The best way to improve your sales strategy is with the power of objective evidence. That said, it takes a long time to gather sales statistics through your own sales activities.
Instead, take a shortcut and look at the sales statistics that other companies and other organizations have generated and published.
In the sections that follow, I’ve compiled 101 of the most important sales statistics to learn, embody, and incorporate into your sales strategy in 2020.
But first, here’s an infographic that includes my favorite 10 sales statistics for your viewing pleasure!
Sales Prospecting Statistics
Let’s start by looking at sales statistics around the beginning of the process for most salespeople—the art of prospecting.
1. 71 percent of customers want to hear from salespeople early. Your prospects want to hear from you early in the sales process, according to research from RAIN Group. “Early” may mean different things to different people, but if you want to improve your results, consider reaching out to your prospects a bit sooner than usual.
2. Only half of your initial prospects will have use for what you’re selling. This varies by industry, but according to Marc Wayshak, less than half of your initial pool of prospects will have use for the products and services you’re selling. You can greatly improve your efficiency and your results by figuring out who’s really interested as soon as possible—and weeding out the people who won’t bring value to your organization.
3. Two-thirds of salespeople reach out to fewer than 250 prospects per year. From the same report, that may seem like a lot, but it averages out to less than 5 prospects per week. Volume isn’t everything, as we’ve already seen, but you’ll need to think carefully about what your salespeople are doing that’s preventing them from reaching out to more people.
4. The biggest cited problem in prospecting is getting an initial appointment. Richardson found that 14 percent of companies cite setting up appointments as the biggest prospecting challenge. Other challenges include reaching the right stakeholder and lead qualification.
5. Companies using lead scoring systems see 20 percent more conversions. According to McKinsey, when companies use products or services that help them “score” the quality of a lead, they end up getting 20 percent more conversions.
6. 40 percent of salespeople cite prospecting as the hardest part of their job. This study from HubSpot shows that salespeople often struggle with prospecting. Once they find a good prospect, they’re able to handle things perfectly fine—but finding those initial opportunities is challenging. (Hint: for help, see our guide on sales prospecting tools and techniques!)
7. 60 percent of buyers want to talk about pricing on the first call. HubSpot also found that 6 in 10 buyers want to talk about pricing on the first call. That stands to reason, as many prospects are held back by their budgets.
8. More than half of prospects are interested in a demo on the first call. The same study shows that more than half of prospects will want to see how your product works on the first call. If you have something to show your prospects, show it to them early.
9. 19 percent of buyers want contact during the awareness stage. A different HubSpot study found that just 19 percent of buyers want to communicate with salespeople when they’re just starting to build awareness of a problem or need. Keep this in mind if you’re following our earlier advice to “reach out early.”
10. …and 60 percent want contact during the consideration stage. Once prospects start considering the products they’ll potentially purchase, 60 percent prefer to communicate with a salesperson. This is the prime opportunity to reach out.
11. …and the remaining 20 percent want contact during the decision stage. During the decision stage, when a customer has already made a decision or is very close to a decision, only 20 percent of people want contact with a salesperson. Don’t overdo it.
12. 81 percent of employees below C-suite influence purchasing decisions. According to a Google report, 81 percent of employees below the C-suite level have some sway over purchasing decisions. While many salespeople targeting higher-ranking members of an organization intentionally to get access to more purchasing power, this may not always be the best route.
13. 3 percent of appointments become opportunities. According to SalesforLife, 72.3 percent of appointments eventually get labeled as opportunities. The bigger issue is getting the appointments in the first place.
14. 3 percent of opportunities become sales. The same study shows that once something is considered an opportunity, nearly a third of those opportunities eventually become sales, cross-industry. Everything begins with an appointment, so consider optimizing for more initial appointments.
Sales Follow-up Statistics
The art of following up can make or break your sales strategy, at least according to these sales statistics:
15. 57 percent of customers choose companies based on customer service. A report from Salesforce suggests that customer service is one of the biggest factors for customer purchasing decisions. Following up with a customer and making sure they’re happy can encourage them to stick with you in the future.
16. 79 percent of customers prefer salespeople who act as advisors. The same study found that the vast majority of buyers want their salespeople to act as advisors. In other words, the salesperson’s role isn’t to sell you something; it’s to help you make the right decision. Equip your salespeople with this mentality if you want them to close more deals and earn more customer respect.
17. It takes 5 follow-ups to close 80 percent of sales conversions. A report from Marketing Donut found that it takes at least 5 follow-ups with a prospect to close a sale. That’s especially shocking when you consider the next statistics.
