B2B Conversion Rate Benchmarks: How Does Your Company Stack Up?

Comparing your business with other competitors in your industry, apples to apples, is one of the most straightforward ways to determine your performance. Having quantifiable data to reference provides objective insights so you know what the average is and how your company fares. 

Hands down, one of the most important benchmarks for B2Bs to assess is conversion rate. Having a concrete number lets you know what to expect at scale and how much effort (if any) you need to put into improving in this area. 

So let’s get right into it. Here are recent B2B conversion rate benchmarks based on 2020 data from SEO Agency, First Page Sage. 

How They Define Conversion Rate

For this particular study, Evan Bailyn of First Page Sage defines conversion rate as “the percentage of visitors to a company’s website that became qualified leads. It’s calculated by dividing qualified leads into total website visitors.” 

To be totally clear, “‘qualified lead’ is an event where a member of your target audience makes contact with your company either passively (e.g. downloading a report or joining a mailing list) or actively (requesting a sales call).”

With HireDNA, for example, a qualified lead would be someone who requests a demo, as this would be the point where we can officially begin outreach and explain how our product can help them find A+ talent in their industry. 

Their Findings

First Page Sage analyzed B2B companies across 25 different industries, which is important given that conversion rates can vary considerably between industries. Businesses in the B2B software/SaaS industry, for example, have one of the lower conversion rates at just 1.1% on average, while those in the legal services industry have the highest at 7.4%.

Here’s a full breakdown of all 25 industries from lowest conversion rates to highest.

  • Computer product manufacturing – 1.1%
  • B2B software/SaaS – 1.1%
  • Scientific testing and measurement – 1.3%
  • Higher education – 1.4%
  • Commercial insurance – 1.7%
  • Solar energy – 1.8%
  • Investment and wealth management – 1.9%
  • Commercial construction – 1.9%
  • Pharmaceutical sales – 2%
  • Call center and customer service – 2%
  • Rehabilitation and recovery – 2.1%
  • Industrial IoT – 2.2%
  • PCB design and manufacturing – 2.3%
  • Engineering design and software – 2.3%
  • Shipping and logistics – 2.7%
  • Commercial real estate – 2.8%
  • Industrial manufacturing and equipment – 3%
  • Lending and loan servicing – 3%
  • Commercial energy management – 3.1%
  • Medical device and equipment manufacturing – 3.1%
  • HVAC services – 3.3%
  • IT staffing and services – 3.5%
  • Staffing services – 5.1%
  • Point of sale (POS) services – 7%
  • Legal services – 7.4%

To let you see what this looks like visually, here’s a graph from First Page Sage. 

Insights from This Data

The fact that an average conversion rate can be as low as 1.1% in the case of computer product manufacturing and B2B software and as high as 7.4% with legal services shows firsthand how much it can vary depending on the industry. There are a ton of different variables that factor into conversion rate — everything from site layout and overall aesthetics to copywriting and mobile-friendliness can impact it. 

But at the end of the day, B2Bs in certain industries can expect a higher average conversion rate than others. So, for instance, while a staffing services company probably would be underwhelmed with a 1.5% conversion rate given their industry average is just over 5%…

…a SaaS company would be quite happy with it given their industry average is only 1.1%.

It should be noted that the vast majority of B2B companies (22 out of 25) have conversion rates of 3.5% or lower. Only staffing services, POS services, and legal services have conversion rates over 5%. So unless you’re in one of these three industries, you probably shouldn’t expect to get much higher than the 3.5% mark. 

10 industries have a conversion rate of 2% or lower, which means 40% of B2Bs don’t ever get past this mark.  

It’s also important to point out that there’s an inherent plateau in terms of how far you can go with raising your conversion rate. First Page Sage notes that even a leviathan-level brand like Salefsorce piques out at under 5%, which shows that you can only realistically set the bar so high. “Most B2B conversion rates aren’t higher than this, particularly in industries with longer sales cycles,” Evan Bailyn writes. 

