Sales Rep Turnover

Leveraging its Economic Graph, LinkedIn noted that sales rep turnover is up 39% over the past three months (overall global turnover is up 28%).  Sales is the second most in-demand position globally.

“Companies need to recognize that the power dynamic has changed — workers are going to demand more from them on multiple fronts,” said LinkedIn Chief Economist Karin Kimbrough.  “Candidates are being much more selective about where they work, and workers are more vocal about what they want.”

Replacing sales reps is an expensive proposition, according to a 2015-2016 DePaul University study.  When factoring in the opportunity cost of an open sales seat and the hiring and training expenses, replacing a sales rep costs $115,000.

Further complicating matters, buying team turnover spiked over the past year, up 31% in Q3.  Thus, demand units are more difficult to navigate, and deals are more likely to be delayed due to key decision-maker departures.  According to LinkedIn State of Sales 2021, 80% of sales reps said a deal was delayed or derailed due to buyer role changes over the past year.

Unfortunately, employee burnout rose 9% between April and July, just as employees were readying to return to the office, but Delta delayed such plans.  Over the same period, employee happiness dropped three points.

“This simultaneous dip in employee happiness and spike in burnout is a warning signal: very few people want to return to pre-pandemic work life, said LinkedIn Head of People Science Strategic Development Amy Lavoie.  “Part of the issue here is that the communications around organizations’ return-to-office plans can carry a dangerous subtext.  It may look to employees that, while their leaders had prioritized their well-being and safety in the pandemic’s first stretch, they’re now focusing on business and advancing their own agenda at all costs, leaving employees’ concerns in the wake.”

“Employee well-being is not a fad; it is a fundamental human need,” continued Lavoie.  “It’s not going to take care of itself as businesses start asking employees to return to the office. Employees are looking to their organizations to value their needs as full human beings and trust them to make decisions about how, when, and where they work. Until that happens, we will continue to see this deadlock between employees and organizations on happiness and burnout.” Employee priorities are shifting, with a greater emphasis on flexible work arrangements, inclusive workplaces, and work-life balance than just a few months ago. As a result, work-life balance is ranked as the top priority among job seekers.

Glint (LinkedIn) Employee Well Being Report (Sept 2021)

Flexibility is key.  Three out of five employees feel they are equally productive working from home and that their overall well-being is equal to or better than working in an office.

A Fortune Analytics survey of over 10,000 knowledge workers found that 76% of knowledge workers want flexibility in where they work, and 93% want flexibility in when they work.  Additionally, 57% of knowledge workers are “open to looking for a new job in 2022.”  However, among knowledge workers who are dissatisfied with the level of flexibility, the open to looking rate rises to 71%.

“Just last year, joblessness in the US was at its highest level since the Great Depression,” wrote Fortune Editorial Director Lance Lambert.  “Scrambling to hold onto their jobs, workers started taking on extra responsibilities—something many of them hold onto today even though the economy has shifted into one of its strongest periods in recent memory. That explains why 19% of workers say their work-related stress is ‘poor,’ and another 33% say it’s ‘fair.’”

Fortune Analytics also found that workers with inflexible work schedules are 6.6 times more likely to report work-related stress.

LinkedIn Senior Content Manager Paul Petrone suggested three areas of investment to retain sales talent:

  1. “Career conversations and career development for your employees.
  2. Providing work-life balance, which should ideally include flex work.
  3. Diversity, inclusion, and belonging.”

Workers find it difficult to maintain a work/life balance, with 35% of workers telling GlassDoor that balance isn’t possible in their current role.

“Very few people both see a path forward and feel support for an internal career move,” observed LinkedIn People Science Senior Researcher Eric Knudsen.  “Luckily, there’s a clear solution.  While it’s natural for managers to worry about losing a team member, employees want learning and growth opportunities.  So, whenever someone starts looking for their next opportunity, a lack of manager support could inspire an external move.”

Knudsen recommends that managers frame internal mobility as an opportunity and not a loss as they place an advocate and partner in another part of the organization.  Furthermore, the organization retains talent, and cross-team collaboration is likely to rise. 

“Work-life policies which are rigid or offer little flexibility are proving problematic for UK employees,” said Glassdoor Economist Lauren Thomas.  “Our research has indicated that workers want autonomy over how they juggle their home and work lives and need employers to offer a range of options to support this. There also needs to be trust between the two parties — avoid micromanaging teams who are working from home.”

What’s more, Glint (a LinkedIn subsidiary) found that only one in five employees feel they can meet their career goals in their current organization, increasing the likelihood of departures.


I also recently wrote about The Great Reshuffle.

The Great Reshuffle

According to LinkedIn, “The Great Reshuffle” has increased turnover amongst buyers and sellers, leading to greater deal risk.  Over the past three months, executive departures (Director and above) have increased by 31% globally.  Among sales reps, the rate is up 39%.  Thus, the likelihood of a deal being delayed due to a key member of the demand unit or sales team leaving has grown sharply.

Before the pandemic, the standard decay rate of contact records was between 25 and 30%.  If the rate has jumped by one-third, then the likelihood of a specific member of the buying committee departing over a three-month sales cycle is approaching ten percent.  Thus, a demand unit with six members will likely have one departure every three months, increasing the need for executive change alerts, multithreading of deals, and a deeper understanding of the demand unit.

