Top level findings:
B2B sales professionals see a brighter future for 2010, but closing deals remains a major challenge and sales pros see a mix of traditional and sales 2.0 prospecting tactics as the best approach for accelerating sales cycles.
Pipeline Growth and Sales Cycles
According to OneSource’s B2B SalesPulse Survey, 47 percent of respondents reported current sales pipelines as “somewhat better” or “significantly better” than last year, with 11 percent reporting no change. While pipeline health shows modest improvement, sales cycles are getting longer, making it harder for sales professionals to close deals. Fifty-nine percent surveyed said that current sales cycles were “somewhat longer” or “significantly longer” than last year. Only 16 percent reported shorter sales cycles.
Best Sources of Qualified Opportunities – Traditional and Sales 2.0
When asked to rate various lead sources in terms of which ones produce the most qualified opportunities, sales professionals overwhelmingly rated “Outbound Prospecting” as the best source of qualified opportunities. The next biggest lead generator after Outbound Prospecting was the corporate “Website.” “Inbound Calls,” “Email Marketing,” and “Events and Trade Shows” came next, all clustering at roughly the same level of importance, followed closely by “Social Networking & Media” sites. Sales professionals surveyed placed the least importance on “Direct Mail” and “Webinars” as sources for qualified leads.
Survey respondents also shared their views about social networking and media sites in terms of how valuable they are for sales prospecting and research. LinkedIn rated the highest by a wide margin. Following LinkedIn were Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, in that order, and closely grouped together. YouTube came in last and was significantly lower than the rest.
LinkedIn also showed the most growth with nearly half of all respondents saying that they are using LinkedIn more now than a year ago. Even though LinkedIn showed the most growth, nearly a third of respondents said they are still not using LinkedIn.
Company Information Most Valuable to Qualify Leads
When B2B sales professionals were asked to rate what company information they find most valuable to qualify inbound leads, the number one answer was “Location/Geography,” followed closely by “Size by Revenue” and “Size by Employees” tied for the second position. “Company News” and “Industry-SIC Codes,” tied for third. “Executive Profiles” and “Assets” were rated among the least important types of company information for qualifying leads.