Disengaged Sales Team Insights | Manage Your Payroll Or Pay

Managing your payroll should be one of your top priorities over the next 18 months. But managing your payroll does not mean firing your employees - it means making employee engagement your priority.

Imagine 20 percent of your HR staff quit tomorrow. Would you panic?

How about your managers and leaders? IT staff? Most of us would.

According to CSO Insights, on average, turnover rates in your sales department are on par with 20 percent.

When I look at this statistic, I think it is a dangerously expensive stat if we go with an average replacement cost of 150-200 percent of a sales employee’s annual salary.

As we move into a recession predicted to be far worse than the last, if you are not worried about managing your payroll, you should be.

sales team and sales leader in a sales meeting

Statistics show we have an engagement problem

Let me hit you with some hard facts: your sales leader, sales manager, and every CEO must be made aware.

The statistics come from Work Institutes’ 2022 Retention Report | How employers cause the great resignation and other reports:

More than 47 million employees will quit their job voluntarily in 2021.

The great resignation is absolute. Period.

In 2021, more employees voluntarily left their jobs than in any other reported year. Voluntary turnover in the American workforce doubled in the last ten years. For some added perspective, that is fifty-million people in the American workplace.

The key word here is VOLUNTARY turnover. Millions of actively disengaged employees left positions looking for better job prospects.

You may think – well, out of my entire organization, my sales department is paid the best and therefore least disengaged, least likely to leave – you’re out of touch and in trouble.

sales team in sales organization

Average sales turnover is 35 percent, higher than the average.

HubSpot reports that sales turnover is nearly three times higher than any other industry.

SiriusDecisions data also shows that almost half (45 percent) of B2B sales organizations have turnover rates above 30 percent.

Sales is inherently competitive. As companies grow, their need for additional salespeople also increases.

Sales reps can work almost everywhere, and the talent competition has skyrocketed despite the lack of genuine talent.

Get a Team Assessment

Optimize your sales team with a combination of Kolbe and PRINT® assessments to identify team-member strengths and motivators and even illuminate bad-fit placements. 

22% of your employees are leaving for career reasons.

Work Institute’s survey looked at employee turnover finding that 22% of employees in America left their respective jobs stating career reasons.

Career reasons included leaving the position for:

  • growth opportunities
  • promotions
  • achievement
  • security
  • attend school

Other categories of interest include:

10.9 % of job leavers cited that they voluntarily left their job due to job dissatisfaction, including stress, availability of resources, training, job characteristics, or products.

8.1% of employees left their job due to management issues citing issues with professional behavior, support, knowledge and sales skills, or communication.

Only 9.5% listed the reason for leaving as related to base pay, benefits, bonuses, or commissions.

The survey highlights that disengagement is not salary fixed and is rooted in psychology.

It’s also important to note that more than two-thirds of employees cited multiple reasons for leaving their position in the same survey – to improve employee engagement and retention rates, it’s essential to look at all department areas.

In 2021, the turnover cost to employers exceeded $700 billion.

It costs an employer 150-200 percent of a sales team member’s salary to replace them.

The estimated cost to replace a sales rep was around $150,000 in 2017. In 2021, Hire Velocity estimated it at 1.5-2 times what you’d typically pay a sales representative in that current role.

And that’s not the worst part.

New salespeople take an average of 3.2 months to ramp to complete productivity. If the average tenure is 18 months, that leaves you with less than a year and a half before you pay those replacement costs again.

The cost of turnover for employers has doubled in the last ten years.

sales leader or sales team speaking to prospect

The Work Institute breaks down these costs into areas such as:


  • Exit interviews
  • Administrative time
  • Separation and benefit pay
  • Unemployment tax


  • Job advertisement
  • pre-employment administration
  • new job interviews, background checks, testing
  • Relocation costs


  • Orientation
  • Training
  • Materials
  • Equipment
  • Job instruction


  • Employee performance
  • Lost business
  • Decrease in productivity in other team members
  • Company culture damage
  • Company reputation damage
sales leader and sales reps

It takes an average of 6.2 months to fill an open sales position.

Research from DePaul University shows that it takes over half a year to fill a sales role for most sales managers and reps.

That doesn’t include the time it takes for a new salesperson to ramp fully.

And you may think, I have a sales manager or top performer that can cover that position till then.

No. Your productivity and revenue will take a hit. Period.

sales hiring and sales team

3 Signs you have a Disengaged Sales Team

1. They are happy even when they are missing targets

There is a difference between happy employees and engaged employees.

Ask yourself:

How does your sales team react after you miss the monthly, weekly, or annual target?

If your sales team appears happy despite being behind on target, it signifies employee disengagement and impacts your team’s performance.

None of my team members are happy when they’re behind on their targets. Your team should not be either.

But they’re also not moping around the office either.

A fully engaged team has clear goals and focuses on what they need to do to get on track. They are held accountable.

2. Your disengaged employees make excuses

A tell-tale sign that you have a disengaged employee is that they continue to give you excuses for unmet targets.

Sales teams need to be solution-focused, always. High performers look for ways you could meet those targets.

They’re asking you questions about a particular situation rather than coming to you complaining mid-month after agreeing on the target.

