Blog Post

Why Good Salespeople Leave and What You Can Do

Apex Note:  Today, May 11, 2018, we announced open registration for a new Apex event we are calling the Selling Skills Summit: S3.  Every year we lightly touch upon sales issues at our Annual Users’ Conference but our customers keep asking for more. Hence, in Atlanta, July 19-20, we are hosting a 2-day, “roll-up-your-sleeves” sales training event. That training will include this blog topic, how to hire and retain good sales people.


If your firm boasts a strong sales staff, you’re ahead of the game. But a growing market for sales talent means you’ll need to be on your own A-game in order to keep that competitive edge.

According to a DePaul University study, the average turnover cost per sales representative is $97,690 when you add up recruiting costs, training costs and lost sales. Plus, it can take an average 3.69 months to replace a top-notch inside sales professional, 5.42 for a great field sales rep. And for SaaS (software as a service) and other recurring revenue businesses, it can take upward of 11 months to break even on a new sales hire.

A recent study by Glassdoor found that 68 percent of currently employed sales professionals plan to look for a new job within the next year, and 45 percent aim for a quicker switch – within the next three months. In fact, just 19 percent of those surveyed say they have no immediate plans to leave their companies.

To ensure that your top talent stays put, it’s critical to know the three most common reasons sales professionals jump ship and how you can avoid a loss.


  1. Limited growth opportunities: No matter the field, limited opportunity for career growth is a major issue. But for sales professionals, who are intensely goal-oriented by nature, it’s a deal killer. Studies show that 70 percent of sales reps who left their organizations due to lack of promotion opportunities were top performers. Start grooming your strongest new prospects from day one with an onboarding process that clearly spells out their responsibilities, your expectations and policies concerning pay raises, bonuses and promotions throughout their tenure at your company.
  2. Boredom: Keep your sales stars from getting antsy by providing challenges throughout their tenures, including assigning them increasingly larger sales territories; opportunities to develop and launch new product and service offerings; and chances to shine among their peers by leading training sessions or serving in advisory roles. Also, because sales can be a solitary job much of the time, it’s important that you foster a culture of camaraderie among sales and support staff as well as management.
  3. Greener pastures: Top sales staff can be lured away by competitors offering higher compensation and better benefits. Make sure the pay and benefits packages you offer are competitive. Meanwhile, consider sweetening the deal with a mixture of monetary and non-monetary incentives. Consultants recommend increasingly larger retention bonuses that pay out at one, two, four and five years; shares in the company that can be vested within six to 12 months; two consecutive weeks of extra vacation time beginning at the two-year mark to ensure reps return fully charged; and annual sales and professional development training offered inhouse or tuition reimbursement for related outside education and training.


Hiring top salespeople can be challenging.  For tips see our blog posted last week, “Tips for Hiring Top Payroll Services Sales Reps”.   Once you land that rainmaker, retention starts day 1.  Sales managers that practice the items mentioned in this blog post do report a direct correlation to retention.

To learn about the Apex Selling Skills Summit, click here.

Registration opens May 11. The S3 event is intended for Apex customers.