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Sales Stats: What Should Your Team Benchmark?

We’ve accumulated the top sales statistics, standards, and insights for 2021 from accredited research organizations and our favorite sales leaders. Here’s what they had to say.

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In most industries, there are a set of benchmarks statistics that show how you compare to other companies that perform the same or similar functions. These standards are extremely useful for measuring revenue, performance, and forecasting accuracy, which tend to improve significantly when a company adopts a specific benchmark and process. 

With the sales industry covering such a wide range of positions and functions, it can be a little difficult to find current and trustworthy statistics that your company can use. 

To help, we’ve accumulated the top sales statistics, standards, and insights for 2021 from accredited research organizations and our favorite sales leaders.

Here’s what they had to say. 

Start With These Sales Stats & Measurements

Since the sales industry covers such a wide range of roles, responsibilities, and functions, it can be difficult to find statistics that best suit your company. Sometimes, you need to create your own standards to measure improvement.

Why standardize your sales process? 

  • The TAS Group, with reference to the Dealmaker Index Study, states that 70% of the companies that follow a structured process in sales are high performers; over 70% of business forecasts were accurate for the companies with a defined sales process.
  • A study by Harvard Business Review (HBR) showed that businesses with a standardized sales process see up to a 28% increase in revenue as compared to those that do not.
  • In another research, HBR reveals that 50% of high-performing sales organizations admit having “closely monitored, strictly enforced or automated” sales processes. Meanwhile, 48% of under-performing organizations have non-existent or informal sales processes.

How do you standardize your sales process?

Senior Executive Leader, Sharon Daniels recommends visualizing sales standards as a pyramid, with each layer dependent upon the layer beneath.

  1. Company Results: Does your activity result in profitability?
  2. Customer Results: Does your activity result in satisfaction, retention, repeat business?
  3. Competitive Knowledge: Do you understand competitive offerings?
  4. Product Knowledge: Can you demonstrate knowledge of products and/or services?
  5. Sales Skills: How well do you manage prospecting, sales calls, follow-up?
  6. Sales Activities: Are you making the right number of calls, appointments, proposals, etc.?)

Sharon says, “Most companies only measure the top two tiers, but if you want your standards to actually improve your sales effectiveness, you need to measure every layer of the pyramid.”

Looking to break each of these sales functions down even further? 

Gartner recommends establishing standards in each of these areas for the major roles in your sales organization. Think: sales development reps, inside sales, field sales, and account managers. 

Benchmark Sales Stats For Your Organization

1. Your Sales Cycle: 

“What gets measured, gets managed.” 

Start by defining the specific steps in your sales cycle, developing a standard that can be applied to every lead in each stage. Pay attention to the requirements that must be met for a lead to move forward to the next stage, and make sure every rep has a detailed understanding of those requirements. 

It is important to make sure you define the most critical elements of your sales cycle by focusing on what determines a lead or opportunity and what steps are taken to move leads through the funnel. Use your data to identify the tactics that convert leads at a higher rate and then train your salespeople on those steps to ensure they understand what steps work best. 

  • Most sales cycles are around 3.5-6 months and have 5-7 steps, but B2B SaaS companies seem to have shorter sales cycle averages than other segments.
  • 44% of sales professionals said customers’ sales cycle increased in 2020. (Source: The LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2020)
  • To calculate your sales cycle, take the total number of sales for all of the combined sales divided by the number of deals closed equals the average length of the sales cycle for your company: Total # of Sales / # of Closes = Average
  • Every sales cycle is different depending on the industry, market share, and your company offering, but most standard sales cycles look something like this: Prospect, Connect, Research, Present, Objections, Close, Follow Up.

2. Sales Activity Stats:

Depending on their role, each rep should achieve a standard daily, weekly or monthly activity benchmark. This benchmark should be determined by using your company data to show which activities drive closed business.

Studies from Pipedrive State of Sales Report show that 50% of salespeople and 78% of sales managers work over 40 hours a week, so it’s important to make sure the activities you are doing on a daily basis aren’t just for show. (Think: Quality > Quantity)

Whether you’re a small business using a spreadsheet or a small sales team using a CRM, it is important to be tracking your sales activities and looking for opportunities to make improvements.

  • 38% of salespeople say that selling is not one of their main day-to-day activities. (Source: Pipedrive State of Sales Report 2019-2020)Making phone calls and sending emails are two of the highest-ranking activities, according to Hubspot.
  • On average, sales teams save 5 hours every week by automating day-to-day tasks. (Source: Customer Data)
  • 57% of sales professionals are making more phone calls in their daily activities than in previous years. (Source: The LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2020)
  • Before COVID-19, 52% of people said that traditional sales interactions were the most important, compared to 48% who said digital-enabled interactions were.
  • Post-pandemic, that has swung 18% points, so now 66% of people say that digital-enabled interactions are most important (Source: McKinsey B2B Decision Maker Pulse Survey, April 7, 2020)
  • 43% of companies think that sales representatives need to improve their ability to prioritize accounts in daily activities to focus selling efforts (Source: Sales Performance Optimization Study, CSO Insights)

3. Key Sales Metrics and Key Performance Indicators

Most KPIs revolve around collecting, nurturing, and managing leads. There are plenty of tools that can make selling easier for your team, so they can better reach their goals. 

