Why Do Top Sellers Quit? Unfair Comp Plans and Mindless Busy Work

By AJ Bruno • April, 2020 • 5 mins

“Our people are our most important asset.”

I hear that a lot. Company leaders talk tirelessly about the importance of attracting and retaining top talent. They tout efforts to create a happy, productive workforce that rewards high performers for jobs well done.

Many leaders do a great job. But far too often, the best people quit. This is especially true in sales, where 35% turnover rates dwarf the overall average turnover of 13%. While it’s partially due to a sink-or-swim landscape, many sales managers are actively driving away their best reps with unfair rules, non-transparent policies, ever-changing comp plans, and mindless busywork.

Here are the top reasons your best-sellers are quitting:

They don’t understand their comp plan

A sales comp plan needs to be straightforward and easy to follow. When salespeople truly understand how much money they can earn, they’re more likely to be motivated to smash quotas and strive for valuable bonuses. It’s hardly a new idea. Economists have been arguing for simpler sales comp plans since the 1980s.

They spend too much time on non-selling activities

Salespeople don’t make companies money by attending meetings, updating spreadsheets, or filling out documents. They make money closing deals. Just one hour per day spent on non-selling activities cuts earning potential by 12.5% (based on a 40-hour work week). But many organizations exceed that stat. Gartner reports that number is closer to 16.4%.

Their comp plan changes frequently

Does it seem like your comp structures change a few times per year? That can happen for a number of reasons. Perhaps you hired a new sales director. Perhaps you changed the high-level goals of the organization. Whatever the reason, sudden changes to comp plans feel surprising and unfair. They could be the catalyst for a strong salesperson to leave your company for good. It’s fine to change your comp plan, but make sure it’s absolutely necessary before going through the headache of a change.

They don’t receive their comp plans until March

When sales reps are forced to wait weeks — even months — for sales comp plans, they can feel forgotten and insignificant in the eyes of upper management. Plus, they won’t know which metrics to shoot for. That’s a serious demotivator.

They’re underpaid

Nobody comes to work because it’s fun. They come to work to make money. If sales compensation is insufficient, don’t expect reps to go the extra mile to close deals. Do some research with Glassdoor or PayScale and make sure you’re aligned with your area.

They don’t have a solid, clearly laid out career path

People want to learn and progress. In fact, 82% of employees say a lack of career progression would lead them to quit their jobs. It’s critical to provide training and growth potential. High-performing sales organizations already do this, and they’re twice as likely to provide ongoing training as low-performing ones.

They have the rules changed on them mid-game

Salespeople want to be rewarded for demolishing sales quotas. If you are reducing commissions or increasing quotas simply because your team is overachieving, it can feel like they’re being penalized for doing a good job.

Their quota is unrealistic

Top sales reps will catch on pretty quickly if there’s no legitimate chance at reaching quotas — then leave your organization as fast as possible.

Their commissions are capped

Payment caps can be deadly to a sales team. They remove any incentive for sales reps to continue selling after reaching quota. Uncapping earnings keeps reps motivated throughout the entire month or quarter, and ultimately leads to increases in sales.

They see poor performers sticking around

Keeping reps on staff who can’t produce decreases competition and sends a message to the team that it’s okay to be mediocre.

In fact, 78% of high-performing sales organizations will terminate a poor performer within a year, compared to 52% of underperforming sales organizations. Companies want high performers who challenge one another so everyone performs at high levels. Top companies hire slow and fire fast.

Their commission payments are late or delayed

Salespeople want a square deal. When payments are late or delayed, it feels unfair. It also hurts their ability to financially plan — and can lead them to run for the door.

Their travel arrangements are restricted

Sales reps work nights, weekends, and travel often. In fact, 83% wish they could spend more time with family and friends and 51% say loved ones tell them they work too much. So when they’re on the road, treat them right. They don’t need lobster dinners and fancy hotel rooms, but skimping on travel could make them grow weary of management.

They’re being micromanaged

It’s often said that people don’t quit jobs; they quit bosses. If a manager is constantly looking over a sales rep’s shoulder, the rep is not going to be very happy. In fact, 68% of people who’ve been micromanaged say it decreases morale, and 55% say it hurts productivity. Instead, empower your salespeople to make key decisions and think entrepreneurially.

When salespeople understand their comp plans, they’re more likely to stay motivated, crush goals, and feel supported by management. QuotaPath helps them calculate and automate commissions in a quick, easy way organization and like their on the right career trajectory. If you haven’t checked us out, it’s free to sign up and start tracking your commissions today.

Updated on April, 2020

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