18 New Sales Statistics for 2020 from Our Groundbreaking Study!

Do you see the world of sales shifting around you? If so, you’re not alone.

The truth is, selling has transformed dramatically over the past few years.

And while many sales gurus might tell you that, few—if any—of them will cite real sales statistics to support the claim.

That’s why I decided to put my social science degree from Harvard to work—and finally get some hard data and sales statistics around what’s happening right now in the industry.

The result is our Salespeople Perceptions and Top Performance Study.

For this groundbreaking study, we surveyed nearly 400 salespeople to get powerful insight into today’s selling world: how it’s changing, what it means for you in the field, and how to be a top performer.

Taken together, these sales statistics show a rapidly changing sales environment requiring new skills—and a completely different outlook—than just a few years ago.

Here, I’m going to walk you through the stunning results of our survey.

In particular, there are 18 sales statistics you need to know about right now.

Sales Statistics #1: At least half of all prospects are bad fits.

Sales Statistic #1: At least half of all prospects are bad fits.

Our data shows that at least 50% of your prospects aren’t a good fit for what you sell. 71.4% of respondents said that 50% or fewer of their initial prospects turn out to be a good fit.

This is one of those sales statistics that confirms what I’ve been saying for years.

Now, we can see without any doubt that it’s true: Your prospects are very unlikely to turn out to be a good fit for what you sell.

This doesn’t mean that they’re qualified prospects who end up disappearing on you. Rather, it means that the majority of your prospects will never be qualified to buy from you—they’re just bad fits from the start.

This is such a powerful insight.

Once you realize that the majority of your prospects aren’t going to be a good fit, it will change the way you approach prospecting.

This information should liberate you, because it means that you don’t have to try to close every single person you’re in front of.

If you look at closing rates for most industries, even the highest are only in the 20% range, while the lowest are in single digits.

Let this sales statistic liberate you.

Stop trying to close every single person you get in front of. As soon as you determine that a prospect isn’t a good fit, move on.

Sales Statistics #2: Budget is the most common reason that stronger sales opportunities fall apart.

 

Sales Statistic #2: Budget is the most common reason that stronger sales opportunities fall apart.

More than half (55%) of respondents said that budget was either the first or second most common reason that stronger opportunities fall apart in sales. See below:

sales statistics reasons deals fail

This sales statistic confirms what many of us have known all along.

Budget is absolutely critical.

Even so, far too many salespeople are missing the budget portion of their selling process. They just don’t build real value throughout the discovery conversation, so that by the time they start talking about budget, it’s an uphill battle.

This is true for the majority of salespeople—I see it all the time.

The takeaway is that you must be stronger, up front, in creating real value for prospects.

By the time you start talking about budget, you want to be strolling across a level field, not fighting up a steep hill.

Now, budget is always going to be an issue in sales. It’s never going to suddenly just disappear as a concern.

But you can avoid so many headaches just by making sure you’re stronger up front, creating value in the discovery phase.

That way, you’re never fighting your way through the budget conversation.

Sales Statistics #3: Most salespeople just aren’t getting in front of enough prospects.

Sales Statistic #3: Most salespeople just aren’t getting in front of enough prospects.

66.7% of respondents said they had reached out to 250 or fewer leads in the past year.

That’s a shockingly low number for most types of sales, and it means that the majority of salespeople aren’t getting in front of anywhere close to the 250-plus prospects they need to.

On the other side of the coin, our study showed that only 15% of salespeople reached out to over 1,000 prospects over the past year.

So, the majority of salespeople aren’t reaching out to that many prospects, while a small group of salespeople are reaching out to tons of prospects.

Where do you fit on that spectrum? Chances are, you need to be getting in front of more prospects than you currently are in order to hit your sales numbers. See below:

sales statistics leads reached out to

Sales Statistics #4: Most companies are providing at least a quarter of salespeople’s leads.

Sales Statistic #4: Most companies are providing at least a quarter of salespeople’s leads.

77.3% of respondents said that their company provides at least a quarter of their leads.

This is one of the most interesting sales statistics about organizations to come out of the survey.

Why? Because this sales statistic tells us that salespeople are responsible for finding the other three-quarters on their own.

