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Where do the most successful B2B sales come from?

There’s more to a sales pipeline than just turning leads into opportunities – which channels are producing the most successful leads that actually close?

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B2B sales – what’s working today?

Converting leads in the B2B game takes a certain skill, a certain finesse, if you will. And success today looks different than success in the past – sending out fridge magnets doesn’t cut it.

Good news for some and bad news for others, referrals have the most success in the B2B pipeline, according to an Implisit study that surveyed 500 of their clients.

From lead to deal, referrals dominate

Among those surveyed, 3.63 percent of leads generated from employee and customer referrals resulted in a sale. That may not sound that high, but is nearly double the conversion rate of second ranked source, websites (1.55 percent).

After referrals and then websites, other successful lead-to-deal conversion rates were number three social networks (1.47 percent), and no other source surpassed the one percent mark.

From lead to opportunity, websites win big

The Implisit survey found that it takes an average of 84 days to convert 13 percent of leads into real opportunities. Nearly one in four leads generated from referrals (customer and employee) resulted in an opportunity (a prospect who is engaged in an active sales process).

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Although referrals win big overall, taking prospects to the opportunity phase is dominated by websites at 31.3 percent. Webinars came in third with a lead-to-opportunity conversion rate of 17.8 percent, and social media lagged closely behind at 17.2 percent.

Marketing and advertising at 15.3 percent barely outranked paid search at 14.3 percent.

The opportunity to deal rates are interesting

The study notes that this part of the deal is much faster, averaging 18 days to convert opportunities to deals, but at only a six percent rate. Ouch.

This part of the pipeline was led by referrals (14.7 percent) converting from opportunities to a sale, more than double the conversion rate for social networks (8.5 percent) which came in second.

Although email marketing ranks poorly for the lead-to-deal (0.07 percent) and lead-to-opportunity (0.9 percent) conversion rates, they rank third in the opportunity-to-deal part of the pipeline at 7.8 percent.

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Webinars and websites are great at turning leads into opportunities, but lag in converting to a B2B sale.

So what should B2B sales teams do?

It has long been understood that word of mouth endorsements are the best closing tool known to man, and keeping existing customers happy is far less expensive than acquiring new clients.

That said, all sales teams should take a look at their full pipeline, and not just the sales portion, and consider which channels should be used to strengthen an opportunity and turn it into a deal.


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Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.



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