No matter how much effort you put into conversion rate optimization (CRO), you’re going to hit a ceiling. And that’s okay. You certainly want to do everything you can to turn more website visitors into qualified leads, but you shouldn’t set unrealistic expectations that are insanely higher than your industry’s average. 

That’s only going to create unnecessary stress and set you up for disappointment. At the end of the day, you should set a realistic goal and structure your campaign to get as close to it as possible. 

Figuring Out What Your Conversion Rate Should Be

Identifying what “a good conversion rate” is shouldn’t be subjective. It should be completely objective where you reference legitimate data from a validated study. And the particular study mentioned here is one of the best I’ve come across recently. 

It’s just a matter of pinpointing what the average conversion rate is for your industry across the board and using it to determine how your company stacks up. If you’re ahead of the game, great. Just keep doing what you’re doing. 

And if you’re behind, you’ll know exactly how far you need to go to catch up. 

Looking to find amazing salespeople in your industry to close more deals? See how HireDNA uses data and science to connect with these candidates and deliver next-level results. 

Tips to Cut New Sales Rep Ramp Time by 50%

How Long Does it Take the Average Sales Rep to Reach Their Maximum Potential?

Sales rep development can be both costly and time-consuming. Training alone costs an average of nearly $1,900 per salesperson for companies with less than 500 employees. 

And when you factor in the time spent recruiting, onboarding, and ongoing development, it’s clear that getting a new sales rep up to speed can be quite onerous. So, a common question many companies have is, “How long does it take the average sales rep to reach their maximum potential?”

Let’s find out by synthesizing the findings from a few different studies. 

Looking to the Data

One study by independent research firm, CSO Insights, found that it takes a minimum of seven months for salespeople to reach full productivity. Of the businesses surveyed, 61% said it takes at least this long for investments they make in reps to pay off. 

A second study by the Sales Management Association (SMA) found that it takes a bit longer at just over 11 months for a new sales rep to become fully productive. 

And a third study from sales training and consulting firm, RAIN Group, found that it’s even longer and takes more like 15 months. Although it takes around 9 months for a new sales rep to become “competent to perform,” it takes well over a year before they hit their full stride. 

Ask different experts and you’ll get different answers, but after crunching the numbers, we can surmise that it takes around 11 months or so for the average sales rep to reach their maximum potential. 

11 Months? That’s a While!

I was personally a little surprised that it takes this long, and I’m sure many other companies feel the same. But it makes sense when you consider all of the steps a new salesperson has to go through to get in the groove. 

They have to:

  • Not only learn your industry and product but eventually master it
  • Understand the greater context of how your product fits in with the needs of prospects
  • Learn your brand’s core values and philosophy
  • Master the product demo
  • Build initial rapport with your customers
  • Nurture relationships
  • And so on

When you unpack everything, it’s easy to see why it takes nearly a year for the average sales rep to reach their full potential. 

How to Accelerate Sales Rep Development

So, what can you do to hasten the process and get a salesperson firing on all cylinders more quickly? 

Mike Schultz, president of RAIN Group, boils it down to focusing on two main things — strengthening your onboarding and sales enablement. 

“With a strong onboarding and sales enablement process, this timeframe can be shortened considerably,” Schultz writes. “We’ve seen ramp-up time cut by greater than 50% when companies hone in on improving in this area, increasing seller effectiveness, and correlating turnover of sellers for whom getting up to speed was taking too long.”

In terms of specific actions, you’ll want to first identify the skills that are most essential to your sales team’s success and make those focal points during onboarding and continually reinforce them during the subsequent phases of a rep’s development. Schultz also suggests systematically teaching additional skills as a rep becomes more comfortable in their position. This allows you to effectively distill foundational knowledge and gradually build upon it over time. 

Finally, Schultz emphasizes the importance of holding sales reps accountable when using those skills. One of the best ways to do this is to use tangible metrics such as a leaderboard like this that shows performance.

This creates a high level of transparency, while at the same time creating some friendly competition — something many reps thrive on. In fact, research found that 55% of salespeople enjoy a competitive environment. 

“A well-built curriculum not only shortens ramp-up time,” Schultz says, “but also transforms sellers into top performers.”

