He made more money than your sales leader. He hit the top commission rate. Yet, he left.


Why did you lose your top rep? Here’s a secret: It’s not all about the money. In the sports world, we often hear this from athletes. Yet, we rarely see this happen. In sales, it’s a different story. It’s not just about the money for your top reps. It’s difficult to grow revenue faster than your industry’s growth rate and faster than your competitors. Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook to access a revenue growth methodology to hit your number quarter after quarter, and year after year.


We regularly survey sales forces. Their number one complaint is lack of coaching from their boss. Reps don’t feel they get the care and feeding from their direct supervisor. They leave because they don’t feel the love. Want proof? Download the Sales Exit Interview Guide. Interview recently departed reps. You’ll be surprised what comes out ahead of sales compensation.


Why Exit Interviews Fail


Exit interviews fail to give companies insight for 2 reasons:


1. They don’t happen  


Usually companies let their people walk out the door on their last day. Last paycheck is provided. Badge and PC turned in. See ya.


You are losing an opportunity to improve your work force. Exit interviews can teach you about:


  • Management concerns
  • Training needs
  • Lead generation challenges
  • Sales process issues
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Compensation problems


Why continue treating symptoms when you can address root causes?


2. The interviews are performed in-house 


It’s difficult to extract meaningful information if exit interviews are done in-house. Consider your options:


  • Direct manager – The #1 reason people leave is because of their manager. Good luck getting valuable insight if he’s doing it.
  • Indirect manager – A peer of the direct boss is giving the interview. Might as well have your manager in the room at this point. Low probability of confidentiality.
  • HR – Let’s face it. Reps do everything possible to steer clear of HR. Suddenly, they’re going to open their hearts to them? HR keeps personnel files. Gives references for future jobs. No chance.  


We’ve reviewed hundreds of exit interviews conducted by companies. Conclusion: Lots of fluff. People are unlikely to be honest if they are talking to one of your employees.


Need A Quick Fix?

No time or resources to implement exit interviews? Here are 3 easy things you can do to improve employee retention immediately.


1. Coaching – We see so many managers investing in their lowest performers. “If I can move Tim from a ‘C’ to a ‘B,’ it would be huge.” Would it? You don’t play with the worst golf ball in your bag. You don’t bat your pitcher in the cleanup spot.


‘C’ players don’t make the number. Instead of wasting valuable time at the bottom, over serve the top. The best athletes in the world have coaches: Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Serena Williams. Why? The best want coaching. It’s a mistake to think your ‘A’ players don’t want your time and attention. Nobody gets better by being ignored.


CEO Tip – Spend  a ½ day in the field with your top reps twice/quarter. Give them coaching and feedback on their sales calls. Not sure how? Read this before heading into the field.


2. Recognition – Ever performed in front of a crowd? Did the applause and cheering pump you up? People need the love. It’s more than a paycheck. It’s about acknowledging and appreciating their efforts.


The Human Capital Institute conducted a study on the Value & ROI of Recognition. It showed companies rewarding beyond compensation had happier employees with better results. Nobody wants a thankless job.


Tip for the CEO – Make performance public. Do you have a scoreboard showing the stack ranking of your sales team? Being publicly recognized as the ‘top rep’ is a huge point of pride for sales reps.


3. Environment – Does your workplace look and feel like a morgue? Times have changed. Nobody wants to work in an office with bare walls and no atmosphere. You’re a growing company with young, vibrant employees. Step it up!


Fortune released its list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. Take a read through some attributes of the top 10:


  • “Sports contests”
  • “Creative anarchy”
  • “Talent shows”
  • “Red zone report”
  • “Gift cards”


Yes, Google spends exorbitant amounts of money recognizing their employees. Guess what? You can do any of the above items for almost $0. The NFL is often dubbed the ‘No Fun League.’ Don’t let your company fall victim to this.


Tip for the CEO – Create an Events Team. Make it their charter to develop quarterly events for your company. Include a few top reps.


Exit interviews are a highly underrated way to diagnose issues in your sales force. If you aren’t doing them, you’re missing an opportunity to keep your best people happy.


Exit interviews or not, give the 3 quick fixes provided in this post a try. If you decide exit interviews are for you, best case is to bring in a 3rd party.


Want to do this yourself? The Sales Exit Interview Guide is here for the taking. You can start today.


If you would like to spend some time with me on this subject, come see me in Dallas at The Studio, SBI’s multimillion dollar, one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art executive briefing center. A visit to The Studio increases the probability of making your number because the sessions are built on the proven strength and stability of SBI, the industry leader in B2B sales and marketing.


The Studio Executive Briefing Center



Scott Gruher

Orchestrates and designs the perfect project strategy, one engagement at a time, to ensure that every SBI client makes their number.

Scott joined SBI in 2010 with years of hands-on experience in sales leadership and enterprise selling. Since his arrival, he has helped dozens of organizations dramatically accelerate growth, from Fortune 10 organizations like Phillips 66 to fast-growing cloud service organizations like InfusionSoft. Scott specializes in cross-functional alignment. He helps leaders align around the growth goal and design the right processes to bring the strategy to life. His unique combination of real world experience and a pragmatic approach to problem solving have made him one of SBI’s most demanded resources.

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