This information can give you great insight into the type of organization you’re working for. Are you at a company that’s providing more than a quarter of your leads? Or does your company provide you with way less than a quarter of your leads?

These are questions you want to ask when trying to understand where you stand as a salesperson in today’s selling industry.

Now, just because your company doesn’t provide a quarter of your leads doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re stabbing you in the back. Maybe they’re providing you with tremendous resources to get in front of those prospects on your own.

But it’s important for you to know that most organizations today are providing at least a quarter of leads to their salespeople.

So, if your company isn’t, then that might be a conversation you should be having with senior management.

Sales Statistics #5: Sales is getting tougher than before.

Sales Statistic #5: Sales is getting tougher than before.

61% of salespeople consider selling harder or much harder than just five years ago. This is really profound.

This sales statistic shows that the majority of salespeople find it harder to sell today than they did five years ago.

(By the way, the economy has only gotten better in the past five years, so that means there are other factors besides the economy making sales much harder.)

Looking at where you fit into that spectrum, do you consider selling to be harder or easier than it was five years ago? If you think it’s easier now, that’s great.

But if you’re finding it harder, ask yourself: What is actually making it harder?

Dig into that, and try to identify how can you solve some of those challenges on your own.

Sales Statistics #6: It’s slightly harder to get in front of new prospects than before.
Sales Statistic #6: It’s slightly harder to get in front of new prospects than before.

54% of respondents thought it was harder or much harder to get in front of prospects today than it was 5 years ago.

Out of the whole survey, this is one of the sales statistics that struck me the most, because I hear salespeople complain all the time about how hard it is to get in front of prospects these days.

They tell me that prospects never answer their phones or respond to emails anymore.

But what our study actually found was that only slightly more than half of salespeople thought it was harder to get in front of prospects today than five years ago.

This means that only a slight majority of salespeople feel this way.

So, this should give us pause and make us think about what’s going on here.

Yes, maybe prospects are answering their phones less, and maybe they’re less inclined to respond to emails. But there are so many more tools available today to help us get in front of new prospects, at the same time.

Getting in front of prospects today isn’t necessarily that much harder. Perhaps it’s just a little bit trickier.

So, we have to be a little bit sharper.

We need to be using those cutting-edge tools, and we need to make sure that we’re still getting in front of as many prospects as we need to get in front of, in order to achieve our sales goals.

Sales Statistics #7: The phone is STILL our best tool in selling.

Sales Statistic #7: The phone is STILL our best tool in selling.

41.2% of respondents said that the phone is the most effective sales tool at their disposal.

This is one of the most surprising sales statistics that came out of our study, and it’s one that I truly didn’t expect to see.

I expected people to say that email was better, or Linkedin, or some other social media platform.

But you know what? The phone still really works.

This should be a real wakeup call for all of us—no pun intended.

Even with so many tools now at our disposal, we still need to use the phone as a way to get in front of prospects, to connect with prospects, and to sell to prospects.

It’s such an important reminder, in a world dominated by conversations about social media and email and marketing automation, that the phone really works.

So, don’t forget about it.

Sales Statistics #8: The vast majority of salespeople today barely ask for referrals.

Sales Statistic #8: The vast majority of salespeople today barely ask for referrals.

A whopping 57.9% of respondents said they ask for fewer than one referral per month, while 40.4% report rarely asking! Only 18.6% ask every person they are in front of.

This is one of the most upsetting sales statistics from our study.

Why? Because asking for referrals is one of the easiest ways to grow business. And yet, so few salespeople are doing it.

This is something I’ve been teaching salespeople for years: We want to be asking for introductions or referrals as often as we possibly can.

I see this as a huge opportunity for salespeople who want to up their game.

Ask for more referrals and introductions than you ever have before. Only 18.6% of salespeople are actually doing this today.

There’s only one upside. You’ll get more business.

sales statistics referrals

Sales Statistics #9: Most salespeople don’t love their job.

Sales Statistic #9: Most salespeople don’t love their job.

Only 17.6% of respondents rate their job satisfaction as outstanding, while 47.1% rate their job satisfaction as just good.

