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The Retention Challenge for Sales Managers

“Job satisfaction; chance for advancement; contribute to the team; professional growth; financial reward; status/prestige; etc.; etc.”  These are some of the elements professionals typically cite for staying in or, when dissatisfied, for leaving a company.  Yet research shows that nearly 80% of the people who stay in or leave a company do so primarily because of their immediate manager.  Here are some things every retention-minded Sales Manager should be thinking about.

That’s a rather daunting statistic. But the Gallup folks who wrote “First Break all The Rules” make a very strong case, based on hundreds of thousands of interviews, in explaining the key role that the immediate manager plays when it comes to retaining employees.

The front line sales manager assumes this critical role when you look at any sales force. He or she has a major impact on their people every day.

Consider the following pieces of research:

  • The most significant need of creative people, according to the Yankolovich Group, is an “intense desire for feedback.”  People need to know how they are doing and it is the manager’s job to provide that feedback, even if it is difficult.
  • When an individual is in a bad relationship with his or her manager, they will spend a significant part of their non-working time thinking about that manager.
  • Most sales managers claim that they coach their people 6-10 times a year; most salespeople say they are coached by their managers one or twice a year.
  • Sales managers complain that one of the biggest issues they encounter as managers is that their people don’t do what they want them to do. Most salespeople complain that they are not totally clear as to what their managers expect of them.

We are not sharing these bits and pieces of research to make you uncomfortable. And we are not doing it just to grab your attention. We are doing this to make you aware of the disparities that exist between perception and reality when it comes to managing people and how important your role is. We encourage you to remember how significantly you impact your people, and how sensitive you need to be with respect to how much power you have when it comes to your direct reports.

And with that in mind, we will occasionally use this Blog to share with you a thought, recommendation, skill, approach or methodology to help you manage your people more effectively. That doesn’t mean you are not doing a great job now.  We just want to remind you of the things you can do to keep your people growing.

Please let us know if the tips are helpful.  And like with the sales tips, you will see that we respond very quickly and enthusiastically to your suggestions and recommendations.  So let’s hear from you as the process evolves.