Besides developing a strong onboarding and sales enablement process, there’s one last thing I’d like to suggest, which I’ve personally had a lot of success with. And that’s hiring sales candidates with amazing selling skills over those who simply possess a wealth of industry knowledge. 

From my experience, I’ve found that most people can be trained on products, but very few people have naturally outstanding sales talent. Unfortunately, many companies hinder the growth of their sales team because they zero in solely on finding candidates with X years of industry knowledge. 

Like I said in a previous post, as long as someone knows how to sell and will sell, their skills are usually transferable, and they’re likely to thrive in less time than it would take if you have to teach someone to sell from scratch. 

So, this is definitely something to keep in mind. 

Building a Framework to Help Sales Reps Succeed

Although the findings vary somewhat from study to study, research suggests that it takes most sales reps somewhere around 11 months to really get going. And that’s longer than what I think most sales leaders would prefer. 

That’s why it’s important to consciously look for ways to expedite that process — something that can usually be done through a strong onboarding and sales enablement process. That alone has the potential to cut salesperson development time in half. 

Also, don’t get so fixated on industry knowledge that you pass up A+ salespeople with transferable experience. These types of reps should be able to climb the ranks faster and have a much higher ceiling than their counterparts who simply possess a ton of industry knowledge but are only mediocre at selling. 

sales rep ramp time

A great way to do that and find the best of the best is by using a hiring tool like HireDNA. It uses science-based assessments based on 21 core selling competencies and intelligent matching that analyzes 20 key data points to help you filter through the candidate pool and find high-level salespeople, while saving you a ton of time.

2021 Sales Hiring Forecast: 5 Juicy Stats You Need to Know

2020 was a tumultuous year to say the least. It was a year that reminded us how important adaptability and resilience are, and it showed us how critical it is for sales hiring managers to keep evolving. 

Now that 2021 has arrived, what can we expect in the New Year?

Here’s an in-depth sales hiring forecast to help shape your approach. 

1. 19% of Salespeople Will Work From Home Permanently

One of the biggest trends that’s resulted from the pandemic is a growing number of salespeople working from home indefinitely. 

“A majority of North American employers expect that most of their furloughed workers will return to work by the end of the first quarter of 2021,” writes Stephen Miller of SHRM. “Nevertheless, more workers will continue working from home on a permanent basis than before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In fact, experts predict that roughly one out of five salespeople will continue to work remotely. That’s a percentage that’s down considerably from its peak of 44% in July 2020. But it’s nearly three times what it was prior to the pandemic, which was just 7% in 2019. 

Bottom line: working at home is becoming mainstream, and it’s wise for sales leaders to account for this trend when building their sales team. 

2. 92% of Salespeople Think 2021 is a Good Time to Look for “Gig” Work

The “gig” economy, which refers to people working temporary, flexible jobs rather than full-time, permanent positions, has been steadily gaining steam in recent years. But just like with the surge of remote workers, COVID has accelerated its growth as well. 

According to recent data, a staggering 92% of salespeople think 2021 is “a good time” to look for gig work. And a growing number of businesses are adopting this hiring framework, with “15% of the total job market consisting of open sales positions.”

This graph from VizWorld illustrates projected growth in the gig economy from 2017 to 2027, and conversely, shows how the number of traditional employees is declining. 

This really puts the trajectory of the gig economy into perspective and shows that hiring salespeople on a contract-by-contract basis is something to at least consider in 2021. And if you need extra manpower for seasonal spikes, this can be a great solution. 

3. 81% of Hiring Experts Say Virtual Recruiting Will Continue Post-Pandemic

In addition to a growing number of sales reps working remotely permanently, there’s also a huge trend where companies have turned to 100% virtual-based recruiting to find quality candidates. 

More than 4 out 5 talent professionals believe virtual recruiting will continue after COVID, and 70% believe it will become the new norm. 

“Companies have dabbled with video interviewing and remote assessments in the past, but the lockdown realities of COVID-19 have sparked them to create an end-to-end virtual recruiting process for the first time,” explains Gregory Lewis of LinkedIn. “And they’re both noting and embracing the cost and time savings that that change has brought with it.”

