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The State of Field Sales in 2020 (Plus Outside Sales Statistics)

outside sales statistics
Sales Operations

Today, companies of all shapes and sizes still lack the technology needed to support their outside sales teams effectively. Without the right tools, these teams are suffering. 

To gain insight into just how badly that suffering is among different companies, Spotio put together a survey, the findings from which paint a clear picture of where companies are lacking and how they need to improve.

This article will cover inside vs. outside sales CRMs; the biggest challenges for outside sales reps, their leaders, and managers; time management; quota attainment; and outside sales technology.

Companies in the Survey

This survey gathered responses from over 250 B2B outside sales leaders and professionals across SMB, Mid-Market, and Enterprise level corporations.

  • For the sake of this survey, SMB is defined as those which generate an estimated annual revenue between $0 and $10 million.
  • Mid-market enterprises are those which generate an estimated annual revenue between $10 and $100 million.
  • Enterprise-level corporations are those which generate an estimated annual revenue of over $100 million. 

Our findings on field sales, its challenges, and solutions are summarized in this infographic. Keep reading to find outside sales statistics and details on what our survey revealed.

state of field sales

Inside Sales CRMs for Outside Sales Teams

There’s no one solution when it comes to CRMs. Field sales has vastly different needs than your inside sales team.

Based on our findings, inside sales CRMs are not well suited for outside sales teams because Inside sales teams and outside sales teams have different needs. 

Using the wrong technology can have adverse effects on results. Inside sales CRMs increases costs and decrease productivity of outside sales teams — not because the technology isn’t good, but because it’s not designed with an outside sales rep’s use case in mind.  

The right CRM adoption can: 

  • Increase sales by an average of 29%
  • Increase productivity by upwards of 34%
  • Improve forecast accuracy by 42% 

Many SMBs have no CRM in place, and for those that do, many are still using inside sales CRM’s to try and manage their outside sales teams.  

When it comes to industry-specific CRMs for mid-market companies, Salesforce is the leading choice, but specialized CRMs for specific industries are becoming increasingly popular. In spite of that, many mid-market companies still lack a CRM. 

For enterprise-level companies, Salesforce has the most significant penetration.

CRM Statistics


  • 59% of SMB companies in the survey stated that they don’t have a current CRM at all. Another 25% have some other form of CRM, but not necessarily a current one. 
  • Of the surveyed companies, 16% use Salesforce, another 13% use Microsoft Dynamics, and 6% use Hubspot and Zoho, respectively. 


  • For Mid-market companies, 20% use Salesforce as their current CRM. 
  • 11% use Microsoft Dynamics. 3% rely on Hubspot, with only 1% using Oracle. 
  • Another 12% use other CRMs or don’t have one at all. 


  • 28% of enterprise-level companies use Salesforce. 
  • 12% use Microsoft Dynamics.
  • 1% use Oracle.
  • Another 5% say they use some other CRM. 
  • 18% say they don’t have one at all.  

One should note that those Enterprise-level companies that don’t have a CRM use an ERP system instead, a system which has other field sales tracking and mapping capabilities. 

Biggest Challenges in Field Sales

Many challenges are facing each member of the sales staff, not just those on the outside sales team. Understanding these challenges is essential in determining the best solution for them.

RELATED: Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales: Which Is Best for You?

Outside sales reps

For outside sales reps, five key challenges are most problematic. In order of importance, outside sales reps state that:

  • The biggest challenge they have is building a pipeline of quality leads.
  • The second challenge is navigating a complex sales process.
  • The third most significant challenge is communicating effectively with their team.
  • The fourth is the challenge of administrative burdens, with too many steps involved in closing the deal.
  • The fifth challenge is quality assurance for sales managers.

Sales leaders

Sales leaders have five key challenges, as well. In order of importance, outside sales leaders state that:

  • The biggest challenge they have to overcome is offering sales rep onboarding, training, and turnover.
  • The second biggest challenge is providing their reps with management support.
  • The third challenge is visibility, having active visibility into the field activities of their outside sales team.
  • The fourth is being able to provide their reps with efficient tools that are customized and designed with outside sales staff in mind.
  • The fifth challenge is getting accurate data from reps in the CRM.


