If you are looking for a purely objective review of The Zero-Turnover Sales Force: How to Maximize Revenue by Keeping Your Sales Team Intact by Doug McLeod (AMACOM: 2010), this probably isn’t the review for you. Seldom does one read a book and think “wow, I could have written this” because the author’s train of thought is so close to your own. Well, Doug McLeod is apparently my long-lost identical twin.
The Zero-Turnover Sales Force doesn’t promise zero-turnover, of course, but it lays out a strategy to radically decrease turnover in the sales force to the point that it may be effectively zero-turnover.
How does one go from a 20, 30, 40% or more turnover rate to almost none? And what is turnover costing you? Eliminating turnover isn’t easy, says McLeod, but it can be done IF sales management and the CEO both buy into the appropriate actions that will eliminate the primary reasons salespeople leave. And with a simple exercise he demonstrates just how much turnover is costing you and taking away from your bottom-line.
McLeod first addresses the underlying question: why salespeople leave. He argues it isn’t money; it isn’t a lack of advancement opportunity; it isn’t a quest for change. It’s—well, the way McLeod puts it is “they don’t quit the job, they quit YOU.” Salespeople quit because management isn’t giving them what they need. In other words, turnover isn’t salesperson induced, it’s management induced.
Not exactly what most of us managers want to hear.
The issue starts, according to McLeod, during the hiring process. Management doesn’t probe to discover what the prospective seller is really looking for in a company or a sales position. McLeod says we have to ask questions and keep asking until we have at least some idea of what the potential employee is looking for—and if we can meet their expectations. It’s those unfulfilled expectations that ultimately lead to turnover.
Equally necessary and as likely not to happen is probing to find out why our salespeople leave us. Seldom does a manager ask a seller who resigns why they’re leaving. The why they leave is just as important as the why they start.
McLeod discusses what he calls “The 12 Assassins of Sales Force Stability” which are:
Fuzzy Goals and Unrealistic Expectations
Inattention to Top Sellers
Hesitation and Impatience with Young Salespeople
Unrest in the Trenches
Time as an Enemy
A Website That Doesn’t Sell
I’m sure that you’ll agree with some factors on the list, maybe question others, and adamantly disagree with still others. However, before taking exception to any of the factors McLeod identifies, I’d encourage you to grab a copy of The Zero-Turnover Sales Force and listen to his arguments because he lays out a case that can be well argued and defended. Most of us, however, will have experienced for ourselves the deadly impact of many, if not all, of these issues on salespeople.
And McLeod’s solutions?
The solutions to most of the issues are contained within the issue themselves. Unfocused training demands an analysis of the training the manager and company provide and revamping it to make sure it is both focused on real needs and is consistent with sales process of the company. Disorganized ride-alongs require the manager carefully plan each ride-along and utilize the time wisely. Cold calling demands that the company find more effective and productive ways for the sales team to find and connect with quality prospects.
With each issue McLeod identifies the solution—change training from unfocused to focused—and gives specific action steps to take to make sure you’ve not only eliminated the problem but have turned it into a company positive.
You’ll never reach zero-turnover. But you can radically reduce your turnover by recognizing where the real turnover issue lies—with the management team—and constructively and positively addressing and eliminating the management created issues. McLeod shows you how to get on track to putting a ton of money back on your bottom-line.
The Zero-Turnover Sales Force is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, and all fine bookstores.