Team Diversity is Key to Growth and Success in Sales

Understand the importance of increasing diversity in sales organizations and the differences in pay and performance between male and female sales reps.

5 min read

As part of Denver Startup Week, Xactly CFO Elizabeth Salomon participated in the Denver Startup Week Ladies Night Panel to discuss how women address failure and how they can use it to strive for new lengths of diversity in the workplace.

Xactly CFO Ladies Night

In this piece, she reflects on the importance of diversity in the workplace, and taking data from the Xactly Insights data-driven platform, how diversity impacts the success of sales teams.

It’s no surprise that companies that support a diverse workplace are stronger. Over the past several years, researchers have examined the impact of diversity in the workplace and found that diverse companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. The same is true for sales team structure.

In 2016, only 32% of sales reps met or exceeded sales quota, according to Xactly Insights data. For more than 13 years, Xactly has aggregated sales pay and performance data points like this, referred to as Xactly Insights. This data helps companies benchmark sales rep compensation to design competitive incentive plans. It also helps illustrate the role that diversity plays in creating a successful workplace.


Total Compensation by GenderQuota Attainment by Gender

The data within Xactly Insights has uncovered interesting trends in sales organizations, specifically the impact of gender-diverse sales team structure on the success of a sales team. Female sales reps earn a base pay 33 percent lower than male reps, yet women are paid at a higher commission rate. Women meet their sales quota eight percent more than men, with 86 percent of women and 76 percent of men achieving quota.

Gender Diversity on Teams

These findings are even more important considering that CSO Insights reported the average quota attainment in 2017 was just 53 percent. However, the sales field has traditionally and continues to be a male-dominated field. In fact, Xactly Insights data found that sales teams led by men tend to be male-dominant (76 percent to 24 percent female), while those led by women are more diverse (52 percent male to 48 percent female), better reflecting the general population.

Furthermore, Gartner Research found that 62 percent of companies with 45 percent or more women in their sales ranks drive higher-than-average levels of profitable revenue. Likewise, female sales reps have a longer tenure, remaining in their roles for a year or more longer than their male counterparts; thus, reducing attrition costs.

When our CEO, Chris Cabrera, founded Xactly more than 13 years ago, he quickly learned that diversity is a key driver for growth because it creates “a challenging and rich environment” that fosters creativity and innovation.

As we wrap up Denver Startup Week and start to think about planning for 2019, these data points take on a greater significance—diversity within sales teams gives companies a strategic advantage. Diversity brings together unique minds, ideas, and perceptions, which only makes an organization stronger and sets it up for success from the start.

Read more about Elizabeth’s career and advice for young professionals in our Female Executives blog series.