How to Lose a Sales Rep

Lost Another Rep? What’s wrong with…YOU?

So, I heard you lost another one. Bummer. What’s that, six reps in two years? So, what do you think the problem is? Really? It’s all them, huh? Just a string of salespeople who are ill-equipped for the job?


What? Oh, nothing. I was just thinking, that’s all. Huh? Oh, well, um, maybe…and I mean MAYBE…the problem isn’t them. It’s you. Perhaps you have a hand in this as well. Okay, sure, I’ll explain.

Do you set any kind of expectations right from the get go? Well, actually, “Go get ‘em, tiger” really isn’t setting expectations. What are you realistically expecting in the first 30 days? No, seriously. You cannot possibly think that orders will come in. How about hustle, appointments, questions and even mistakes? That’s more reasonable. And what about the next 30 days and the 60 days after that? Okay, now you’re thinking.

What kind of time did you spend with these failed reps? Okay, so they hung around the shop for a couple of weeks. Good. Not sure what that achieved, but okay. What else? Oh, you gave them a stack of old accounts to call on? Seems logical. What about regular sales management? I said, regular sales management. R-e-g-u-l-a-r. No, asking them “Did you sell anything today?” doesn’t count. Sorry. In fact, while we’re on that subject, let me take the time to say, “STOP DOING THAT!”

Okay, back to the issue at hand, here…you!

Finally (okay, not really the last point on the subject but this is a blog, not a book), how about stocking the pond for the fisherman? Yes, Marketing is clutch and no, a Yellow Pages ad is not Marketing. I’m talking about a well-thought out, multi-faceted way of getting some name recognition, building a brand, and pulling in some leads. The sales rep’s job is made immeasurably easier with this component.

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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  • Ismael (Manny) Carlo

    Interesting view!

  • Melissa Sienicki

    This post helps you to review your processes with your sales reps if you keep losing them, but it can also be used to set up preventative measures, to set up plans to keep you from losing reps in the first place. Thanks, Bill!

  • Chief11

    Sales staffs in the printing industry are yielding fewer results, and subsequently leaving, because the market is shrinking. Sales staffs are yielding fewer results because in the ‘long run segments” margins are razor thin to negative. No profit, no commission, no fun.

    The only successful sales staffs in the printing industry have substantial marketing behind them, outstanding service levels from their companies, and “their own personal brand” as well as a supporting brand from the company for whom they work.

    If as a salesperson in the printing industry you don’t represent something uniquely special to your customers that could be called a ‘brand’, you are less and less relevant and less and less needed.

  • Matthes Phil

    Very well said!