Why do you think top salespeople quit? I know why.

At least I know the number one reason cited by the top tech salespeople we work with on new roles – and it’s not money.

Everyday we talk to dozens of top tech salespeople and sales engineers regarding their careers. Not all of them are interested in leaving, but approximately 50% are willing to talk to us about a career change. That means if you have a team of 10 strong performers, 5 of them will take our call and hear about an opportunity your competitor has in the marketplace. Look at a list of your team, which 1/2 would take my call?

We decided to do a study, and compile the actual numbers over the course of 30 days of the top reason why salespeople want to talk to us. When we poll our clients on why they’re losing talent, they overwhelmingly said it was money-motivated, or they were going to an “easier sell”. Over 70% of clients pointed the finger at the marketplace or the salesperson.

When we compared the actual reasons our candidates gave with the reasons our clients THOUGHT they lost their talent, it was an eye opener.  When we do a search, we dig deep with our candidates, well past the basics, and we feel we found one overwhelming category that continued to surface to the top. The salespeople that wanted out gave as this as the #1 reason: Their direct manager, and more specifically, their managers lack of regular and clear communication.

The people we included were seasoned, fully onboarded, producing salespeople. In excess of 3 out of 4 (76%) of the responses cited as one of the main two reasons they wanted to move was their “direct leader’s lack of attention and their communication or access to them”. Not the product offering. Not the comp package. Not the changes in the sales process. Not their marketing support. Not their sales engineering or lack thereof.

Why is this so important? What do you think it costs to backfill a ramped up and successful sales person? Studies say it costs 3-4x a NON-revenue producers salary to replace and onboard a backfill. I argue that a revenue producer can cost 5-10x annual total comp in terms of lost revenue – both future deals and current customers, as well as the additional expense of hiring. Do that math, it hurts. Ugh.

So, what can we do about it? Here’s the advice directly from three top MSP and Cloud salespeople that will be quitting in the next 6 months (and I mean top 3% of the marketplace by production):

1.  “Stop canceling our 1:1’s. I’ve been blowing up quotas for four years now. My RVP is a smart woman, and knows our business like none other. But, our weekly 1:1 has happened exactly twice so far this year. It’s June 20th, and I’ve had a formal 1:1 twice to review numbers and funnel. And guess what happened when we did sit down? We talked about family, kids, and vacations. She told me I was on track to blow up my quota again…and left it at that. When I wanted to go deeper into my accounts, she said we should schedule time for that – that was the scheduled time! I’ve found in our company, if you’re not hitting quota you get leadership’s time and energy. We’re the forgotten soldiers. I want to grow too. But I’m going to go somewhere that even the XXXXX Circle winners get invested in and a focus on growth.”

2.   “I work from a home office, and dial in weekly to our main office in XXXXXX for our Regional sales call. So, you have 11 people in a conference room at our home office, and 3 of us in the field. This is about my only time I interact with the team as a whole anymore. It’s off putting to stay the least. I am the number 2 producer out of 14 reps in our sector. The 3 of us listen in to chatter, inside jokes, and banter over decks that haven’t been sent out. It’s amazing how we feel like the step children of the organization. Our VP of Sales has been in the field to visit us once on average per quarter, and that’s for 4 hours tops. The lack of communication has us feeling like we’re vendors to our own company rather than part of the team. I’m not asking for a full process revamp, but put us on the same level with the folks at the home office. Simple stuff, send us the deck you’re referencing the day before the meeting, use our case studies, and keep it to business while we’re on the phone. Hearing about Susie in accountings hair isn’t how I want to spend my day – especially if I have never even seen Susie’s bad hair. (I changed Susie’s name to protect her hair stylist’s reputation!)”

3. “Tell us how we’re doing. Even if we are beating our numbers. Give us metrics, but give us metrics that we can drive back to our comp numbers. Metrics for the sake of satisfying Sales Ops or validating Marketing Div’s costs are inevitable, but make sure they are meaningful to my bottom line. And communicate them to us regularly. We only hear about our metrics when we miss them, and they are about impossible to track without getting sales ops on the phone for twenty minutes. They’re not given to us on time, they change every quarter, and no one knows why they’re even important to hit. It would be nice to have a consistent message to guide us.”

So, what’s the common thread here? How can you avoid these issues? Communication. It’s free. Talk to your top salespeople before I do. And do it regularly, because I am.