How to Overcome High Turnover in Your Sales Organization

Carter Hopkins

Carter Hopkins


Early Stage


How to Overcome High Turnover in Your Sales Organization

At Pursuit, we get the opportunity to work with some of the top sales leaders and top sales talent across the country. We have hundreds of conversations each week with these sales leaders that bring us so much insight and value into the sales world, we wanted to bring these industry leader conversations to you.

Is there a Turnover Problem in Sales?

Turnover within sales positions is a growing concern for many. According to sources such as LinkedIn, HubSpot, Forbes, and Harvard Business Review, nearly 1 out of every 3 sales reps leave their position within the first year, compared to a 13% turnover rate in all other positions. This is 3x higher than other roles and highlights the need to figure out root causes and potential solutions. In this episode, we had the pleasure of chatting with Scott Peterson, Founder and Principal at Carver Peterson Consulting, to talk about his experience and research into this exact topic. Continue reading or listen to the full episode here to learn more.

Issue #1: Disconnect Between Expectations and Performance

One of the major factors contributing to high turnover in sales is the disconnect between expectations of leaders and the actual performance of sales reps within the first year. Scott conducted a survey that revealed 77% of first-year sellers were underperforming, achieving only 77% of their revenue goals, and only 56% of these sellers were meeting their overall performance goals and expectations. Additionally, only 52% of first-year sellers would be enthusiastically rehired by their respective organizations. These figures suggest a significant gap between corporate expectations and the reality of sales performance. 

Additionally, there is a lack of onboarding and training for first year sales reps. Leaders want to get them on the phones and get them producing as quick as they can rather than really taking the time to educate, practice and prepare and get them ready to perform in a really effective way.


Issue #2: Finding Top Sales Talent

“How on earth are you going to find an A-Player if you're not actively pursuing them?”

A big factor impacting high turnover in sales is flawed talent acquisition processes. Many companies struggle to find and attract top sales talent, relying solely on job postings and hoping for the right candidates to come forward. However, many top sales reps are already employed and not actively job-seeking - thus, with the above strategy you never really see the best people. Actively pursuing and attracting top sales talent is essential to building a high-performing sales team. 

Additionally, to effectively hire the right people, your interview process must be efficient. Because a lot of organizations haven’t defined what success looks like in the role, they don’t know what they’re looking for in a sales rep. Clearly defining what success looks like in the role, considering the unique sales opportunities and required competencies, and then developing a hiring strategy based on this will ensure the people you’re hiring are going to be high-performing.

Issue #3: Insufficient Training and Development

Most companies rush new hires into sales roles without proper training which often leads to decreased performance and job dissatisfaction. Putting new sellers into the fire before they’re ready happens at a lot of organizations. Typically, when they don’t see early success is when doubt starts to creep in. Creating some inputs rather than results based metrics ultimately tells you that they’re putting in the work and results will follow, just not right away.

By setting achievable milestones, tracking progress, and providing regular feedback, managers can create a better rapport with their sales reps to encourage them.

Solutions to Reduce Turnover

Reducing turnover in sales positions is crucial for building high-performing sales teams. Below are some strategies Scott and his company help teams implement to reduce their turnover within the sales function.

1.  Role clarity

Because a lot of companies haven’t defined what success looks like for each individual role, they don’t know what key milestones are or what competencies are required for success - so the sales rep doesn’t know what they are striving for. Clearly define expectations and responsibilities for each sales role within the organization. Communicate these expectations to sales reps, ensuring they have a clear understanding of what success looks like. 

2. Hire Top Performers

Once you’ve created the role, you need to figure out who would be the ideal person for the role - and then hire based on that profile. Thoroughly assess candidates for fit and potential rather than solely relying on resumes. Most top performers are actively employed; meaning they’re not going to be applying for your open role. Organizations have to adopt a proactive approach to talent acquisition if they want high-performing sales talent on their team. 

Scott and his company now work on a variety of potential solutions for sales leaders starting with defining clear and measurable success criteria for each sales role within their organization. 

3.  Onboarding and training

Create comprehensive training and support to set up first year sales reps for success. Simply hiring and expecting a sales rep to be a plug and play is setting them and your team up to fail. Develop milestones, metrics, and establish realistic expectations to instill confidence and motivation in sales reps early on in their first year. 

4. Coaching and mentorship

Just because a sales rep is an individual contributor, doesn’t mean they don’t need coaching. Ongoing support and guidance to develop growth potential in reps is an essential part of developing high performing teams. It can also help their confidence seeing the small progress they make through your coaching.

5. Motivation and recognition

Create a positive and motivating environment through recognition and incentives. Recognize and reward top performers, boosting morale and motivation across the sales team. 

High turnover within sales positions is pressing, and getting started understanding the causes is such an important first step. By defining clear expectations, attracting the right candidates, investing in training and development, and fostering a positive sales culture, sales leaders can mitigate turnover and improve the overall effectiveness of their sales teams. We’re so thankful we had this time to chat with Scott about how to help improve turnover within sales organizations.

To learn more about Scott Peterson and his work in helping businesses build high-performing sales teams, visit

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