The Boston Chapter of the Sales Enablement Society recently met to discuss the role of Revenue Enablement in reducing the impact of sales turnover on our businesses.
This article summarizes the challenges we face with sales turnover and the insights from those who attended on how Enablement can mitigate the impact on our businesses.
Current State of Sales Turnover
Gartner estimates that your business loses 7.5 months of productivity every time a seller leaves your company. Given an average sales turnover, pre-covid, of nearly 1 in 3 for sellers, this probably has one of the most significant negative impacts on your business.
It is only getting worse.
At the 2021 Sales Enablement Society National Conference, Eli Johnson tackled the topic of Seller Turnover and Rookie Ramp time, sharing these insights.
- PWC surveyed a couple of thousand employees and 752 executives and found that 65% of workers are currently job-hunting (that’s almost double the pre-covid rate).
- While compensation is the single biggest reason for jumping, wellness, upskilling, and career growth are not far behind compensation.
All of this leaves us with a lot of new people joining our organizations.
It continues to get worse.
We know that tenure for our outside sales teams still runs at around 30 months and that in many organizations, sellers don’t reach full ramp for nearly nine months.
Fully productive selling time is extremely limited.
We know that the Great Resignation has increased turnover across every job function in every vertical.
This problem is not going away soon.
How can Enablement lower the sales turnover rate?
As discussed earlier, there are many reasons for sales turnover.
Supporting career development
Enablement professionals need to build cross functional collaboration into their work, from HR to sales leadership and elsewhere in the business, to enable front-line managers to have open conversations about career development and personal growth.
Ideally, these conversations should start during the hiring process and be part of seller development plans.
However, even if you have not included these conversations in onboarding, helping your front-line managers have these conversations benefit your people and your business.
These conversations are crucial for career development – enabling them to happen is part of your job.
Simplifying and streamlining sellers jobs
Your sales team consists of people who want to spend their time selling.
Not entering information into the CRM.
Not struggling to find the correct information through the deluge of helpful emails and content thrown at them.
Not sitting in hours of training.
As Enablement professionals, if we do our jobs properly, we can give our sellers more time to focus on selling effectively.
We must remain agile in our thinking as the world, the marketplace we work in, and the company around us change.
The competencies we train against, the rising awareness of the impact of mental health challenges, and so on are opportunities to strategically partner and support our teams.
Mentorship, done well, creates strong relationships, supports peer-level coaching and training, and provides fantastic value to both parties.
Create a formal mentorship program in your business to ensure everyone has someone on whom they can depend.
Hiring right fits
Success in a previous role does not guarantee success in a new position.
Understand, as referenced above, what competencies and experiences truly matter for success in your business.
Understand what competencies you can train vs. those you need new hires to have on day one.
In line with supporting career development, have open conversations with people during hiring and onboarding to understand their WHY.
- WHY did they join your company versus others they interviewed at?
- WHY do they get out of bed each morning and do what they do?
Include the classic TED Talk from Simon Sinek on Starting with Why as you introduce these conversations during onboarding sessions. It is an eye-opener worth hearing and thinking through.
What can Enablement do to reduce the amount of lost productivity from sales turnover?
The reality is this.
People will leave your company.
Unlike my father and mother, and maybe yours too, few people spend 30+ years at one place any longer.
Ensure sellers have a clear guide, framework, and set of processes they use at your business.
And document it all.
And treat is as a living document.
Ensure new sellers are onboarded with the information, and that existing sellers review it quarterly.
These structures simplify onboarding and streamline the adoption of the systems and processes you need to succeed.
I have worked at too many companies that treat employee exits as a secret, not to be uttered aloud.
Work with your sales managers and HR teams to get involved with the offboarding process (or lead the charge to create one).
Getting this visibility into employee churn may give you insights to improve the experience for the next seller, leading to incremental improvement overall.
Don’t miss out on this.
Do you really understand what competencies you hire for, and what competencies you must train?
Honestly, too few businesses actually do.
For many, there is a lack of understanding of how to begin.
For others, senior leaders may be so metrics-focused that they don’t see the ROI and don’t support it.
A successful Enablement program that seeks to minimize ramp time, and remain agile as market conditions change, should understand and leverage competency models.
Open and honest culture
This one is hard but vital.
Do your managers and leaders understand what people enjoy doing, where their skills (or competencies) lay, enough to not leave someone in a role they will fail in?
Perhaps your struggling outside seller would be amazing in Customer Success – is that where they want to be anyway?
Teach managers, and employees, to have an open dialog that focuses not just on the short-term business metrics, but on true employee development.
This is a true win and can even provide opportunities for the new employee to partner with the one transitioning to a new role, to speed up their ramp time.
We’ve all been there.
A big deal is moving through the pipeline and the sales lead leaves the business.
The deal grinds to a halt.
If you leverage team selling, and keep more people involved with the account, the impact of one person leaving is greatly minimized.
This was a great session and I hope that all readers of this find as much value from the conversation as we all did having it live.
Join the LinkedIn Group of the Boston Chapter of the Sales Enablement Society and be on the lookout for more information on next month’s topic.