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Coming Soon: The Great Sales Turnover Binge?

· Transparency,sales leadership,sales engagement

From reading the tea leaves, I see a train filled with sales turnover coming.

What tea leaves, you ask?

I read a lot of behavioral science, and lately my focus has been on sales leadership: how do we create environments where our sellers have maximum intrinsic inspiration, driving them to want to stay and want to advocate on our behalf; lower turnover, maximum performance, faster speed-to-hire.

However, the conversations I’ve had lately - about the current selling environment and sellers true emotional cost to switch: they scream to me that faster speed-to-hire is definitely happening, but at a cost of higher turnover.

Changing jobs in today's environment is a lot like changing streaming TV providers - low friction, low emotional cost.

Here's what I mean:

Ten years ago, my house was an end-to-end Comcast Cable TV customer.

We had cables running in from the ground, through the walls, into set-top boxes on four different TVs.

Every year, the price went up - but we dealt with it. The alternative was a satellite dish, which would require an installation from the roof, different devices with the TVs, and a similar pricing model.

So, every year, we ate the higher cost - as the cost to change was high, but the straws were adding up.

A couple years ago, the straw that broke us dropped on top - we ditched the boxes and cables, bought a couple cheap ROKU devices, and went full stream. It was easy, less expensive and more pervasive (I could watch on my laptop while on the road).

We signed up with AT&T Now, and have kept them for the past two+ years.

However, three weeks ago, AT&T Now emailed us with the following message:

“Due to increased programming costs, the price of your AT&T TV NOW package will increase to $94.99 a month, and your total monthly charge will go up by $9.99 starting with your 04/07/2021 payment.”

It was the first price increase since we signed up.

However, within ten minutes, I canceled with AT&T, and signed up on YouTube TV.

Aside from a couple of channel differences, and at a benefit of a slightly lower investment than AT&T pre-price-increase, there was very little disruption. Easy-peasy...same solution for less money, and a lot less money than the oncoming price-increase.

In today’s selling environment, changing jobs is becoming a lot like changing streaming TV service providers.

There are a number of things that keep us intrinsically inspired: things like freedom, feedback, and our ability to forecast the future; day-to-day, week-to-week and even long term.

However, three key items to keep in mind:

1) 70% of our intrinsic inspiration is directly associated with our manager.

2) Sales reps are coin-operated...if you're doing it wrong (i.e., the job & environment sucks). And even if reps were coin-operated in an environment they like, that is considered an "extrinsic" motivator. Fairness, on the other hand, is an "intrinsic" element, relating to (a) is the juice (I.e., the reward) worth the squeeze (I.e., the effort, and the rewards of others like me).

3) Connectedness is a core part of the committed team-member. When we feel social connectedness at work, turnover goes down, engagement goes up, performance goes up and profit goes up.

We do our best when we feel safe, when we feel like others have our back, when we feel a true part of a team.

As I work with piles of sales organizations, I am truly amazed by the efforts leaders have taken to create social connectedness amongst team members.

However...the lack of physical activity experiences erodes social connectedness1, meaning that our connectedness to others in our working world is eroding due to the extending virtual working environment. In other words, when you haven't actually met your manager or your co-workers, never having had lunch with them, a drink after work, coffee in the kitchen area, or even running into anyone in the hallways, your connectedness cannot help but be lower.

The burden of job-change, both physically and emotionally, has never been lower!

Much like AT&T's price increase on our streaming TV service, it's unlikely to take much to drive an individual who's working in your organization, whom you've never met, to suddenly take off.

"Quotas are going up!"

"Your territory is going to shrink."

"You're getting a new manager (whom you've never met)!"

You're in a personal slump.

Your friend tells you about how great the job & money is at her job...oh, and they're hiring!

What can you do to stem the tide?

1) Go beyond the forecast in your rep 1-on-1's: 

Do your reps know what their work means to you...on a personal level? Do your reps know what their work means to the company? The customers? The customers' customers? Have that conversation. Function - the mission & purpose of their work - is a key intrinsic inspiration in absence of connection.

2) If you have to raise quotas or squeeze territories this year, see #1 above:

As a CRO, the four biggest ways we could grow were: (1) More Products, (2) More Geographies, (3) More Verticals, and/or (4) More Reps.

While we need to encourage our reps to always be improving, always striving to attain more and always be seeking the skills and tools to maximize their efficiency, right now, quota raises and having to choose #4 with a result of territory shrinkage sounds a lot like an AT&T price increase.

Be careful! Growth is amazing...for you, and not always for your sellers, unless they feel like they are A PART OF IT. When they can see their contribution matter - to you and your company, inspiration through mission and purpose grows.

3) If you're on the other side and hiring, leverage the sound of transparency:

If you’re growing, just know it might not take much to flip reps from other companies. It’s not a race to the bottom, though - inflating salaries and perks is a long-term loser. Make sure you are focused on creating the best workplace imaginable, and encourage your team members to share their experiences - Glassdoor, Indeed, Capterra - because the smart candidate is doing their homework!

What do you think? Is it just me thinking this way? What other ways are you driving connectedness beyond the virtual team meetings & happy hours?

1Zuo, Y., Ma, Y., Zhang, M., Wu, X., & Ren, Z. (2021). The impact of sharing physical activity experience on social network sites on residents’ social connectedness:a cross-sectional survey during COVID-19 social quarantine. Globalization and Health, 17(1),

By the way, reviews are incredibly helpful to me and my business. If you're so inclined, I'd love it...:

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