4 Reasons Why Your Best Salespeople Are Quitting and What to Do About It

A young salesperson throwing work documents in the air.

When was the last time you took a look at your talent acquisition strategy? If you haven’t done so in the past year or two, you may be putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage. If your best salespeople are quitting, it’s time you found out why.

The search for great sales talent can be time-consuming and expensive, and it’s even harder to keep them around since top talent is constantly being poached and targeted. Thanks to the pandemic-driven remote workforce, people have changed jobs more than at any other time in modern history. McKinsey says 40% of workers might leave their positions soon, which is worrisome.

The turnover rate in sales roles is the highest of any other position. According to Hire Velocity, the average cost of replacing one sales rep is 1.5-2x the rep’s salary, and it takes 6.2 months to fill an open sales position, costing organizations millions. The good news is you can proactively tackle these challenges to attract your next rockstar seller and keep your best employees.

Here are the real reasons why your best salespeople are quitting.

1) No Career Advancement

Salespeople are quitting their jobs because of a lack of career advancement and development (41%) between April 2021 and April 2022.

What to Do About It—It’s important to discuss career aspirations early and often, whether you’re a new hire or a long-time employee. It’s not a one-and-done conversation, and both HR and sales leadership should be involved. Set up regular 1:1 meetings to discuss career goals and progress. Your new hires will be motivated to strive for greater achievement, and you’ll be re-engaging your tenured sellers.

2) Inadequate Compensation

Inadequate pay was the second top reason salespeople are quittting in the last year. Hundreds of thousands of sales jobs are currently unfilled, so employers are willing to pay more to get top talent.

What to Do About It—Check your compensation structure to ensure you’re still competitive in attracting new talent, especially if you haven’t done so in the last two years. The candidate’s tenure, expertise, and geography will affect the competitiveness of your offer. Consider non-financial incentives as part of the overall benefits package, like flexible hours, tuition reimbursements, and extra PTO if you can’t increase base pay.

3) A Culture of Uncaring and Uninspiring Leaders

According to a recent McKinsey survey, 35% left an organization because of uncaring leaders.

What to Do About It—A competitive compensation strategy combined with a great company culture is a recipe for success. One without the other is doomed to fail. Create an atmosphere of trust, accountability, and recognition. When you help employees realize their full potential and reward the behaviors that drive success, it will be harder for them leave. Work-life balance and wellness should be a priority, and you should be upfront about this. Today’s employees want to know their leaders care about them, so instead of focusing only on deals and pipelines, take a few minutes to discuss their well-being. Take appropriate action if burnout or other life challenges are hampering their success.

4) Work That’s Not Meaningful

7 out of 10 employees reflected on their purpose during COVID-19, with almost 70% defining meaningfulness through their work. Doing valuable work ranks high among the ideals of younger generations entering the workforce, and if they don’t feel meaning in their work, they won’t stay for long.

What to Do About It—Create a supportive, reliable community within your sales team. Connect your company mission, vision, and values to your sellers’ personal career goals and definition of purpose. Create a culture that embraces diversity of talent, experience, background, and ideas. Document and share how you’ve helped individuals or businesses solve a specific business challenge. It is difficult for your team to understand their greater purpose if they can never see the results of their individual efforts.

The Bottom Line

The turnover rate in sales roles is the highest of any other position. Talent acquisition and retention is not a “set it and forget it” proposition. You must always be assessing your company culture to keep retention and acquisition costs at bay. Reasons for quitting change with the times so be sure to keep a pulse on employee satisfaction through open communication.

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Chad Tysick

Chad Tysick is Vice President of Business Development at Performance Development Group (PDG). Chad works with some of the nation’s most recognized companies to develop comprehensive strategies that drive revenue performance, employee engagement, and overall business results. Prior to joining PDG, Chad served as Principal Sales Director and Vice President of Sales and Service Performance for Miller Heiman Group and Korn Ferry. He has a BS in Business & Marketing, is a certified trainer in sales and leadership methodologies, and serves on the Advisory Board for US Irvine, Continuing Education Programs.

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