Why Good People Leave Sales Jobs – and How You Can Keep Them

why people leave sales roles

Some sales jobs have an infamously high turnover rate. While this isn’t always a bad thing, it can be an inconvenience to feel like you’re always on the lookout for a new member for your sales team. Or, worse, it can be a major hit to your company if you’re losing good staff members. If you want to reduce sales staff turnover, this article will tell you why good people leave sales jobs – and how you can keep them.

39% of professionals only spent three to four years in one role before moving on – but what made them jump ship? Recruitment and HR expert, Robert Walters, published a study recently about why sales staff move on called The Exit Process and some of its content is invaluable. The study used feedback from hundreds of employees changing roles to find out exactly what made them want to move on and, more importantly, what could have made them stay. Read on to see why good people leave sales jobs and what you can do to keep your best staff on board.

No Longer Feeling Challenged

The Problem: This was the biggest reason respondents in the UK gave for wanting to leave their job with a third of participants choosing this –  and it’s easy to see why. If you’re going to spend the majority of your time in one place, it makes sense that you’d want it to be challenging and fulfilling. However, the crux of the matter is that not all jobs are going to be challenging and what’s interesting and fulfilling to one person might not be to another. So how can you keep an employee who’s bored?

How You Can Keep Them: Every business, however successful, has its share of challenges. Think about how you could enlist your best and brightest staff members with helping you out with these. For instance, ask the best person in your sales team for help with a key marketing issue. You don’t have to give new roles, though. How about a new rewards system where the top achievement is a genuine challenge for your staff? Try to tailor the rewards so that no one is coasting through their job – if everyone has something to aim for then they should always be motivated.

Company Culture


The Problem: 27% of people cited company culture or fellow colleagues as their main reason for looking for a new job. This is harder to control because you can’t make everyone get along but there are a few things you can do.

why people leave sales roles

How You Can Keep Them: Firstly, one vital thing you absolutely should be doing is putting a stop to any bad behaviour in the office as soon as it becomes apparent. While no one likes those awkward conversations, if one employee is acting out or creating bad feeling then their behaviour will affect the overall company culture. Address bad behaviour immediately to prevent negativity in the office.


Another positive step is to encourage interaction between teams in the office. Rather than separating the teams into, for example, ‘Internal Sales’ and ‘External Sales’, make sure that everyone is working towards the same goal, just with different roles. If possible, a co-operative office can help with this as it contributes to the feeling of being an integral part of a team. Another option is to make the directors, CEOs and managers more accessible. If your employees feel comfortable talking to their superiors, they are more likely to feel included and valued as an individual within the company.

Feeling Undervalued

The Problem: This is also a big reason why people leave with a further 26% of people reporting this as their main motivation to move on. By rewarding hard-working employees with more power and opportunities in the business, you are creating a clear progression path which implies that the employee has a sustainable future within the organisation. Not only does this keep staff for longer but studies have shown that employees who believe their job to be secure work harder and often produce better work as a result.

How You Can Keep Them: One practical solution is to get creative with job titles. Rather than having ‘Sales Team’ and then ‘Sales Managers’ why not stagger the positons so that your employees can graduate up a ladder from ‘Team Member’ to ‘Sales Executive’ to ‘Sales Leader’ and ultimately ‘Sales Manager’. This won’t be a good solution for everyone but could help some companies give their employees the recognition and growth they deserve.

why people leave sales roles


But what if you’re a small company or you simply can’t offer everyone a promotion? Don’t worry, you don’t need to make everyone a manager to keep them motivated. Simply introducing more responsibility or autonomy into employees’ existing roles can give the same positive feelings of a promotion without the expense. Perhaps allow a trusted employee to manage one recurring client or take the lead on an important sale. Even just praising more and micro-managing less can help (we all do it!).


why people leave sales roles

You may be surprised by these findings as the study also showed that there is a huge disparity between why employers think their staff have moved on and why the employees actually leave a job. The top 3 reasons employees give for changing jobs are those listed above – but what did their employers think were the top 3 reasons they lost their employees? Many employers blamed poaching as headhunting was the number 1 reason employers cited for employees resigning, followed by house moves and then pay.

While none of these made the top three reasons employees gave, money was still a key motivator and, in some cases, counter offers did win back a lost employee so it’s important to consider that, too.


The Problem: In the study, Walters pointed out that, thanks to the internet and increased networking, employees can easily see what others in their positions are earning and learn their own value. Therefore, it’s important that your employees feel that they are earning what they deserve. Of course, this is a two-way street and so you are entitled to not award pay rises to those employees who don’t deserve it – but what about those who do?

why people leave sales roles

How You Can Keep Them: Obviously pay rises are one way to keep people primarily concerned with money. But there are other options. Offering 5%, 10% or even 20% commission on business they find themselves is often a good motivator, particularly if you want to keep and reward your best staff members. Monetary rewards for consistently meeting sales targets is also a less expensive perk than pay rises. You could even offer vouchers in place of cash which you may be able to purchase for less than their face value, therefore saving you money and motivating your staff at the same time – win!

Communication is Key

why people leave sales roles

There is no definite way to keep a valued employee particularly as everyone wants different things in a job. However, communication is key and if you can meet face to face with your employees and discuss what they want, you may be able to find a mutually agreeable solution. In the mean time, if you offer a challenging role with good potential for growth, a positive working environment and a decent salary then the chances are that you’re in a good position to hire – and keep – top calibre employees.