Top 20 Reasons Good Salespeople Leave

You can’t afford to lose your top talent right now. Make sure you’re not committing any of the major sins that drive salespeople away.

The turnover rate for salespeople has always been high. And as the pandemic winds down and more opportunities open up, who knows how high it may go? The harsh truth is that your sales team (including your top performers) might be looking to jump ship—and your competitors are all too happy to toss them a life preserver. Dr. Chris Croner says that’s why it’s crucial to figure out what’s driven them to the railing.

“When you can get into the heads of your salespeople and understand why they are leaving, you hold the key to learning how to make them stay,” says the psychologist, sales retention and recruitment expert, and principal at SalesDrive, a content-rich resource center overflowing with educational articles, podcasts, Masterclasses, science-based sales psychology strategies, and other tools and techniques aimed at helping companies maximize their sales team’s performance.

Dr. Croner, who is also co-author along with Richard Abraham of Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again: Selecting Candidates Who Are Absolutely Driven to Succeed, is an expert on what makes salespeople tick.

In fact, he created the DriveTest®, a proprietary sales aptitude assessment based on 90 years of research on the subject as well as SalesDrive’s own work. This test helps companies identify “Hunters”—those professionals who have the non-teachable traits needed to succeed in sales: Need for Achievement, Competitiveness, and Optimism (collectively known as “Drive”).

Here Dr. Croner reveals 20 of the biggest reasons that salespeople leave their jobs.


1. Not enough money

This appears to be, across the board, the top reason why salespeople leave their job. It is important to note, however, that compensation does not come just in the form of their paychecks or commission. While those things are important, so is ample opportunity for bonuses, raises, and promotions once a salesperson has proven their worth and success.


2. Poor sales training

Having a good training program in place is undeniably integral to the success of your salespeople. If they get off on the wrong foot in your company, they will be highly likely to leave. The key to ensuring your sales training program is solid is to follow these 13 tips to improve your training today.


3. Bad fit for the job

A salesperson may leave simply because they were not good at their job. You can avoid this harsh reality with the introduction of a sales aptitude test in your hiring process. This is how you weed out those who are not fit to sell and highlight the ones capable of long-term success with you and your company.


4. Too much time wasted on non-sales activities

Studies show nearly 65% of your sales’ reps’ time is focused not on sales, but rather on other non-money-making duties. These duties include meetings, CRM data entering, and more. Your reps may be getting frustrated if they are not able to spend their time and their skill doing what they came here to do: sell.


5. Bad company culture

Top companies in the United States put a great deal of time, money, and effort into building a company culture that employees can love and thrive in. While you are not expected to compete with, say, Google for great company culture, you do need to create an environment where employees feel recognized, appreciated, and also challenged.


6. Lack of professional development

The best way for top salespeople to continue to thrive in their work is if they have a thirst for new information. The most successful salespeople are always looking for ways to learn more and, as a Sales Manager, you need to provide them with those opportunities.


7. Poorly defined sales roles

Hunters and Farmers are two completely different types of salespeople, and you need both of them on your team. The best way to determine whether a potential hire is a Hunter or a Farmer is via a sales aptitude test. And, once you have determined the role each new hire will hold, ensure you stick to it. Each salesperson in your company—new or seasoned—needs to understand their specific role and play it.


8. Burnout

If you are overworking people, they will burn out quicker than you can say “prospect.” Employees who are overworked are far more apt to start looking for jobs elsewhere than their coworkers whose workloads are normal. Give salespeople the right amount of work that gives your company the results it needs, without sacrificing the happiness of your employees.


9. Lack of recognition

Recognition is of greater importance to salespeople than possibly any other job. And reps who feel they are not getting the acknowledgment they deserve are 11% more likely to leave. So, search for ways to show your reps you value them, and they will continue to value you as a manager.


10. Lack of challenge

Salespeople thrive off of a challenge—it is in their nature to have Drive, which (as mentioned earlier) is made up of three non-teachable traits: Need for Achievement, Competitiveness, and Optimism. Without that second component, Competitiveness, your salespeople will get bored and sales will tank.


11. Bad leadership

Though harsh, it is possible your salespeople are leaving because of you. If you tend to micromanage and are overbearing to your salespeople, they are going to hurry out the door. Conversely, if you are bad at communicating with your salespeople, that can also send them running. Find a balance between being too involved in your reps’ work and not involved enough.


12. Failure to handle ‘dead weight’

Few things can frustrate a top salesperson quicker than a colleague who is not pulling their weight. This frustration can turn into quitting the company if you do not figure out a way to either train, reassign, or let go of the poor-performing rep.


13. Outdated sales tools

With technology advancing as quickly as it is today, you need to be on top of keeping your sales tools updated, especially when it comes to selling via mobile. According to a survey done by CSO Insights, 88% of salespeople struggle with being able to properly utilize their phones to conduct business. So, update and upgrade your sales tools to keep your salespeople motivated and successful.


14. Lack of faith in leadership

Having a CEO or someone in a leadership position who inspires your salespeople to reach their goals is a must. If your reps do not have faith in the leading roles of the company, what motivation do they have to do their best work beyond compensation? None.


15. Concerns about company stability

No one wants to work for a company that is at risk of going belly-up. When layoffs and other questionable actions are happening in the company, your reps will undoubtedly question the stability of the company and begin their hunt for a more solid job elsewhere.


16. Unrealistic quotas

Though, as mentioned above, salespeople love to be challenged, they do not love an unrealistic challenge in the form of a quota that is impossible for them to fill. Keep your quotas challenging for your reps, but not unattainable.


17. Lowering commission rates on big deals

Many reps see companies lower commission rates as they work their way up to close bigger deals. And this could not possibly be a bigger deterrent for a hardworking salesperson. Why would they work as hard as possible to close big clients, only to be punished with a lower commission? Be fair with the commission you give your reps, and they are more likely to stick by your side.


18. No autonomy

In most companies, those at the top are the ones to make the big decisions. This does not mean that your sales reps want all decisions to be governed by someone else. In fact, employees who felt they had no say in the way their jobs were done were 28% more likely to find a new company that allowed them more autonomy.


19. Jumbled systems between departments

The sales team is just one part of your company. There are numerous other moving parts and, in order for the company to truly be successful, everyone needs to work together. How your salespeople interact with and are treated by managers, colleagues, staff, and other employees will affect how they view the company as a whole, and whether they want to be a part of it.


20. No long-term incentives

Creating motivation in the short term is very important in the world of sales. Just make sure that you are not neglecting long-term incentives because that is what will keep your salespeople around. Things such as yearly bonuses, annual promotions, and more keep your sales reps’ sights on the longer game, which is where you want it to be.


“It’s up to you to create the working conditions and the culture in which great salespeople can thrive,” says Dr. Croner. “When you do, they’ll stay. And right now, as the economy opens up and everyone is battling for customers and market share, you can’t afford for that not to happen.”


Dr. Christopher Croner is principal at SalesDrive and co-author (along with Richard Abraham) of the book Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again, which details his research and practice in identifying the non-teachable personality traits common to top producers. Dr. Croner received his BA in psychology from DePaul University and his master’s and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He developed the proprietary DriveTest®online sales test and The Drive Interview®, both used for hiring “Hunter” salespeople. Using this methodology, he has helped over 1,200 companies worldwide to hire and develop top-performing salespeople. 


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