What Drives Inside Sales Retention

For sales leaders to tackle inside sales turnover, they must know why these reps leave and what to do about it.

Inside sales teams make thousands of calls to decision makers every year, driving revenue and customer loyalty. They are increasingly vital to B2B sales organizations given that today’s customers are overwhelmed during the purchase process. But retaining talent among this key group is a challenge. 

“Leaders of inside sales teams face a high turnover risk with their reps today — 18% annually according to our research,” says Matt Dudek, Vice President, Gartner. “Once those reps are out the door, replacing and bringing new reps up to speed can easily take six months or longer, especially if you also have to hire new managers.”

37% of inside sellers said they intend to look for a new job in the next year

Although sales leaders surveyed by Gartner say finding high-quality talent is a challenge, 76% of such leaders plan to increase their workforce to meet business objectives. This means sales leaders must understand what keeps inside sales reps in their seats and how to attract more.

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Why inside sales reps leave

According to Gartner’s recent Global Labor Market Survey, 37% of inside sellers said they intend to look for a new job in the next year. The top three reasons inside sellers quit include dissatisfaction with their compensation package, manager quality and the degree of respect the organization shows employees.

The survey also highlights factors that would attract inside sales reps to the same position in another organization. Those that top the list include: a 15% increase in compensation and a more comprehensive benefits package; work-life balance; more engaging work; more development opportunities; a friendlier work environment and highly skilled managers.

To increase job satisfaction and intent to stay, sales leaders should consider non-monetary factors

“There are many different reasons why inside sales talent leave a job. Our research shows for the majority who quit, these reasons go well beyond compensation,” says Dudek. 

“Inside sales leaders who want to understand what is driving their sellers to quit need to find an effective way to listen to managers and reps to uncover issues leading to widespread disengagement and act on them before it’s too late. HR business partners can help in this effort by conducting or reviewing exit surveys and leading focus groups.”

Focus on what motivates sellers

To combat a high turnover risk, sales leaders need to not only develop effective talent strategies for attracting high-quality inside sales candidates, but to ensure they deliver on the proposition to retain talent in a competitive labor market.

Given how much compensation drives seller performance and behavior, pay may seem to be the only effective driver of attraction and retention. However, it’s not the only factor. Gartner finds that for nearly 60% of inside sellers who recently changed jobs, compensation did not rank among the top five most dissatisfying attributes of their previous job.

To increase job satisfaction and intent to stay, sales leaders should consider non-monetary factors. These include work-life balance, engaging work, development opportunities, a friendly work environment — and having a highly skilled manager

Even small tweaks can reduce employee intent to leave and boost job satisfaction for the 76% of sales reps not actively looking for a new job. Similarly, embedding non-monetary factors in job postings can help attract inside sales candidates dissatisfied with those job attributes at their current employer.

Gartner for Sales Leaders clients can read more about Talent Attraction and Retention Drivers for Inside Sales.

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