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How to Create a Converting B2B Lead Generation Funnel

This article provides a comprehensive overview of the B2B lead generation funnel, covering its fundamentals, stages, optimization, and key metrics.

Agnieszka Włodarczyk

As we enter 2023, the B2B lead generation funnel undergoes a transformation in response to changing business markets and economic landscapes. With new technologies and shifting buyer behaviors, businesses must embrace a multi-channel approach encompassing various touchpoints throughout the customer journey.

This guide will explore practical ways to attract, nurture, and convert high-quality B2B sales leads into your sales funnel.

What Is a B2B Lead Generation Funnel?

A B2B lead generation funnel is a strategic framework that guides businesses in capturing, nurturing, and converting potential customers. B2B lead generation funnel channels prospects through a series of stages toward becoming qualified leads and, eventually, customers. 

The funnel typically consists of several stages: awareness, attention, interest, desire, consideration, and conversion. The B2B lead generation funnel employs targeted marketing and sales tactics at each stage of the business process to engage prospects, deliver valuable information, build relationships, and ultimately drive conversions.

b2b marketing funnel.webp

READ ALSO: Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation: Differences Explained

Why Is a Well-Designed B2B Lead Generation Funnel Important?

B2B lead generation is a critical aspect of any business that wants to grow its customer base and increase revenue. A strong lead generation funnel helps businesses identify their target audience, enabling them to provide valuable content tailored to their potential customers’ needs.

It also organizes the sales process, capturing high-quality leads for your sales team and converting prospects into customers. This structured approach enables businesses to make informed decisions on where to allocate resources effectively for maximum ROI (return on investment).

Fundamentals of Marketing: How to Create a B2B Lead Generation Funnel Strategy

fundamental steps of creating b2b lead generation funnel

Research your target audience

To create content that speaks to your potential customers, you must understand their needs, challenges, and goals. Conduct audience research to gain insights into your target audience:

  • Persona Development: Researching your target audience enables you to create buyer personas, which are fictional representations of your ideal customers. These personas help you understand your audience deeper by identifying their goals, challenges, and motivations.
  • Audience Segmentation: Research helps segment your audience into groups based on traits like industry or pain points. Segmenting lets you send personalized marketing messages to each group, improving the chances of grabbing their attention.
  • Content Creation: Researching your audience informs you about the content they'll find valuable. By knowing their issues and interests, you can craft blogs, white papers, or webinars that meet their needs. This tailored content attracts and engages your audience, moving them deeper into the marketing funnel.
  • Channel Selection: Know your audience's favored communication channels to choose the right ones for engagement. Research shows which social media or online platforms they use often. Investing in these channels boosts visibility and saves money by avoiding wrong content distribution.
  • Optimization and Testing: Researching your target audience allows you to continuously optimize and refine your B2B marketing funnel. By analyzing data and insights, you can identify areas of improvement, test different strategies, and iterate on your approach to ensure that you effectively target and convert your desired leads.

Conduct market research

Market research enables businesses to accurately assess their position in the marketplace and how they are perceived compared to competitors. It provides insights into customer perceptions, preferences, and needs.

Incorporating market research into business strategy involves several steps.

  • Identify research needs and goals: 
  • Collecting data: collect through various methods such as surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, and in-depth interviews. Both primary research (gathering new data) and secondary research (using existing data) are valuable approaches.
  • Analyze and interpret the findings to gain insights: this involves assessing market trends, customer preferences, competitor strengths and weaknesses, and other relevant factors. These insights are crucial for making informed decisions and developing an effective B2B marketing funnel.

Market research provides critical information about the market and the business landscape, helping businesses understand their customers, competitors, and industry trends for a well-performing marketing strategy.

How to Build a Marketing Funnel for B2B

Top of Funnel = Awareness + Attention

The Top of Funnel (TOFU) is the first stage of the marketing funnel, where potential customers become aware of a brand or a product. This stage is crucial because it sets the foundation for the rest of the sales funnel and plays a significant role in attracting potential customers. 

To understand the TOFU funnel stage further, let's imagine planning a vacation. When you first start thinking about a trip, you might not have a specific destination in mind. You begin to explore different travel websites, read travel blogs, and see advertisements on social media. These encounters bring awareness to various destinations and travel options. Similarly, in the TOFU stage of the funnel, businesses aim to capture the target audience's attention through various marketing strategies.

In this phase, companies use content marketing, Search Engine Optimization, social media, and PPC ads to boost their visibility and brand awareness. Produce useful content like blogs, videos, or infographics to help potential customers, similar to how travel blogs share tips on destinations.

The goal of the Top of Funnel (TOFU) stage is to catch the audience's eye, spark curiosity, and build a relationship with the brand, establishing trust for the journey ahead in the B2B sales funnel.

Middle of Funnel = Interest + Desire

The Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) is where leads, now familiar with the brand, evaluate options and consider your brand for their problem. MOFU has two stages: interest and desire.