Identify your key metrics and key performance indicators that matter for each major function in your sales organization and analyze those metrics on a daily or weekly basis. Every rep should report on the same set of metrics. For example, strategic account executives who own a small number of accounts should always report on their complete list of accounts each week.

When reporting to other parts of the organization, make sure you consistently present these metrics. This will help the CEO and other executives understand what drives success in the sales organization.

With only 34% of sales teams reaching their performance goals, sales managers must try to remove more obstacles that can stop your team from achieving their goals. Regular feedback sessions are essential for keeping your sales team aligned, as well as providing opportunities for either party to raise concerns or potential issues relating to their KPIs.

  • According to research by the Sales Management Association, 90% of all companies that use a formal, guided sales process were ranked as the highest performing.
  • Sales agents who spend at least 3 hours every day on sales-related activities are more satisfied with their job. (Source: Sales Insights Lab, 2021)
  • 77% of salespeople say selling collaboratively with other departments helps them reach their set goals. (Source: CSO Insights, 2020)
  • A Salesforce survey revealed that 60% of sales professionals say collaborative selling has increased productivity and improved metrics by more than 25%.

4. Leads & Supply Statistics:

Some things are common sense in certain sales roles, like every salesperson on your team should receive the same number and quality of leads each month. As you begin to qualify leads, it is important to have a standardized process that allows you to effectively and efficiently move your prospects down the funnel. 

Need help generating more leads? Outsourcing lead generation generates 43% better results than in-house lead generation. In addition, outsourcing your lead generation process can help you solidify the best processes for your company.

Maybe you need help with confirming appointments, cold emailing, or better prospect nurturing, which can decrease your sales cycle time and help you create more long-term relationships. 

In fact, one 2019 study found that following up with online leads in less than 5 minutes makes them nine times more likely to convert into paying customers. If your salespeople are spending too much time focusing on outbound efforts to gain more leads, instead of nurturing inbound, your company is most likely missing out on revenue. 

  • Following up with leads is currently ranked as the third biggest challenge for sales teams. (Source: LinkedIn Sales Report 2020)
  • 55% of companies think that sales representatives need to improve their ability to incubate promising leads for the future (Source: Sales Performance Optimization Study, CSO Insights)
  • 48% of businesses say most of their leads require “long cycle” nurturing with many influencers. (Source: Ascend2 Report 2019)

5. Standard Sales Roles & Responsibilities:

As former Apple CEO Steve Jobs once famously said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” 

So, how do you find the best people for your organization? 

Start by defining a small number of standard roles and then hire salespeople to fill those roles. Common roles include sales development, inside sales, field sales, and customer success. Here, you should be identifying the candidate attributes that best fit each role in your organization. 

These standards will allow you to look for key characteristics that are the best fit. For example, you may determine that successful salespeople in your organization have a certain trait or personality that will help them become more successful in that role.

  • 58% of sales teams said that they will increase the size of their workforce in the next year. (Source: Hubspot)
  • 43% of sales reps say they would be willing to leave their organization for just a 10% salary increase. (Source: 2020 Employee Engagement Report)
  • 56% of employees that leave their current job say inadequate pay was the motivating factor. (Source: Employee Job Satisfaction)
  • 58% of people say that they would feel more engaged if leaders gave recognition to the job they were doing. (Source: Employee Engagement Study)

6. Sales Quota & Compensation Statistics:

Do your employees understand how to meet their quotas? Their comp plan? They shouldn’t need to be a rock scientist to figure it out, either. 

Quotas are most often revenue goals. Assign the same quota to all salespeople, depending on their roles, and compensate all salespeople using the same compensation model. Your sales reps need to know they are being compensated using the same standards as everyone else on the sales team. 

For example, every sales development representative on the lead qualification team could be responsible for creating 20 meetings a week for the sales organization. Or, if you offer an accelerator, offer it to everyone.

Your company should be aware of what it takes to reach these goals. It is important you set a realistic and attainable MRR quota, that approximately 60% of your reps should hit. Analyze your team’s sales and pipeline data, conversion rates, and closing percentages to work your way to a sales quota amount that you think makes sense. 

The commission rate is the percent of every closed deal that a salesperson receives. Variable comp is the total annual commission earned if a salesperson hits their quota. While their base salary is a flat rate earned by a salesperson regardless of their performance.

