10 Reasons Top Salespeople Join, Stay, and Leave Your Company

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Keith Johnstone
Keith Johnstone



Salespeople are the primary drivers of company revenue; yet, less than 20% of salespeople regularly exceed quota.

For sales leaders and other C-level executives striving to meet aggressive revenue objectives, understanding what drives top sales performers to join, stay, or leave a company is critical. This insight can determine whether your business is primed to build a sales team that makes the number, or one that misses it by a mile.

If you've ever wondered how to attract or retain rockstar reps, wonder no more. Here are the most common reasons top performing salespeople join, stay, and leave your organization.

3 Reasons Top Sales Performers Join a Company

1) The right compensation plan

Salespeople are deterred by overly complex compensation plans, plans that don’t properly incentivize surpassing quota, and plans that change too frequently. World-class sales organizations have compensation plans that are simple and reward the behaviors required to execute on strategy and drive profitable revenue.

In a recent survey on millennials in the workforce, nearly half of all respondents listed compensation as their biggest motivator. This means younger salespeople are just as driven by the dollar as their older counterparts -- and will be attracted to a compensation plan that rewards their performance. To attract top performers, develop a straightforward sales compensation plan that's enticing to someone who plans on not only hitting, but surpassing, their number.

2) A pro-sales company culture

High-performing salespeople seek respect, both within their own teams and across their organization. That’s why world-class sales organizations actively promote and leverage their pro-sales culture when recruiting. A pro-sales culture occurs when sales force success is celebrated across departments and publicly recognized by leadership as a primary growth driver.

The culture within the sales team itself is important as well. A strong sales team culture emphasizes both team-wide recognition and individual competition. A healthy mix of both competition and support appeals to top talent.

3) Colleagues they know and like

A-players know other A-players, so if you make it easy for your current top performers to refer other great sellers they know, you will have a pipeline full of rockstars.

Implementing a well-designed internal referral program is also good for retention. According to a Jobvite study, referred employees retain at a rate of 45% after two years. Compare this to a 20% retention rate of employees sourced from job boards in the same timeframe.

Designing an internal referral program that is lucrative, efficient, and streamlined for your salespeople is an effective recruitment strategy to attract and retain top performers. Consider using cash to incentivize referrals.

4 Reasons Top Sales Performers Stay at a Company

1) Access to modern selling tools and technologies

The best sales teams are given the best tools to do their jobs. As a sales leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure you provide your salespeople with the tools that enable your product sales cycle.

According to LinkedIn's State of Sales 2016 report, the tools a salesperson relies on are highly correlated to their sales performance. The report notes that "top salespeople are 24% more likely to attribute their success to sales technology.”

High performers complement their skill set and experience with data and automation. Equip them with the tools and technology they need to excel and they'll stick around.

2) Professional development opportunities

Top sales performers are constantly seeking new information to make their techniques more efficient and effective. Provide opportunities for professional development, such as sales training workshops, courses, and conferences, and keep even your veteran sellers continuously learning and engaged.

Not only will this help you retain top performers -- it will also create a culture of continuous learning within your sales force, which will in turn improve results.

3) Compensation that rewards performance

To mitigate the risk of losing top performers to the competition, sales leaders should proactively adjust compensation plans to reward reps or front-line managers who regularly exceed their targets. Peak Sales Recruiting suggests implementing a compensation plan with no commission cap so top performers stay motivated to keep doing what they do best.

Keeping your top performers working for you is the number one way to make your number, and well worth the cost of retention.

4) Challenging and meaningful work

If you want top performers to stay at your company, make the work meaningful. According to survey data from the Energy Project, employees who derive a sense of meaning from their work are three times more likely to stay put.

Unsure what "meaningful" means to your sales reps? Ask your reps what motivates them, and then build these tenets into the culture.

3 Reasons Top Sales Performers Leave a Company

1) More money

The number one reason salespeople leave their jobs is compensation. If they don’t feel they are receiving adequate bonuses, you will lose them to competitors vying for dominance and willing to pay above market.

The voluntary turnover rate of salespeople is one of the highest of any industry at 16%. The unexpected departure of key sales players can be damaging to your business thanks to missed business opportunities, lost revenue, and the time and resources required to attract, onboard, and train replacements. Sidestep this loss by regularly checking in and ensuring top performers are satisfied with their compensation.

2) No career advancement

When top performers don’t see a clear path to advance their career, their commitment to your company can be compromised. To retain your A-players, ensure they see larger territories, more responsibilities, and opportunities for coaching, mentorship, and potentially management in their future at your company.

While it’s not feasible for every rep to become a manager (and some quite simply don’t want to be), there needs to be meaningful long-term career opportunities available in your company. Not sure what's meaningful to your star performers? Again, ask them.

3) Roles that aren’t clearly defined

As a sales team scales and evolves, reps often naturally divide into hunter and farmer roles. As a sales leader, you need to adjust to this changing dynamic in your sales force.

Allow your hunters to focus on closing net new business and minimize the time spent maintaining accounts, and give farmers the time they need to nurture and develop existing relationships. Depending on the complexity of your sales cycle and the preferences and behaviors of your customers, make these roles as separate and as clearly defined as possible. Natural hunters will become frustrated if they're bogged down with too much account management, and farmers will flee if they're asked to bring in new logos.

And don't forget about the implications this split has for comp. Instead of relying on one blanket compensation plan for both roles, create two separate structures.

The best sales leaders know that a sales force with a shortage of top talent will lead to missed revenue targets. This is why today’s sales leader needs to understand exactly why top performers not just join the organization, but also why they stay or leave.

Why do your company's top sales performers join, stay, or leave? Share your thoughts in the comments.

HubSpot CRM

Topics: Sales Culture

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