It used to be that your B2B sales rep could pound the pavement and work the network and get sales. Cold calling and hard sales tactics were the way to meet sales quotas. It still can work, but is far less effective today than it used to be.

Let's face it, 20% of your sales reps have a difficult time identifying leads and 33% of your sales reps have a difficult time prospecting (that's according to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 report).

That rings true for companies we've talked to. They want more leads, but are not quite sure how to get them.

Read on to learn why your business has to get better at using your website and online presence to get sales opportunities.

In 2014, 94% of B2B consumers went online to research a product or business before they bought. And when consumer behavior changes, companies have to do things differently in order to generate sales. So, the question has to be asked: what are you doing to meet your business’s need for B2B lead generation?

In our experience, far too many businesses assume they can improve their lead generation efforts by investing more in traditional methods like direct mail, offline advertising and cold calling.

While every business’s promotional tactics will be unique and include some traditional marketing, statistics show that the most effective B2B lead generation efforts in 2017 focus on online marketing.

Here are three reasons you can’t ignore your business’s need to generate more leads online:

1. B2B buyers want to read and research before they buy.

The same study that reports that 94% of B2B buyers do research online also shows that B2B consumers want a breadth of content assets from the companies they buy from. Why? Because 31% of buyers want to research and educate themselves without assistance from sales.

A website that doesn’t provide sufficient background information, product options, and case studies will quickly lose the interest of self-directed B2B buyers.

2. Your competitors are already generating leads online.

According to the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, 80% of B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy in place. If you aren’t using your website and blog for B2B lead generation, you’re among the small 20% minority that hasn’t made the leap yet. That means your competitors are using email, social, and content marketing to educate and attract customers out from under your sales team.

If you're in the majority that are already using content marketing and not seeing success, it might be time for an expert third party marketing opportunity review.

3. The online trend is here to stay.

There’s no denying that marketing and sales trends come and go. But if you’re thinking online B2B lead generation is a flash in the pan, think again. Already, 83% of B2B marketers rate their content marketing strategies as very or moderately effective, 63% are extremely or very committed to content marketing, and 62% are much more or somewhat more successful with it than they were a year ago.

Read a case study about how one manufacturing company fills its sales pipeline with a blog targeted to ideal customers.

As companies like yours gain confidence with content marketing, use it in the sales process to meet customer demands and deliver proven successes to their leadership, adoption and usage will only grow.

Your customers are looking online for information about your products and services. When that happens, your website becomes a critical piece of your B2B lead generation efforts. Consider how online marketing methods like PPC advertising and inbound marketing can help you adapt to these changes and bring in higher quality leads at a lower cost than traditional marketing methods.

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