If you ranked sales leaders’ biggest pain points, rep retention would be high on the list. Onboarding takes time and money. After you get someone performing, the last thing that you want is for that person to quit. Starting the whole process all over again creates more work for you, lowers team morale, and hurts your ability to attract top talent. It’s a vicious circle.  

Imagine what you could gain for your business if you were able to reduce that turnover – even by a small amount. By retaining your best performers, you save the expense and resources required to find someone new.

To retain reps longer, you need to understand why they leave. When you start seeing sales rep turnover increase in your organization, take a peek under the hood for a closer look at what might be the problem. Following are three common areas where problems occur:

Not Enough Opportunity for Growth

Are you giving sales people the ability to grow in their roles? Coaching is key to growth. Do you have people, processes, and systems in place to make coaching an ongoing activity in your organization? All the data shows that reps want coaching from their leaders – and they want it personalized to their needs. That’s why investing in training your managers on how to coach is critical to your success. This Forbes article says it best: “People leave managers, not companies.” Without adequate coaching and training, they can’t move forward in their careers.

The “Unbalanced” Compensation Plan

Do you have the right base versus variable pay in place? If your variable pay isn’t competitive or motivating enough, you could be at risk of losing top reps. Building a modern comp plan can also help position your company as an industry leader for hiring top talent. According to Xactly Insights’ aggregated, anonymous pay and performance data, companies that pay at 75th percentile or higher see 50% less turnover.

Further, are you offering enough – and the right – incentives to drive the performance that you want?  Many times, compensation alone isn’t enough. Like all employees, sales reps want to feel valued. Do you have recognition awards? You can also leverage SPIFs to create a competitive, but fun, atmosphere for the team.

Poor Onboarding Process

The first 90 days  a new employee is on the job are critical to their success. I’ve seen many instances where reps are put into a one or two week training class, and then they are left on their own. It is in your best interest to continue the onboarding process beyond just their first few weeks. According to a survey led by BambooHR, one third of employees reported having quit a job within six months of starting it. Between 16-17 percent of respondents left between the first week and the third month of starting their new job.

To help reps ramp up quickly, it’s on you as leaders to have a clear understanding about your marketing and product messaging, your competition, sales process, etc. – and to educate your team on them.

Managing Salesperson Retention and Turnover

Finding out how to recruit, motivate, and retain your top performers is vital to your business success. For fresh insight into the biggest causes and the best solutions for sales turnover, the Sales Management Association has undertaken a new survey.

According to Bob Kelly, Chairman of the Sales Management Association, “The research aims to quantify specific management practices' impact on sales force retention and turnover. We think salesperson turnover represents an under-accounted for risk to sales force performance. In the same light, salesperson retention generates substantial, often undervalued benefits to firms effective in this area.”

To make changes, you first need to get a better picture of the problem. Then, you need to understand what solutions can help turn the situation around.

If you’re a sales leader, the Sales Management Association invites you to participate in their research. It takes just a few minutes, and the Sales Management Association has promised to send all participants a free copy of their research findings. You can take the survey now right here.

Micheline Nijmeh is CMO at Xactly Corporation, a leading provider of enterprise-class, cloud-based, incentive compensation for employee and sales performance management. Xactly’s products allow organizations to make strategic decisions, increase employee performance, improve margins, and mitigate risks.