To understand the interest buyers stage, let's use the same example of planning a vacation. You start by exploring destinations, and then certain places catch your eye based on your likes and needs. As interest builds, you dig deeper into these places through blogs, videos, and reviews, learning about what each offers regarding attractions, lodging, and activities.

Like researching vacation spots, potential customers seek information to solve their needs. Businesses can engage them by offering insightful content like blogs or webinars, showcasing their expertise and product value, aiming to capture interest and position their brand as a trustworthy solution, paving the way for the next funnel stages.

Now, in the Desire phase, prospects start picturing themselves in specific action with your product, for example, experiencing the local culture. Customers are considering a purchase more seriously, much like envisioning a holiday with specific enjoyable experiences. To build this desire, companies create an emotional link between the customer and their offerings, using eye-catching visuals, testimonials, and personalized messages.

Bottom of Funnel = Consideration + Conversion

In the Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) stage, leads are now aware of their problem/need and compare brands and solutions. This stage is split into consideration and conversion phases. Conducting market research can give you a competitive advantage when creating content.

During BOFU, marketers and sales teams are crucial in providing relevant and helpful information to potential customers. In consideration, marketers create content like case studies or demo videos, while sales teams offer personalized help, both aiming to address the leads' specific needs and guide them toward choosing their brand. In the conversion phase, it's about nudging leads to purchase. Providing detailed product information, providing exceptional customer service, and addressing concerns are key to helping leads make confident buying decisions.

Optimization of the B2B sales funnel

Here’s a breakdown of the B2B sales funnel optimization process:

Reviewing User Actions: Observe how leads interact at each funnel stage to understand their behavior better.

Conversion Rate & Metrics Analysis: Look at metrics like click rates or time spent on a page and assess the rates at which leads move from one funnel stage to the next or become customers.

Identifying Improvement Areas: Use the gathered data to find parts of the funnel that could work better.

READ ALSO: Automated Lead Generation Software: Everything You Need to Know

Metrics to Measure in Lead Generation Funnel

TOFU metrics to measure

Here are some suggested key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the TOFU stage of the B2B lead generation funnel:

  • Website traffic 
  • Social media reach/engagement 
  • Email open rates 
  • Content downloads

MOFU metrics to measure

Here are some suggested key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the MOFU stage of the B2B lead generation funnel:

  • Lead conversion rate from traffic
  • Time spent on site
  • Email clickthrough rate
  • Leads generated from content

BOFU metrics to measure

Here are some suggested key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the BOFU stage of the B2B lead generation funnel:

  • Lead to customer conversion rate 
  • Sales conversations held 
  • Proposal/trial signups 
  • Revenue generated

Conversion Rate Benchmarks for Each Stage of the B2B Sales Funnels

Conversion rate benchmarks are essential for measuring the effectiveness of your B2B sales funnel. By tracking your conversion rates at each stage of the funnel, you can identify areas where you need to improve your sales process and make necessary adjustments.

Web visits to Leads: Refers to the measurement of the proportion of website visitors converted into leads within a given period.  

The formula for calculating this benchmark is: 

Web visits to Leads = (Number of website visitors who become leads / Total number of website visitors) x 100

Leads to MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads): It represents the percentage of leads that transition from general leads to those who have shown interest in a company's products or services and are more likely to become customers than other leads (MQLs).

The formula for calculating this benchmark is: 

Leads to MQLs = (Number of MQLs / the number of leads) x 100

For example, if a company has 200 leads and 50 of them become MQLs, the conversion rate would be 25%

MQLs to SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads): The MQL to SQL conversion rate is a critical metric in measuring the effectiveness of marketing and sales efforts. SQL represents a lead that has shown strong buying intent and meets specific criteria set by the sales team.

The formula for calculating this benchmark is: 

(Number of SQLs / Number of MQLs) x 100

For example, if a company has 100 MQLs and 30 of them become SQLs, the conversion rate will be 30%.

SQLs to Opportunities: This metric measures the percentage of SQLs that progress to the opportunity stage, where there is a genuine need for the company's products or services, and the lead has the authority and willingness to commit to a specific timeline and budget for the purchase.

The formula for calculating this benchmark is: 

(Numer of Opportunities / Numer of SQLs) x 100

For example, the company generates 400 SQLs in a quarter, and 100 of these become opportunities. The conversion rate from SQLs to Opportunities is 25%.

Opportunities to Won: This metric measures the percentage of SQLs that ultimately result in a closed deal, generating revenue for the company and achieving sales targets. 

The formula for calculating this benchmark is: 

Opportunities to Won  = (Number of deals you win / Number of deals you pursue) x 100% 

For example, a company generates 300 Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), and 75 of these leads progress to the stage of being considered opportunities. So, with these new numbers, the conversion rate from SQLs to Opportunities is 25%.

It's important to note that these benchmarks are just guidelines, and conversion rates can vary depending on factors such as the industry, product or service being sold, and the market's competitiveness.

Tool Stack for a B2B Marketing Funnel

A tool stack can help you automate and streamline many of the tasks involved in each funnel stage. This can free up your time to focus on more strategic initiatives, such as developing new content and building relationships with potential customers, increasing their customer lifetime value.

