The Revenue Compass Blog

The Big Picture: Nearly 1 out of every 3 salespeople turnover each year, according to LinkedIn, Hubspot, Forbes & Harvard Business Review.

In comparison, the average turnover rate for all professions is about 13%. That means, the turnover rate in sales is 3x higher.

The big question is WHY?

Zoom Out: Having spent the last 2 decades building sales teams, my hypothesis is that vast majority of this turnover is happening with salespeople within their 1st year of employment.

I reached out to our community of business leaders who are actively building / growing their B2B sales teams and asked them a series of questions specifically around their Year 1 salespeople’s expectations, performance and compensation.

Clearly, there are many other factors that impact retention like organizational culture and effectiveness, hiring, onboarding, training & development, etc. That said, I wanted to narrow my focus into an area that you, the leader of your organization, can control and positively impact.  

Zoom In: Over the years, I’ve developed a simple 2x2 matrix to evaluate and manage people -called the “Peak Performer” matrix.  

The horizontal axis is “Cultural Alignment” and the vertical axis is “Performance Alignment”. Clearly, it’s critical to define “what good looks like” both from a cultural and performance standpoint within each role of your organization.  

2x2 People Matrix

Here are the high-level responses from our audience (B2B professional & technical services, avg. ~52 employees, ~7 salespeople, ~3 years of experience).

Questions & Responses:

1) What percentage of your salespeople are “culturally aligned” (Core Values, doing the job the “right way”, etc.) by the end of their 1st year?

2) What percentage of your salespeople are meeting / exceeding your “performance goals & expectations” by the end of their 1st year?

3) What percentage of your salespeople would you “enthusiastically rehire” by the end of their 1st year?

4) What percentage of your salespeople are terminated or resigned with their 1st year?

Interesting. Our survey results are nearly identical to the average U.S. salespeople turnover cited earlier. That said, I was solely focused on Year 1 which further entrenches our belief that the first 12 months are absolutely critical to the success and longevity of your salespeople.

Between the Lines: So what now? A better question is…what can you do about it?

Here are five actionable items to help your organization improve at attracting, screening, selecting, onboarding, training, leading, managing, compensating and retaining top sales talent.  

  1. Design a Success Profile for your sales roles and clearly define your job mission and performance goals & expectations.
  2. Establish a Year 1 Ramp Schedule based on recent / historical data, and focus on hitting key sales activity milestones within their first 3 - 6 months (connections, meetings, proposals) rather than focusing on outcomes (wins, revenue, etc.).
  3. Refine your strategy so that your 1st year salespeople are pursuing the “right” prospects (rather than casting too wide of a net). The first ~3 to 6 months of selling within your company will make or break their confidence.
  4. Define your process so that your 1st year salespeople can take and maintain control of your sales process.
  5. Create a safe environment to learn how to perform in the role (observations, shadows, role-plays, etc.) rather than rushing to “get them on the phone”.

*Message me directly if you are interested in receiving the full report.

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