The signs that a sales rep is about to quit: The dirty dozen and three lost quarters

signs that a sales rep is about to quitThe impact of having a rep on your team who has decided to quit but has not yet resigned can affect a leader’s results for three full quarters of a year. Put another way, that’s 75% of annual quota. That’s a massive deadweight for any sales leader and can impact their ability to make the team’s target, let alone exceed it. Let’s look at each of the three quarters at risk:

  • Quarter One (they’ve decided to quit but haven’t yet told you) – The rep focuses on looking for a new job and stops working on all but some easy, short-term business, meaning deals that take more effort are ignored and pipeline building has stopped.
  • Quarter Two (the rep announces they are leaving) – That means not only have you lost business in the prior quarter but you’ve also had to unexpectedly divert your time into finding a replacement. A double whammy!
  • Quarter Three (replacement found – hopefully) – This still takes at least another 90 days, or the entirety of third quarter, to get a new sales rep up to speed, which means a third lost quarter of sales.

It is vital then, as the manager of a sales team, that the sooner you can detect a rep is about to quit the sooner you can take steps to manage the risk. One method of doing so is to pick up the ‘clusters of indicators’ that suggest a rep is planning on resigning in the not-so-distant future.

But what are the signs that a sales rep is about to quit? Here’s my dirty dozen:

  1. Behaviour change towards:
    a. Leaders
    b. Peers
    c. Teammates
    d. Other departments
    e. Customers
    f.  Partners/resellers
  2. Misses internal calls and meetings or team social events, e.g. the sales winners club trip.
  3. Forecasting becomes less accurate and lacks detail
  4. Prospecting stops and leads are not followed up
  5. Deals lost, stuck at one stage for longer than normal or simply vanish from the pipeline
  6. Lack of customer face time
  7. Pipeline mix changes – more add-on deals to existing users and less or no new business
  8. Quarterly business review (QBR) preparation is poor or non-existent
  9. Time off work at short notice and suddenly becomes uncontactable
  10. Negative comments and general pessimism
  11. Lack of interest in future planning past the current quarter
  12. Open issues or disputes about:
    1. Targets/quotas
    2. Salary
    3. Commission
    4. Expenses
    5. Territory/accounts
    6. Sharing of commission from an account with other team members
    7. Promotion – lack of
    8. Job title
    9. Attitude of colleagues towards them
    10. Qualification for sales achievers awards/club trip

Having a sales rep who has ‘internally resigned’ or what Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg calls, ‘leaving before you’ve left’ is exceedingly damaging and has a huge, negative impact on a leader’s ability to make target. If you want to avoid this situation, or at least want to be able to identify it early on, then keep an eye out for our warning signs which will hopefully enable you to prepare accordingly.

What are your warning signs for spotting that a sales rep is about to quit?

Take a look at our website to find out more about our accurate selection services

Or check out our blog to learn more about the challenges facing sales leaders around the world