What 50,000 Customers Have Taught Us About Sales

Pipedrive 50,000 Customers

Pipedrive recently reached a new milestone – 50,000 paying customers. That means 50,000 companies, non-profits or solopreneurs in more than 140 countries have picked our product amongst the dozens of available CRM solutions. We feel indescribably proud, happy and humbled to serve you, and get a kick out of every closed deal and conversion rate improvement we’ve contributed to. Thank you 50,000 times!

Usually, this would be an occasion to boast about the top brands using Pipedrive, the revenues generated by our users, the 240-strong team we’ve built (we’re hiring, by the way), the nearly 100 integration partners, the 14 languages our app is available in, or the nifty features we’ve been working on. But that wouldn’t be helpful information to very many people, and would feel too much like stroking our own ego.

Instead, we took all of the sales metadata our 50,000 customers generated last year and dug into it to see whether we could learn anything new about sales around the world.

What we found is quite fascinating. It often goes against perceived wisdom, destroys some well-regarded stereotypes and confirms that the world of sales is complex, multi-faceted and always surprising.

Is manufacturing sexy again?

Conversion tells us how many of the deals you worked on turned into paying customers. This is called close rate. 

Conversion Rate by Industry

Looking at this metric in isolation, tech startups and real estate companies have had a pretty hard time in sales. When you’re only converting half as many prospects as the average across all industries, you’ve got to have grit to persist and keep on going.

The manufacturing industry lives on the other extreme of the scale. At over twice the average conversion rate across all industries, it seems like a great business to be in. Perhaps this takes place because most of the manufacturing business is inbound. (If you know the sector well, let us know in the comments).Manufacturing Industry by Conversion Rate

The differences in conversion are not only steep in different verticals, but also in different countries. Comparing the performance by country reveals that manufacturing sector sales are notably harder in some countries than in others. The best converters in the industry are the Singaporeans, Spanish, and South Africans. Germany, with its proud historical manufacturing roots, comes in last. Initially, we thought this could be explained by the very high competition in the mature and highly established sector. However, when we look at Great Britain, another traditional manufacturing great that now has an above average conversion rate, our argument falls apart.

Explaining Singapore’s amazing stats

Looking at these statistics it becomes clear that Singapore is an obvious outlier, but then it is a unique proposition. A small, prosperous nation state that many people visit for the express purpose of shopping. This explains why they are so quick to convert, as well as their unique approach to using Pipedrive. We debated whether their singularity means they should not be compared to other countries, but feel it’s interesting enough to leave in. Just bear the situation in mind when their stats come up again later on.
Conversion Rate by Country

Americans are not the world’s best closers

While Americans are often cast as the best salespeople in the world in popular culture, the statistics no longer support this claim. On the overall country comparison level, South African salespeople come out as the best converters. A South African colleague suggested it’s because people are pushed to be entrepreneurial, leading them to either run or work for small businesses to make a living. Having few public safety nets forces people to become smart, leading to great sales techniques, persistence and rigor. However, one needs to keep in mind that different countries will have different mixes in verticals and that, despite a few exceptions, more developed countries will have lower conversion rates, due to increased competition.

Work gets real in real estate

Activities completed per won deal tells us how hard you need to work on any one deal to turn it into a success. We get this figure by counting up all the phone calls, emails, meetings and presentations you made in a given time period and dividing it up by the number of won deals during the same time. Why do we count up the activities? It’s because in sales you cannot control results, only your activities.

Activities per Won Deal by Industry

Topping the chart here is the real estate sector. However, this metric isn’t where you want to be topping the charts. In fact, salespeople need to work nearly three times as much to win a deal in real estate. Of course, buying property is a big decision for most people, which explains this statistic.

On the other end, retail and manufacturing are relatively low-touch industries where you need (under) quarter as many activities for every closed deal compared to real estate.

Activities per Won Deal: Real Estate

Looking at the country comparison in real estate sales, we see the usual suspects – South Africans – as the fourth hardest working salespeople. The table is topped by salespeople from Estonia, Singapore, and Sweden, needing to complete multiple times as many activities to win a deal compared to peers in New Zealand or Finland.

Activities per Won Deal by Country
What’s interesting in the overall country level comparison, is that the highly active Spanish and Singaporean salespeople from the real estate sector don’t appear to affect the average activity levels of those countries by very much. Instead, they appear in the bottom five of the activity level list. The exact opposite is true for Russian salespeople. While they have the lowest activity level in the real estate sector, they come out fourth most active in the overall list after Indian, Chilean and Mexican salespeople.

