Stop the Revolving Door: What Will It Take to Maintain a Successful Sports Sales Staff?


In the past week I’ve had 9 sales reps contact me to discuss why they are leaving sports. These were not reps who were ‘trying it out’ as some do, but rather, bona fide sales reps with great totals.

Sometimes, a sales team is constant and you can continue to work with and grow them throughout the year, as is part of my consulting practice. Other times, it’s a revolving door…train them one month and two months later you have new sales reps again. Why the revolving door? How can we get it to stop?

I’ve been hearing and observed various reasons, nearly all of which we can correct as leaders. Let’s take a look.

Leaderships only measure to sales is call volume. I can’t believe the number of teams that still use this as a measure of a sales reps success. Why have reps who are top 3 consistently in sales, and yet we reprimand them because they are not up to 75 calls a day because that’s our only measure?

Telling vs asking. If you go into work and are told what to sell, how to sell, everything is already done and all you have to do is call, call, call, how excited are you to come to work?   What are you doing to create ownership and empowering your reps to create ideas? How much a part of the process are they?

Afraid of social media. If we don’t understand something fully as leaders, it is our responsibility to learn more about it. Social media is one of the methods of today’s sales and many reps are doing well with it. Learn about it. Find out how they are being successful at it.

Promotions that don’t make sense. For years business has taken the best seller and made them a manager or director. We snap them up, put them in a position and expect them to have the whole team sell like them. What’s wrong with this picture? Sometimes, the best seller does not make the best leader. They can be outstanding at sales but we put them in a role they have to learn and suddenly they are not leading or selling and become highly frustrated. Promote wisely. More importantly, don’t just put them in place and expect them to function. How much leadership training is done with your leaders? I have done leadership training with some teams and have found the managers and directors are starving for this help.

Invest in your investment. Your sales rep, manager or director is your investment. You’ve brought them aboard, pay them a wage, and it ends there. Invest in them. Whether you do quarterly training or monthly workshops, invest! No matter what our role is, we should always be learning and growing.

As a leader, be open to change ourselves. Why is it so many leaders are threatened by millennials?  It seems to be that we are uncomfortable with their mindset…their desire to keep learning, their desire to be part of the process, their desire to offer ideas and (gasp!) use their brain. It’s not 1980…or 90…or 2000. It’s 2017. Times have changed. Be open to what they have to offer and coach them.

Not interviewing/hiring the best way. How do we interview? Are we asking the right questions? Are we seeing what they have to offer or are we expecting them to fit a mold? Are THEY asking the right questions? Do you understand their needs/wants prior to coming aboard?

Logical pay. Granted, sports sales gives us the opportunity to make our own paycheck with commissions. But we also have to live. Base pay varies from team to team, with some being so low that paying rent and car insurance leaves you no room to eat. A base that will at least sustain you will give you the opportunity to go after that commission without the high level of frustration right at the start.

In sales we say it’s 3 times harder to get a new customer than to keep an old one, and yet we don’t apply that same rule to our staff. Are we working to keep them or checking boxes?  As long as the door keeps revolving, the people who lose the most are our customers. Let’s put new doors up that make it harder to get in because no one wants to leave. That consistency will help our staff, our company, and above all, our clients.

What are some of the ways you feel we could keep more of our better sports sales reps?

Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating

Time to get your reps from good to great?

Follow my blog at:

 For more articles:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s