Business-to-business (B2B) sales involves selling products or services to other businesses, associations, or nonprofit organizations. Compared to its business-to-consumer (B2C) sales counterpart, marketing to B2B demands a longer sales process with more complex lead generation, qualification, and nurturing activities. To best prepare for this environment using real-life insights, here are 23 B2B sales statistics you should know, plus their takeaways.
B2B Sales Statistics on Lead Generation
These stats and trends outline how and where businesses find their potential business customers—otherwise known as B2B lead generation. Whether it be content marketing, referrals, cold calling, or networking events, lead generation is a critical step in the sales process for keeping the pipeline full of opportunities.
1. 53% of marketers say that hosting webinars is the top method for generating high-quality leads
Takeaway: Much of B2B selling is getting in front of the right audiences and prospects. There is no better way to do that than hosting educational sessions for an entire market segment. You can cover challenges and best practices specific to that target market, and then tease how your product or service is the ideal solution. This is the structure of most B2B webinars, which appear to be solid channels for generating new, qualified leads.
(Source: Demand Gen Report)
2. 66% of B2B sales professionals say referrals from existing customers are the best lead generation source
Takeaway: Many people assume that referral programs are only for B2C businesses such as retailers or ecommerce stores. However, the objectives can easily cross into the B2B industry whenever legally permitted. Customers use referrals as reliable sources of information—helping build trust with a brand much sooner. The net cost of a referral is cheaper and those leads tend to have higher customer conversion rates.
3. B2B firms with a ‘mature’ lead generation process generate 133% more revenue
Takeaway: A “mature” lead generation process refers to having a standardized, methodical approach that employs best practices and automation in the mix. In other words, it’s a repeatable process for each lead that comes in the pipeline. It’s clear that with a structured system such as automated lead assignment, data entry, and call scheduling, opportunities and tasks don’t slip through the cracks and ultimately bring in more revenue.
4. 53% of B2B marketers agree that email is the most effective means for early-stage lead generation
Pro tip: Customer relationship management (CRM) software not only stores critical contact data like names, companies, email addresses, and phone numbers—it also offer solutions for generating leads from your website. In HubSpot, for instance, users can customize and embed online forms on their websites. From there, site visitors can submit their information, automatically create new lead records in the CRM system, and notify sales reps.
B2B Sales Process Statistics
These stats illustrate a typical B2B buyer’s journey, what it takes to get B2B leads through the sales pipeline, and why they buy from one firm over another. It includes insights on conversion rates from stage to stage, priorities of B2B buyers, and specific sales activities sales reps need to understand to close the deal.
5. Across all marketing channels, 3.5% is the average sales-qualified conversion rate for B2B services
Takeaway: Getting high conversions throughout the sales process is a crucial indicator of robust performance. However, just because you target someone and they interact with your campaigns doesn’t mean they are sales-qualified or interested in what you have to offer. Based on this benchmark, it takes a considerable volume of prospecting and outreach to get leads into a buying consideration mindset.
6. 85% of business buyers will more likely buy from a company that demonstrates an understanding of their business goals
Takeaway: When a business purchases a product or service from another company, it’s so they can improve an aspect of their business. For instance, they might purchase a software platform to improve operations and collaboration, work with a marketing firm to boost brand awareness, or hire a cybersecurity consultant to reduce data-security risks. For this reason, almost all buyers demand that the reps they work with understand those goals during the buying process.
7. B2B buyers are 57%-70% through their buying research before contacting sales
Takeaway: Many B2B reps assume they need to describe your product or service thoroughly to convince a buyer to purchase it. In reality, buyers mostly understand what it does or how it works already through their own research. They’re more curious specifically about how that solution can help them solve their specific operational, risk management, or marketing challenges. With that, sales teams should focus on promoting their unique selling proposition to improve closing rates.
(Source: WB Research)
8. Only 16% of B2B marketers rate their lead nurturing initiatives as ‘excellent’
Takeaway: Lead nurturing is a lead management activity where after they’ve been generated, you continuously engage them to maintain the relationship until they’re ready for next steps. This usually comes in email messages, typically automated campaigns, as well as following up via telephone calls or texts. While it keeps your brand fresh in the lead’s mind at all times, many B2B firms appear to struggle with these campaigns—paving the opportunity for competitors to thrive.
Pro tip: Did you know your CRM could automate email nurturing activities? Popular tools like HubSpot include email design and deployment features that help send out mass emails to leads stored in your CRM system. The capabilities include templates for creating messages and customizable steps, automated for when or in what circumstance the next message goes out.
