Turnover, churn, resignation — these are scary words for anyone involved in the hiring process. After all, you’ve worked tirelessly to attract these sales gems to your business…so the last thing you want is to see that coveted talent go cruising out the door.
Unfortunately, high turnover is a serious problem for many companies, and it doesn’t seem like it’ll be going away anytime soon — in fact, 2016 marked a 5-year high for voluntary sales turnover.
While there are many factors that could be influencing your high turnover rate, in my experience, I’ve found that the problem generally has two core reasons behind it.
It’s not all doom and gloom, once you recognize that you have these roadblocks, they aren’t hard to overcome.
Reason #1: An Unsupportive Sales Environment
The way your company views and supports your sales team can be one of its greatest strengths — or one of its biggest stumbling blocks. Think about it: does your company try to foster a supportive, sales-centric environment, or is sales merely viewed as a “necessary evil”?
While you might think that these types of management opinions can remain separated from your work force, there’s always a trickle-down effect. Your attitude toward sales will ultimately affect everything involving your sales team, including the hiring and on boarding process.
Treating your sales employees as a “necessary evil” creates a toxic work environment where employees feel like a “number”, overburdened, stressed, and that they have no one to go to when they need help. They may feel unfairly blamed when things go wrong and ignored when things are going well. Not to mention their ability to voice the thoughts and concerns of the customer. If they’re operating in a “black box” this is detrimental across the board.
Brace yourself, this type of environment can quickly send your best sales people running to your biggest competitor.
So what can you do? Quite often, the problem stems from a simple lack of supportive and proactive communication. Do you take the time to understand their day-to-day (remember your executive perception isn’t always sales reality and vice versa)? Are you empowering the team to have a voice within your organization outside of the front lines (another reminder, you want them to have said voice as they’re the people responsible for driving revenue which keeps your company afloat)?
Simple steps, such as providing specific benchmarks and feedback all the while listening to and addressing the concerns of your sales team can help them feel valued. It will also benefit your business to understand the marketplace in which you sit.
An A+ product or service is absolutely part of the equation for success and a pillar of your company. However, if you don’t have the proper sales foundation in place in place to support the buyer journey, not only will the team leave you, your clients won’t be that engaged either.
I’m a big believer that the stage is set for success right out of the gates. What are you doing to make your team feel like they’re part of the fabric of the company? This is a terrific opportunity to reevaluate your philosophy on communication and overall relationship with the sales team. After taking a hard, honest look, don’t be surprise if you find room for improvement.
Reason #2: Disengaged, Disinterested Leadership
A primary offshoot of the unsupportive sales environment is disengaged or disinterested leadership. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t interested in the results of your sales team — but quite often, it means that leadership is so focused on the results that they ignore the key things that will uplift the sales organization.
When leadership is focused entirely on product or results, they often wind up bogging down or working against the sales process. Successful leaders don’t just press their team for arbitrary increased sales numbers. They work to actively coach their sales staff, take the time to understand the ever-changing landscape of what happens on the front lines, block and tackle internally to remove barriers to ultimately add value to the sales process and the journey of the buyer.
Rather than becoming little more than a cruel taskmaster, truly successful leadership takes on the role of a coach — someone who pushes their team to get better results, but also provides the training, resources, and support to get them there. As you take key steps to help your employees feel valued, they’ll be far more likely to stay with you for the long haul.
With that being said, it’s important to realize that “one size fits all” leadership is more of a myth than anything else. You’ll likely need to adjust to the needs of each sales person. But as you actively engage with your sales team, you’ll be far more likely to get the results you want — and retain happy, talented employees in the process.
While the points I mentioned above certainly aren’t the only factors that can contribute to turnover, they have consistently stood out over my 20 years of sales experience. When you learn to overcome these hurdles in your sales environment, you’ll be better equipped to retain the team you’ve worked so hard to build.
Of course, now I want to hear what you think! What have you done to overcome these staff retention challenges? Are there other things that you’ve found contribute to a high employee turnover rate? If so, how have you overcome them?
I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
Note: This stream of consciousness was originally featured on Linkedin