After more than a decade in sales management, Heather Monahan says her biggest fear is losing her best reps.
We can’t blame her. Research from The Bridge Group found that the average rep turnover rate is 34 percent. What’s even more worrisome is that one in ten companies experience turnover rates of over 50 percent.
Heather is the chief revenue officer of Beasley Media Group. She says that one of the major breakdowns in modern sales management is not retaining the best employees.
“We, as leaders, are only as good as the weakest links on our teams, and we need to be constantly improving – not moving backward,” she told us.
“Predictable Revenue” author Aaron Ross says annual sales attrition should be 10 percent or less. If your organization is churning more than 10 percent reps, salespeople aren’t the problem.
“When you have an issue with retaining top talent, you need to look in the mirror,” Heather said.
But, she added, there are many ways sales management can fix this. Here are five questions to help sales leaders determine the cause of their lofty turnover rates.
5 questions for sales management
Question for sales management: How do you communicate with your team?
In modern sales organizations, transparency is vital. You should be communicating constantly with your reps. Make sure they are aligned with your company’s sales goals and key performance indicators. This increases job satisfaction because employees feel included, in addition to creating buy-in for new initiatives or sales stack tools.
Heather’s Advice: “Never ask others to do what you have not done. Be transparent and honest at all times. Be sure to have open communication and free-flowing dialogue with you team. If you don’t, they will always be looking for the next job.”
Question for sales management: Do you recognize and praise accomplishment?
Recognition is a powerful motivator. In fact, a study from Bersin & Associates found companies that utilize recognition programs have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover than their peers. Check out this article for helpful tips to increase sales recognition.
Heather’s Advice: “No sales team is complete without a reward system that allows for further recognition and feedback.”
Question for sales management: Do you know the short- and long-term goals of your reps?
A large part of managing a team is understanding their personal and professional objectives. If you aren’t helping them work toward goals, then why would they care to stay at your company? Take the time to understand each of your reps individual goals, then figure out how you can help him or her accomplish them.
Heather’s Advice: “My biggest accomplishments as a sales leader have been helping team members advance to a position that they have sought after. Being a part of personal accomplishment for those on my team has been the most rewarding.”
Question for sales management: What is your company culture like?
Research from Columbia University shows that the likelihood of employee turnover at organizations with strong company culture is significantly lower than those with little or no company culture. Define your company’s core values and organize plenty of team activities. This helps forge bonds among team members and provide identity as a group. Learn how to define your work culture in 10 steps here. Then you can foster a sales culture of performance.
Heather’s Advice: “Ensuring I have created an environment that is full of motivation is key to success, including constant feedback and encouragement.”
Question for sales management: Do people want to work with you? Do they want to work for you?
This question is crucial. Be honest with yourself. The best leaders inspire people to work with them. Do you consistently crack the whip as a manager? Or are you pulling the rope?
Heather’s Advice: “If you want others to work hard, then you need to work harder to raise the bar. … People know when you are truly committed to their success and, as a leader in sales, you need to make the honest commitment to your people if you want to succeed.”
Sales turnover is a major problem for a lot of organizations. But it doesn’t have to be. If your team struggles to retain talent, use this questions to take a closer look at your sales management strategy.