Singaporeans are the fastest of the fast

Sales velocity is a metric that tells us how long the sales cycle is – i.e. how many days it takes for a prospect to become a customer end-to-end. While trade companies seem to be moving fastest at 36 days – 13 days quicker than the average – the real estate sector again comes up on the difficult end.

Velocity vs. Conversion Rate

Singaporean salespeople have the shortest sales cycles at 28 days across all sectors. Perhaps surprisingly, the salespeople in the USA take the longest to take get to a “yes”. However, we can put this down to the US salespeople working in a tough sales environment. There’s lots of competition for attention, which means that buyers have lots of choice and leverage. In turn, the sales cycles get longer.

Sales Velocity by Country

The fastest and most efficient sales country

Singaporean salespeople seem to have it all. Above average conversion rate, the shortest sales cycle, and the second fewest activities needed to close a deal. When we dug in deeper into the industries of Singapore, no real surprises presented themselves. They’re the fastest gun in the world even in fastest of industries – the trade sector.

Trade Sector Sales Velocity

What the data on 50k companies tells us about meaningful actions and results

What we’ve seen is that conversion rate, sales velocity and activity levels vary extensively from industry to industry, and country to country. That said, any sales statistic should always simply be a guideline to improvement not an end in itself. Sales success is achieved through a focus on meaningful actions that drive pipeline performance, not results. Meaningful actions are ones that put new deals into the pipeline or drive current ones forward. A focus on these types of activities is the key to improving your KPIs.

If you figure out your baseline conversion rate, you can do the math to understand how many phone calls, emails and proposals it takes to make one sale. Now that you have those action metrics, you know exactly what you need to focus on – hitting them consistently.

Happy closing.

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Timo Rein

CEO and Co-Founder of Pipedrive

  • ctw123

    Awesome! Congrats!

  • Diego Wagner

    Great post, it’s cool to see Brazil in a good place when it comes to conversion rate and activities per won deal!

    • Vinicius Hoffmann Bernardes

      And achieving that with our economic the way it is now it’s impressive.

    • Igor Inocima

      Conversion rate I think is somehow accurate, but activities per won deal I’d take with a grain of salt.

      I see some of my salespeople not inputting a lot of activities that they do, such as instant messaging their clients on their cellphones. Because there’s no easy way to integrate those.

      Also while that is a pretty common Sales approach here, I know that it’s not the case in other countries.

  • Catapult Software

    I think it comes down to how the tool is used. For example, I do not put a value in a prospect until I have raised a proposal… where as colleagues may create a ‘fantasy pipeline’ of $100k deals because it feels like they ‘could be’.

    Generalising ‘Tech Startups’ as an industry is another example. are they selling a $100 widget or a $1m project? how can you generalise about the length of sales cycle and activity to close a deal?

    I love data but I think there are too many factors here to draw meaningful conclusions. Deciding ‘who the best closers are’ could be a symptom of sample size and how the tools are being used.

    • Ott Ilves

      Hey Catapult – thanks for chiming in!

      Some of the data is definitely down to how the tool is used, no doubt. We tried to stay away from far-reaching conclusions, instead focusing on interesting trends that that data suggests. As to sample size questions, we made sure they were statistically meaningful. However, you’re certainly right in pointing out that there are pockets within industries that use the tool completely differently from one another. Perhaps a point to consider is that while there are several different ways for using the tool, the trends we saw in the different industries and countries were strong, leading us to including them in the post. Hope this clarifies some of our thinking.

      Ott from Pipedrive

      • Eugen Gassmann

        Hi Ott,

        Looking at the data that is already generated is a great thing to do. Doing it with integrity is something anybody would expect.

        Your analysis revealed that you can not compare segments like for like (even if some of the comparisons are quite striking). But if you break it down by segment, some of the analysis can be quite revealing.
        Are you willing to share some more of the data?

        E.g. I am only interested in manufacturing- so I would like to see all the graphs you produced just for manufacturing instead of being thrown in together with retail and real estate….

        Is it possible to obtain the data set?

        Thanks,

        Eugen

        • Ott Ilves

          Hi Eugen,

          Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

          Going deeper into this data is in our plans 😉 Hopefully we’ll soon be writing posts on the specific industries – including manufacturing – displaying more granular data and graphs than currently. Regarding obtaining the data sets, I hope you can understand that we can’t share the data sets with anyone outside our company.