Although traditional face-to-face interactions during recruiting will likely rise as COVID vaccines are distributed and the overall situation stabilizes, it’s clear that developing a virtual recruiting strategy is advantageous and something that’s definitely worth your attention. 

4. 77% of Hiring Experts Say Diversity is Essential to the Future of Recruiting

Besides the pandemic, several other topics have shaken the headlines, and the push toward racial equality has gained massive momentum. While many companies have embraced diversity for some time, it should be taken to a whole new level in 2021. 

More than three-quarters (77%) of talent professionals say diversity is “very important” to recruiting not just in 2021, but to the future of recruiting. 

And as Gregory Lewis adds, “Diversity is not a feel-good ‘initiative’, but a business-critical imperative — one that recruiting can lead.” 

Just look at the numbers. 

Businesses that rank below-average in their diversity scores only generate an average innovation revenue of 26%. But those with above-average diversity scores generate an average innovation revenue of 45%.

Further, a separate study found that diverse teams make smarter decisions 87% of the time — largely because of the insights that stem from different perspectives and experiences. 

This isn’t to say that you should make diverse hires just for the sake of being diverse and blindly jump on the bandwagon. But the data clearly shows that salesperson diversity can have a positive impact, both financially and culturally. 

And with a virtual framework for recruiting and working remotely already in place for many businesses where you can reach sales candidates all around the world, this shouldn’t be all that difficult of a transition to make. 

5. 44% of Companies Currently Use AI to Find Top Salespeople 

AI has spread its tentacles to multiple areas of HR and has a plethora of applications. One of which is identifying top tier sales candidates. 

At the start of 2021, 44% of companies already used AI for recruiting to find the best salespeople, and beyond that, 40% use AI for screening and assessing candidates throughout the process. 

This chart shows the details. 

Many sales hiring managers are familiar with applicant tracking systems and use them in some capacity to filter through the sales candidate pool, but AI takes things to a whole new level. With it, you can zero in on an extremely targeted segment of candidates, narrowing it down to the small handful that meet key criteria and making the overall process much more efficient. 

It’s also helpful for reducing bias with hiring and creating a level of objectivity that up until this point has been impossible. So, this is definitely a type of technology worth your attention in 2021. 

Gearing Your Sales Hiring Up For Success

By nature, sales hiring is always evolving. But you could argue that it’s moving at a faster rate than ever before. These insightful stats should crystallize your approach in 2021 and help you attract the best and brightest

If you’re looking for a top of the line tool to hire better sales talent, faster, check out HireDNA. It uses cutting-edge technology that analyzes candidates based on 20 key data points and 21 core selling competencies to help you find the perfect fit. 

The Dos and Don’ts of Headhunting Next Level Sales Reps

The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, applies to many aspects of business, including sales rep performance. Under this principle, roughly 80% of salespeople will account for 20% of sales, and the other 20% of salespeople will account for 80% of sales. 

And it’s the latter — the elite, top performers — you want to focus on hiring. One of best ways to find these next level sales reps is with “headhunting” where you proactively target a handful of hyper-qualified individuals who you believe would be major assets to your company. 

Here’s an overview of how headhunting works and actionable tips on how to implement it into your hiring process. 

What’s the Difference Between Regular Recruiting and Headhunting?

“Recruiters advertise jobs and wait to be contacted by potential candidates, or approach a wide network of potential candidates,” explains WikiJob. “Headhunters approach a select few candidates, and only the ones that fit the brief.” 

These are highly skilled sales reps, the exclusive candidates that, if hired, could be potential game-changers for your company. As you might imagine, these salespeople are in high demand and often already employed, which means they have a ton of leverage. 

Therefore, you need to go after them, tailoring your approach to capture their attention and effectively differentiating your brand from the competition. 

What to Do When Headhunting Sales Reps

First, you need to be ultra specific when narrowing down the candidates you want to reach out to. By nature, headhunting goes after the best of the best, so it’s essential that you only contact individuals that meet the right criteria. 

