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Retaining staff


I am in the process of implementing a retention strategy within my sales organisation as the staff turnover is high. Does anyone have ideas or methods they've used that have proved particularly successful when tackling this issue?

neil ashford

4 Responses

  1. Depends on reasons
    Neil, in my experience you need first to understand the underlying reasons for (a) why some people leave and (b) why some stay. Until you know these, I don’t see how you can put in place a retention strategy.

    In case (a), you can try exit interviews or contacting people who have left. In case (b) you could do an internal survey. Are your salaries, etc competitive; where are those who leave going to?

    It might be a mismatch between what they were promised and what the work actually is; or an unrealistic balance between basic salary and commission; or lack of career structure; difficult boss, etc. You won’t know until you probe.

    The other thing to consider is whether you are losing those people you would prefer to keep and keeping thise who are not as good. This may be a refelection of poor recruitment processes and/or bad job design/career structure.

    It’s difficult to make any more suggestions without knowing mre about your organisation.

    I hope this is of some help.


  2. Do what Pete says!
    Go with Peter’s suggestion. Having tackled this very issue in a large (~5000) organisation where staff turnover was in excess of 25% for new starters in their first year, you have simply GOT TO find out why they leave, and why others stay. The process of doing this will possibly yield some uncomfortable truths, so be prepared.

    Good luck,


  3. Recruitment Practice
    Hi Neil,

    While I agree with the others that you should establish why people are leaving, there is something else you should look at for a sales team.

    It may be that you are recruiting a lot of sales people who are not up to the job in hand – this is very common in sales roles and leads to high staff turnover.

    This can be addressed through a strong sales training programme at induction and also by revising your recruitment practices so that your recruits demonstrate some of the behaviours of your more successful staff during the interview process and are tested for resilience to ensure that they are a good fit to the organisation and the sales structure.

    I worked for an organisation where the turnover of sales staff in their first 3 months was 95%! However we put into place a better induction and recruitment strategy and while things weren’t perfect – they never are with sales people – we reduced this to below 5% a good starter for ten at least.

  4. What is the reason for the high staff turnover?
    Hi Neil

    I’m sure you have already looked closely into what is causing the high staff turnover and that will give you a clue to the direction you need to take.

    If you haven’t already done so, you need to undertake an audit to find out the underlying cause of the high staff turnover and be prepared to make changes.

    There may be a problem with stress and/or motivation and you will need to look into this. Also take a look at absenteeism. Are figures high? There may also be other clues and you may need to consider a review of working practices to help increase motivation and reduce stress.


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