Fear of Turnover is a Lame Excuse for Not Holding Salespeople Accountable

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The topic of sales rep turnover has come up several times during recent workshops I’ve led for sales executives and managers. Each company’s situation was a bit different, but there was a similar and dangerous undercurrent I heard from sales leaders that compelled me to share this with you.

Managers were expressing their fear of holding people accountable and conducting the type of brief, results and pipeline-focused 1:1 meetings I advocate in Chapter 20 of Sales Management. Simplified. and promise will transform a sales team’s culture. They were afraid, quite simply, that sitting down with a salesperson to review actual results against goals, overall pipeline health and opportunities created and advanced, could conceivably scare off weaker reps and add to their turnover woes.

Let me be exceedingly clear here:

Higher than desired turnover does not excuse managers from holding salespeople accountable for a maintaining a healthy pipeline and hitting sales goals!

Oh, I understand the concern (fear). It’s logical, for sure. We’re losing more sales reps than expected/desired and feeling the pressure to retain the people we have. We’re frazzled from covering empty slots/desks/territories and worn out from what feels like non-stop recruiting. But, and this is a big BUT…

The only salespeople who scoff at managers reviewing their results and pipeline are salespeople who don’t want to be held accountable for filling/managing a sales funnel and hitting their numbers. Period.

Translation: anyone who might leave your team because you care about, talk about, and ask about past and future sales results is someone that you want to leave!

Listen, you may have a legitimate culture problem and/or other issues driving turnover. That is certainly possible. But the fix for that real problem is not abdicating your responsibility to hold team members accountable. In other words, people are not leaving your company/sales team because you care about results and want them to care, too.

Good management is not micromanagement. Regularly reviewing sales reports and the CRM (or pipeline report) is an essential part of any sales leader’s job. Let’s not confuse healthy sales management best practices with other valid causes potentially creating your unhealthy level of turnover.

A Note to the Salesperson:

While this post was directed at those to whom you report, don’t just blow by the topic. Self-Accountability is a key characteristic in top-producers. They hold themselves to even higher standards of performance than their managers do! And a best practice I advocate is that every salesperson should not only review their own results (for the week/month/quarter) against goal, but also look at pipeline health and ask how many opportunities were created/advanced/closed in the past week/month/quarter. You cannot spend too much time examining the health of your pipeline and what you see there should drive how you invest your proactive selling time to ensure you are creating a sufficient number of new opps in your funnel.



There was such an overwhelming response to our September (sold out) “SUPERCHARGE YOUR SALES LEADERSHIP” FULL-DAY ELITE EXPERIENCE EVENT that sales leaders asked us to schedule another session this year.

We just secured a fantastic venue and are thrilled to announce the next event will be on November 19th at The Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta – right next to the airport.

If you’re interested in a powerful, highly interactive day with other sales leaders focused on upping their sales management game, please let us know. More info and details will be available soon. This event will get you on track to create the healthy, high-performance sales culture and results that every sales leader desires. Sign-up here for more info. Excited to see you in Atlanta in November.

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