This graphic from SOCO Sales Training serves as a good starting point for traits to look for. 

Also, note that possessing amazing selling skills that are transferable to the position is often better than going after reps with a lot of industry/product experience — something I discussed in detail in this blog post

Next, it’s essential to give a salesperson enough incentive to realistically entertain your offer. And if they’re currently employed, it needs to clear that joining your company would be a legitimate “come up.” Better pay, more benefits, clear cut advancement opportunities, and an amazing company culture are all potential areas to focus on. 

To better understand the reasons why elite sales reps are attracted to new companies, check out this graph from PayScale

Finally, find the right balance between persistence and pushiness. Fittingly, headhunting elite sales reps is a lot like selling where you’ll naturally encounter rejection. 

Therefore, you’ll want to follow-up with these candidates to stay on their radar and remind them of the benefits of joining your team. However, you don’t want to be a pest because that’s going to reflect poorly on your company culture. 

What Not to Do When Headhunting Sales Reps

I think one of the biggest mistakes businesses make when headhunting is making their offer all about the money. Is earning a handsome salary — and for sales reps that are already employed a larger salary — important? 

Sure. Increased pay is the third biggest thing that attracts salespeople to a new organization. 

But it’s not the only thing to focus on. Over a quarter of people (27%) seek the opportunity to do more meaningful work, and 16% seek increased responsibilities — both of which are more important than money. So, you never just want to make it a cash grab. 

Rather, you should look at the big picture and articulate the full range of benefits to make the position more desirable. 

Something else to avoid is reaching out to sales candidates prematurely without doing adequate research on their skills and background. Oftentimes, someone looks great initially and seems to check all of the boxes. Maybe, for instance, they’ve worked for a Fortune 500 company and have over 10 years of experience in your industry. 

But when you dig a little deeper, there are chinks in their armor. Perhaps they’re hyper-aggressive and lack listening skills, or they’re so confident in their skills that they’re unwilling to accept feedback. Or maybe, they have a history of jumping ship and lack loyalty. 

The specifics can vary, but you’ll want to take a close-up look at what they’re like before investing the time and resources into acquiring them. Digging through their LinkedIn account is usually a good place to start.

Besides that, you’ll want to avoid approaching any candidates that have non-compete agreements in place with their current employer. “Because no-poaching agreements eliminate competition, the government generally considers them to violate anti-trust laws,” writes Alison Doyle of The Balance Careers

If you violate one of these agreements, even unknowingly, it can potentially lead to costly litigation. While this won’t be an issue if you’re headhunting someone who isn’t currently employed, it’s definitely something to be aware of if you’re going after a sales rep who is. 

Hiring the Best of the Best

You can’t expect A+ salespeople to come to you. Often, you need to go to them. 

That’s why taking a conventional recruiting approach where you simply put up a job ad can lead to subpar results. At the end of the day, the true rockstars don’t usually need to spend time perusing job boards and applying to positions. They’ve got enough talent that they can pick and choose the companies they want to work for. 

Headhunting, when done correctly, creates a framework that allows you to get in touch with the best of the best and provide them with the right incentive to choose your business over your competitors.  

To learn more about sourcing top talent while filling open positions faster, check out HireDNA. It’s a platform that utilizes cutting-edge technology like science-based assessments and intelligent matching to find ultra qualified sales candidates to fill your talent pipeline. 

HireDNA has been proven to lower hiring mistakes by 96%, and 92% of candidates found through it go on to reach the top half of the salesforce within a year. 

Boost Your Sales Candidate Application Rate By 34% with This Simple Tactic

Recruiting talented salespeople has been and continues to be a struggle for many of today’s businesses, especially smaller ones. In fact, nearly two-thirds (64.2%) of small businesses reported having difficulty attracting qualified talent in 2019 — a trend most experts predict will continue in the 2020s. 

Fortunately, there’s a tactic — a hack, if you will — that can boost your sales candidate application rate by a staggering 34%. And it’s incredibly simple. 

Use video. 

