My Turnover’s Bigger Than Your Turnover

Two companies, in similar industries, have similar sales forces. They both sell into the same marketplace with non-competing products. Both are top of the line, value added and easily differentiated in an otherwise commodity driven market. Comparison after comparison makes it difficult to see how these companies are different from one another until we get to their turnover. The larger of the two companies, PM, has little turnover on its sales force. GP, a little smaller, has frequent sales turnover. They both share the same belief in the importance of a consultative approach to selling, have a sales process, and not being order takers. They both have capable sales management. They both pay well, above the industry norm. PM turned over only 2 of 16 salespeople last year while GP turned over 5 of 12. Why such a difference?

One of the factors that many managers don’t understand is that turnover is almost always a byproduct of management. GP has much higher expectations, demands much more accountability, and is much less tolerant of failure. In addition, top management at GP has no patience, doesn’t give out praise and holds monthly reviews where salespeople can learn just how bad they are – every 30 days!

Even when management is more reasonable, like the management at PM, turnover is most often the result of bad hiring decisions, another management responsibility. The easiest way to eliminate a bad sales hiring decision is to use an accurate, sales specific, pre-employment assessment as part of an effective, optimized recruiting process. Recruiting, performed properly, is the execution of a number of clearly defined steps, resulting in the ability to accurately predict which candidates will succeed in the sales position you have available. If your current process and assessment don’t identify those people with consistency and accuracy, your process and assessment must be modified in much the way you would modify any process that didn’t consistently yield the desired result.