B2B Sales Statistics for Prospecting & Lead Qualification
Lead qualification determines if leads fit your target customer profiles and prioritizes the best pipeline opportunities. It’s an essential sales step that requires prospect research before making initial contact, then communicating with a new lead to determine their need for your product or service and capability to make the purchase. These stats outline the challenges and importance of thorough prospecting and qualification.
9. 34% of sales reps say that prospecting & lead qualification are their biggest challenges
Takeaway: Since B2B firms often target niche markets, such as small businesses or tech companies, they must put in the research to see if a prospect is a good fit for their offerings. Additionally, they must connect with leads to see if they have the budget, need, and urgency to make a purchase. Without the right system, these prospecting and qualification tasks are time-consuming and often result in wasted resources on bad leads.
10. On average, it takes 18 calls to connect with a B2B buyer
Takeaway: In addition to the inefficiency of making calls, only 23.9% of sales emails end up opened. It’s tough to successfully prospect and qualify leads when there’s such a high input requirement. To keep efficiency high, sales teams should conduct detailed research to ensure the leads they pursue are worthwhile. Additionally, they should invest in technology such as automated email systems and power dialers for faster input activity.
Pro tip: Many sales reps are unaware they can automate one of the most tedious parts of cold calling—finding contact data and dialing. Freshcaller is the built-in phone tool for the Freshsales CRM system. It comes with power dialing features that let users insert a preset call list, typically contacts stored in the CRM, then auto-dial down the list for you as the previous call concludes.
11. 26% of reps say that the biggest benefit of sales & marketing alignment is improved lead quality
Takeaway: Because so much time is devoted in B2B sales to pushing a deal through the pipeline, avoiding time-wasting, poor-quality opportunities is a key contributor to production. Marketers often use campaigns to generate leads and then pass them off to reps to finish the sale. It’s clear that keeping both sales and marketing teams in sync using defined customer profiles, qualification criteria, and technology systems improves the quality of the leads generated.
Pro tip: Lead qualification is already challenging enough. Invest in a CRM that can automate qualification tasks through lead scoring tools. Lead scoring involves assigning points to deals or contacts based on preset profile attributes and activities such as emails opened or files downloaded. CRMs like Freshsales have lead scoring built into the system so users can view real-time scores and create reports that let them prioritize “hot” opportunities.
B2B Sales Productivity Statistics
Ever wondered how reps are spending their time and why certain teams are more efficient than others? These stats cover some of the best sales enablement solutions and the day-to-day lives of B2B salespeople.
12. Sales reps spend as many as 11 hours each week searching for information that should be included in training
Takeaway: The survey for this stat showed that reps spend far too much time trying to get answers about their sales technology, operational processes, or resources. All these are aspects that should be taught during training and onboarding, not while the rep is in the full swing of their job. The lesson: prioritize sales training early on so reps don’t waste their time later.
Pro tip: Effective sales training is crucial for maximizing a rep’s productivity and revenue performance. To learn how to properly develop a high-performing team, check out our nine tips for sales training to better prepare your sales team for success.
13. Sales professionals spend only an average of 30% of their time actually selling
Takeaway: B2B sales success is all about building and maintaining relationships with decision-makers. However, it’s tough to produce revenue when 70% of a rep’s time is spent on administrative tasks like researching, appointment scheduling, proposal generation, or data entry. These tasks are ones that could easily be automated or outsourced. For example, teams can purchase lead lists from outside vendors that filter to meet company size, industry, or even technology stack requirements rather than research themselves.
There are also software tools that help automate the scheduling process, so you don’t have to go back and forth emailing to find the time. Calendly, for instance, lets users sync their calendar and availability to a scheduling portal. They then can have links to the portal either sent out via email or embedded in a website or email signature button. From there, leads can enter the portal, select a time, date, and preferred sales channel, then notify the rep of the new event.
B2B Sales Technology Statistics
Sales technology such as CRMs, automation software, and data analytics tools help teams streamline and collaborate on workflows. These stats dive into the types of sales enablement technology and digital marketing B2B organizations are currently using in their software arsenal.
14. 85% of B2B companies use email marketing software for content distribution & management
Takeaway: It’s clear that to compete in the B2B space, you must use some form of automation or mass deployment for content distribution. In the case of almost all B2B firms, that channel is email marketing. Many of the tools out there, such as Mailchimp and HubSpot, make the message designing and distribution processes easy, so you don’t have to manually write emails, add content attachments, and click to send.
(Source: Content Marketing Institute)
15. 60% of B2B businesses report a high or very high return on investment (ROI) from their CRM
Takeaway: CRM systems let B2B sales teams organize lead data, track sales activity, and automate some of their sales tasks. Others also provide communications features such as phone or email capabilities to engage contacts from the CRM. By centralizing data and workflows in one system, teams become far more efficient and can ultimately sell more—helping boost the ROI of that tech investment.