Of course, managers also have to contend with challenges. The biggest issue they have is with inaccurate data

Managers require accurate data to make strategic business decisions and efficiently delegate things like territorial assignments, leads, and prospects.

Unfortunately, statistics paint a bleak picture:

  • 79% of all unqualified leads never make it to the final sale.
  • 70% of data lose relevance or integrity annually, which means without accurate data, anything managers have become inaccurate quickly.
  • 91% of data entered into internal databases are incomplete, making it much harder for staff to pursue leads.

This necessitates tools and the right platform for better data, better accuracy, and better closing ratios.

Time Management

Another big issue for effective field sales reps is time management. Over half of a rep’s time is spent planning and managing their sales, not prospecting for their potential leads or customers. 

This means outside sales staff are focused too much on manual tasks and too little on selling, which is their primary job. 

RELATED: Why the Best Salespeople Are Phenomenal Project Managers

Of their time selling:

  • 14% of the time spent by sales reps is on prospecting.
  • 13% of the time spent by sales reps is on managing existing accounts.
  • 13% of the time spent by sales reps is on connecting with customers.

Of their time not selling:

  • 13% of the time spent by sales reps is on administrative tasks.
  • 13% of the time spent by sales reps is on researching prospects.
  • 13% of the time spent by sales reps is on driving.
  • 13% of the time spent by sales reps is on manually entering data.
  • 1% of the time spent by sales reps is on planning and preparing.
  • 1% of the time spent by sales reps is on prioritizing leads.

All of this paints a bleak picture about time management and indicates that at all levels of business, outside sales reps could make much better use of their time if they had the right tools and platforms to do it. 

Quota Attainment

Not only is time mismanaged, but quotas for outside sales teams are consistently missed. 

This survey divided the sales teams into three groups:

  1. Low performers: reps who achieve between 0% and 25% of their quota
  2. Medium performers: reps who achieve between 26% and 75% of their quota
  3. High performers: reps who achieve between 76% of their quota or higher

For SMBs:

  • 41% of their staff fell under the category of low performers
  • 45% of their staff fell under the category of medium performers
  • And only 14% of their staff fell under the category of high performers

For Mid-Markets:

  • 20% of their staff fell under the category of low performers
  • 69% of their staff fell under the category of medium performers
  • And only 11% of their staff fell under the category of high performers

For Enterprises:

  • 29% of their staff fell under the category of low performers
  • 56% of their staff fell under the category of medium performers
  • And only 15% of their staff fell under the category of high performers

These statistics indicate that SMB’s have the highest percentage of reps in the “low” category of performance. When combined with medium performers, 86% of their staff are failing to meet just 75% of their quotas regularly.

Unfortunately, this high figure is bested by a combined 89% for mid-market companies. 

For enterprise-level companies, the combined figure is 85%. 

Businesses of all sizes are failing to meet quotas and need significant improvement. 

Outside Sales Enablement/Technology

That said, improvement can be found with better outside sales enablement and technology

  • Outside sales reps say their most significant need is better access to targeted prospects. 
  • Outside sales managers say their biggest need is to provide their reps with tools and software to enable them to be as successful as possible in the field. 
  • Outside sales executives echo the same primary need as managers, with 42% of executives noting that software and tools need to be provided to their reps. 

All sales teams, in effect, need better technology. At all levels of staff, the most significant need is the same: access to better leads by way of tools that enable reps to do their jobs with a higher level of success. 

Key Takeaways

▶ SMBs, mid-market companies, and enterprise-level corporations all have a statistically significant percentage that has no CRM at all to manage their outside sales teams.

▶ Outside sales teams have poor time management habits, but with the right tools and CRMs, they could improve significantly, dedicating more time to revenue-generating tasks rather than non-revenue tasks.

▶ As teams struggle consistently to achieve their quotas, companies at all levels need to integrate technology like CRMs to improve the performance of their staff regularly. It is time to make quota attainment a consistent success, rather than a constant failure.

State of Field Sales

Trey is SPOTIO's Founder & CEO, a mobile-first solution for outside sales teams to eliminate guesswork, and focus on the highest impact activity.Trey started out in home improvement and construction and it was this experience prospecting in the field where he uncovered the lack of technology available specifically for a field sales rep. Fast forward 6 years, and now SPOTIO is a full-fledged field sales software platform for outside sales teams.