That first sales statistic is a pretty low number—17.6%. I’ve dedicated my whole life to helping salespeople be more effective and successful, yet only a small sliver of them are actually saying, “You know what? I love what I do. My work really fulfills me. It is outstanding.”

Now let’s look at that next sales statistic: 47.1% rated their job as just good. This is a place where I’ve decided more of my life’s mission needs to be focused.

I want to see more salespeople feeling good about their jobs.

Now, I know that I can’t control all aspects of your job, and you can’t control all aspects of whether you love your job.

You could have a boss who’s just a complete chucklehead, and you can’t control that.

But there are many things that we can control to make sure that we get a higher level of job satisfaction, and we want to make sure that we’re following through on that.

As you’ll see next, there’s a strong correlation between job satisfaction and the amount of sales activity that we’re doing.

Sales Statistics #10: Salespeople who spend more time on sales-related activities enjoy their job more.

Sales Statistic #10: Salespeople who spend more time on sales-related activities enjoy their job more.

So, I gave you a little teaser and here it is: There’s a notable jump in job satisfaction between 3 hours spent on sales-related activities and 4 hours.

Salespeople who spend 3 hours or less on sales-related activities have an overall average job satisfaction level of 3.45 (out of 5), while people who spend 4 or more hours a day on sales-related activities have a job satisfaction level of 3.8.

sales statistics sales activity

What we can take from this is that salespeople who are doing more sales activity are more likely to be successful, and as a result of that success, they have higher degrees of job satisfaction.

Now, I know that the data wonks are going say, “Well, we don’t know that with 100% confidence.” No, of course we don’t know that with 100% confidence—but logically, that’s what we see happening here.

Salespeople who do more sales activity have more success and thus feel better about their job.

My challenge to you is to make yourself more successful. Follow through with your sales activity and the data shows you’re going to have a higher degree of job satisfaction.

Now, again, if you hate the company you’re at or you don’t like your boss, these are problems that you may have to address in other ways.

But if you feel like the fundamentals of your job are good, it’s time to focus on improving the quality of your work so you can improve your job satisfaction in a meaningful way.

Sales Statistics #11: Company culture and management effectiveness matter most to salespeople.
Sales Statistic #11: Company culture and management effectiveness matter most to salespeople.

The graph below shows that company culture and management effectiveness were rated as the most important to salespeople, while base compensation was rated significantly lower:

sales statistics job factors

This sales statistic tells us that managers and sales organizations should focus on having great company culture and management effectiveness.

So often, we’re spending a lot of time focusing on compensation structures and those aren’t necessarily as important.

They do matter, of course, and your salespeople will tell you that compensation structures matter.

But ultimately, the data shows that what matters more are management effectiveness and company culture.

If you’re at an organization that doesn’t have these, then maybe you want to think about moving on.

Sales Statistics #12: Even salespeople know that people don’t like them.

that people don’t like them

The word cloud below shows the most common words that respondents used to describe the average buyer’s perceptions of salespeople.

    • Those words were:
      • Pushy
      • Untrustworthy
      • Annoying
      • Time
      • Greedy

sales statistics sales people

We asked salespeople to use words to describe what typical prospects associate with salespeople.

(This is something that we’ve seen in a lot of buyer surveys about what buyers think, but not in surveys of salespeople themselves.)

And what we came back with was that the most common words that salespeople use to describe average buyer perceptions of salespeople were really bad words.

Even the word “time” isn’t meant in a positive way. They mean it as in “a waste of time” or “time-suck.”

What’s incredible is that even salespeople recognize that they have a disadvantage the second they’re in front of a prospect, which is that the prospect is likely to be guarded.

The prospect is likely to have a negative connotation about salespeople already. And by understanding that, we know that we need to be that much better.

We need to be that much more distinct, because if we’re not, we’re going to be automatically placed in that bucket.

Because, by the way, these ideas match up very closely with what buyers actually think when they’re surveyed. It’s pretty powerful.

Sales Statistics #13: Most salespeople aren’t crushing their goals.

Sales Statistic #13: Most salespeople aren’t crushing their goals.

Only 24.3% of salespeople exceeded their quota last year.

Now, this may not surprise you, but I was pretty blown away that only 24.3% of salespeople actually exceeded their quota last year.

