How to Reduce Sales Team Turnover by Assessing Job Fit

SteveJobsAppleIn Part I and Part II of this “Why Job Fit Matters” series, I discussed why both employees and employers need to care about fit. Today I’m taking a look at how employers can determine an employee’s fit with the job pre-hire—saving everyone the pain of sales team turnover.

A company’s sales force is the key driver for its growth and revenue, so it’s troubling that a 2012 Gallup poll found that 71% of salespeople are classified as “unengaged” at work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, salespeople made up approximately 11% of the workforce in 2012. Their importance isn’t entirely captured in this statistic, however, when you consider that in the same year, over 50% of employees at Google were in sales.

Salespeople who are “checked out” at work (i.e., show up and run down the clock) monopolize time and resources in unproductive ways and quit at a higher rate (Gallup, 2013). Even more bad news can be seen in research conducted by DePaul University’s Center for Sales Leadership which found the annual turnover rate for sales was 27%. What does this all mean for a company’s bottom line? Bad news.

So what can an organization do to reduce sales team turnover?

In addition to implementing practices and policies that foster engagement and decrease turnover, companies can optimize the chances of a happy employee by selecting the right person for the job in the first place. In other words, ensuring the right fit.

What constitutes the right job fit?

In the Harvard Business Review, sales experts argue that in order to obtain the right job fit, you should prioritize hiring candidates that possess the desired characteristics (defined as innate traits and abilities) rather than competencies (defined as learned skills and knowledge) because the latter can be taught while the former cannot.

The takeaway?

Figure out which traits and abilities your top salespeople possess and then align your hiring strategy to select these types of candidates. What’s the best way to assess these traits and abilities? Research shows: Psychometric assessments.

Why does the right fit matter? On the small scale, your company saves a lot of time, effort, and money. On the large scale, taking the example of Steve Jobs (ranked the world’s best-performing CEO in 2013 by the Harvard Business Review), when you find the right fit for the job, it can change the company, the industry, and sometimes even the world.

Stay tuned for Part IV in this “Why Job Fit Matters” series where I share information on how to assess cultural fit.

This is Part III of a four-part series on “Why Job Fit Matters.”

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices in data-based recruitment. She writes about research and trends in talent acquisition, recruitment tech, and people analytics.
Ji-A Min