  • Current median sales pay by industry (Source: Hubspot)
    • Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives: $61,660
    • Insurance Sales Agents: $50,600
    • Advertising Sales Agents: $51,740
    • Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents: $50,300
    • Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents: $64,120
    • Door-to-door Sales Workers, News and Street Vendors, and Related Workers: $26,430
    • All other: $33,20
  • Over 67% of businesses believe that the ability to hit sales quotas is the best indicator of individual sales performance (Source: Aberdeen, Changing The Gauge On Sales Performance)
  • A 60:40 commission structure is the standard for average US sales organizations. Although, commission structures vary dramatically across industries and companies. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
  • On average between 40% and 50% of an employee’s preferred total award experience has nothing to do with the physical reward itself, but rather the award presentation and professional development. (Source: Landmark Study)

7. Employee Life Cycle Statistics:

Retain and recruit the best talent by designing an employee experience that leads to longevity, success, and more engaged employees,

This should be a permanent mindset within your company, framing engagement as a designed experience that is available to every employee looking to increase their career trajectory and mobility. 

Many large organizations fail in this area, simply because they don’t have a true idea of the value of employee engagement, and would rather focus on customer satisfaction, without realizing that happy employees mean more happy customers. 

By mapping out the employee journey in the same way you map out the customer experience, your company will see two main benefits: better talent retention, and reputation improvement. 

If it takes an average of 3.2 months for new salespeople to ramp to full productivity and the average tenure is 18 months, that leaves you with less than a year and a half before you’re paying those replacement costs again. The ability to effectively allocate resources and efforts to reduce turnover issues reduces the time and money that turnover costs cause for the company. 

  • 58 percent of companies experienced higher voluntary sales turnover in 2020. (Source: Xactly Study)
  • 46% of new hires fail within the first 18 months of their role, with only 19% achieving unequivocal success. (Source: Leadership IQ)
  • Voluntary sales departures were highest among technology and software companies at 67 percent. (Source: Xactly Study)
  • Average sales turnover is 35 percent, higher than the average for all other industries at 13 percent. (Source: Hubspot)
  • The 10 biggest tech companies have an average sales tenure of 1.8 years. (Source: LinkedIn Data)
  • It takes an average of 6.2 months to fill an open sales position. (Source: DePaul University)
  • 44 percent of salespeople plan to leave their job within two years. (Source: Deloitte)
  • A “bad” sales hire can cost upwards of $2 million. (Source: HR Daily Advisor)

8. Sales Training & Enablement Statistics:

Are your sales reps all getting the same training and attention? Studies show great employee onboarding improves employee retention by 82%. While training keeps employees motivated and engaged. Despite this, 88% of employees surveyed reported that their organizations don’t onboard well. 

Your company should be looking at a two-week training that provides new reps with the information and tools they need to quickly achieve their goals. To standardize this, all new hires should be trained the exact same way, with only small adjustments to meet different personality or learning types.  

Your employee training doesn’t stop at onboarding, that should be just the beginning of their training and professional development. You need to have a system in place so that your employees can understand all aspects of your products and service. This allows them to perform their job better while also bridging the gap between marketing and sales teams. 

  • The primary sales enablement efforts of companies are training services (68.1%), sales tools (58.5%), content services (52%), coaching (50.9%), and sales process improvements (49.6%). (Source: CSO Insights, 2020)
  • There are also those that onboard new hires (46.3%), invest in enablement tech (37.3%), focus on proposal development (22.9%), and put emphasis on competitive analysis (17.7%). (Source: CSO Insights, 2020)
  • 1 in 5 sales teams doesn’t have the necessary resources to reinforce their workflow. (Source: Data Dwell, 2019)
  • The estimated ROI of investing in employee training ranges from 4% to 353%. (Source: Southern New Hampshire University, 2020)
  • Teams that invest in sales training and development are 57% more effective than teams that don’t. (Source: Sales Management Association, 2020)
  • Newly hired sales reps require an average of 10 weeks for training. However, they only become productive after roughly 11 months. (Source: Sales Management Association, 2020)
  • 46% of new hires fail within the first 18 months of their role, with only 19% achieving unequivocal success. (Source: Leadership IQ)

9. Sales Tools and Technologies:

Adopt a core set of technologies that increase conversion rates that can help make your sales team more efficient. Not to mention, according to the State of Sales Report, 83% of people who are happy with the sales tools at their disposal are satisfied in their role, compared to 55% of people who aren’t happy with their sales tools

A standard CRM system is one obvious example, but increasingly, sales teams are using other tools such as sales intelligence applications. 

  • 78% of companies are continuing or increasing spend on new and existing technology. (Source: Aberdeen, Business Resilience and Agility: A Benchmark of Performance amid Uncertainty)
  • 43% of salespeople use sales intelligence tools. (Source: The LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2020)
  • 49% of people who count sales as part of their role don’t use technology or automation tools to help them find leads. (Source: Pipedrive State of Sales Report 2019-2020)
  • 69% of sales professionals are using sales collaboration tools. (Source: The LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2020)
  • 65% of sales professionals report they are using CRM tools. (Source: The LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2020)

What Do These Sales Stats Mean For Your Business?

The sales profession is not an easy career. It is demanding, time consuming, and ridiculously fast-paced in almost every aspect.

As roles and responsibilities begin to evolve and adapt to technological advances, sales leaders must pay attention to their team needs, putting tools in place that will help guarantee their team’s success.

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