18. Email chains of 4-7 messages can triple your reply rate. Following up via email 4-7 times gets a reply rate of 27 percent, while sending just 1-3 emails gets a reply rate of just 9 percent, according to Woodpecker. In other words, if you stick with a prospect long enough, you’ll greatly increase your chances of success.
19. Average salespeople only reach out to prospects twice. Here’s the kicker. According to HubSpot, most salespeople only reach out to a prospect twice. In other words, they miss out on tons of opportunities simply because they gave up too soon.
Sales Email Statistics
Let’s take a look at sales statistics around perhaps the best medium for sales—email.
20. 86 percent of professionals choose email as a medium of choice. This HubSpot report found that 86 percent of professionals prefer email as their primary medium. Considering the sheer number of other mediums available today, that’s astounding—but entirely reasonable, considering the advantages that email provides.
21. Email is up to 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined. One report from McKinsey found that email is a more effective platform than two of the most popular social media networks combined—and by an impressive margin. Social media has its place, but email remains king.
22. Less than 9 percent of sales emails get opened. Topo reports that more than 90 percent of sales emails never see the light of day. Still, because you can send out so many emails, you don’t need your open rate to be high.
23. Almost half of all emails are deleted. This infographic from Boomerang reports that 48 percent of emails are deleted every day. If you want your prospects to keep your message, you need to give them or tell them something valuable.
24. Your close rate goes up 7x if you respond within an hour. Harvard Business Review reported that close rates increase by a factor of seven if you respond within an hour of the initial point of contact. Our next few statistics back up this idea.
25. Lead qualification drops if you wait more than 5 minutes to respond. This infographic reinforces the idea, showing that lead qualification begins to drop if you take more than 5 minutes to respond to a prospect.
26. If you respond within 5 minutes, you’ll be part of just 7 percent of companies. A Drift study found that this level of attentiveness is rare, helping you distinguish yourself from the competition. Only 7 percent of companies follow up within 5 minutes.
27. If you respond within 5 days, you’re still better than most. Drift also found that most companies fail to respond even within 5 business days. That’s a pretty low bar to beat, so strive to respond much, much faster.
28. People open emails within an hour 24 percent of the time. According to GetResponse, people open emails within an hour about a quarter of the time. In other words, if they’re going to open your email, they’re probably going to open it early.
29. First-responding vendors get 35-50 percent of sales. This report from Xant.ai found 35 to 50 percent of email-based sales go to the person who responded first. Adding to the competitive pressure to respond as quickly as possible, this study shows that first-responders tend to close far more sales. This is one of my favorite sales statistics because it highlights the importance of fast response times!
30. 21 percent of emailers are willing to report email as spam, even if it isn’t. Be careful who you annoy. Convince and Convert found that 21 percent of people will report your messages as spam—even if they aren’t.
31. 69 percent of recipients report spam based only on the subject line. The same report found that these decisions are almost always based on the subject line—sometimes exclusively. Be careful what you include in your subject line.
32. 33 percent of recipients open email based only on its subject line. The power of a subject line doesn’t stop there. The study also found that more than a third of recipients will only look at the subject when deciding whether or not to open an email. Without a decent subject line, your message doesn’t stand a chance. (Hint: Don’t miss our post on 51 sales email subject lines that actually work!)
33. You can get 14 percent more clicks with personalization. Campaign Monitor found that personalization is good enough to secure 14 percent higher click-throughs. Get to know your prospect a bit before firing off that introduction message.
34. All caps will reduce your response rate by 30 percent. Caps may seem like they imply urgency, but they’ll reduce your response rate significantly, according to Boomerang. That’s probably because so many spam emails use caps.
35. Emails written at the 3rd grade level work best. A separate Boomerang study found that emails written at a 3rd grade level get a 53 percent response rate, compared to lower percentage for emails written at a kindergarten level, high school level, or college level. This is interesting, because neither the simplest nor most complex wording got the best results. You’ll need some practice to nail that 3rd-grade level consistently.
36. The best emails for responses are 75-100 words. The same study found that the best emails for generating responses tend to be 75-100 words long. Comparatively speaking, that’s pretty short. That’s one paragraph or a few short sentences to get your point across.
37. Cold emails have twice the ROI of cold calls. Cold calling is falling out of favor, but cold emailing can double your ROI if you’re used to cold calling. That’s partially because emailing takes less time and requires fewer upfront costs.
