Out of the many trending business buzzwords, quiet quitting is a topic that's only growing more popular. Many headlines throw the term around, claiming that employees are doing it — but do we really know what that means? And if so, what does it look like to sales professionals?
In this post, we're going to discuss what it means to quiet quit in sales, what it looks like, and what sales managers can do when they think it's happening in their teams.
What is quiet quitting in sales?
Quiet quitting in sales is a decline in morale, motivation, and productivity necessary to meet key sales metrics. This includes conducting fewer sales calls, participating less in meetings, and losing prospects through the sales pipeline undue to sales strategy or planning.
Quiet quitting isn't a standard business term — it's subjective and new. To better understand what quiet quitting is and looks like in sales, I teamed up with HubSpot Sales Executive Dan Tyre on LinkedIn to ask professionals what quiet quitting can look like in the workplace.
Signs of Quiet Quitting in Sales
Alessandro Marrarosa, an entrepreneur in Gruppo Raiffeisen, shared four behavioral signs of quiet quitters in sales.
1. Declining sales performance or activity levels (such as fewer calls or meetings)
If a team member has shown a consistent decline in performance and activity, they could show signs of a quiet quitter. It's not a sales strategy needing improvement, but a salesperson that needs to execute their job duties as usual — for example, holding fewer calls with prospects, taking advantage of fewer opportunities, or failing to show up.
2. Decreased productivity or a lack of follow-through on tasks
The inability to complete tasks a salesperson once excelled in is another form of quiet-quitting — and arguably a sign of burnout. Sales rely on won deals. If salespeople are withdrawn and unmotivated, prospects will be forgotten in the sales pipeline or lose interest.
3. Reduced engagement in team meetings or activities
Outside of fallen sales performance metrics, employees who become withdrawn from the company culture could quit quietly. Not to say that less talkative team members are less productive — but if a salesperson who was once very engaged and contributing to conversations stops doing so, there may be an underlying motive behind that behavioral change.
4. Decreased willingness to take on additional responsibilities or projects
We can all agree that employees shouldn't be taking on a workload beyond their job description. Still, if they previously expressed a desire to contribute more and gave up, that's a shift in aspirational thinking. Motivated and supported salespeople think big and don't shy away from a chance to win big either — and if they don't have that desire, they may be quiet quitting.
Questions to Ask Before Labeling Quiet Quitters
Sales managers should consider how to prevent and deal with lessened productivity as an issue to be resolved. This lack of motivation that some salespeople experience could be addressed and changed with the help of a good sales leader.
1. Am I providing adequate training and support to the team?
Tim Jones, CEO at Eternal Works, says, "It's difficult to truly measure (quiet quitting) when you don't have a clearly defined sales process and solid training."
Many business owners have to understand that quiet quitting doesn't happen without reason. Tracy Graziani, the owner of Graziani Multimedia, offered an insightful take on the term's popularization and how it paints employees in often misplaced critique.
"The phrase tends to put too much responsibility for the problem on the employee and kind of absolves the employer of any blame in the situation. I had a salesperson who was what people now call 'quiet quitting.' The person was likely working part-time… they went through the motions and sent the email quota, made the call quota, the meeting quota… Sales were not resulting from the activity.
I was able to see where there were gaps in our training, missing sales enablement resources like sales collateral, call scripts, well-written prospecting emails, and support for sales efforts from marketing. In truth, we hadn’t set that person up for success. Ultimately that person moved on by actually quitting, and they should have. We needed to do better as an employer and teammates."
Sales leaders shouldn't paint employees negatively without reflecting on how they can better support their team. While employees can lose motivation or perform on average, they could often need more direction, resources, or guidance in their roles.
2. Have we recognized our team member's contributions before they lost steam?
Marrasosa also shared, "Some (salespeople) may be feeling burnt out or unmotivated due to a lack of recognition or advancement opportunities… and are mentally checked out while they are doing so. In some cases, reps may also feel disengaged with company culture, sales strategy or tactics, product or market, or the overall direction of the company."
Before reprimanding your employees, think about how you've recognized their contributions before they showed signs of decline. If your interactions have been more about lecture than applause, you can only imagine how that can crush the spirit of a formerly motivated salesperson.
Is Quiet Quitting Possible in Sales?
It's possible for salespeople to withdraw from their job duties, just as it is with any industry. If you have a salesperson on your team that's showing signs of quiet quitting, don't lose hope. Listen to them and support them where you can — chances are you'll be able to reduce employee turnover and get them back on track.