so far is a good way to build a foundation of how the marketing funnel works. The reality is a lot more complex than this. And there are leaky holes in this funnel that break the funnel if not taken care of.

Modern leads enter at any stage! And the buyer’s journey is in many ways a choose your own adventure kind of a situation, because the buyer does most of the research on her own, even before receiving a piece of communication from you.

Empowered with this information, the buyer ‘chooses’ to enter at a more informed stage of consideration or even close to making a purchase stage.

The new lead generation and marketing funnel paradigm include thinking of the funnel as a series of customer journeys that are undertaken by key decision makers and stakeholders, each on their own unique stage of the journey.

The traditional funnel ignores these journeys and the fact that customers can enter into buying mode at any stage. It also over indexes on gaining new customers, losing out on the opportunity of retaining your current customers and the decision makers involved in the process.

Each of these decision makers forges their own path when evaluating a product or service. Their own pain points and concerns that need to be addressed so as to influence them into making a purchase.

Last but not the least, build an understanding of how many of your customers are new and how many are repeat. Invest in the segment that is growing!

The complexity of B2B purchase decisions

The funnel model is evolving. There are now multiple players in a decision making process, each on their own customer journey to fulfil their own unique need. This increases complexity.

Complexity scales as the organization scales. Larger the organization, the larger the buying group. This demands for a more nuanced solution when it comes to marketing a service to them.

Let’s use this thought exercise, for a company who is purchasing Customer Relationship Management software. It shows the complexity of B2B purchases:

  • The CMO of an organization will want inputs from the Director of Marketing, who will further invite the customer success manager to take a seat at the decision making table.
  • The VP of Sales will involve sales reps and sales managers and to a certain extent anyone who has revenue targets to be involved in the decision making the journey as well, as they will be impacted by the CRM decision.
  • The CTO and IT team will be involved to ensure the new software talks to the existing tech stack, and flag any potential issues early on.

The above example is a good way to understand how the decision making process is becoming more complex, takes time, and how this needs to be taken into account when building your B2B lead generation funnel.

Considering this paradigm shift, it isn’t surprising that over 65% of businesses say that lead generation and generating traffic is their biggest challenge according to Hubspot.

This challenge arises due to multiple reasons

  • Unique concerns of each decision maker and stakeholder
  • The traditional funnel model is outdated
  • Decision making takes time and increases in complexity as the size of an organization increases
  • The sales cycle is riddled with pitfalls
    • Scope changes mid-cycle
    • Timelines are lengthened
    • Red Herring variables significantly impact the buying process and distract from what should be the area of focus
  • Sales and marketing departments don’t always talk to each other
    • An example of this is when common definitions and terms are not used across both departments. For example, the definition of a qualified lead doesn’t align with sales goals.
  • Social media is used as an afterthought
    • Social media is not given its due regard, often because sales reps are not digitally savvy or of the perception that social media is better used for entertainment than closing leads. Social media is a bona fide lead generation tool and deserves a seriously creative approach to make the most of a fresh lead generation campaign.
  • Buying lead lists that don’t work
    • Purchasing lead lists is a common practice among many established businesses. While convenient, these lists of leads are almost never actual leads. This is a missed opportunity and a waste of sales efforts.
  • Not using lead magnets and landing pages effectively
    • Organic leads are often of much higher quality than buying lists of leads. Using this approach also helps strengthen your organic lead gen mechanisms. Use SEO to build traffic and convert them to leads. The marketing team should also put in efforts to optimize the most visited pages for lead generation.

In the past, lead generation was primarily done through traditional marketing techniques such as cold calling, direct mail, and print advertising. These methods were effective at reaching a large audience, but they were also time-consuming and expensive.

In this era, marketing and sales campaigns were designed to identify and engage potential buyers through offline methods such as cold calling. A lead was a name and phone number that a sales representative would contact to begin a qualification process. If the lead was deemed “qualified,” it would be entered into the sales pipeline and the sales representative would continue to follow up with them, including educating them about the features and benefits of the company’s products or services and how they compare to those of competitors.

The rise of the internet has transformed the lead generation process. Customers now research and reach out to you via your website, even before someone from sales can even identify them as a potential customer.

It is now clearly a buyer’s market. And buyers are navigating this marketing via content. Which makes creating high quality content and imperative in any successful lead generation campaign. This included creating engaging content and using social media advertising to target specific audiences.

Experienced digital marketing agencies understand these nuances very well, and can help you navigate this new and complex territory. They offer superior support when it comes to content marketing, paid advertising, social media, and lead generation. A partner agency can be a valuable resource and growth enabler for businesses looking to grow their customer base and increase sales.

Looking for more information on B2B marketing? Book a free consultation with Asset Digital Communications!

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