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I have been promoted from an administrative position to the role of trainer and developer. I'm doing an okay job so far (considering I have no prior training or experience) but the company has a consistent problem with sales staff.

After 3 months of being with the company and hitting their probation target they seem to always fall. They stop making money, and then usually end up quitting in the fourth month.

I have been given the task of sorting this problem out, but I'm starting to hit a wall myself. Since all the staff that this has happened to so far have left I can't really ask them what it was that made them hit this wall.

I have one sales person now who has just passed his 3 month target. He's doing exceptionally well and I want to make sure that he doesn't suffer that same fate.

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

  • Sales are rarely made at a consistent rate, and are notoriously subject to seasonal influences, market fluctuations, and other factors that are beyond anyone's ability to control. Your company isn't expecting a constant number of sales per month per salesperson, is it? If so, the "wall" is imaginary. – aroth Apr 29 '14 at 8:27
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    Have you tried talking to the salespersons who have quit? Perhaps they might be able to offer some input or advice. – Fredrik Apr 29 '14 at 8:30
  • All prior sales staff have left unfortunately. My first idea was to talk to them. With regards to a constant number of sales per month; it's not necessary to be perfectly hitting their sales target every month but some sales activity is expected. They seem to go from a good flow of sales to absolutely nothing. – user19097 Apr 29 '14 at 8:43
  • Does their compensation plan change at the three-month mark? Do they have a "probationary" base salary that ends after three months in favor of a commission-heavy compensation plan? – Wesley Long Apr 29 '14 at 17:34
  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a specific job task (sales) which is off topic. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 30 '14 at 16:36
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If you cannot contact the staff that's already departed, then the next thing to do is to keep a close contact with the people who have not yet done so. Talk to them, and more importantly, listen to them. Make sure you know what they are having problems with - whether it's directly sales related or if it's that they are getting a back ache from an ill-fitting chair, or that guy over there who's always yelling in the phone and making it hard to hear what their own customer is saying.

A good question to ask is "what if you could change just one thing here to improve your work situation, what would that thing be?".

Then, be honest. You may not be able to fix it - but you can be honest about the chances of doing so; you can maybe find some compromise that will improve whatever the issue is a little. You can be the person they trust to have their back. You can make sure that the management doesn't chew them out for asking for whateveritis. All this will make it more likely that they will actually tell you the truth when they start hitting the wall, and thus give you a chance to help them. And you need to build up that trust before it happens.

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While the sales staff have left, did they die or change their contact information so that it is impossible to ask what happened? While I can acknowledge you can't guarantee that they will talk to you, I'd also be tempted to think that you could probably offer a lunch or coffee and have a chat about what happened without causing problems.

Depending on the type of sales, could there be the issue that the person goes through a list of family and friends in the first few months and then runs out of leads in the 4th month?


Couldn't you try to look these people up on LinkedIn or Facebook and try to send a message? Granted this does require some care, but it would seem like it could be useful to try. Most places I've worked when someone quit would have a final e-mail sent with contact information for those wanting to stay in touch.

  • I don't have contact information for them. The director destroys all contact information once the staff member has left. It's in our contract that all personal information is destroyed upon leaving the company. The only thing kept is their name and dates of employment for the purposes of referencing. If I had a way of speaking to them I would have done this already. That is a fair point about using personal leads though thank you. – user19097 Apr 29 '14 at 8:50
  • They aren't on LinkedIn but I haven't checked Facebook so that may be an option. I'll try and find them on there. Unfortunately since they don't particularly know me I'm not sure if they would accept a friend request but it's definitely worth a try. Thanks JB King. – user19097 Apr 29 '14 at 8:59
  • @user19097 You could pose as someone who is interested in working for YourCompany and has heard that they used to work there (when they were in sales their name should get around in the industry) and ask them whether or not they can recommend YourCompany as an employer. When there were indeed tangible issues, it might trigger a quite informative rant. – Philipp Apr 29 '14 at 12:54
  • I thinkyour idea about leads is a good one. The OP should look at how sales leads are being generated and then research other methods. – HLGEM Apr 29 '14 at 13:19
  • @user19097 you must not be in the US, and your boss doesn't have to send them tax info at the end of the year. – thursdaysgeek Apr 29 '14 at 15:35

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