I thought it would have been much higher.

So many salespeople talk a big game, and act like they’re so great at selling, yet only a quarter of salespeople actually exceeded their quota last year.

What this tells us is that the majority of salespeople have a lot of work to do in order to get to that next level.

If you’re watching this and you’re saying, “Well, I actually fit into that category of salespeople who did not exceed their quota last year,” maybe it was a bad year for you, or maybe this is something that you’ve been struggling with for a long time.

Either way, we need to make sure that this year is the year that you exceed your quota.

We need to make sure that you’re implementing the strategies that will allow you to truly exceed your quota with flying colors.

Sales Statistics #14: Non-top performers do a lot more pitching.

Sales Statistic #14: Non-top performers do a lot more pitching.

While only 7% of top performers report pitching, 19% of non-top performers pitch their offering.

This is a huge distinction.

Basically, what we see is that the non-top performers are much more likely to pitch their services or their offering.

It’s important to recognize that top performers are not doing that.

They’re not pitching their offering. Instead, they’re engaging prospects in conversations. They’re digging into prospects’ challenges. They’re engaging them as an advisor, as an expert in their industry, as opposed to just saying, “Hey, here’s what we’ve got. Look at all the cool items and features and benefits that we have.”

Sales Statistics #15: Top performers ask for a lot more referrals.

Sales Statistic #15: Top performers ask for a lot more referrals.

About 47% of top performers ask for referrals consistently (every day, or with every person they are in front of), versus only 26% of non-top performers. Non-top performers were much more likely to report asking for referrals “never” or “rarely.”

sales statistics referrals

This is a stunning piece of information, one of the most powerful sales statistics which shows that a huge difference between top performers and non-top performers is that top performers are simply asking for referrals consistently.

They’re asking for those introductions and referrals, and as a result they’re growing their businesses.

So, it doesn’t even necessarily mean that their selling technique or their closing technique is that much better, although in many cases it is.

What they’re doing is consistently asking for more referrals.

In fact, non-top performers were much more likely to report asking for referrals either never or rarely ever.

This is just mind-blowing, right?

We now see that one of the biggest differentiators between the two groups is simply the act of asking for referrals.

Sales Statistics #16: Top performers surf the web less, and drive to meetings more.

Sales Statistic #16: Top performers surf the web less, and drive to meetings more.

While top and non-top performers reported spending a similar amount of time on CRM and paperwork, top performers were much less likely to note “surfing the web” as a main activity they waste time on (12% of top performers vs. 24% of non-top performers).

Instead, top performers tend to spend more time driving to meetings (25% of top performers selected this vs. 12% of non-top performers).

sales statistics time wasters

This was one of my favorite and most unexpected sales statistics to come out of the survey.

Top performers are not only goofing around on the internet way less (which we would have expected) but they’re also complaining that they have to drive to way more meetings.

Here’s the thing: While all salespeople spend a similar amount of time on CRM and paperwork, top performers are much less likely to note that they’re surfing the web as a main activity that they waste time on.

So, only about 12% of top performers versus 24% of non-top performers talk about the fact that they’re surfing on the web.

On the other side of it, top performers tend to spend more time driving to meetings. So, 25% of top performers complained about the fact that they have to waste so much time just driving to meetings, while only 12% of non-top performers had any issue with driving to meetings.

What we see here are basically two consistent narratives.

On the one hand, top performers are really busy, so they’re not surfing the web, but they’re also really busy because they’re just driving to meetings.

They’re physically going to meetings.

On the other hand, non-top performers are wasting a lot more time just surfing the internet, and at the same time they’re not going to as many meetings.

So, they don’t even have the opportunity to complain about having to drive to meetings.

It’s a profound distinction.

Become one of those salespeople who complains that you have to spend too much time driving to meetings.

Because if you’re spending too much time driving to meetings, that means you’re going to meetings—and thus you’re being successful.

Sales Statistics #17: Top performers spend more hours per day on actual sales activities.
Sales Statistic #17: Top performers spend more hours per day on actual sales activities.

