According to Glassdoor, professionals working in sales can make well into the six figures and are one of the most popular positions companies seek to fill. But retention tends to be low with the pressure to meet numbers, lack of adequate training and inevitable rejection.
71% of companies take 6 months or longer to onboard new sales reps; and at a third of all companies it take 9 months or more, says ClearSlide and CSO Insights research.
And there is a minimum 20% annual turnover in Sales—and it’s up to 34% if you include both voluntary + involuntary according to Bridge Group research.
Millennials are even more likely to turnover:
What’s happening here?
I pondered this recently with Dustin Grosse and Michael Shultz of ClearSlide, and here’s what we came up with—based on both research and our decades of experience in the world of Sales and Sales Management.
Here are the top four reasons why salespeople quit—and what to do about them:
1. They don’t have coaches and mentors. New salespeople, and especially millennials, need strong coaches and mentors to find long-term success. When they’re left on their own without adequate support, they’re likely to hit a roadblock after a period of initial success.
According to CSO Insights, sales leaders spend only 20% of their time helping their team close deals. If your sales leaders are “too busy” to help, nobody wins. Make supporting your team a top priority. Give them best practices, be available for questions, ask how things are going and offer advice. Set up a mentorship program, pairing veteran sellers with new recruits. The initial time investment will motivate and inspire newer reps to commit and persevere, even through the rough patches.
According to the Deloitte and CEB studies above, millennials cite lack of professional development, coaching and mentorship as top reasons why they transition out of companies.
Retention of millennials requires two things: continuous feedback so they can have insights, and an Individual Development Plan (career path with clear skills building plan) so they can aspire.
2. They don’t have the latest sales tools. Millennial salespeople are typically tech savvy and eager to embrace modern sales technology. When they don’t have the latest tools and modern platforms, that can hurt morale and impede productivity.
Many salespeople — particularly younger ones — conduct business on mobile devices, but it can be impossible to access the content they need to close deals on their smartphone or tablet. In fact, according to a CSO Insights survey, 88% of sales professionals are unable to find or bring up critical sales material up on their smartphones, and 60% of sales organizations report a longer sales cycle due to a lack of proper tools. This hurts the sales professional’s long-term productivity and success. Companies that want to set their sales team up for success should move away from general purpose tools and invest in more modern sales-specific tools and platforms.
ClearSlide, for example, offers an engagement platform that helps companies to offer content to support the sales process (a video, a whitepaper) and then track which content is consumed: how and when. ClearSlide connects to the top CRMs, and real-time viewing stats and alerts are provided so the sales people can connect with the prospect as they are in process of consuming the content. This dramatically increases the quality of engagement.
3. They don’t understand that data and insights are their secret weapons. Salespeople need to embrace the advanced analytics that can give them an edge.
Today, there are more people involved in the buying process than in the past. Buyers are typically more sophisticated too since they can conduct research online before they ever respond to an offer. According to research from CEB, the average B2B buyer is at least 57% through a purchase decision before ever connecting with a salesperson. This means sellers need to engage with prospects very differently – selling in a way that maps to the buyer’s journey and expectations. Give young sellers data that help them identify, target, and interact with the right context at the right time. Sales Engagement Platforms allow sellers to track genuine customer interactions across channels, giving them the insights they need to accelerate sales cycles.
4. They don’t have a playbook. Salespeople need to ramp up rapidly, and have a clear playbook to navigate prospects and the selling process.
Our clients find that the key components to a sales playbook are:
• Buyer personas – These are the generally three to six profiles of prospects your company sells to. Included should be their customer journey, meta program profile, and safety/belonging/mattering trigger.
• Sample messages for each persona – Providing sample email messages and scripts for outreach, follow up, nurturing and revival are key. When a salesperson sees how to most effectively communicate with a particular persona they can simply edit and send the message. This saves them hours each week and keeps them focused on what they do best: prospect, nurture and close. LinkedIn, for example, has a Perfect Pitch Library which is a library of videos of actual prospect interactions from a video call.
• Tools and resources per sales stage – New salespeople need to have quick and clear access to tools and resources (such as content) to move prospects through the sales process swiftly. Guiding the sales process with content helps both newer and experienced reps to reduce the sales cycle base on the best practices of their top reps.
• Industry fluency – millennials struggle to understand the industry that the prospect works in. For example if selling into financial services and having no background there, have industry executive summaries, key pains in the industry, key trends and buzzwords, internal case studies and use cases. This helps the prospect have the experience of “same as” and helps the salesperson build both rapid rapport and to do reference selling to get rapid credibility with the prospect.
Also it’s key to note that inside selling and field selling are converging. Insiders are now expecting to get out into the field, and field reps are doing more video conferences and “inside” work than ever before. Both need to learn new tools and techniques.
How is your sales force doing?