Salespeople are the primary divers of a company's revenue, but that isn't all they do for their company. Great salespeople are also the face of the brand, inspiring trust in customers and contributing heavily to a company's culture. But the number of salespeople that achieve quota month after month and provide these additional benefits make up less than 15% of the sales population. With this limited pool of top talent, it is essential that when a company has found one of these top performers they keep them. However. compensation Resources, Inc found that sales people voluntarily leave their positions at a rate far above any other type of employee.
Having a revolving door on your sales team is expensive, some studies estimating the cost to replace a sales person at over $70,000. It also negatively impacts the sales team and the culture of the company.
For sales leaders and C-level executives that have established aggressive revenue goals, understanding why your sales people leave is critical. Salespeople leave a company for a reason and understanding why they leave can set the foundation for building a sales team that hits your number. But the reason they leave may surprise you.
Here are the top 5 reasons great sales people leave a company:
1. Lack of confidence in sales leaders.
The number one reason salespeople leave a company is due to issues with management. Top sales people will always struggle with sales managers who demand performance but fail to act in a way that supports that demand. Lack of ongoing training and effective coaching, excessive activity management, and the failure to weed out marginal performers causes salespeople to lose trust in their manager's ability to help them achieve their goals. If that is coupled with an un-unified vision from senior company leadership this lack of trust can morph into concern regarding the stability and future of a company. Top sales people want to be a member of a winning team, if leadership can't deliver that your top people will start looking elsewhere.
2. Too much time spent on non sales activities.
It is estimated that on average sales people spend only 41% of their time selling. That means almost 60% of their time is spend working on non-revenue generating activities such as internal meetings, searching for missing client data and other administrative tasks. Sales people want to sell. If they aren't receiving adequate administrative support, the best salespeople are going to start looking for a new company that can provide the necessary support that allows them to excel at their job.
3. Lack of recognition.
We all like to feel wanted. But compared to other employees, personal recognition is much more important to salespeople. They want to be recognized and appreciated by their peers, management and company leadership. Salespeople that do not feel valued by their employer are 11% less likely to remain at their company. If you aren't recognizing the contribution of our top sales people, you are at risk of them looking for a new home where they feel valued.
4. Lack of long term incentives.
What are you providing your sales team that will make them want to stay for the long haul? Often sales people will stay with an employer because of the prospect of promotion opportunities or the potential to take over a larger territory, or the prospect of annual bonus or higher commission rates. Great sales people want to see that their is opportunity for growth in the future as well as getting rewarded for their performance now. If your top performers can see a path to advance their career they will be more likely to stay with your company rather than engaging in negotiations with your competitor.
So here is the surprise, the issue top sales people have with compensation isn't always that there isn't enough of it. Sudden or frequent changes in compensation plans, plans that punish salespeople for closing large deals, unrealistic quota assignments, and an overly complex compensation plan all factor in to a salesperson's choice to stay or to leave. A well thought out compensation plan should be easy for a sales person to understand and apply, motivate them to sell more and be stable. How you administer your compensation plan can go a long way to building or decaying trust with your top sales people.
The best sales leaders know that a sales force that is unable to retain top talent will lead to missed revenue targets. To improve your retention rate, listen to you sales people. Try to see things from their point of view and work with them to build a company that your best producers want to stay at.