Is the B2B market improving in 2010? A recently released survey by OneSource indicates there’s good news and cautious news. The good news is that nearly half (47%) of B2B sales professionals say there are more deals in the pipeline. The cautious part of this report indicates that almost 2/3’s (59%) of these professionals find that it’s taking longer to close deals.

But before they begin to close deals, sales pros must prospect for leads. In many cases, they rely on their firm’s marketing efforts to generate this information. And they rate some kinds of efforts as more successful than others.

The top-rated information channel, other than their own outbound prospecting efforts, was the company Web site. Sales pros also point to e-mail and trade shows as important lead generators.  And direct mail garnered a mention but was considered least important by many sales pros.

Social media is proving to be another source of qualified lead generation. Here is a ranking of the social media outlets mentioned by sales professionals as being useful:

  • LinkedIn
  • Blogs
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Note that LinkedIn is being used by almost half of all sales pros  while YouTube  ranked “significantly lower than the rest” of the social media channels.

As marketers design social media strategies to generate leads, they will want to capture the information that sales pros say is most important. These details include company location, revenue size, employee size and executive profiles. Data mining might not help speed up the sales cycle, but arming professionals with this information can give them an edge in today’s competitive environment.
[Source: B2B SalesPulse Survey Conducted by Infogroup’s OneSource Uncovers Key Trends in Pipeline Growth, Sales Cycle Lengths and Use of Social Media for Lead Generation. OneSource. 25 Mar. 2010. Web. 26 Mar. 2010]