81.6% of top performers spend 4 hours or more on sales-related activities (prospecting, sales meetings, presentations, proposal work, sales follow-up, etc.), while only 60.8% of non-top performers spend 4 hours or more on sales-related activities.

sales statistics hourly activities

This is a profound difference.

As the above graph shows, there is a big gap after three hours.

Top performers are simply spending a lot more time on sales-related activities.

Non-top performers are simply spending less time on sales-related activities.

They’re getting distracted. They’re doing other things. They’re surfing the web or they’re getting stuck in operations.

This sales statistic shows that, for top performers, the key to success is simply putting in the time on those key sales-related activities.

Hold yourself accountable to do a little bit more.

Sales Statistics #18: Top performers know they’re experts.

Sales Statistic #18: Top performers know they’re experts.

51% of top performers report being seen as “an expert in their field” while only 37% of non-top performers see themselves as experts. What’s more, top performers were less likely to be seen as vendors (8% of top performers vs. 24% of non-top performers) or even as salespeople (7% of top performers vs. 20% of non-top performers).

This is such an important distinction.

I wasn’t sure exactly how this was going to pan out in the study, but what ended up happening was that top performers overwhelmingly reported seeing themselves as experts, and understanding that they are seen as experts by their prospects.

One of the biggest steps you can take to be more successful is to make sure you’re not being seen as a vendor.

Remember, only 8% of top performers said that they were seen as a vendor while 24% of non-top performers said that they were seen as a vendor.

The other thing to think about is just the word “salesperson.”

Only 7% of top performers reported being seen as a salesperson, while 20% of non-top performers said that they were seen as a salesperson.

Just the word itself connotes a negative mindset. Top performers are seeing themselves as—and ensuring that they are seen by their prospects as—the experts.

So, there you have it. These are the 18 sales statistics you need to know about right now from our Salespeople Perceptions and Top Performance Study. I want to hear from you. Which of these sales statistics shocked you the most? Which did you find easy to believe? And which do you find most useful? Be sure to share below in the comments section to get involved in the conversation.

And for you data nerds like me, here is the full Study Data:

Overall sales statistics results summary

Response collection

The survey opened on Tuesday, 4/3/18, and results were downloaded on Monday, 4/16/18 at 1pm EST. This report includes all data collected during this time (approximately 2 weeks).  A total of 392 people began the survey. The vast majority (90%) of responses were from the first two days of data collection.

Not all participants answered every question, so the “totals” for each question are typically less than 392, and fluctuate from question to question.

Survey completions by date

sales stats- surveys by date


sales statistics- who completed the survey 7.44.10 PMWho completed the survey?

What do you sell?  

sales stats- what do you sell

Who do you typically sell to?

sales statistics- who do you sell to


sales stats- what you sell and who you sell to

More people in this survey sold to businesses (total of 242 people) than sold to consumers or a mix of both. Selling a mix of products and services was the most common sell type (149 people) followed by selling services alone (135 people). The most typical respondent sold services to businesses (100 people, or 27% of the total).

The sales process

Sales Statistics Q4. Approximately what percent of initial prospects turn out to be a good fit for your offering?

sales stats- prospects that are a good fit

Responses to this question peaked at around the middle option, with 33% of people saying 50% of initial prospects are a good fit. 289 out of the total 381 (75%) said that either 25%, 50%, or 75% of their initial prospects are a good fit for their offering.  sales stats- prospects

Sales Statistics Q5. Why do stronger opportunities most commonly fall apart? (Rank in order of frequency – 1 being most frequent, and 5 being least frequent)

sales stats- reason sales fall apart


Budget was identified as the biggest reason deals fall apart. 55% of people listed this as either the first- or second-most common reason their stronger opportunities falling apart. Rapport with prospect was cited as the least common reason; with about 62% of participants ranking this reason 4th or 5th.
sales stats- reason deals fall apart
Q7. Approximately how many leads have you reached out to in the past year (since March, 2017)?

sales stats- prospects contacted

sales stats- leads in past yr

The most common responses to this question were 100 and 250 leads reached out to in the past year. 41% of survey responders selected one of these two options. 15% of people reported reaching out to 1,000 or more leads.

