Why do sales reps leave what might seem like great positions? Sales reps don’t just think in “dollars to doughnuts” terms. There’s quality of life, skill development, corporate culture, market conditions, and organizational support to consider, too. It’s not about the doughnuts, but it’s not just about dollars, either. These are the pain points I hear from reps every single day:
Reps don’t feel management is loyal to them and their desire to do their job professionally and consistently.
Sales reps leave when they don’t feel respected. If a rep only hears the negatives from management, it feels like a rep’s job is just to make sure everyone else gets a paycheck. The don’t feel respected. It’s kind of like being treated like a maid – “you do your thing while WE do the important stuff.”
What to do: Make recognition frequent, specific, and personal. Ask them for their take on market conditions, and respond to their requests for collateral and tools as promptly as is reasonably possible. If they have to wait for resources or data, tell them when they can expect them, and then deliver on time.
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You don’t have an effective sales strategy.
Sales reps leave when they don’t have a clear story to tell, and a clear plan to close business. Sales strategy shouldn’t be exclusively developed at the rep level. The organization should have a short and long-term sales strategy that helps the rep position their offering effectively in the market. Without it, they’re not acting, they’re reacting to the demands of potential clients.
What to do: even in a small organization, sales strategy is key. If you’re not a sales expert, hire in a consultant to help you develop and implement an effective plan at least once a year. Reps will need to participate in consistent professional development to keep the plan on track, and sales won’t be about luck anymore.
For more about how reps can “buy in” with their prospects and close more business, click here.
Quota is a moving target.
Raising quota for reps at the same job level more than 15% or more than once a year is confusing at best, and insulting at worst. If management keeps moving the goalposts, it feels like Lucy holding Charlie Brown’s football. “Ooops! Just kidding! Your commission or bonus just got further away!” Don’t mess with their paycheck if you don’t want reps leaving.
What to do: If you need to change quota numbers, have a meeting with Sales and explain why. Consider upping base pay a little to support the new quota change. Put the change date 45 – 60 days away from the announcement date, and give the reps strategies and skills to help them meet the new quota number more easily. Nothing motivates like team attitude. Show that you’re working with them, not just cracking a whip.
You micromanage your reps.
Reps leave when they’re micromanaged. Nothing says, “I don’t trust you to make good decisions and do your job well” like someone standing over you telling you what to do at every turn. If you don’t trust your sales team, you have the wrong people. Yes, performance metrics are important, but no, babysitting isn’t going to improve your outcomes.
What to do: Train the reps on the details of your offering, AND on a proven and repeatable sales process to present it to potential customers. Then, step back and let them do their job. Measure metrics, and discuss them privately. Coaching sessions and sales meetings are great ways to keep things on track, and keep communication open.
Fulfillment doesn’t match what your reps are selling.
Sales reps take all the heat when the product or service doesn’t match the sales story. Managers often insist reps quote unreasonable timelines, higher quality, or promise product that is out of stock. The rep makes the sale, but the deal falls through on fulfillment. Goodbye, commission. What? You didn’t think your client was going to notice? No wonder your reps leave!
What to do: Encourage sales reps to tell the truth. Keep them in the loop if fulfillment will be behind schedule. If the truth isn’t pretty, work with the part of the organization that’s responsible for the bottleneck. Relationships with clients are built on trust and goals achieved. Reps who lose commission dollars and quota points because of someone else’s failure feel betrayed, and realize their hard work is neither appreciated nor respected.
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