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Ethical Lead Generation for B2B Tech: How to Build Credibility and Attract Leads

lead generation

Radio host, SaaSy digital marketing strategist, and race car driver. Founder @ Milk & Cookies Studio & Claudiu brings a unique blend of expertise and adrenaline to the B2B tech marketing world.

Lead generation is a pivotal component of business growth in the rapidly changing ecosystem of B2B tech start-ups. However, simply having a significant following or gazzillion email addresses in your list does not guarantee your lead generation success. The secret to efficient lead generation is to establish credibility and offer value to your ideal customer profile. In this article, we’ll take a gander at ethical tactics that put an emphasis on building long-term relationships with your leads, solving customer problems, and adding value.

What is lead generation?

Simply put, B2B lead generation is the process of identifying the ideal customers for your product or service, then engaging them, nurturing them, raising their interest in your products or services, and eventually creating enough value for them so they become your clients and buy from you. 

For most B2B tech companies, this involves finding decision-makers within organisations who have a need for what you offer, and who can apply your solution to their burning problems.

Lead generation is about building credibility

Credibility plays a fundamental role in successful lead generation campaigns. Buyers want to know if they can trust you, if you are genuinely interested in helping them solve their problems, and if you are as good as you claim to be. Yeah, it sounds kind of easy, right? And most times, with a good offer and an even better process it can be easy. But it takes time, effort, resources, and the will to not cut corners and look for shortcuts.

For the simplification’s sake, to build credibility you’d probably want to:

  1. Establish trust: Be transparent and honest with your prospects about what you offer and how it can benefit them.
  2. Demonstrate you are a good company: Show that you are genuinely interested in helping others by being responsive, reliable, and empathetic.
  3. Solve customer problems: Understand the pain points of your ideal customers and provide tailored solutions that address their specific needs.
  4. Prove your expertise: Showcase industry knowledge through thought leadership.

Ethical cold outreach strategy

Over the past couple of years, unfortunately, cold outreach has earned a bad reputation due to spammy tactics used by some marketers. High volumes and insultingly generic messages sent to whatever email address was available have been contributing heavily to the current noise. However, ethical cold outreach can still be an effective way to generate leads when done right.

As a rule of thumb, there are 2 main ways to generate leads: 

  1. Outbound: You go toward your potential clients and try to establish a connection with them
  2. Inbound: Your potential clients come toward you and start a conversation with you

Currently, in terms of outbound, social media (especially Linkedin) works best, with a high ROI.

Fundamentals of social selling

Social selling, by definition, involves using social media platforms like LinkedIn as a means of finding new clients. It requires a mix of direct outreach (connecting with prospects) and indirect methods (creating valuable content) to work.

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Below are some tips & tricks for your social media lead generation efforts.

1. Start by building your profile funnel

Your LinkedIn profile serves as your social landing page. It should clearly communicate who you are, who your audience is, and how you can solve their problems. Optimize your profile by including a professional photo, a compelling headline, and relevant hashtags. 

Look at your profile from the point of view of your potential clients and try to answer their potential questions ASAP. On average, they will spend somewhere between 20 to 30 seconds before making a decision: Do I want to read more or I am not convinced and I will move along?

Some of the most common questions your prospects will want to find answers to are:

  • Who do you work with?
  • What problems do you solve?
  • What do you sell?
  • Are you trustworthy?
  • Can you walk the talk?
  • Are you the right vendor for their company?


2. Build your network

Your LinkedIn network consists of three main clusters that you want to interact with in a highly personalized way:

– Industry leaders: Engage with industry leaders that have a network made out of your ideal customer profile. They must be active on LinkedIn, have a large follower base, and high engagement rates. Comment on their posts or share their content to establish connections and position yourself in front of their followers.

– Peers: Connect with colleagues in the same industry or role to build credibility within your industry and community.

– Potential clients: Nurture relationships with existing customers or prospects by providing value through highly personalized interactions. If you want to cut through the noise, my recommendation for you is to never try to sell them something before you have at least 15 touchpoints with them. Get to actually know them. Otherwise, you’ll be simply assuming, just like everyone else.

If you are targeting C-level people, directors or managers, keep in mind that they probably get anywhere between 10 to 30 unsolicited DMs and emails each day. And after analyzing the messages from the inboxes of 5 of our clients (email and social), I can tell you most of them are super egocentric. They are all about the seller and what they are trying to sell. And it’s so easy to switch the conversation from “I want to sell you something” to “YOU have a specific problem that maybe we can help YOU solve” and differentiate yourself in a more and more cluttered market. 