Sales Statistics Q8. Approximately what percent of your leads are inbound vs. outbound?

sales stats- inbound vs outbound leads


inbound-outbound sales statsIt is more common for sales to be primarily outbound (55%) than primarily inbound (27%).
Sales Statistics Q17. It is easier/harder to sell today than it was five years ago.

sales stats- easier today to sell
Q18. It is easier/harder to get in front of new prospects than it was five years ago.  sales stats- selling vs before
53% of respondents found it either harder or much harder to sell versus five years ago. That percentage rises to 61% (194/316) of respondents if you exclude those who answered “don’t know.” Only 52, or 14%, believed it is easier or much easier to sell than it was 5 years ago.

sales stats- get in front of prospects today


sales statistics- new prospects48% thought it was harder or much harder to get in front of respondents than it was 5 years ago. This proportion is 54% (176/327) if you exclude the 38 who reported they “don’t know.”  

Sales Statistics Q20.  “_____________ is the most effective sales tool I have at my disposal.”

sales stats- tools at disposal

Q20. “Other” responses visualizedA majority of respondents selected either email or phone (59%). A noticeable proportion also selected something “other” than the options listed.

sales statistics- visual responses

Conversations with Prospects

Sales Statistics Q9: When I’m in front of a prospect, I (Select all that apply):

sales stats- in front of prospect behaviorSales Statistics Q3. How do you typically open your sales phone calls? I typically open calls with:By far, the most popular response was “ask questions to determine…” (87%).

sales stats- open sales phone calls

sale stats call opening

“Is this a good time” was the most common selection among the options listed (31%), but many people also selected “other.”

Q24: How consistently do you ask for referrals from clients? I ask for referrals:

sales stats- ask for referrals

About 46% people responded that they never or rarely ask for referrals. On the other end of the spectrum, about 30% ask for referrals every day or with every person they are in front of.

sales statistics referrals

Sales Statistics Q12: How would you rate your satisfaction with your current job?

sales stats- current job satisfaction
Job Satisfaction by selling audience:

sales statistics- job satisfaction

Median job satisfaction was “Good” (4 out of 5). On a 1 to 5 scale, the mathematical average was 3.71 .

sales stats- satisfaction by audienceJob satisfaction by selling type:There were no real differences in job satisfaction between those who sold to business and those who sold to consumers or a mix.

sales stats- satisfaction by selling type
Job Satisfaction by Hours Spent on Sales-Related Activities:There were also no job satisfaction differences depending on whether people sold products or services.

sales stats- hours on sales activities

Job satisfaction differs rather noticeably depending on how many hours a day the person spends on sales-related activities. As shown in the bar graph above, there is a notable jump in job satisfaction between 3 hours and 4 hours. People who spend 3 hours or less on sales-related activities have an overall average job satisfaction level of 3.45 (out of 5), while people who spend 4 or more hours a day on sales-related activities have  job satisfaction of 3.8. Significant difference.

sales strategy- satisfaction by hours

Sales Statistics Q21: I left my last sales job due to ____________.

sales stats- reason left sales job


sales statistics- reason left sales job

Excluding those who report never yet having left a sales job (27% of respondents), the most common response was “better opportunity” (33% of the total, after excluding the “never left” participants).

Another sizeable proportion also said there was an “other” reason they left their last sales job. “Management” and “Company culture” were both cited more often than “compensation.” 5% of respondents were let go from their last sales job.

Sales Statistics Q22: Please rate the importance of the following in selecting a sales job (scale from 1 to 5):

sales stats- selecting sales jobs


sales statistics- selecting job factorsAll of these factors were rated as important – on average, between “somewhat important” (3) to “extremely important” (5). Company culture and management effectiveness were rated as the most important, while base compensation was rated significantly lower
(significant difference).

Perceptions of Salespeople

Q14: Who do you consider to be trustworthy?

sales stats- consider trustworthy

12% of respondents checked off “Salesperson” as a profession they consider trustworthy. “Salesperson” was rated the third lowest among these professions, better than advertising agent yet slightly lower than banker or lawyer.
sales statistics- trustworthy in sales

Sales Statistics Q23: Write in three words to describe the average buyer’s perceptions of salespeople.