38. Salespeople spend 13 hours per week on email. We’ll take a deeper dive into sales productivity in the next section, but for now, consider McKinsey’s finding that salespeople spend 13 hours of their week on email. This tells you a few important things. First, it shows you how important email is to a salesperson’s job. Second, it proves how vulnerable sales productivity is; inefficient email can compromise an entire third of a salesperson’s week.
39. Emails with 1-3 questions are 50 percent more likely to get a response. From Boomerang, we learn that emails with a handful of questions are much more likely to get a response from prospects. Try including more questions to invite more responses.
Sales Productivity and Time Statistics
Every salesperson is (or should be) concerned about their productivity and use of time. We learned a bit about productivity in the previous sections, but here, we’re taking a closer look at sales statistics relating to productivity and time usage.
40. 65 percent of sales managers cite lack of time and resources is their biggest challenge. From Data Dwell, we learn that 65 percent of sales managers believe lack of time and resources is their biggest problem. In other words, with enough time and money, they think they can tackle anything. Managing those resources efficiently (especially time) is vital for success.
41. Salespeople spend less than a third of their day selling. From HubSpot in 2018, we learn salespeople only spend a third of their day actually selling. What do they do the rest of the time? The study gives us a few other insights.
42. Salespeople spend 21 percent of their day writing emails. This should come as no surprise, since you already know that salespeople spend 13 hours per week on email.
43. …and 17 percent of their day entering data. Data entry isn’t an especially efficient use of your salespeople’s time, but it still represents a good chunk of their day. Finding ways to streamline this can massively benefit your organization.
44. 60 percent of salespeople stay consistent once they find something that works. According to HubSpot, once salespeople find a strategy that works, 60 percent of them stick with it. This is good, because it encourages consistent results, but bad, because it limits potential for experimentation and improvement.
45. 81 percent of sales teams have no regular auditing process. According to Data Dwell, 81 percent of teams aren’t auditing their work. If you want to improve as a team, you’ll need to have some kind of review process in place.
46. 20 percent of sales teams don’t have resources to reinforce their workflows. The same report found 1 in 5 sales teams don’t have the software, time, money, or other resources necessary to polish and perfect their approaches. Are you starting to see a pattern?
47. The end of the month means 3 times as many more closes. According to Harvard Business Review, the end of the month’s rush leads to 3 times as many closed deals.
48. …but also 11 times as many losses. The same study found that the end of month also leads to 11 times as many losses. Ouch.
49. More than half of salespeople look to peers to improve. HubSpot shows that more than half of salespeople who want to improve look for tips from their peers. Networking, mentorship, and engagement programs are important to foster better teams.
50. …and 44 percent look to their manager. Salespeople also want to learn from their managers and team leaders. If you’re in a position of leadership or authority, know that you’re setting an example.
51. …and another 35 percent look to team training resources. If you don’t have documentation for how to become a better salesperson, or informational guides your salespeople can use to improve, it’s time to develop some.
52. High-performing organizations are twice as likely to provide ongoing training. This Highspot report shows that the best-performing organizations in terms of sales are more than twice as likely to provide ongoing training to their salespeople.
53. 75 percent of organizations use classroom training as a primary medium. The same report found that most organizations try to use classroom training as their primary mode of learning for salespeople. Considering most salespeople turn to peers and managers for help, this isn’t the most efficient method.
54. On average, salespeople use 5.8 tools. This study from SalesforLife found that on average, salespeople use about 6 tools to get their job done. As a general rule, fewer tools is a better approach, increasing efficiency.
55. Companies spend $3,894 per year, per rep on tools. The same study found that organizations pay an average of nearly $4,000 per year, per rep on the tools they use for their job.
56. The most common sales tools are CRM, social prospecting, and data tools. These were followed by email engagement tools, phone tools, and sales cadence tools.
57. Sales reps perform 94.4 activities per day. This same report found that sales reps complete a combination of 94.4 activities every day. These activities include phone calls, emails, voicemails, data entry actions, and more.
Sales Statistics in Other Channels
Email may be our favorite channel, but it’s certainly not the only one. Let’s learn more about sales stats from phone calls, social media, and more:
58. Only 52.8 percent of salespeople meet with prospects face-to-face. According to SalesForLife, just over half of salespeople meet with prospects face-to-face. You could easily differentiate yourself, and stand out, if you spend more time in in-person meetings.
59. Asking 11 or more questions during a call can increase sales by 74 percent. According to Gong, asking lots of questions can work in your favor. On a call, asking 11 questions or more will improve engagement—and ultimately, boost sales.
60. Repeated use of a brand name can hurt sales by 14 percent. Also from Gong, repeating your company’s name brand 4 or more times can reduce your close rate by 14 percent. You may be tempted to do this to improve brand memorability, but it seems more likely to work against you.
