Seven Ways To Kill Off Your Best Salespeople
Recently, the vice president of sales of a Fortune 1000 company asked me, “Why am I losing my top producers? They are leaving $100,000 jobs to work for organizations that are paying $30,000 less than us.”
He had ample reason to be alarmed because he was talking about top producers, the top three or four out of his 50+ sales force. And, these sales representatives were writing about 60% or 70% of his total sales. He wanted to cure this difficult problem before the sales force eroded even more.
While there are dozens of reasons why salespeople move from one organization to another, we looked at what I have learned are the seven major factors that cause most top producers to jump ship. So, we focused on these factors first. After doing so, the vice president of sales had his answer and knew how to solve this problem.
1. Top producers believe in unlimited earning potential.
Most people, including most salespeople, only work hard enough to attain what they consider a comfortable lifestyle. If most sales representatives need $70,000 to pay their bills, provide for their families, enjoy a vacation, put a little bit aside for the future and the kids education, they seldom will work harder to earn more.
Not top producers, however. Top producers believe what they were told when they were hired: “Your earning potential has no limit here. We want you to earn lots of money.” That is, until some senior executives meet and say, “Wait a minute, do you know that Sally is going to earn more than we are this year? Thats not right; we are senior executives and cant have salespeople earning more than we do!”
So, they start implementing ways to cap the top producers earnings. Salaries are increased and commissions are decreased. The top producer is told, “You are doing such a fantastic job, we want to increase your salary but, of course, your commission structure will change. And, we are going to increase our contribution to your medical insurance.” When the top producer discovers he will actually earn less money for the same amount of premium dollars, he or she starts looking for a better structure elsewhere.
There are myriad variations on this theme, but all of them accomplish one thing: They kill off the top producer. These changes dont affect those who arent motivated by unlimited earnings potential. Top producers quickly see through these changes and realize they are targeted directly at them. They start to shop for a new job. And, they find it with companies that offer a better salary plus a better commission structure. They stay there until their new senior management inflicts the same damage all over again.
2. Top producers want to be left alone and are not team players.
Collaboration. Team Meetings. QC Circles. Strategy Sessions. IT Rollouts. Corporate America today is abuzz with the sound of many voices talking about how to get things done. The talking takes forever to a top producer. Talented salespeople dont want to collaborate. They dont want to meet. They have defamatory terms for QC and IT. They could care less about rollouts. To top producers, these things prohibit them from doing what they want to doto sell your products and services. Let them do it. Keep them out of these nonsales activities. Let those who dont know how to sell attend these meetings.