Table of Contents

Introduction

Introduction: When sales talent tries to quit, you realistically have two options. You can let them resign, or you can try and save them.

Most CEOs and sales leaders in this situation, where strong, high achieving sales reps try to quit, will sit that individual down and ask them:

“Why are they trying to quit?”

Then the sales rep will list a whole host of reasons as to why…

most of which are usually untrue.

Now they could be buying to get some raise or a perk, or maybe they’re leveraging to get something else.

Possibly, they’re bluffing.

But this is not every sales rep.

When the company’s best sales reps are genuinely trying to leave, I’ve seen some CEOs pull some confident and arrogant moves. They know they can get this person to stay through manipulation or selling alternative solutions to keep the individual.

That is not my recommendation. And here’s why.

Read: How to hire the best sales leader

Why you should let your top sales reps leave

 

When somebody wants to quit, they usually want to leave for a particular reason.

You can change and reframe things to whatever capacity you desire.

But at the end of the day, you will have a decision to make:

Do you keep them or let them go?

So, what should you do if a top rep wants to quit? My recommendation would be just to let them go. The truth is, by the time they tell you, mentally, they’ve already walked out the door. And whatever the problem they had, usually will remain despite you realigning or readjusting their duties. Then they will walk back through your door and quit again.

It’s human psychology 101.

It stems from an unmet desire that will turn into an internal conflict inside this individual.

Your sales rep will always want to go and explore that new opportunity on the job market, even if the unique situation you created for them is incredible.

We all know the saying: the grass is greener on the other side. Your sales rep will constantly look over the fence for greater prospects if you keep them.

They’re going to feel unfulfilled, thinking: “what if?”

The result: you save this person, and it’s only a matter of time until they come back and have this conversation with you again.

My recommendation would be just to let them go. The truth is, by the time they tell you, mentally, they’ve already walked out the door.

Choice 1: Saving your top reps

 

Typically, a CEO or sales leads first instinct is to save their top sales talent. They see it as more significant losses having to replace valuable sales team members.

CEOs, sales leaders, and sales managers will typically ask:

“Why do you want to quit your job?”

“Is it because of the role that you’re in?”

“Or, do you just hate the job?”

A CEO with this line of questioning is fishing for a specific answer.

Ultimately, they want the salesperson to say that the role and position make them unhappy, not the company or corporate culture.

The reason.

In the mind of a CEO, this is an easy fix.

You recreate and reframe the situation to keep the reps happy. You may give them:

  • more responsibilities
  • more money and earning potential
  • new sales floor duties
  • more time selling
  • growth opportunities
  • less non-sales activities and duties
  • more challenging sales goals

It could be a combination or a whole host of different things. From the onset, this sounds like a great idea.

sales leader talking with salesperson

Now the CEO can say:

“If I save this person, I’m not going to have to suffer the opportunity cost of a vacant seat on my sales team.”

“I’m not going to have to suffer the turnover cost.”

Now that all that sounds great. However, there is a downside that is rarely ever taken into consideration.

Look at the bigger picture. Whatever problems your top talent had usually will remain and persist. You cannot simply remove by realigning or readjusting their duties.

Over the next three to six months, that person either comes back and wants to quit.

Or worse, their demeanor, attitude, behavior, and level of personal responsibility to the organization have significantly decreased.

They’re no longer nearly as effective before them wanting to quit.

And, your high-performing salespeople will turn into your poor performers.

The reason…

…they believe the grass is greener on the other side.

The grass is never greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.

Read: How to evaluate your sales leader

Option 2: Let them resign

 

Let me walk you through what I would do in your shoes.

Suppose my top rep says they want to quit; the first thing I am going to ask them:

“Why do you want to quit? What’s going on? You’re a top performer here; we value you.”

You’re going to ask them not to leave. However, you are also going to follow it up with a:

 

sales leader in office make a call to client

 

Request that they tell you the truth.

 

You need to know it to address the issue. You can’t fix something that you don’t know.

Frame this carefully to inspire confidence inside of them.

Ensure your request gives them a level of safety and security. And you are more likely to get correct feedback.

 

Ask them if they have another job lined up.

 

More than likely, they have something. Top salespeople are generally responsible.

They will not jump ship without knowing where to sell next.

People don’t typically just quit a job on a whim, which means they were either looking for some time or headhunted and recruited into a different situation.

Man and woman engaged in thought-provoking discussion at the office

Let them leave BUT give them the option to return.

 

Permit your salesperson to leave.

However, this is key:

Let your top performer know that they can leave, but reassure them that if it’s not everything they were promised or believe, they can return within the next 90 days.

You can say:

“If you are not 100% happy inside of the next 90 days, you can always come back.”

I’ve seen countless people leave one situation for other companies that they think will be better, but it only turns out that it’s not.

However, the sense of disagreeable when returning to the company usually prevents them from returning.

Reassure them that if it’s not everything they promised you and you are not 100% happy inside the next 90 days, you can always come back.

The grass is never greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.

When you provide your top performers with an option to return, you have reframed the conversation.

Now, with your words and your message, you have told them that they are a valued member.

You respect and admire their input.

You have also permitted them to scratch that itch.

And, it creates this expectation that this person will come back.

 

Give your employee the next steps.

 

sales leader discussing with sales team member

Don’t just leave it there. What’s the first rule of sales?

Always make sure you have the next steps.

So, here’s how I would do it.

When this person comes in tells me they’re leaving, I would say:

“Okay. It’s the first of the month. You will serve out your next two weeks. And on this date, you will be done. Ninety days from then, let’s put a meeting on the calendar.”

Put a meeting on the calendar to meet with this person, face-to-face, outside the office.

Now the power dynamic shifts in your favor.

You are not beholden to them, but rather, they now view you in a much better light maintaining goodwill and loyalty with this individual.

Remember, you’re only doing this for a high-level, high-performing sales employee.

Read: How to pay your salespeople: Vp Sales & Sales Team

Conclusion

sales leader talking with sales people

The most important thing you can do is sit down with a top performer, get them to let their guard down, have them open up, and tell you exactly why they’re leaving.

Create an opportunity for them to return.

You will shift the power dynamic in your favor maintaining goodwill and loyalty with this individual.

Remember, you’re only doing this for a high-level, high-performing sales employee.

It’s going to be very difficult to replace someone that’s already very difficult to find.

What we’re doing, we’re giving them enough space to go and figure out what they want and what they need.

If this person comes back, they will be ten times more valuable to you than before.

And you’ll also know where their loyalties lie.

Are you ready?

We only work with the most determined and passionate leaders. If you want to close more deals, multiply your revenue, and scale your business, we’re ready to take action.