61. 2 percent of salespeople still consider phone calls the most effective sales channel. From Marc Wayshack, nearly half of salespeople still think phone calls are the most effective sales channel. Could they be right? Or are they just old-fashioned?
62. 28 percent of salespeople find cold calling effective. That said, not all phone-based strategies are effective. According to RAIN Group, less than a third of salespeople consider cold calling to be an effective strategy. Consider cold emailing instead. (Hint: Use these sales email templates for your cold email outreach, as well as these email outreach tools!)
63. 15 percent of salesperson time is spent on voicemails. One report from RingLead found that as much as 15 percent of a salesperson’s time is spent on voicemails.
64. The best time to cold call is Wednesday afternoon. A study by CallHippo found that the best time to call prospects is between 4 and 5 pm on Wednesdays. The middle of the week is a good “sweet spot” for salespeople.
65. The worst time to cold call is Friday afternoon. The same study found that the absolute worst time to call is between 1 and 3 pm on Friday. People are itching for the weekend, and don’t want to talk to salespeople.
66. It takes an average of 6 calls to reach a prospect. CallHippo also informs us it takes an average of 6 unsuccessful calls to finally reach a prospect. This backs up previous statistics related to email; no matter what, it takes persistence to get in contact with someone.
67. 70 percent of salespeople use social selling tools. This study, conducted by LinkedIn, suggests that more than two-thirds of salespeople use social media or social selling tools in some way. Are they biased? Maybe. But in my experience, this holds true.
68. 62 percent of salespeople find social selling to foster better customer relationships. The same study found that most salespeople rely on social media to improve their relationships with their customers and prospects.
69. Successful salespeople talk for 54 percent of the call. Gong found that successful salespeople spoke for 54 percent of the call. In other words, there’s a balanced conversation happening, but successful salespeople take slightly more control of the conversation.
70. Unsuccessful salespeople talk for 42 percent of the call or less. The same study found that unsuccessful salespeople speak for 42 percent of the time. Active listening is a good thing, but if you’re not in control of the conversation, it’s going to hurt you.
71. Asking “how are you” on the phone can boost meeting rates by 3.4x. Gong also found that you can increase your meeting success rate by 3.4 times if you ask a prospect how they are. It’s not about the exact phrasing; it’s about having a genuine interest in your prospect’s wellbeing.
72. Word-of-mouth can account for more than $6 trillion annually. A study by CMO estimates that word-of-mouth could account for total customer spending of more than $6 trillion every year. Referrals and word-of-mouth reputation are more important than many businesses realize.
73. 84 percent of B2B sales now start with a referral. One report found that an incredible 84 percent of B2B sales in the modern world now start with a referral.
74. 83 percent of customers would refer products and services if satisfied with their experience. However, only 29 percent of customers follow through. Why? Because nobody asked them for a referral, at least according to a Texas Tech report. Get out there and ask your best customers to refer you to their friends and colleagues.
75. Social selling tools can increase win rates by 5 percent. Another study from LinkedIn shows that social selling tools can increase your “win” or close rates by 5 percent. It’s not huge, but it’s helpful.
76. Social selling tools can increase deal size by 35 percent. The same study found a correlation between social selling tools and eventual deal size; deals were 35 percent larger when initiated or backed by social selling tools.
Sales Career Statistics
Are you interested in a career in sales, or do you want to learn more about the people you’re considering hiring? Consider these career-centric sales statistics:
77. The ROI of sales employee training is 353 percent. As calculated by Accenture, whatever you invest in employee training will come back to you many times over. Spend the time necessary to get your salespeople up to speed.
78. Sales teams that invest in training and development are 57 percent more effective. The Sales Management Association found that companies that invest in training and development for their employees are much more likely to achieve their goals.
79. Only 17.6 percent of salespeople enjoy their job. A depressing statistic from Marc Wayshak, there are many reasons why this could be the case. Sales is a high-pressure environment, and a stressful one—especially if you’re not adequately trained, or if you don’t believe in your product. If you hire or manage salespeople, make sure they have a reason to like their job.
80. 26 percent of salespeople find their current training inefficient. One possible explanation for low satisfaction rates could be linked to a Training Industry Most salespeople are unhappy with how they’ve been trained (if they’ve been trained at all).
81. Total compensation for a sales rep averages out to $72,000. Total compensation for an SDR, according to SalesforLife, is an average of $72,000. Of course, there are points all across the spectrum here, depending on what they sell and how they’re selling it.
