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Stay or go? How to combat the Great Resignation in your sales team

It’s time to get proactive and give your inside sales reps more reasons to stay

Anika Temperante
Anika Temperante
Senior Account Executive

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the U.S. economy, this time with hiring and staffing challenges for employers. Dubbed the Great Resignation, workers are leaving their jobs in record numbers. Nearly three percent of the workforce—more than 4.3 million people—quit their jobs in August 2021 alone.

If you’re a sales leader, it’s time to double-down on strategies to motivate and retain your valuable employees. 

Staffing sales and call center positions at B2B and medtech companies is a perennial challenge. Even in strong economies and positive hiring cycles, turnover among sales reps far outpaces other industries. A recent study suggests average sales turnover can be as high as 35 percent, compared to just 13 percent in other sectors. That makes retention and engagement of your sales reps and call center staff a top priority for company leaders.

Burnout and work-life balance triggering sales resignations

Sales reps and call center staff leave their jobs for a number of reasons. In the current pandemic cycle, stress and burnout are more common than ever. Zoom fatigue is real, especially for high-powered outside sales reps used to “road warrior” lifestyles. Even inside sales reps and business development specialists are weary after the unprecedented changes of the past 18 months.

Selling is also more complicated, especially for B2B and medtech companies with tangible product offerings. Ongoing supply chain issues make it difficult to manage inventory and fulfill customer orders. That uncertainty can wreak havoc with the sales pipeline and upset pending deals.

Work-life balance is another issue. When the onset of COVID-19 suddenly upended our lives, employees began rethinking their priorities. Months of working from home while simultaneously juggling childcare, quarantines and restrictions has given sales reps and other white-collar workers a new perspective. Many want more flexible arrangements with their employers and more control of their daily routines. It’s prompting many to look for new opportunities, both in alternative sales roles and in other fields altogether.

Leaders must find new ways to engage the sales team

If you’re a medtech or B2B sales leader, it’s time to get serious about combatting the impact of the Great Resignation. That means being proactive and focusing on new ways to engage, motivate and encourage your sales team and call center staff to stick with you.

It’s an approach that makes sense for your top talent—and for your bottom line. After all, it can cost thousands of dollars to hire, onboard and train a single inside sales representative, with most positions taking weeks if not months to fill. That’s a substantial business disruption that it’s best to avoid.

Motivate and retain your sales team with these strategies

Company culture plays a significant role in job satisfaction and retention levels for inside sales and call center staff. Unfortunately, that culture took a big hit when companies implemented COVID-19 protocols like social distancing, mask requirements and work-from-home schedules. Those situations make it more complicated to bring the business development team together.

Medtech and B2B companies must find new ways to engage and motivate sales reps that don’t require being in the same room. These best practices are a good place to start.

Smart strategies to combat the Great Resignation in your sales team

Provide a clear purpose. Navigating the pandemic brought a number of changes to B2B and medtech companies. It’s helpful to offer your sales team or call center staff a reset on your organizational vision and priorities. This enables individual sales reps to see how their positions fit into the big picture. Younger employees, in particular, will appreciate knowing their work contributes to a greater purpose.

Issue paychecks frequently. Nothing shows appreciation better than swift compensation. An easy way to motivate and retain the sales team is by overhauling your payroll processes. Do you pay electronically? How quickly do you recognize new sales and issue commission checks? How and when do you pay bonuses and incentives? The faster you reward your top sellers, the more you can demonstrate how much your business values their work.

Recognize strong performers. Money isn’t the only motivator, however, so it’s smart to mix and match your recognition programs. Look for formal and informal ways to spotlight individuals who go over-and-above within the overall sales force or contact center. These contributions don’t always need to be about metrics. Sales reps who act as mentors to others or bring cohesion to a team also play an important role.

Pair up. Working from home or simply being on the phone all day can be a lonely proposition. Being in the same room gives the sales team numerous opportunities to collaborate, share ideas and motivate each other, and it’s important to translate that experience into the current virtual realm. One way to encourage dialogue in a remote environment is through sales mentoring. Pairing more experienced sales reps with newer staff helps both sides stay connected and work productively.

Ask for input. Perhaps the best way to avoid too many empty seats in your sales team is to reach out and ask for feedback. Institute an open-door policy or “office hours” with sales or human resources leadership. Actively solicit ideas and issues in the sales team meetings, and make sure there’s time for regular one-on-one conversations with inside sales reps and call center employees. Be careful to listen without judging, then communicate clearly what your organization can and cannot reasonably address. The findings may surprise you!

Eliminate the stress of turnover with inside sales outsourcing

Even with these best practices in place, companies will still experience attrition in the sales team. When sales reps do resign, make sure to conduct exit interviews, then apply the feedback to strengthen the organization and improve retention among the remaining sales reps.

Outsourcing some of all of your lead generation and inside sales function is a final option. Working with dedicated outbound call centers like Volkart May removes the stress of hiring and retention entirely, as our professional conversationalists handle sales prospecting, lead generation and appointment-setting for you.

Learn more about our services, then give us a call to discuss your project.

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