Full list of words that were written in more than one time (and frequencies)

sales statistics- keywords

sales statistics- keyword

sales statistics- keywords

 

sales statistics sales people

Top performers vs. Others

Identification of “Top Performers”

Q10: Last year, I:

sales stats- last year, top performers
Sales Statistics Q11: Over the past three years, on average, I:In total, 88 people were performing above their benchmark in the past year. This is 24% of the total (or 28%, if you only consider people who didn’t answer “N/A.”)

sales stats- last three years, top performersCrosstabs: Exceeded quota last year x Exceeded quota past 3 years95 people (or 34% of all people who did not select “N/A”), exceeded their quota on average over the past 3 years.

sales stats- exceeded quota past 3 years

61 people (22%) met or exceeded their quota last year, and for the past 3 years. These are considered “top performers,” and contrasted with the other respondents who just met, or missed their quotas for either of these time periods. 71 are considered “missing” on the performance variable if they did not answer either the “quota last year” question or the “quota for past 3 years” question. They are not included in the following analyses. About 20% of the survey takers are classified as “top performers.”

sales stats- past 3 years top performersNo, selling products, services, or a mix is not related to performance level. Among people who sell products, 22% are top performers; among people who sell services, 19% are top performers, and among those who sell a mix, 19% are top performers. So there are very similar levels of performance in all three categories.  (Non-significant contrast).
Are there more top performers among those who sell products vs. services?

Are there more top performers among those who sell to businesses vs. consumers?

No, there were pretty much equal levels of performance in all three categories. 21% of those who sell to consumers were top performers, vs. 19% of those who sell to businesses, and 18% of those who sell a mix. (Non-significant contrast).

Main results: Top performers vs. others on key questions

Sales Statistics Q9: When I’m in front of a prospect, I:

sales stats- in front of prospects

The only notable difference in strategy here is on “pitching”: 7% of top performers report doing this, vs. 19% of others (significant difference). There were no real differences in convincing; and asking questions was very popular among top performers and others. (No significant difference for the latter two).

Sales Statistics Q24: How consistently do you ask for referrals from clients? I ask for referrals:

sales stats- referrals from clients


sales statistics referrals

Top performers ask for referrals more consistently than non-top performers. Significant difference. About 47% of top performers ask for referrals consistently (every day, or with every person they are in front of), versus 26% of non-top performers. Non-top performers were much more likely to report asking for referrals “never” or “rarely.”

Sales Statistics Q6: Which of these, if any, do you waste the most time of your day performing?

sales stats- top performers tasksTop performers and others differ in what tasks they find wastes most of their time during the day. While they spend a similar amount on CRM and paperwork, top performers are much less likely to note “surfing the web” as a main activity they waste time on (12% of top performers, vs. 24% of non-top performers). Instead, they tend to spend more time on driving to meetings (25% of top performers selected this vs. 12% of non-top performers). Significant difference.  

sales statistics time wastersQ16: How many hours per work day are you actually completing sales-related activities (prospecting, sales meetings, presentations, proposal work, sales followup, etc…)?

sales stats- top performers tasks by hours

Sales Statistics Q16 (continued)Top performers tend to spend more hours per day on actual sales activities. Significant difference. 18% of top performers said they spend 3 hours or less per day on actual sales activities. In contrast, 39% of non-top performers said they spend 3 hours a day on sales activities.

sales statistics hourly activities
Q25: How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “I feel more distracted by technology and the pace of life today than 5 years ago.”

sales stats- distracted by technology

Top performers were more likely than others to strongly agree with this statement (34% vs. 25%); but they were also more likely to strongly disagree with the statement (15% vs. 6%). Therefore, there is no significant overall pattern relating performance to distraction. No significant difference.sales stats- more distracted

Sales Statistics Q13: Your buyers typically think of you as (Select all that apply):

sales stats- typical buyers

Top performers were more likely to report being seen as “an expert in your field (51% of top performers vs. 37% of others). They were less likely to be seen as a vendor (8% of top performers, vs. 24% of others) or as a salesperson (7% of top performers vs. 20% of others). All 3 of these contrasts significant.

Top performers and non-top performers were just about equally likely to report being seen as a trusted advisor (66% vs. 64%). No significant difference