82. It takes salespeople 4.1 months to become adequately trained. The same study found that most salespeople need 4.1 months to “ramp up” to full productivity.
83. Most salespeople stay in the role for 2.8 years. The same report shows that ramp up finalization is somewhat short-lived. Most salespeople move onto a different opportunity less than 3 years later.
84. Only 25 percent of salespeople have a business degree. Only a quarter of salespeople have a degree in business, according to HubSpot research. While a business degree may help you, it certainly isn’t necessary.
85. 17 percent never attended college. The same study shows that more than a sixth of active salespeople have never attended any college.
Miscellaneous Sales Statistics
To round out this article, here’s a batch of other miscellaneous sales statistics you may find useful:
86. The CRM market will reach $35 billion by 2023. If you’re not using a CRM to manage your customer information, you’re officially behind the times. According to Market Research Future, the CRM market is set to grow with practically no end in sight.
87. 69 percent of buyers want salespeople to listen to their needs. When asked what would provide them with a positive sales experience, 69 percent of buyers wanted someone to listen to their needs. It’s not especially surprising, but important to acknowledge.
88. …and 61 percent want salespeople to avoid being pushy. The same study found that 61 percent of customers are concerned about salespeople being too pushy.
89. …and 61 percent want salespeople to provide relevant information. Additionally, customers want salespeople to provide them with relevant, detailed information.
90. The ROI of a CRM is about 871 percent. For every dollar you spend on a CRM, it has the potential to return $8.71, according to this Nucleus Research report. That’s because CRM systems keep your salespeople organized, increase efficiency, and help you calculate the effectiveness of your tactics with analytics.
91. Sales conversion rates across all industries average 2.46 to 3.26 percent. According to Statista, average conversion rates hover close to 3 percent. Depending on yours, that could make you feel great or terrible.
92. 50 percent of successful teams have a one-year vision. According to McKinsey, more than half of successful sales teams look a year ahead, and 10 percent have plans for the next 3 years.
93. Top salespeople are 10 times more likely to use collaborative words. According to one study, top-performing salespeople are 10 times more likely to use words that imply collaboration in their conversations. Collaborative words are choices like “we” instead of “I” or teamwork-oriented words like “together.”
94. Collaborative words can boost conversion by 35 percent. Gong backs this up, showing that the use of collaborative words in a conversation can increase conversion rates by 35 percent. The idea is to make your customer feel like you’re both on the same team.
95. 31 percent of companies believe their biggest challenge is competing against low-cost providers. Richardson reports that 31 percent of companies struggle with competing against low-cost competition. Competitive differentiation, consistency in executing team meetings, customer conversations, and maintaining profitability were also top sources of challenge.
96. 75 percent of companies are willing to refocus their sales strategies. According to Sales Management Association, 75 percent of companies take the time to refocus their sales strategies. That’s good, but it’s not high enough. Everyone should be constantly reevaluating and tinkering with their approach to improve.
97. 54 percent of companies implement new sales methodologies. The same study found just over half of companies try new strategies. It’s pretty wild to think that nearly half of companies never try anything new.
98. 62 percent of customers are concerned about their information being compromised. The State of the Connected Customer report found that customers are more concerned than ever about their privacy. It’s fine that you’re collecting customer data to sell to them more effectively, but make sure you’re transparent and honest about your data collection in the process.
99. 42 percent of salespeople cite creating urgency as their biggest challenge. HubSpot research confirms that nearly half of salespeople struggle with creating urgency more than anything else. What’s to stop your customers from procrastinating indefinitely?
100. Only 24.3 percent of salespeople exceeded their quota last year. As reported by Marc Wayshak, less than a quarter of salespeople exceeded their quota last year. Are salespeople underperforming or are quotas too high?
101. A mere 5 percent increase in customer retention can boost profit by 90 percent. Bain and Company found what many other companies have found in the past; in most regards, customer retention is more important that customer acquisition. A mere 5 percent increase in retention increases profit by 90 percent. Make sure your salespeople know that closing deals is important, but maintaining long-term relationships is even more important.
There you have it! 101 sales statistics to help you boost your sales. Chances are, somewhere along the way, you learned something, challenged an old assumption, or at least found a good anecdote to bring to your next meeting. But your journey doesn’t end here.
If you want to take a closer look at how your salespeople are performing, you’ll need the right tools to analyze their efforts. A good place to start is with EmailAnalytics—our own comprehensive analytics tool for Gmail and G Suite that can tell you everything from average response time to the number of emails your employees are sending and receiving each day. Sign up for a free trial today, and take control over your sales email strategy!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.