Sales Reps' Crash and Burn Blamed on Employers' Failure to Launch

Nearly 50% of high-performing sales reps identify the availability of onboarding as a key factor when considering a new position, however 62% of companies consider themselves ineffective at onboarding new sales hires, according to the Sales Management Association. The ineffective onboarding on the part of employers is blamed for most sales force failures.

Only 6% of newly hired sales reps exceed their employers' expectations, while 48% will fail. The ensuing turnover for the average sales team runs at 34%, leading to finger-pointing as to the cause of failure.1 The data points to corporations' failure to properly launch new sales personnel for any lack of success.2  Recruiting and hiring are costly; one DePaul University study reported that it costs organizations $97,960 to replace the average sales rep.3

Only 6% of newly hired sales reps exceed their employers' expectations, while 48% will fail.

Most of these disturbing statistics can be avoided through proper hiring, effective onboarding, and continuous training. In fact, a standard onboarding process experience can lead to 54% greater new hire productivity and 50% greater new hire retention for organizations.4

To properly balance an organization and yield sales force success, talent acquisition, onboarding and continued training must carry equal weight to yield a successful outcome. Hiring sales reps based on hard skills alone (measurable skills such as the use of software programs, mathematics, reading) ignores important qualities that make an effective salesperson. Personality-related (soft) skills such as people drive, purpose drive, persuasion, and confidence build lasting relationships, the hallmark of a solid salesperson who is a trusted advisor.

79% of professional buyers indicate that it's important to interact with a salesperson who can add value to their business.5 Value in the form of connections. I have personally experienced that companies with effective sales onboarding improve quota attainment by 6.7%.6 As a reflection of the data, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding followed by training. Onboarding is bigger than any one person or department; it should be inclusive of all managers in the organization.

The path to a successful sales force doesn't end here, however. Every dollar invested in sales training returns incremental revenues, while continuous training gives 50% higher net sales per employee.7 When training is provided as part of a longer development pathway, employees will have much more incentive to polish their sales performance skills, participate in the session and put the new skills into practice.

My recommendations:

  • Define responsibilities, processes and expectations for the position immediately upon hiring and show the salesperson HOW you are going to help them get there.
  • Have on-the-job training ready, as a tool to balance theory with practical application.
  • Ensure that the company's employee handbook is reviewed, easily available and all administrative procedures covered.
  • Consider pairing the new hire with a "buddy"-an employee who can answer questions, provide a stabilizing voice in the organization, and help the new staff member around.

Our unique program, the HireBox Sales Talent Acquisition, Onboarding & Training Program combines all three elements, providing a trifecta of the human resources experience for an effective sales force-one that will outperform the competition on every front. For more information on this program, visit www.salestalent.academy.

  1. Comaford, Christine. "Salespeople are Burning Out Faster Than Ever-Here's Why." Forbes. 18 June 2016. Web.
  2. "66 Crazy Sales Figures." Go.IKO-Systems. PDF. Web.
  3. "How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Sales Rep?" Ideal. PDF. Web
  4. Solar, Aria. "The Onboarding New Hire Statistics You Need to Know." UrbanBound. 16 January 2015. Web.
  5. Fatemi, Falon. "Insight Selling is the New Solution Selling." Forbes. 27 August 2018. Web.
  6. Schenk, Tamara. "Three Ways Your Onboarding Program Drives Sales Results." CSO Insights. 01 November 2018. Web.
  7. Williams, Brian. "21 Mind-Blowing Sales Stats." The Brevet Group. Web.