Here are some examples of B2B marketing tools that can be used to help create a B2B marketing funnel:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

A CRM platform like Salesforce, HubSpot, or Zoho CRM is essential for managing and organizing your leads. It allows you to track interactions, nurture relationships, and measure the effectiveness of your lead-generation efforts.

Lead Generation and Capture

Use tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator or CallPage to identify and capture leads. These tools help you find potential leads based on specific actions and collect their contact information.

Email Marketing

Tools like Mailchimp or built-in CRM email marketing systems enable you to automate email campaigns and nurture leads. You can create personalized email sequences, send targeted content, and track email engagement.

Content Creation and Distribution

Tools like Canva or Adobe Creative Cloud help you create visually appealing content, such as infographics, social media posts, or blog posts with graphics. Use tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule and distribute your content across different social media channels.

Landing Page and Website Optimization

Tools like Unbounce, Instapage, or Leadpages allow you to create and optimize landing pages for lead generation. These tools provide templates, A/B testing, and analytics to improve conversion rates.

Analytics and Tracking

Google Analytics is a crucial tool for tracking website traffic, user behavior, and conversion rates. Use tools like Hotjar or Crazy Egg for heatmap analysis to understand user interactions and optimize your website and landing pages.

Marketing Automation

Tools like Marketo, Pardot, or ActiveCampaign automate marketing tasks and workflows. They allow you to segment leads, tailor content, nurture leads through personalized campaigns, and track their engagement.

Data Enrichment

Tools like Clearbit or Clearbit alternatives enrich your lead data with additional details like company information, contact details, and social profiles. This additional information helps you personalize your communication and target leads more effectively.

Conversion Optimization

Tools like Optimizely or VWO enable you to run A/B tests on your website and landing pages. These tools help you optimize your conversion funnel by testing different elements, layouts, and messaging to improve conversion.

READ ALSO: The 10 Best B2B Marketing Tools & Software You Should Get To Know

When choosing a tool stack for your B2B lead funnel, it's important to consider your budget, needs, and goals. You should also make sure that the tools you choose are compatible with each other and easy to use. Train your team on how to use the tools in your tool stack. Provide training and support so that they can get the most out of the tools.

Once you've chosen the right tools, you need to integrate them into your marketing workflow. This can be a complex task, but it's essential for getting the most out of your investment.

Challenges and Obstacles in B2B Lead Generation for Small-Medium Businesses

Navigating the world of B2B lead generation can be like walking through a maze. But don't worry, we've all been there. Let's talk about some common challenges and how to tackle them.

Challenge 1: Lack of Quality Leads

The Problem: You're getting leads, but they're not converting. This is a classic issue.

How to Overcome: Focus on targeting. Use tools like CallPage to capture leads before they even get to the sales team. Implement lead scoring to prioritize high-value prospects.

Challenge 2: Limited Budget

The Problem: You're a small fish in a big pond, competing against companies with massive marketing budgets.

How to Overcome: Lean into inbound marketing. Create valuable content that draws people to you. Tools like HubSpot offer free versions to get you started.

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know About Generating Inbound Leads

Challenge 3: Sales and Marketing Misalignment

The Problem: Your sales and marketing teams work in silos, leading to wasted opportunities and resources.

How to Overcome: Adopt a "Smarketing" approach. Regular meetings and shared KPIs can help align both teams' efforts.

Challenge 4: Keeping Up with Trends

The Problem: The whole digital marketing landscape is always changing, and keeping up is hard. 

How to Overcome: Stay educated. Follow industry leaders, attend webinars, and keep an eye on emerging technologies like AI and automation.

Challenge 5: Measuring Conversion Rate and ROI

The Problem: You're doing a lot but not sure what's working.

How to Overcome: Use analytics tools to track key metrics (check previosly paragraph about essential metrics). This will help you understand what strategies are most effective.

Challenge 6: Data Management

The Problem: You have data coming in from various sources, making it difficult to manage and analyze.

How to Overcome: Invest in a good CRM system that can integrate with other tools you're using, to keep all data about your leads in one place.

There are many challenges in B2B lead generation, but they're not impassable. You can overcome these obstacles with the right strategies and tools and build a lead generation machine to grow your business.

Embracing digital transformation initiatives, such as automating lead capture and nurturing processes, can significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of B2B lead generation funnels.


With the right tools and strategies, you can create a funnel that transitions prospects into customers easily with a single click.

The key is to adapt to new technologies and buyer tendencies. This means embracing a multi-channel approach and leveraging tools that automate and streamline your own marketing process and workflow.

A robust tool stack can help you navigate each funnel stage with precision. From generating leads to closing deals, you can rely on the latest technologies to amplify your sales process. But even the most advanced tools are only as effective as the team using them. That's why it's essential to invest in training and support to ensure that your team is equipped to get the most out of your tool stack.

By following these tips, you can create a B2B marketing funnel that is efficient and effective.

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