Resignation Threats? How To Keep Your Good Sales People

Published: 27th May 2010
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A high turnover rate is one of the principal problems facing the field sales department today. This is due to an increasing trend of sales staff changing jobs more frequently. If first-rate sales people leave the business, you have to deal with fiscal losses as a consequence of breaks in revenue, together with the expenditure of training their replacement. Retaining staff is for that reason often a hot topic for people attending a management course.

The cost of recruiting, placing and training the average salesperson including paying them whilst they are learning the ropes before they are bringing in any revenue is around £9,000. There is the additional cost of the diversion of the sales managers time taken up in recruitment. This is a time consuming task, which most managers could do without.

As a result many companies have analysed the an assortment of steps that can be considered in order to decrease sales staff turnover. Guidelines should be put in place for dealing with salespeople who want to leave as follows:

1.React immediately! This means within the first five minutes. A valuable salesperson that has just tendered his resignation becomes your number one priority. Excuses, such as "We will discuss this later, after the meeting this afternoon" are not acceptable. Interrupt or postpone whatever you are doing and speak with the salesperson immediately. This is the only chance you will have of changing their mind.

2.Do not mention the resignation to anyone else! This is extremely important for both sides. The salesperson on the point of resigning must have the opportunity to revise their decision without losing face in front of their colleagues. Silence is also the best policy from the point of view of the company: if you do manage to persuade a top salesperson to stay and their intention to resign was common knowledge, there would be wild rumours of massive pay rises in order to keep them. In principle, you do not use more money as a bargaining chip in order to keep top salespeople.

3.Listen attentively to what the salesperson has to say! Try and find out the precise reason for the salesperson's intention to resign. Any attempt to try and dissuade the salesperson will fail if you have been unable to ascertain and accept the real reason(s) for this. Give an unvarnished report of the reason(s) to your immediate superior, even if you find this uncomfortable. A major topic on a management course is effective communication and is therefore a core skill required of any manager.

4.Find out what opportunities are available to the sales representatives in a different company: a more interesting area to work in, more money, less stress, more stress or a bigger career step? You only have a chance of convincing the sales representative to stay with the company if you have this information.

5.Think out your arguments! Check which arguments you can use to try and convince the sales representative to stay. The safest ones are those which give the reasons outlining why it is in the sales representative's interests not to go.

6.Remember that there are basically two reasons to tender a resignation: on the one hand, the sales representative may have been feeling frustrated for a long time now and it has taken just one last thing to make up his mind to leave. Alternatively, another business may have presented them with a more attractive offer.

7.Solve the sales representative's problems! The majority of sales representatives who have acknowledged their intention to give notice like the corporation, their occupation and their colleagues and would like to stay.

8.Prevent further resignations! Think about the rest of your sales representatives and try and recognise problems early on and deal with them before they become too big!

Implementing these points can help to retain good salespeople and therefore make a positive impact on business performance. You can also develop you skills further by attending a management course.


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Richard Stone (richard.stone@spearhead-training.co.uk) is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that runs management courses aimed at improving business performance.

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