Sales statistics can help illuminate successes and stalemates any salesperson, sales team, or sales-centric company could be experiencing. The numbers rarely lie, especially when they’re concerning the overall landscape for sales and best practices for making a customer convert.
Any salesperson will tell you, though—much of sales relies on a grey area that’s difficult to capture in numbers. The rapport and just-right persistence it takes to turn a lead into a customer are far from black-and-white. We’ve compiled 12 of the most illustrative sales statistics to help sum up the nature of sales successes. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the numbers to what makes a high-performing salesperson tick:
You’ve seen the sales statistics we’ve compiled to tell the story of what makes a good salesperson successful, but it’s time to dig deeper. What are the lessons to learn from these numbers? And how can sales organizations put these lessons to action?
Let’s take a deep dive into all of the lessons these sales statistics can provide:
Another sales followup statistic that will help you wrap your head around just how important friendly persistence is? 80% of leads say “no” four times before saying “yes,” but only 8% of salespeople will follow up that fifth time.  So, presumably, only 8% of salespeople are accessing four of every five customers, simply because they continue to follow up with them. That one extra call could unlock more customers than you would imagine.
Successful sales are often the product of multiple follow ups with a prospect but almost half of all sales people give up after a single negative answer. Repeated contact with a prospect will better familiarize them with your product or service and will increase your eventual odds of success.
44% of salespeople abandon a potential sale after one “no.” 22% give up after two, 14% after three, and 12% after four.  These additional follow ups with a prospect can potentially lead to a sale if their initial rejection was not based on a lack of product match but on a temporary reason like lack of budget at the time.
Sales followup statistics help to paint a broader picture beyond the first call. One in particular from the Brevet Group shows that very few salespeople are even able to reach potential customers on the first, second, third . . . call. In fact, salespeople have to make an average of eight cold calls before they actually reach a prospect.  And that says nothing about how many calls they have to make before they actually fulfill a sale.
Considered broadly, salespeople comprise a major portion of the nation’s workforce. 12.5% of all US jobs are full-time sales positions, which means that most of these sales statistics on best practices will be lessons for one of every eight employed Americans. 
Based on this sales statistic, there’s a huge community of sales professionals in the US—salespeople of all walks of life would do well to reach out and take advantage of the endless networking opportunities this affords.
When HubSpot asked, almost half—42%—of polled salespeople said they had the most trouble with prospecting leads. Meanwhile, only 36% of polled salespeople said they had the most trouble with closing deals, and only 22% said they had the most trouble with qualifying leads. 
Sales organizations as a whole can benefit particularly from this sales statistics. If most sales professionals are finding the most friction in prospecting leads, then setting up infrastructure specifically to ease this pain point could lead to disproportionate improvements in sales numbers.
According to Marc Wayshak, just over 23% of salespeople exceeded their quota last year.  How does your team’s—or your own—success rate compare to this benchmark? If you or your team are collectively meeting quota at a rate that’s higher than this, then great! If you or your team are working with a success rate that’s equal or lower than this overall rate of exceeding quota, then it’s time to start thinking about optimizing your sales processes—or reevaluating your quotas.
According to a sales statistic from Marketing Donut, a mere 2% of sales happen during the first time a salesperson gets in contact with a potential customer.  This just proves the value of persistence in a sales position. Though this is certainly not a new lesson, it’s difficult to appreciate just how true it is without a number like 2% on the first try staring back at you.
Sales leaders would do well to cite this statistic to their team to add context to any sales followup statistics they plan on providing as well.
Despite a general insistence that “cold calling is over” that you might hear, most of sales contact will happen over the phone. In fact, almost all sales interactions—92%, to be precise—will happen over the phone.  As a result, any and all steps you can take to optimize phone interactions with potential customers, over email or social interactions, will result in huge gains for your numbers.
Lead Fuze found that 86% of phone communications for salespeople rely on their tone.  While content is certainly important, the emotional implications that your tone of voice carries over the phone are what will color a conversation with potential customers. And without gestures or movements to convey your point, you’ll certainly need to make sure your tone of voice is sincere and authoritative if you want to convert a lead into a customer.
The Brevet Group also found that between 4:00 and 5:00 in the early evening is the best time to cold call new leads.  A common misconception among sales professionals is that you can catch leads over lunch, since they won’t be working. However, the numbers indicate that potential leads are less willing to answer the phone while they’re on break. Catch them while they’re winding down their day and more willing to take a moment to talk.
A vast majority of customers—a surprising 91%—say they’d be willing to provide referrals. Nonetheless, only 11% of salespeople request referrals from customers.  This sales referral statistic should embolden more sales professionals to ask customers—especially happy customers—to refer their friends. They’re more than likely willing to do so.
Even more, getting those referrals will likely improve your performance. A sales statistic from Marc Wayshak shows that almost half—47%—of top performers request every day or with every person they connect with. On the other hand, only 26% of non-top performers request referrals on this consistent basis. 
There you have it—12 surprising sales statistics to act on now. In broad strokes, these sales statistics paint a picture that persistence and strategy make a successful sales professional. Though persistence is certainly key for sales success, make sure you’re working hard and smart. Know when to keep calling and when your time will be more prudently spent elsewhere. These stats on cold calling, following up, and overall sales will help you do just that.
Maddie Shepherd is a former Fundera senior staff writer and current contributing writer for Fundera.
Maddie has an extensive knowledge of business credit cards, accounting tools, and merchant services, but specializes in small business financing advice. She has reviewed and analyzed dozens of financial tools and providers, helping business owners make better financial decisions.