(Source: Sales Hacker)
16. 94% of HubSpot-using businesses report a positive ROI after adopting the system
Takeaway: There are tons of excellent general-use and industry-specific CRM products available on the market. If you’re looking for one with consistently high ROI, adoption, and impact, however, HubSpot is one of the best. Not only were there significant returns, but 95% of HubSpot businesses also reported a positive effect of the tool with a 96% full adoption rate. Only Salesforce was in the same realm as HubSpot in terms of total product value.
(Source: Sales Hacker)
B2B Statistics in Marketing & Sales Content
Content marketing is proven to be a popular and effective tactic for the future of B2B sales. These B2B online sales statistics outline how thought leadership through articles, videos, podcasts, and presentations helps generate leads and convert them into closed deals.
17. 84% of B2B marketing teams outsource content creation to other companies
Takeaway: It is no surprise that many B2B firms don’t want to develop videos, written assets, graphics, or podcasts in-house. They take up much time and demand specialized expertise for good quality. On top of this stat, 50% of B2B marketers outsource at least one part of their content management. However, don’t worry if you can’t handle content marketing internally—most of your competitors aren’t.
(Source: Content Marketing Institute)
18. Only 4.7% of B2B content developed is bottom-of-the-funnel
Takeaway: At a shockingly low percentage, most businesses aren’t taking advantage of qualified and interested leads deep in the buying process. Perhaps there’s ample opportunity to boost won-deal rates simply by creating low-funnel content such as customer success stories, solution briefs, or e-books. These are geared to resonate well with niche markets by describing particular and relatable challenges, then detailed solutions to meet them.
19. At 86%, the top goal for B2B content marketing is creating brand awareness
Takeaway: This was both surprising and not surprising. While many would have assumed lead generation is the top goal of B2B content, its objectives actually are higher in the sales funnel. Most marketers are just looking to create initial awareness of their brand, which then allows them to facilitate interest later in the cycle—ideally with targeted or sales-specific content.
(Source: Content Marketing Institute)
20. Of the most successful B2B marketers, 62% have a documented content marketing strategy
Takeaway: It’s one thing to utilize content marketing in your lead generation and sales activities, it’s another to establish a formal strategy and plan to go with it. Having a documented content strategy was one of the top indicators of a high-performing team. That said, B2B firms should take note and put the time in to formulate an editorial calendar, content development schedule, and campaign deployment objectives.
(Source: Content Marketing Institute)
Pro tip: Finding a CRM that can also let users create and distribute content is valuable. Luckily, HubSpot is a sales, marketing, and content management system (CMS) built into one platform. Teams can design websites, write and publish blog posts, and even host on-demand video content through the content management system (CMS) module.
B2B Sales Training & Coaching Statistics
Sales training is more critical in B2B sales than B2C because most of the sales process involves direct interactions with a lead. Team members also need some technical knowledge regarding their products or services and sales skills to help clients navigate solutions—demanding more training. These stats show the true impact of sales training and how coaching is used for top B2B companies.
21. 47% of sales reps will leave their job if the training or onboarding experience is poor
Takeaway: Many reps often hate their initial training process as it causes them to suffer from boredom when they’re just eager to get out and sell. It turns out, however, that almost half will actually leave their firm if they had a bad experience. That said, consider avoiding traditional classroom-style training seminars or standardized tutorials. Instead, try more hands-on training that has a higher engagement, such as running simulated-scenario and job shadowing veteran reps.
22. While the average company runs through two to three sales role-play scenarios, top-performing businesses average four per year
Takeaway: The conclusion is simple: ongoing role-playing is a success factor in sales. When reps complete sales simulations with various trajectories, they are ready for anything a lead or client will throw their way. Both new reps and seasoned veterans should continuously undergo simulated training to keep their sales skills sharp.
23. Top sales managers report an average of 12 one-to-one coaching sessions per year with their reps
Takeaway: Sales management includes building and onboarding a sales team, motivating reps for peak performance, ensuring individuals are meeting their quotas, and enabling success by providing the right resources. In addition to technology and process adjustments, one of the most valuable resources is a manager’s knowledge. They generally are experienced in sales, and the data proves that simple one-to-one, monthly sessions can boost overall team performance.
B2B selling consists of a longer, more complex sales process—requiring more training and technology resources to produce solid revenue numbers. These lead management and B2B online sales statistics and examples of sales technology products can help you better navigate the space. Use these real-life insights to generate more quality leads, improve sales pipeline health, and maximize your reps’ productivity.