6 short-term strategies to get new B2B leads for free

June 16, 2019

SaaS companies

6 short term strategies to get B2B leads for free

When you’re in sales and you need new leads *NOW*, you really can’t wait for the results of content marketing and SEO to kick in. And when on top of that, your marketing department is failing on you or you’re a small startup and you don’t have a budget to spend on advertising, outsourced telemarketing or buying lead lists, well… than this blog post is for you ! If you spend 10 minutes reading this blog post and a couple of hours on executing one of the strategies below, I promise you will have instant new B2B leads to prospect on ! Did I say a couple of hours ? Strategy number 6 takes only 5 minutes. Here we go !

Strategy #1: build your own lead list

Strategy number 1 consists of creating your own lead list, in 2 steps:

  • Step 1: identify interesting companies
  • Step 2: identify individuals within these companies

Step 1: make a Company list

Step 1 is to define companies that you would like to sell to. Since we assume you have no budget, buying lists is out of the question. But no worries, you can easily start building your own list. Google will be your best friend, but there are other sources:

  • Tradeshow websites
    One thing I love to do is look for websites from tradeshows, in the vertical that I would like to sell to. Go to the “exhibitor” section of the website to find lists of companies, typically grouped by category. What I like to so much about these websites is that they typically list structured data of each exhibiting company, such as a name, website address, physical address, contact details etc. In order to get the list from the website in Excel, you can try to select, copy and paste in Excel. If that does not work, you could try to crawl the website using a tool such as import.io.
  • Owler
    Owler is a free website that lists details from millions of companies. You can use Owler to look a company that you already sell to, or which is in your lead list, and search it in Owler. Owler will show you a list of competitors of this company, which you can add to your lead list.

Step 2: make a list of individuals for each company

Now that you identified companies, the next step is to find individuals within these companies, that you can contact by email, phone or via social media.

Most importantly, you need decision makers. One thing I like to do is make a list of relevant job titles. I typically search a bit on Linkedin, and note all the interesting job titles I encounter until I have a pretty complete list. And then I use that list to search on Linkedin.

Linkedin is the de facto go to, to identify individuals. Except when you’re selling in Germany that is, where Xing is very popular. You can use Linkedin search to find people based on country, company name and job title. Alternatively you can join Linkedin Groups on topics on your target market and check out the members of these groups.

For each individual found, you need to try and find contact information. This can be time consuming, but tools such as Salesloft or Salestools.io can help out. These tools make it e.g. easy to copy profiles found on Linkedin to your own list and they will try to guess an email address of an individual by trying combinations such as firstname.lastname@company.com, lastname@company.com and many others.

Strategy #2: analyse your competitors

This strategy works especially well if you’re in a replacement market or you have a good competitive comparison between your product and the competition. Find customers of your competitor by looking at their website. Look for testimonials, logo’s etc. Perhaps your competitor has a Linkedin group you want to check out. Or make a list based on their followers on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook.

If you’re in a SaaS software business, a tool such as Datanyze may help to discover prospects based on the tools they currently use.

Strategy #3: go to an event

Exhibiting on a tradeshow is out of scope for this article, because we assumed there’s no budget for that. Instead you can attend an event to meet potential customers. Find conferences or tradeshows in your target market, and register as attendee.

Make sure not to make the mistake of looking for events in your own space. Instead, focus on the events in your target market. If you’re in cyber security and you want to sell to medical companies, search for events that will attract decision makers in medical IT, don’t attend security tradeshows !

One important thing to remember is you cannot sell to exhibitors at a tradeshow. I repeat: do not try to sell to exhibitors on a tradeshow. These people are in 100% sales mode, and not open to a sales pitch from a booth visitor. The only thing you may try is talk to someone in charge of partnerships (see strategy 4 below).

Instead of focussing on the exhibitors, focus on the visitors of the tradeshow. Try to talk to people and collect business cards. Here are couple of things that work:

  • Start a conversation on a coffee table
  • Find the interactive parts of the show, e.g. smaller workshops, and start a conversation with others
  • Join product demo’s on booths and chat with others after the demo

As opposed to a tradeshow, a conference will provide more opportunities to socialize and exchange business cards. The downside is that conferences are typically more expensive to register. Even if you don’t collect a high number of business cards, a conference has the added benefit that it allows you to learn, which may be very useful in your future interactions with customers.

Strategy #4: close a partnership

Granted, this strategy number 4 does not really fall under the “instant new leads” category, but it can still be a pretty short term solution. Why not close a partnership with another company that sells a product or service in the same target market as yours, and which is of course not competing. Reach out to them and propose a partnership. Or if that is out of your control, reach out to an individual sales or business development person and propose to work together, e.g. by sharing customer contacts.

Partnerships can take many forms, here are a few forms of partnerships, ordered from “ad hoc” to more strategic:

  • Swap business cards with sales reps from the other company
  • Do a joined webinar, customer event or workshop
  • Join an existing partner programme of the other company
  • Get your product or service to be included in the portfolio of the partner, and offer a finder-fee, kick-back or reseller fee
  • Close a strategic partnership

Strategy #5: ask your existing customers for referrals

Did you ever ask your customers if they would like to refer you to someone they know ? Nothing as powerful as word of mouth ! Call them, send them an email and ask for help. And you could even throw in a gift or a discount if they bring a referral that becomes an actual customer.

Strategy #6: your own mailbox is a goldmine of B2B leads

Did you know that your own mailbox is a goldmine of potential B2B leads ? And I don’t mean your contact list, I mean the thousands of emails that you received over the last months or years. These emails contain hundreds or thousands of individuals that you are probably not aware of or forgot about. Think about contacts from your previous job, people you once communicated with, but also people that were in cc of email threads and you don’t know at all.

And you know what’s even better ? As opposed to Linkedin, you will not just find names in your mailbox. No, you’ll find names with email addresses, in many cases email signatures with contact details and above all, context ! Your old emails provide context and allow you to get in contact with a concrete story: “Hi, last year we were both involved in project X” or “I’m a friend of your colleague Bob”.

Weeding through all your old emails is time consuming, but there are tools that will go through your mailbox, and list all the contacts found.

Happy hunting !

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