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When you look to buy a home, what do you do? A walk through and an inspection to ensure you are 100 confident in your purchase with the hope that it is your home for many years. When you look to buy a car, what do you do? You test drive it to ensure that this is a car that you can drive for several years. When it comes to hiring, sales leaders and owners of businesses do interviews, assessments, and background checks before offering someone a role. But how much do you really get from these?

At a prior job, I had a fairly rigorous hiring process and hired someone who had industry and sales experience, was thoroughly prepared (knocked the interview process out of the park), and was a unanimous thumbs up across the board. After only 4 days at the company he quit and disappeared without a reason or a goodbye. I questioned – Was it our culture? Was it something I had done? The answer turned out to be no. It was simply the fact he had received another offer elsewhere and preferred that role over the one he had “committed” to. Turnover in sales roles has been increasing for years and the following statistics back that up:

    • The average sales rep tenure is now 1.5 years. (Bridge Group
    • It costs at least $115k to replace a salesperson. (Xactly
    • Voluntary turnover is roughly 16 for sales roles, among the highest of any role in America. (Xactly
    • 25 of salespeople say they will likely leave their current role within a year and 44 within 2 years. (Deloitte
    • 89 of salespeople leave because of deficient compensation (which includes unrealistic targets or unfair distribution of books and leads) and 60-80 leave because of bad leadership or a lack of connection with sales leaders at the company. (SiriusDecisions)

Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) are widespread within sales with the stick approach of “hit this goal or you are out”. I personally hate this style of management as it unnecessarily increases turnover. As Richard Branson says: “You shouldn’t be looking for people slipping up, you should be looking for all the good things people do and praising those.”

So how can you lower sales turnover? By allowing both the company and salesperson to “try before they buy”. Over the past few months, we have noticed that when a candidate spends a few months working for the company they buy into the culture and what they are selling which, in turn, causes them to stay longer. On the flip side, the company gets to test out whether the candidate is indeed a right fit for them without having to worry about too many expenses. To me, this is a win on both ends of the equation.