The Most Effective Way to Predict and Reduce Sales Rep Turnover


Imagine that you could predict sales rep turnover. What would you do differently? You would probably be more proactive to help reduce the turnover. You would probably develop a system for addressing problems before they progress.


Here’s the deal: While you can’t predict everything, you can identify an employee lifecycle. Then you can develop a proactive system for managing it.


Developing an employee lifecycle management plan for the sales team will help reduce turnover. If utilized proactively, it will also improve employee productivity and engagement.  Use Employee lifecycle management to proactively address sales rep turnover.


How to Predict the Employee Lifecycle

The employee lifecycle spans from onboarding to career to exit. Managing this lifecycle successfully can reduce turnover and reduce the impact of turnover.


Employees’ productivity and their engagement with the company vary over time. But this variation can become more predictable by plotting typical patterns on a lifecycle chart.


Employee Engagement to Predict Sales TurnoverPlot time on the X axis and engagement or productivity on the Y axis. This will give you your employee lifecycle chart.


A typical productivity curve goes up and to the right, with occasional dips.


A typical engagement curve is more cyclical. The engagement line is more horizontal, with dips and peaks.


Employee lifecycles vary by role. Each role will have a unique-looking chart for both productivity and engagement. Timelines will vary based on the anticipated tenure. So the sales rep chart will look different than the chart for the sales manager.


Managing the Productivity Cycle:

On the lifecycle chart, the critical points on the productivity line are the dips. These note declines in productivity, and if at all possible should be addressed proactively.


Use our Sales Rep Onboarding Checklist to evaluate your current processes.  We’ve found this tool useful for creating onboarding programs that shorten a rep’s learning curve.  You can download the tool for free here.


During the first 12-18 months of a sales rep’s career, the onboarding process is essential. An effective onboarding program can bend the curve upward for the employee lifecycle.


Later on in the employee’s tenure, succession planning is key. Succession training can boost the productivity curve toward the right side of the lifecycle.


Other effective productivity management methods include:


  • Coaching and training


  • Reviewing leading indicators of success and creating a plan to address any shortfalls


  • Celebrating small victories – especially in long-cycle sales situations


Sales leaders have an important role here, too. Help them create scenarios where sales reps can experience small wins. Then have the leader point to these victories and improvements. A little bit of acknowledgement can go a long way.


Managing the Engagement Cycle:

Using the lifecycle chart, you can anticipate many of the drops in employee engagement. Meet each of these drops with a systematic employee engagement program. This will help reduce the steepness and duration of the drop.


Incentive compensation isn’t the only reward that works. Employee engagement programs don’t have to be monetary. They can be as simple as an anniversary celebration or an event. Family onboarding programs have been shown to be effective in boosting employee engagement. Also, giving reps ways to contribute to the culture can help pull them closer.


Internally-facing marketing activities can also help blunt the drop of engagement. Help employees take pride in and get excited about their role within the company.


How to Apply Employee Lifecycle Management to the Sales Organization:

First, know the employee lifecycle baseline. Chart the “norm” for the productivity and engagement lifecycles.


Second, plot each member of the sales team on the curve. Now you have your sales team baseline.


To proactively address engagement and productivity issues, continuously update the chart in real time. Take into consideration the following:


  • Behavioral indicators of productivity


  • Leading indicators of productivity


  • Lagging indicators (i.e. actual results) of productivity


  • Conversations indicating level of engagement


  • Level of participation in company events


When you anticipate dips in productivity or engagement, refer to the previous two sections. Use these remedies to address problems before they impact turnover.


Decreases in sales rep productivity and engagement don’t have to take you by surprise. Using the employee lifecycle management chart, you can get ahead of issues. Then you can proactively address them using purposefully designed programs.


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Mike Drapeau

Makes data and analysis come alive so clients can understand the “what” and “why” and design solutions that fit the environment.
Learn more about Mike Drapeau >

Once the leader of SBI Delivery, Mike is now head of the firm’s internal talent development, so he has had the fortune to help some amazing sales and marketing leaders. He starts by earning their trust. Much of this comes from his deep base of experience. With more than 25 years in sales, sales management, pre-sales and sales operations, he’s never met a challenge he didn’t like. And with backgrounds in sales leadership, marketing, and sales operations, he shuns the idea of being a desk jockey and relishes the idea of living in the field.


Mike maintains, develops, and leverages SBI’s library of emerging best practices for sales and marketing, which leads to evidence-based solutions, custom-fit to each client. Maniacally focused on execution, Mike does not believe in giving clients fancy deliverables with no operational details. He knows that field adoption is key. After all, if behavior doesn’t change, the lift doesn’t come. Likewise, if those closest to the field adopt the solution, the client wins.

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