A Potential Game Changer

Video has already proven to be huge for marketing. 89% of companies that use video say it’s increased traffic to their site, and 83% say it’s aided in their lead generation. And it’s easy to see why, considering “66% of consumers prefer watching a video to reading about a product.”

To provide a bit more perspective on the popularity of video, just look at how big YouTube has become. It went from having 1.35 billion users in 2016 (a respectable number) to 1.86 billion in 2021

Besides just being useful for marketing, video can be a potential game changer for recruiting as well. Rather than sticking with the same old technique of creating an entirely text-based job ad, brands can benefit greatly from incorporating a video. 

In fact, “the candidate application rate goes up by 34% when a job post includes a video,” explains Ivana Vojinovic of SmallBizGenius

So, if you’re looking to maximize the number of qualified sales candidates you receive when posting a job ad, including a video is a great way to do it. 

Why Sales Candidate Are So Receptive to Video

There are three main reasons why video is such an amazing aid for sales recruiting.

  1. Video is a Natural Attention Grabber

Just put yourself in the shoes of a sales candidate. You’re browsing through a variety of job ads with most containing the usual information — a job description, required skills, day-to-day tasks, and so on. They all sort of blend together, but nothing stands out in particular.

Then, you come across a job ad with a video featuring actual company leaders and team members explaining the ins and outs of the position. You get a feel for their personalities and a sense for what the overall company culture is like. In short, the job ad brings the position to life and allows you to engage in a way that simply isn’t possible using only text. 

In turn, your interest level would likely rise, and you’d feel much more compelled to apply with that company.

  1. Video Increases Sales Candidate Engagement

A study by job description software company Ongig found that, on average, candidates spent 55 seconds viewing a traditional text job ad. But when candidates looked at a job ad with a video (even without actually viewing it), they spent 2 minutes and 54 seconds on the ad. And when they watched the video, that number spiked all the way to 5 minutes and 23 seconds — a 487% engagement increase! 

The numbers speak for themselves, and this massive increase in engagement ultimately leads to more qualified sales candidates applying, which quickly beefs up the size of your candidate pool. 

  1. Video Gives Sales Candidates a Full Rundown

Finally, video is the perfect medium for conveying a lot of information into just a few minutes. If you’re only using text, it may take several paragraphs to cover everything you need, and it can be arduous for candidates to read. But with video, you can pack everything you need into an easily digestible format.

“In a job ad video, include footage of the office, workspace, how employees interact and events that happen at the organization, says career and workplace expert Heather R. Huhman in Entrepreneur. “Such footage will help prospective candidates determine if the employer provides an environment that matches their work style.” 

Not only should it help you bring in more candidates, it should also improve the overall quality because it naturally filters out those that aren’t a great fit culturally. 

How Long Should a Video Be?

One of the biggest questions companies have is how long they should make a video for a sales candidate job ad. While every situation is different, Huhman points out that the average length of videos is around 4 minutes and 20 seconds. This tends to be the sweet spot where you can get your message across without overwhelming sales candidates with extraneous details. 

Or as Huhman puts it, “when creating a video job ad, make it long enough to explain the most important information, yet short enough so the job seeker won’t lose interest.”

A Real-Life Example

Finally, let me leave you with a real-life example of a sales candidate video job ad. It’s from display advertising company ReTargeter, and it’s for an inside sales representative. 

This should hopefully provide you with some ideas and inspiration to get you started. 

Maximizing Your Sales Candidate Pool with Video

A big part of effectively recruiting quality sales candidates is simply grabbing their attention and getting them to engage with your job ad. But with all of the competition out there, this is often easier said than done. That’s why it’s important to be creative and create job ads that truly stand out. 

Incorporating video is hands down one of the best ways to accomplish this, and it can boost your sales candidate application rate by as much as 34%. So, this is definitely a medium worth experimenting with when attempting to fill your next sales position. 

And if you’re looking for a cutting-edge tool to hire better sales talent faster, check out HireDNA. It uses intelligent matching and science-based assessments to find the best of the best salespeople using data, and 92% of those recommended through HireDNA climb to the top of their sales team within their first year.