The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    Sales Reps Don’t Quit Jobs, Reps Quit Managers

    by Anna Schott / August 10, 2015

    Photo by Hattie Kingsley Photography

    There’s a common belief that sales reps leave an organization because the money was not sufficient enough. This isn’t the case according to a Gallup poll of more than one million employed U.S. workers. A bad manager, boss or supervisor is the number one reason people leave. This is due to the environment their boss created and how they felt they were treated. Gallup also reported that poorly managed work teams are on average 50 percent less productive and 44 percent less profitable than well-managed groups. 

    Gallup’s polls, surveys and reports paint a picture of the impact managers have on their reps. How sales reps feel about their managers not only affects their work, but also their physical health. As humans, we have evolved to be sensitive of each other’s emotional cues, even those that are not easily seen on the surface. Emotions are contagious so when someone like the manager is unhappy, then the negativity, insecurity and stress spreads among the sales reps and sometimes the overall organization.

    Having such negative energy in the workplace creates a toxic environment as many reps can relate to. The graph shown below illustrates that the average person works for 8.7 hours a day and sleeps for 7.7 hours a day. The other 8 hours of the day is spent eating and drinking, doing household activities, caring for others and leisure.

    chart illustrating time use on an average work day for employed adults ages 25 to 54 with children

    (source found here)

    What I find intriguing is that more than half of the average person’s day is spent working and sleeping. In that case, a person really has to enjoy what he or she does to get out of bed every morning. Waking up for money purposes lasts only so long before destruction.

    Here are some ways in which you can retain your sales reps and overall work culture:

    Hold Meaningful 1:1’s

    This may come as a surprise to you but they should be held weekly. At EcSell, we proudly walk the talk. Each employee has their calendar marked for the same date and time every week that a 1:1 will be held. If there is a scheduling conflict DO NOT just cancel the 1:1. Reschedule and make time for this important activity.

    If this is too big of a stretch for you and your rep, start with every other week and move toward the goal of every week. Just know that this is a critical way to engage with the members on your team. The meetings do not have to be in person, due to scattered teammates. The phone can work just as well. The topics that should be covered, in order, are:

    1. Personal updates
    2. Previous week’s wins/losses
    3. KPI/Pipeline review
    4. Action steps to take
    5. How can I assist

    Participate in Joint Calls With Sales Reps

    As a manager, this is arguably the most fundamental activity in your job description. Participating in sales calls is critical to sales rep motivation and overall performance.  Having said that, there are three primary questions that a sales leader needs to answer when creating this joint work expectation:

    1. How often
    2. With whom 
    3. Determine your coaching role when on the call

    Execute Skill Development Sessions:

    Bill Eckstrom, President of the EcSell Institute, always says that at no time should sales leaders or sales reps act like finished products. Personal development within your sales reps results in growth in sales, performance and the overall well being of the company. A team skills development event for those who can get the team together monthly is needed.  This is much easier for inside sales or field reps and managers who office and work in the same geography.  There should also be 1-2 hours dedicated to growing skills that impact sales results (minimum of monthly). 

    There’s always the issue with teams being spread out geographically. That still shouldn’t deter you from making sure a skills development session is a small portion of every weekly team meeting held by phone.

    At the EcSell Institute we like to make the first Monday of every month a personal development presentation. Each team member must sign up and plan one session for the team. Past presenters have enlisted in vendors, training and development presenters, outside speakers or created their own personal development presentation including videos, exercises and discussion.

    These developmental sessions can cover everything from products, market, selling skills, time management, goal setting, etc.

    If any of these activities have not been executed then the time is now to start doing them. You must do what works if it can help sales reps sell more. It’s also important to note that the role of the manager has changed. That’s a fact, no longer an opinion. He or she must be a coach, psychologist, problem-solver, listener, ally, observer, strategist and much more. Because of these role changes research shows the trends displayed below demonstrating the evolutionary role of the manager.

    There’s no better time than now to take the necessary steps needed to become a better manager to your reps. It’s not always easy to make these changes, but it’s worth it. If you or someone you know would benefit from working with the EcSell Institute then please reach out. We cannot only help you increase the performance of your team, but also overall growth in sales. Who doesn’t want that?

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    Anna Schott

    Anna Schott

    Anna Schott served as Ecsell Institute's Director of Marketing.