I don’t want my salespeople coming back to me and saying it’s not possible.

I can’t do it. I can close deals, but…

Other responsibilities are getting in the way…

I need more tools or technology…

It raises a red flag if they want to lower the quota rather than devise solutions to perform and hit that goal.

3. A diminished sense of urgency

The third sign you have disengaged employees is a lack of urgency among the team.

Meeting recap emails for customers and clients are going out later than usual.

Your sales reps are not setting up the following steps on the call.

They typically give up on the second or third objection.

They throw up their hands, say that’s fine by me, and let the sale go.

Sometimes they might say, “oh, not a problem, let me send you some information.”

And then that information takes quite a while to get out to the prospect.

The recap email to prospects is essential – I make it my business as the sales leader to monitor them.

Even if they don’t have something to refute, that objection to sending a recap email is a straightforward thing that sales professionals build their case again.

How much do you want the deal if you’re not actively looking to recap with the client when you get off the call?

How badly do you want to help your prospect? If you don’t want the deal, how engaged are you?

It is one of the most common signs that you have disengaged employees and one of the biggest problems.

sales team and sales leader in a sales meeting

How to reduce employee turnover

Set sales culture in accountability and transparency

Accountability is a clear commitment that has been kept in the eyes of others. Engagement comes from the accountability an individual accepts.

It is not that one person is responsible for revenue, but their targets meet the agreed standard. A salesperson missing targets and quotas is not an accountable individual and is not an accountable team.

Realize that engagement without accountability creates entitlement. No one has a free ride within the team’s line-up; everyone has to contribute.

Figure that out, and you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time. It’s that simple.

Learn why they feel disconnected

My greatest concern when a top performer disengages from the organization or company is that my leaders are missing something.

I approach all these situations by speaking with the employees one-on-one. Ultimately, you want to know precisely what is happening because you don’t want this to spread to the entire company.

Let me start by saying, I do not handhold my sales representatives.

  1. I don’t have time for that.
  2. I respect my time and their time.

So, I will have a very frank and candid conversation and always start with the truth. I will always tell them what I see going on and then ask for their input simultaneously.

Note: I would only do this for my top performers in the company. For other employees with performance and engagement issues, I handle it differently.

Get a Team Assessment

Optimize your sales team with a combination of Kolbe and PRINT® assessments to identify team-member strengths and motivators and even illuminate bad-fit placements. 

Weed out underperforming and disengaged members

You can have a disengaged sales team with high performance. While the lack of engagement is a problem, you can realign company culture and ideas back.

You have a significant problem when you have disengaged and underperforming salespeople.

These are your employees who use excuses to cover up poor performance and want to criticize the organization’s direction.

Deal with these people quickly, or deal with their ideas and negativity infecting your business.

Again, a one-on-one approach is needed with real-time feedback.

  1. Engage in a frank and candid conversation and clarify the expectations.
  2. Get them to agree with these expectations
  3. Activate a performance improvement plan to set a clear path to realignment
  4. Monitor the progress and take action if your employee doesn’t reengage.

Use metric dashboards

Many thought leaders advocate against Sales Metric Dashboards. I am not one of those leaders.

I know what gets measured and reported is what improves.

For this reason, I advocate public metric dashboards for the entire sales organization.

Everybody views the results, and everyone is held accountable for the results. It allows individuals to spot weaknesses to pivot and make improvements.

It also further holds your team accountable and boosts commitment levels. It also helps to visualize my sales professionals’ successes and lies.

Each industry regularly negotiates prices; you want to motivate your salesperson to hold your margins. You incentivize them with a larger percentage, based strictly on the margin they can maximize.

Reward success

A base salary covers salespeople’s commitment and daily activities to support the business, but you must incentivize the individuals whose behaviors deliver more significant results.

Your commission percentage depends on the total contract value or profit margin.

Your sales representatives must know you believe in them and have their back.

sales team with sales leader

Continually monitor employee performance and potential

People are afraid of micro-management, but your salespeople want a clear path to success to stay motivated.

The only way you can ensure that your employee is on that road is through monitoring performance – so metric dashboards and weekly meetings become an essential way to motivate your team.

sales team sales leader success

Do you need help reengaging your sales team?

If your people give up relatively quickly, that’s a clear sign of disengagement.

And if you’re spotting this inside of your sales team, and you’d like to get them reengaged, you don’t have to fire them.

But there are straightforward ways to pull them away from that and engage them again.

Let me be clear, if you were going to find the solution to your engagement problems, you would have solved them by now.

It’s likely you need support and help to solve them.

Rose Garden is solutions-focused, so if you want me and my team to reengage your team, we will do so with our Team Assessment.

Ali Mirza

About the author:

Ali Mirza is the Founder & CEO of Rose Garden, a national sales consulting organization, and featured in Forbes, Inc, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Business Rockstars, and The Wall Street Journal.

Ali is a highly sought-after public speaker presenting at multiple national conferences on innovative ways to accomplish transformational growth on your sales team.

Rose Garden provides unparalleled support and guidance to growth-minded founders via sales strategy differentiation, world-class sales culture creation, and exclusive playbooks, processes, and scripts to position them for limitless growth.

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