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Why Top Sales Reps Quit...

Have you been through this scenario before? Your top sales rep just quit. You never saw it coming and you’re trying to pick up the pieces and figure out why? This happens a lot actually, and it’s a problem companies have been trying to solve for ages. Some have appropriately addressed these issues and realized an immediate improvement in sales exec retention.

Let’s look at a few reasons why top sales reps quit, and some possible solutions to the problem.

The Compensation Package

One of the top reasons that a person will quit any job comes down to dollars and cents. If a sales exec feels like they aren’t being fairly compensated for their gains, they’re going to start looking elsewhere. It is important that companies design well structured compensation plans that take into account competitive base salary, commission and realistic sales quotas-- and of paramount importance, make sure it’s concise! I have seen compensation packages that are so complex that employees felt like they are being cheated, even when that isn’t the case. T

he point is, when you make the compensation package too complicated, that degrades trust and loyalty. Another compensation issue that is extremely problematic is changing up the package in the middle of the game without employee input. When a sales exec feels like you’ve changed everything out of left field, they aren’t going to feel confident about their place in the company.

Your Competition is Poaching Your Best People

This is why it’s important to keep your ear to the ground. Whether a competitor is going after your top performers, or they are looking outwards, there’s usually a reason for it. You have to pay attention and see the signs that a sales rep is getting ready to jump ship. One way to prevent this from happening is by building a solid retention plan. The hope with this is that your people won’t want to leave because you’ve built the infrastructure in a way that helps them to love their jobs.

One big trigger for a sales exec to quit is a work anniversary. Most people tend to quit on or around major work milestones. “I’ve been with this company five years, I need more growth opportunities.” You’ve probably heard that one a million times. So it’s important to check in with employees as their anniversaries approach, and get feedback, give recognition, discuss opportunities for professional growth and revisit their current compensation package. A 15-minute chat about these topics can go a long way in keeping everybody on board.

One Bad Apple

Speaking of recognition, a failure to recognize that one employee is bringing down the ship can really put off a top producing sales rep. If one team member is constantly falling short of sales goals and not putting in the work that the rest of the team is, this creates a breeding ground for resentment, especially with your high-performers. One solution is to define the high performance standards and success attributes you want from your entire team. Be specific and precise about what you expect and talk about it often in your team meetings and one on one’s. Then enforce your high standards through coaching. If someone falls short, take immediate action to reverse course.


Nation's Executive Search Group is sought out by leaders in Enterprise Risk Management, Marketing Services and Decision Analytics for mission critical sales and marketing leadership talent. For more information, email or call Rob at (410) 827-0180,

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