          Ott

          • Hi Ott,
            Can I suggest what would be more useful (this may already be on your road map) is integration with the tool. Google Analytics have a benchmarking feature inside the tool, as do New Relic which is interesting. Knowing if my data is above or below trend would be insightful.
            For my industry, location/country is irrelevant. It might be for say real estate, but many industries compete globally or regionally. Same with the industry breakdown, it’s too broad. For example I might be consulting, a tech startup or creative agency. I think getting this categorisation right would be critical to building up a good benchmark – eg: size of sales team, experience, size of deal, type of deal (ongoing vs one off) etc. Making pretty graphs is great, but as several people have pointed out it kind of depends on how you cut the data. If you could use that data to provide truly valuable insights and comparisons, that would make your app even more useful and get to the next 50k even faster!

  • Crater Depp

    Isn’t this breach of my sales data? Why are they tracking my (anyone’s) conversion rates?

    • Ott Ilves

      Hi Crater!

      This data is completely anonymized metadata, which essentially means it’s data about data, logged by our infrastructure. We would never look into our customers accounts without explicit permission.

      Ott from Pipedrive

  • Jason

    How the tool is used for sure. It’s fun to see what it says and I know the goal of a post like this is to generate engagement – you win!
    I like the comment below about “fantasy pipeline” you gotta love the guy with “1million in this years pipeline” and hasn’t closed a sale in 6mo.
    Also, a credit to Pipedrive over others also means the data is hard to interpret. I can literally change just about anything I wanted in pipedrive to fit my needs. Think about “won” for instance, some tag “won” as soon as they get a verbal and it might be weeks before they ink it or others might not call it won till the invoice is paid.

  • Phil Ren

    Can you share how many Chinese users are among the 50,000 customers?

    • Ott Ilves

      Hi Phil,

      While I can’t share any exact figures, what I can say is that the user-figure is in the thousands.

      Best,
      Ott

      • Phil Ren

        This is amazing, considering the language gap. We do collaboration suite in China (equivalent to Slack+Trello). I am thinking it would be a good news for them when we come to Zapier platform soon.

  • Catalin Parascan

    Romania is not there?

    • Marius Achim

      Daca suntem doar noi 2, nu :))

      • Grigore Stamatescu

        Trei 😀

  • Daniel Berni

    Our company use Pipedrive from Brazil also and it’s a nice software. we like it. It should be more popular here

  • Guven Acik

    Thanks it is awesome.

  • Eliel

    superupper great post Pipedrive!! Thanks to all the community of users and Pipedrive to share this important information for sales sector.

  • Kelly

    Dear Mr. Rein, What do your statistics say about design firms, where creativity and design plays a large role in timing?

  • Chris Yager

    You may also find that under the Manufacturing group that pipedrive is being used for logistics. My company uses pipedrive to track logistics after our online sales have converted. Being that pipedrive works so well with zapier, we can automatically push sales to pipedrive, and do automated things as we move a sale through each phase of our logistics chain. I also have recommended other manufacturing small business to pipedrive.

    We have employees all over the country that do their parts of the logisitcs process, pipedrive allows us to keep everything in one place, tracked in one place, and allows me to be anywhere on the planet and still oversee everything 🙂

    • Ott Ilves

      Hi Chris,

      That’s great insight about logistics – thank you for that!

      I’m also glad to hear your process is working well for you – well done and keep it up!

    • Hey, Chris,

      How are you tracking your execution during the production phase? Maybe check what we’re doing at Prodsmart (http://www.prodsmart.com) and drop us a line.

      Thanks!

  • Ana Filipa Gaspar

    Supper cool insights 😉

  • Challenge accepted! We understand the sector at Prodsmart, where we provide real time process tracking for production lines and job shops (http://www.prodsmart.com). We’re also Pipedrive proud users for many years now! 😀

    Manufacturing companies don’t usually acquire many new customers frequently. They renew contracts on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis with already existing customers. This probably explains the high conversion rate. Also, being Kanban a concept that started with manufacturing (Toyota), it’s natural to use Pipedrive for some creative uses (like the logistics example that Chris Yager described), which influence the conversion rates (on the logistics case, every deal is won by default).

    Hope it helps! 🙂

  • Leland

    We totally are not using the “won” / “lost” buttons in our sales flow… sorry for breaking your chart Pipedrive team. 😉

  • excellent job. thanks!!

  • Rene Rannamägi

    Hey, what kind of services you have included in IT services? Does software testing goes under Software development or IT services. Also can I see which category pipedrive has put our company FOB Solutions OÜ?

  • Kermo

    Great article, thanks!
    I think one of the reasons why Singapore is in the lead is that the country is very innovative and open to new ideas. They have several start-up programs inviting people to do business. I have seen some applications they have launched. City planning department is using world’s top GIS solution taking advantage of 3D city planning tools. They spend on nice-to-have features too, not only need-to-have. It’s the kind of mind set that is open to challenges

  • clement

    Hi ! How many users in France?