By Jeffrey Gitomer
Why do sales people quit their job? More money? Better job opportunity? Don’t like what they are doing? Don’t like their boss? Don’t like their corporate politics? Don’t like how you’re being treated as a person? Don’t feel the company is supporting them? Just had their commissions cut? Company going back on their word about paying or deal structure? Not paid what you felt you were owed? Just lost their best customer to the competition?
Answer: Some—or all—of the above.
Sales professionals seem to hopscotch jobs as moths flutter from one light bulb to the next, trying to find the brightest one. I don’t think the question is just, “reason for leaving.” I think it goes deeper. I think it’s “cause and effect,” and even deeper, “motive.” Motive being a short word for motivation.
This issue is further complicated by the fact that most people, when they do leave a job, won’t tell the bosses their real reason for leaving. Oh, they give a stated reason like better opportunity, more money, but there’s always an underlying motive. An unspoken reason. Like, “I hate you.”
It’s interesting to note that more than 74 percent of people who quit their job do so because of a bad boss or bad company policies. Yet, no boss that I have ever spoken to ever told me: “My best salesperson quit and it’s all my fault.”
Note well: Within one week of departure, the departing salesperson will soon become the scapegoat for everything bad that’s ever happened in the history of the company.
If you’re the boss, and you throw the person who quit under the bus and back up, it sends a message to every other person on the team that you’re going to do the same thing to them if they leave. Not a real boost to morale. If you’re the salesperson and you don’t have the guts to tell the boss the real reason why you’re leaving, then you’re going to have to be willing to accept your fate with respect to the trashing that you’re going to take.
There are no easy answers here. Some industries are more incestuous than others. The real issue here is, why are you quitting and what can you do to build your career, rather than having to start it over?
I get at least 10 requests a week from salespeople wanting to quit their job and asking for advice. Here’s what I tell them:
1. List the real reasons that you dislike what you’re doing.
2. Now, list the reasons that you like what you’re doing.
3. Add a one sentence description to both the dislike and the like column to give yourself further insight as to “why.”
4. Ask yourself which one of the bad things will be eliminated at the new job and which one of the good things will continue at the new job. This way you give yourself an evaluation before you enter your new position.
5. Call people at the place you want to work and ask what they like and dislike.
6. Write down what you feel you gain (other than money) at your new position and ask yourself: Could you have gained the same thing at your old position?
You won’t like the next piece of guidance, but it will show you the real reality of where you are and where you’re going:
Become the No. 1 salesperson at your existing company, then quit. If you’re thinking about leaving your job and you are not the No. 1 salesperson, it is likely that you will not be No. 1 at your next job, either, and it is even more likely that you will bring half your disgruntlement to that next job. If you stay at your present job until you become the No. 1 salesperson, no boss will be able to throw you under the bus, you leave a hero of the company, you leave with pride, you leave with self-respect, and you leave with the attitude of a winner, not a whiner.
See? I told you you’d hate it.
So here’s your opportunity: Quit complaining, quit whining about your job or your circumstance, quit trashing other people to make yourself look good, and just dig in. If you really consider yourself great at sales, then attaining the No. 1 position shouldn’t be much of a problem. Heck, you’re always bragging about how great you are—prove it!
Bosses beware: If your salespeople are leaving you at a rate of greater than 20 percent per year, look in the mirror. If you “can’t find any good people out there” let me give you a big clue: There are, in fact, plenty of good people out there. They’re just not working for you.
Salespeople be aware: Your next boss may be no better than your previous boss. You’re best tactical and strategic advantage is to arrive on the scene as the No. 1 salesperson from your previous job, rather than the No. 1 whiner about your previous job. If you do this, you have set the stage for sales success. Your sales success.
Jeffrey Gitomer is author of The Little Red Book of Selling and The Little Red Book of Sales Answers.
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