Business-to-business (B2B) sales cycles are longer than a year ago, but pipelines are growing, according to the “B2B SalesPulse Survey” from business information company OneSource.
Traditional outbound prospecting still produces the most qualified leads for US B2B sales representatives, but companies are relying more on their corporate Website to help bring in customers. Social networking sites were rated toward the low end of the scale, though they were as helpful in lead generation as direct mail.
The most effective social network for prospecting was LinkedIn, by a wide margin. The business-oriented site was rated 3.1 out of 5, compared with ratings of 2 for blogs, 1.9 for Facebook and 1.8 for Twitter.
LinkedIn’s effectiveness in this area has translated into significant increases in usage. Nearly one-half of respondents said they were using the site more for prospecting and research than a year before. Around one-fifth of those polled were also upping their prospecting efforts on blogs, Facebook and Twitter, but majorities of B2B sales professionals did not use those sites for research at all.
January 2010 data from HubSpot showed 45% of North American B2B companies using LinkedIn for marketing had acquired a customer through the site. Company blogs were effective for 43% of respondents, while 38% and 33%, respectively, got customers from Twitter and Facebook.
In contrast, research firm Outsell found that US B2B marketers considered Facebook the most effective social media site, at 51%, followed by LinkedIn (45%) and Twitter (35%). That poll focused on effectiveness in general, not necessarily lead generation.
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