The year is starting to show some strong sales velocity potential. Customers have a lot of cash to spend and need to solve problems they just lived with when the economy was so poor. Sales are picking up and the cost cutting you have done over the past 3-4 years is now producing strong profits. This year is projected to have strong sales performance right? ( at least that is what you told the board) Not so fast….Nothing hurts and sends a sales growth trajectory spinning out of control like losing a sales superstar or a few star sales people. When a sales superstar leaves, studies show at a minimum two more will follow shortly there after. In a study done a year ago on general job satisfaction; 60% of employees plan to leave their current job once the economy improves. The economy is showing improvement and a number of companies are investing in plants and equipment, new technology and creating a strong foundation to support their market growth opportunities. What if all that investment is built on a” Sales Force Sink Hole”?
The recent story in the news of a family who had just gone to bed like any other day then had one of their bedrooms sucked into a sink hole under their home and killing a family member Jeremy Bush in an instant was sad and frightening. The sink hole opened up under his home with no warning and literally swallowed the bedroom of their home in an instant. My parents now live in Florida and they too are now worried …” do we have a sink hole under our home that could just swallow our home and possibly hurt or kill us?” Sink holes are depressions in the earth caused by water eroding the bedrock below the surface. Acidic water slowing works on dissolving small amounts of bedrock and washes it away and then one day a sink hole emerges when there is nothing left of the foundation of bedrock that normally would have supported the weight of layers of earth and sediment. Rain following long periods of drought often triggers sink holes (I hear some of you saying….enough with the geology lesson…what’s your point Mark?)
I am concerned… I see number of companies vulnerable, even as their market conditions that suggest the sales drought is over that will fail because they have a “Sales Force Sink Hole” about to open and swallow any chances they had of having a profitable year. (and negatively impact their bottom line for years to come)
Why do sales superstars leave?
What causes a sales supper star to leave and often have 2 or more other sales stars to leave as well?
When I ask senior leaders why as sales super star left they often quickly dismiss my question with: they left for more money…is this true?
I decided to tackle this question like I would for a business development challenge. The first place to start is gathered market truths and do not assume anything. So I reached out to a number of Linked In groups and asked sales leaders, salespeople, marketing, and business owners why good sales people leave. Once we gather the market data, we will group it into common causes, then develop a product (strategy in this case) to solve the unmet, urgent market problem. In this first post I will share just the raw market data I gathered. If you have other reasons why you have seen sales super stars leave an organization (often at the worst possible time) please add to the discussion in the comments section. In following posts I will group common problems, identify ways of predicting sales force sink holes and how to prevent them from occurring.
Below are the results from recent questions I posed on Linked In and personal interviews with salespeople on why sales superstars leave your organization. Buckle up I plan to go fast…
Brand damaged product
Trust broken with management
No defined sales process
Don’t believe in what they are selling anymore
No sales on boarding process
Don’t want to be on a B or C team, want to be with other winners
Lack of freedom
Asked to learn on the fly
Poor compensation model
Change in commissions
Change in compensation model
Change in benefits
Poor product quality
Lack of support
No clear future growth opportunity
Not feeling motivated
No marketing support
Operations driven organization
Engineering driven organization
Accounting driven organization
Job was not what I was told it would be
Too hard to sell what we have
Change in Strategy
New company leadership disconnected with what really happens in market today
Lack of sales tools
Dated sales tools
Asked to do non sales activities
New Culture does not match salesperson anymore
No new products
New products that do not work
High sales goal for new products that do not launch on time
Comp plan designed around hitting new product goals, product not ready
New product launched with quality issues
Asked to sell something I know is not what we promise
Cut in my expense budget but bigger goals
Work harder to make the same (often less)
Spend more time trying to keep sales I made than making new ones
Change in customer service
Raised prices above market price with no perceived benefit to buyers
Competitors beat us to market all the time with new innovative products
New products that fail
No clear target or goal
Changing goals and priorities
Something in their personal life changed
Desire to grow skills and responsibility
Growing quotas with shrinking commissions
Not feeling senior management values the role we play
Not feeling valued by my boss
Internally focused and not market focused
Poor company leadership (making same mistakes over and over again)
Playing favorites (treating some salespeople on team differently, not same standards)
No praise for job well done
Told “just make it happen” without proper tools
Do not feel appreciated
Not paid what was promised
Not paid expenses timely
Poor job Satisfaction overall
Change in territory
Asked to chase payment
Change in products I can sell
Company just sold
Company for sale
No common agreement on what is a “sales lead”
Company up for sale
No empowerment to make decisions in market
Slow response to needed answers to close a sale
Rude, ego driven new leader
Asked to be a farmer when I am a hunter
Disconnect between Management Expectations and Market Reality
Market I built reassigned and asked to build new territory
Treated like sales is a necessary evil
Change in go to market strategy, dealer model now selling direct
Told we make too much money
Failure to innovate
Because I hit my goals; given unfair share of new team sales quota
Hostile work environment
Change in a benefit like company car taken away, company credit card taken away
Lack of freedom
Lack of respect from company leaders and immediate boss
Not paid based on size of sales I produce
Treated like we are disposable
The above are a list of raw feedback when I asked why sales supper stars leave. To make sure we are on the same page I am not discussing why poor performing salespeople leave as I believe we should try to improve them and if that does not occur we should encourage poor performers to leave. The topic I am exploring is why Bill, who has been with you for 12 years, consistently blows away his goal year after year, who you think you are paying well , up and leaves and joins a competitor….how and why does this happen?
How about your company…does any of your salespeople share the above?
How many of the above concerns would your sales people say are occurring in your sales team today?
Is your future corporate financial performance at risk to a Sales force Sink hole? ..you sure?
Is your company at risk?
Have you lost a sales super star in the last six months? Why?
Do you account for the loss of good salespeople in your cost of quality meetings?
In the following posts I will group the concerns into common issues and themes then close by sharing how to develop a culture sales leaders are attracted to and want to be a part of.