Sales executives forecast healthier growth for the remainder of 2011, according to our most recent sales survey. More than 105 sales leaders provided their sales force expectations for 2011 as reported after the close of the first quarter in the just published 2011—1st Quarter Sales Update Survey.

Survey participants predict the U.S. economy will grow at 3%; their industry sector will grow at 5%; and their own company sales division will grow at 9% for the 2011 fiscal year. A projected median 9% growth for the whole of 2011 is a remarkable turnaround in sentiment from the depth of the recession. Prior to the recession, companies anticipated their annual growth at 10%, suggesting that recessionary concerns are in full retreat and growth optimism is returning. However, this 9% expected growth will come mostly from sales productivity improvement since the survey participants only expect to add new staffing of 3%. “Improving Sales Productivity” was the highest rated sales initiative for 2011.

The survey findings also indicate that sales forces will see increased incentive payments in 2011 as compared to 2010. Nearly 61% report a rise in incentive payments for 2011. Twenty-five percent will see growth of 1% to 4% in incentive pay; and another 26% will see an increase between 5% and 9% in incentive payments. The “freeze” on base salary increases looks over. And, incentive compensation payments are returning to their pre-recession progress.

Learn more about Alexander Group’s Sales Compensation practice.