Every sales manager’s worst nightmare is the surprise resignation of a top sales rep. Sooner or later it happens. So, what went wrong?

When managing high performing sales reps, it is a common practice to leave these people alone. They know what to do and are doing it so well that you don’t want to interfere with their success. You may think they are happy until another company recruits them away.

The reality is that top performers can easily get restless without a steady stream of opportunities and kudos. By giving them too much “room”, you may accidentally signal that you don’t care about them. While top performers do not want you to “micromanage” them, they don’t want to be ignored.

It is my estimation that top sales reps leave for many reasons including the following:

• Desire for a new challenge, personal growth, and advancement; this is the “grass is greener elsewhere” syndrome.
• Increased expectations with declining rewards; the quotas just keep getting bigger and bigger. Success seems penalized.
• Poor management; this can be a “lousy” direct supervisor or “out of touch” top management. I could devote a whole blog to this one.
• Feeling disconnected from the company vision, mission, and strategy (more lousy management).
• Broken promises (the kiss of death).
• Too many changes to their accounts, territory, and direct manager; they just get fed up with it all and move on.
• More money at another employer (this one is easily avoidable).
• Personal needs not being met; top reps are people, too.

The consequences of replacing lost sales reps can be very dramatic. Lost sales are an obvious consequence when a salesperson leaves. To add insult to injury, this does not even take into consideration the departed rep’s attempts to move his or her past customers over to the new employer. However, there are often unseen costs, like the reduced productivity from the departing rep who is inevitably distracted during his or her job search and therefore contributes less during this time period (i.e. “short-timer’s blues”).

When senior sales reps leave, your customers often experience the following:

• An interruption in the relationship
• A negative impact on their own productivity
• Time wasted reorienting the new rep to their operation and the way they work.

The change in account managers can set customer relationships back months and give competitors an advantage. This is especially true if the transition to the new account manager is not well managed. At a certain point, repeated changes in your sales staff can send a message of organizational instability and create the impression that the organization does not care about the account relationship.

Stay tuned for the next blog which addresses “Retention Strategies”.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.
Please visit my website at www.firstbestordifferent.com

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