Given the high cost of replacing a sales professional it never ceases to amaze me how little focus is placed on getting the hiring process right. A major ingredient in an effective hiring process is ensuring a solid “fit” between the employer and employee. To that end, here are three simple but proven tips that will show you how to reduce sales force turnover.
Set Proper Expectations.
A consistent top 5 reason why top performers consider looking for a new position is a failure on their employers’ part to live up to the expectations that were set during the interview process. Unfortunately, most employers and hiring managers don’t give this adequate thought. A best practice is to write down job expectations and socialize this document with all parties involved in the interview process. Putting these expectations into writing literally gets all parties on the same page – HR, hiring managers, external recruiters and most importantly, potential employees. It also ensures that the expectations that are being set are ones that can be met. This does take work but I can assure you that it’s a lot easier than replacing an employee.
If you’re a sales professional considering joining a company, write out your expectations as you understand them. Then go over them with your potential boss when you receive an offer. Presented poorly, you may find yourself starting off on the wrong foot with your potential new boss.Done correctly, you’ll impress them. Here is an example of what done right could look like:
Thank you for extending an offer to me to join your team. I’m thrilled!
As I look over the offer letter (or – Before I accept the offer) I want to make sure that I have the right expectations of the position and opportunity. Between the attached offer and our conversations here is what I understand you’re offering:
- Territory will be…
- Several new products to be launched in fiscal year 2016
- Realistic year 1 income # of x based on hitting 100% quota
- Quota of year 1
I would also like to know what expectations you have of me going in so I can ensure that I can meet and exceed them. After hearing back from you and assuming that we’re on the same page, I will be able to make a decision within 24 hours (or – I’m ready to accept). Again, excited at the prospect of joining your team.”
The best sales professionals that I’ve worked with (when I was their client) were excellent at bringing transparency into the buying process. Why wouldn’t we bring that same level of transparency into your employment decision?
Whether you are an employer or employee, fact check. If your #1 reason for working at Company X is the hiring manager’s story about his/her reps’ w-2s, it’s prudent to speak with 1-2 of the reps on the team. You may find that the hiring manager’s story about his/her reps earnings is true but the territory you are interviewing for is a lemon.
Even more common than a hiring manger overstating income potential, is a sales rep overstating their sales performance. I cannot tell you how often a sales rep drops out of an interview process after I press them to prove their w-2 history and sales #s. Only 25% of reps are bonafide top performers but more than half will claim they are. Worse, many of the impostor top performers interview exceptionally well. Again, verify their numbers.
WYSIWYG (What You See if What You Get).
Your mother’s advice to “be yourself” applies to interview etiquette. If you’re a demanding boss it’s going to be a very big surprise to your new employee if you were accommodating and flattering during the interview process. The same goes for the sales professional interviewing for a new job. If you bristle at the thought of being micro-managed, it’s imperative that you understand your potential boss’ management style. With both sides, if you see a potential conflict, it’s better to address it before working together.
Your Mindset – The Main “How to” That Reduces Sales Force Turnover.
I understand that following my advice requires having potentially uncomfortable conversations. After two decades of selling personally and studying top sales performers I’ve come to realize that the ability to have difficult conversations is one of the most important ingredients in sales and sales leadership success. Should you choose to avoid some of these trickier conversations, do it with the understanding that you’re increasing the likelihood of a poor employee/employer fit. You can read more of my tips on how to reduce sales force turnover in 5 Tips to Increase Sales and Reduce Turnover and our eBook How to Hire Top Performing Sales Reps.