3. Build your lists

Identify your ideal customer profiles and the cluster they are part of, based on industry and business-specific filters such as industry type, company headcount, job title, function in the company, seniority, geography, connection type, and many more.

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Then create lists. You can use a free tool for this (like G. Sheets) or you can use LinkedIn Sales Navigator. The tool is less important. What is important is to make your life easier and to be able to track your activity and never forget an important follow-up.

4. Follow the rules of engagement

Engaging ethically means focusing on building relationships rather than simply pitch-slapping. Ask insightful questions that show genuine interest in the prospect’s challenges and offer useful resources that give them solutions. Think of it like dating. You’d never (or at least I am hoping you’d not) go to a stranger on the street, without any introduction and propose to them straight up to do some nasties. You get to know the other person, talk, ask questions, go out to dinner, etc. 

5. Practice social listening and nurture your prospects before trying to sell them anything

Monitor posts from people in the above clusters (industry leaders, peers, and potential clients) and engage in meaningful conversations with them, by commenting super-mega-giga relevant on their posts.

Focus on building trust before attempting any sales pitch. Remember to have at least 10 to 15 touch points before even thinking of trying to pitch anything. You can share insights, thoughts, experiences, opinions, resources, interesting articles, and any other things that will start conversations. 

This step is the “make-or-break” step in the process. The temptation will be big to try to hurry things up. Take your time, be curious, and try to find interesting angles for conversations. Also, don’t forget to ask questions. People loooooove answering interesting questions.

Now, once the contact has been made, you can send them personalized messages that address your prospects’ pain points and open your way to pitching your thing. 

Attracting inbound leads

In addition to outbound lead generation efforts, attracting inbound leads can also be a performant strategy for B2B tech companies. Inbound leads are those who reach out to you based on the value and credibility you have established. 

Below are some insights on how to attract inbound leads, ethically.

Step 1: Create a social listening doc

Keep track of industry trends and conversations by maintaining a social listening document where you collect relevant insights from social media discussions (pages, profiles, groups, whatever) or articles related to your field. This will help you, later on, to have a database of resources and info to keep the ball rolling.

Step 2: Map topics relevant to your ICP’s pain points

Identify common pain points experienced by your ideal customer profiles and map them to specific themes or topics for content creation purposes. This ensures that your content addresses their needs directly.

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Step 3: Create the pain points list

Compile a list of pain points commonly faced by your potential clients, specific to your target market segment. Use this list as inspiration when developing content ideas that provide solutions tailored to these challenges. I like to keep them in Google Sheets, split into tabs, each with clear tags. 

I have one tab for each ICP (Founders, CEOs, Marketing managers, Thought leaders). For each, I created a column with industry tags (SaaS, Software dev, etc).

Here are some pain points ideas, for inspiration (true story):

  • They have a good product, good new accounts numbers, but they do not convert them from free accounts to paid accounts
  • They are looking for funding, but they do not have enough brand awareness to open the right doors
  • They will participate in a large event and don’t know how to make the most of it


Step 4: Experiment with content frameworks

Explore different content formats such as blog posts, videos, or infographics to deliver your message effectively. Experiment with different tones and styles to find what resonates best with your target audience.

Step 5: Create your unique point of view

Now, based on the information you got in the previous steps, you are ready to develop a unique point of view (POV) that sets you apart from competitors in the industry. This could be based on personal experiences, insights gained through research or different and better approaches to common challenges.

Here are some amazing hooks that can make your life easier when you are in front of a blank page and want to create your first social media post:

  • This might be the best way to {{pain point they have and solution}}…
  • 5 {{industry}} rules to live by
  • 5 underrated {{pain point}} tools that will {{promise}}
  • The most underrated strategy to fix {{pain point}}
  • How to {{result}} in {{timeframe}} without {{objection}}


Bonus: Post consistently, not daily

Consistency is key when it comes to lead generation. Instead of posting daily, focus on maintaining a regular schedule that allows you to consistently generate valuable content without overwhelming yourself or your audience. You don’t want to overdo it. Sometimes posting daily actually works against you, depending on the platform you’re on.

Some kind of conclusions

Ethical lead generation for B2B tech companies requires building credibility and providing value at every stage of the customer journey. By focusing on establishing trust, solving customer problems ethically using social media platforms and content can yield sustainable results over time. Remember that attention is temporary but credibility lasts long-term.

Prioritize building relationships rather than simply pitch slapping.

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