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10 Sales Statistics For Strategic Planning in 2021

Oct 22, 2020
6 min read
Sales industry statistics tell a story of change, best practices, and where future challenges lie. Here are 10 stats you need to know.

Sales statistics are valuable for several reasons. By identifying trends or patterns in your sales data, these metrics help make it possible for you to detect opportunities or potential problems when it comes to the health of your sales organization. When used correctly, sales statistics should tell a story, which should help you paint the picture of what you could or should be doing to help your sales leadership make strategic business decisions.

With that in mind, we’ve recently conducted research, consulted sales performance management experts, and compiled ten valuable sales industry statistics we believe are essential to help assist you in the 2021 planning season.

10 Sales Statistics for Strategic Planning in 2021

1. Enterprises will miss the equivalent of up to 10% of annual sales lost opportunities because of poor planning (Gartner)

The truth is you don’t know what you don’t know. When you’re not using data-driven planning, you’re missing out on a big chunk of business opportunities that could have been captured through improved management of sales territories, quotas, and compensation plans. By looking more closely at your data and planning more effectively, companies can optimize their plans and improve overall sales performance.

2. Reps spend only 39% of their time selling (HubSpot)

The average salesperson spends more than half of their day preoccupied with menial tasks, which means they’re focusing less than half of their day doing what their title implies—you know, making sales. So if they’re not selling, then what are they spending the majority of their time on? Administrative tasks, including data entry, quote generation, and other tasks, are sucking up your team’s time and keeping them off the phones. 

The first step is giving reps time back to do their job—here are some tips to improve sales productivity to help get you moving in the right direction.

3. Top-performing sales reps hit their peak quota attainment between 2-3 years in their role (Xactly Insights)

It’s no secret that reps need time to ramp up to full production—but Xactly Insights data shows that top-tier salespeople tend to hit their peak performance level 2-3 years into a role. This level then dips around the 5-year mark. Here are some incentive planning tips for maintaining high levels of performance for every stage in a rep’s career.

4. 57% of sales reps are expected to miss their quota this year (Salesforce)

More than half of sales teams are estimated to fall short this year—that’s a frightening reality. However, it’s not entirely surprising when you consider reps spend less than half of their time making sales (see stat #2). Between poorly designed plans and lack of adequate selling time, sales teams aren’t being set up to succeed. But, with the right focus, you can get yours back on the right track with these tips to improve sales quota attainment.

5. The end of June saw the largest number of deals closed since March, nearly 10% ahead of pre-COVID benchmark levels (HubSpot)

If we take a brief historical look at 2020 and new trends that are starting to emerge in regards to seeing an increase in sales, the third and fourth quarter of your fiscal year could prove to be an instrumental time to turn sales around if the first half of the year was slow. If you employ the right sales techniques or strategically invest in technology to help you achieve an agile approach to planning, you run a higher chance of your team meeting quota.

When looking at the graph in terms of current improvements in pipeline metrics compared to March and early April of this year, experts can see subtle but noticeable signs that more businesses are reentering the buying phase and adjusting budgets to take on new investments. But keep in mind, no one has a crystal ball, so it's too early to tell how much of this growth will be sustained.

6. The average rep tenure now sits at 1.5 years, compared to more than three years in 2010 (The Bridge Group)

Sales turnover, along with sales tenure, are both starting to shrink at an alarming rate. According to a recent Forrester study, 65% of respondents reported that they are experiencing unwanted sales attrition.

In addition, the average tenure of an SDR has decreased by 50% over the past ten years. And when you consider that SDR ramp-up time averages around 3.2 months, that doesn’t leave much time for full productivity—and you never see reps hit peak performance because they leave before that 2-3 year mark (see stat #3).

7. When it comes to compensation, businesses face three key administration challenges (Sales Compensation Administration Best Practices Survey)

Sales compensation is the primary driver of performance and revenue in your organization, so strong strategic planning and execution is vital. Recent research shows that companies struggle with three main challenges that are keeping them from optimizing performance:

  1. Implementing best practices (in planning and execution)
  2. Lack of data centralization
  3. Non-standardized incentive processes

Automation helps address these challenges by improving the accuracy and efficiency of compensation administration. (Here are some additional benefits of automation for organizations.)


8. Only 48% of decisions made within an organization are made based on quantitative information and analysis (Forrester)

Think about that, if only 48% of decisions are being made off trusted data, what are the remaining 52% of decisions being based on? Sheer luck or gut-feelings? Leadership needs a continuous feed of accurate and comprehensive data to fully understand the state of their organization, so they are better equipped to make strategic business decisions. This is especially important for analyzing the performance of sales teams in order to position them in the best way possible to succeed. 

Luckily, sales performance management (SPM) platforms offer a remedy to this big problem by centralizing data, aligning leadership, and providing the opportunity for strategic planning with artificial intelligence.

9. Organizations that use automated territory planning technology have up to 20% higher sales achievement than the average (Sales Management Association)

Digital territory planning provides a massive opportunity for businesses to design fair, balanced territories. Using technology, you can add third-party data into the mix, draw out maps, and ensure that each territory provides the maximum revenue potential and that reps have equal opportunities to hit quota. (Discover everything you need to know about sales territory mapping).

10. An integrated SPM platform increases sales productivity by 12.5% and accelerates financial close times up to 50% (Simon & Kucher)

Using a sales performance management (SPM) platform, organizations can create a single source of truth for their data. With centralized insights, leadership can eliminate internal silos more efficiently and better align priorities to optimize their planning and performance.

Putting Sales Statistics to Work

These statistics tell a story about the sales industry: organizations starting to implement strategic technology and solutions are now beginning to see higher levels of success versus those that are clinging on to out-dated and manual processes.  It’s vital that leaders take a close look at their company’s data and invest in the technology needed to become data-driven—so that they can compete in today’s competitive business landscape.

While the market is more challenging than in previous years, sales goals can still be met. As the driver of your sales organization, your sales plans must be accurate. The best way to do this? Use your sales performance data to gain actionable insights. That crucial information holds the key to sales success. 

You can view more insights about continuous sales planning in Forrester’s full research report, “Unleash Your Growth Potential With Continuous Planning".

And for your reference, here’s a list of all of the resources we gathered these sales stats from, so you can dive deeper into the best practices:

(You can get even more statistics to help drive your sales planning, management, and analysis in our full Ultimate List of Sales Statistics.)

  • Incentive Compensation
  • Sales Performance Management
  • Sales Planning
Kelly Arellano, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Xactly
Xactly News Team

Led by Editor-In-Chief, Kelly Arellano, The Xactly News Team reports on the latest products, events, and market trends taking place within Xactly and throughout the revenue intelligence industry.