How to Keep Your Good Sales Reps

People will leave jobs for a variety of reasons. It is just a matter of fact that you will not keep all of them to be able to have them receive their 25 year anniversary watch. How do you keep from losing too many of the good ones…keep investing in them.

Here is my version of the typical sales force (of 3 salespeople or more) that I see. You have your big producers. These are the guys who bring in so much money for the company that they are given somewhat free reign simply because you don’t want to upset them and have them and their book of business leave. Then there are the bottom feeders that are just holding on. Much of sales management’s time is spent trying to help these guys sell something or replacing them. Then you have your middle guys. They are usually hitting quota (or close) and pretty much follow procedure. Their expenses are under control simply because they just don’t have the type of “pull” that the big boys have. As a sales manager, these guys cause you very little trouble, so you don’t spend too much time with them other than the occasional check of an expense report. They will come to you when they need you, right?

Unfortunately, they don’t and it is these middle guys (who are generally quite profitable for the company) who are the ones who leave. Their territory is given to a bottom feeder “with potential” who may or may not grow into the position…usually not because while sales managers speak so highly of the personal relationships that they want their reps to develop, they figure that when the old rep left, the new rep will retain that business because they were “buying from the company.”

So is that the best it can get? Absolutely not. I find that the strong sales teams that I work with are that way because they have invested time, energy, and of course some money into the development of these middle guys. But what if the sales manager has no free time after coddling the high producer and interviewing to replace the bottom feeder? Invest in an outsourced assistant sales manager who can come in a few hours a week and work with those middle guys, going out on sales calls with them, giving them insight, and just talking to them about opportunities and obstacles. Also invest in peer advisory groups for them, so not only can they learn from others who are out calling on the same doors (not competitors but people selling to the same people they are) but they will also have a place where they can talk about some of the frustrations on the job without their sales manager thinking that they are not getting the job done.

Before you know it, these middle guys will not only not be thinking of leaving, but they will be nipping at the heels of the top dogs.


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