If the deal is more complex, the odds of delays and stalled deals due to executive changes increase rapidly.  A six-month deal cycle with a dozen members of the demand unit (financial, technical, and functional decision-makers, purchasers, influencers, lawyers, compliance, etc.) could lose two or three members.  And that doesn’t even factor in the risk of churn on the vendor side.  What’s worse, single-threaded sales reps have close to a 20% risk that their champion leaves the company or assumes a different role over the deal lifecycle.

The renewal math becomes scary as well.  If the customer success team regularly interfaces with four individuals on the customer side, one or two of them may depart over the year, increasing churn risk.  Furthermore, a higher churn rate among customers necessitates greater administrative and training tasks.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that 80% of sales reps have had a deal delayed or lost due to departures.

LinkedIn Senior Director of Global Sales James Burnette argued that multithreading is key to managing deal risk.  “Multithreading – i.e., forming relationships with multiple people on the buying committee at an account – is always a best practice.”  Burnette noted that sellers with at least four connections at an account are “16% more likely to close a deal with that company, compared to sellers who have less than four connections.”

“The most beneficial thing you can do right now is to learn how to master multithreading,” JB Sales Training Director Morgan Ingram said. “Gathering champions, influencers, and talking directly to the decision-makers is the key to success when it comes to closing deals faster in a difficult environment.”

Conversely, departures can foster relationships at new accounts, so knowing that a key demand unit member has departed is important for both risk mitigation at current opportunities and accounts and building relationships at new organizations.  LinkedIn can both flag executive departures and maintain an open line of communications with a champion after he or she has settled into a new position.

“Resources are scant with so many people exiting key roles, so there are opportunities where they might not have been opportunities in the past,” Assist You CEO Robert Knop said. “Look through your connections – there are uncovered sales there.”

Lori Wizdo, Principal Analyst at Forrester, predicts that the Great Resignation will also impact marketing teams, with CMOs assembling more virtual teams consisting of freelance talent, fractional executives, and agency partners.

“We’re seeing clients in places like the Midwest having trouble keeping the talent they’ve built because their team members can get 25% more by working remotely for a New York agency. The distance and untethering from our geographies give people a lot more options, and they will minimize their pain and maximize their gain.  So, there will be some stress on those internal competencies.”

Job turnover is likely to continue in the near term. The labor market remains out of balance with 100 open jobs for every 75 unemployed professionals, driving the quit rate to 4.4 million in September, a record high.

“You’re essentially seeing demand continuing to increase without an offsetting increase in talent,” Ryan Sutton, a district director at staffing company Robert Half International. “Until some new talent comes in, until we get employees who are on the sidelines back into the market, it’s very likely this is going to continue.”

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Q4 Release

See the source image
LinkedIn now supports a Not at Company Flag.

LinkedIn Sales Solutions has begun rolling out its Q4 release to Sales Navigator subscribers.  New features include a data validation flag for contacts, improved geographic filters, a funding events spotlight, two new alerts, additional SNAP partners, and extended administrative tools.

A new data validation flag warns users that a contact is no longer at a company listed in the CRM.  If the company differs between LinkedIn and the CRM a “Not at Company Flag” is written to the CRM.  The flag is both displayed to the rep and available as a trigger for contact clean-ups and removal from marketing campaigns.

LinkedIn added three new reports which leverage the field:

  • Opportunities at Risk: Proactively identifying when a buyer has left an open opportunity
  • Past Customers at New Companies: Identifying contacts at current customers (potential champions) who have joined new companies
  • Out-of-Date Contacts: All potential contacts that need to be updated

LinkedIn is hemmed in by commitments to its members’ data privacy.  Thus, it cannot append or sync full contact information like other vendors.  The data validation flag simply alerts sales and marketing that a contact is no longer at a firm.  It does not upload information on the member’s new company to the CRM.

The Data Validation flag is available to Enterprise Edition licensors with CRM sync enabled in Salesforce and MS Dynamics 365.

LinkedIn redesigned its usage reporting with time-series charts for messaging effectiveness.  Expanded analytics include InMail messages sent, InMail acceptance rates, messages sent, and total unique connections.  The report also includes the top five reps for each category.

Other new administrative tools include

  • Coaching/training levels
  • Chart filtering by custom date ranges, groups, and users.
  • Data Updates – Saved Leads and Accounts

LinkedIn has integrated Bing location data, making prospecting more precise.  The service covers 2.4 million more cities and over 2,000 new states/provinces.

Users may also filter by a new funding events spotlight.  The new filter “brings these updates to the top of your search results within the Spotlight tab, giving you a helpful cue that it’s the right time to check-in,” blogged Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management, LinkedIn Sales Solutions.


Continue to Part II

Enhanced usage reporting includes a set of messaging effectiveness charts.

Dun & Bradstreet Privatization Update

Dun & Bradstreet Logo
Dun & Bradstreet Logo

Dun & Bradstreet continues to dribble out news about its privatization plan.  Last week the firm announced that Motive Partners has joined the acquisition group and that Stephen C. Daffron, Co-Founder and Industry Partner of Motive Partners, will assume the role of President upon transaction close.

Two weeks ago Black Knight announced that it is acquiring a $375 million stake in Dun & Bradstreet.  Once the transaction closes, Anthony Jabbour, Black Knight’s CEO, will assume the Dun & Bradstreet CEO position. Black Knight’s Executive Chairman William P. Foley II will serve in a similar position at Dun & Bradstreet.

Black Knight describes itself as “a leading provider of integrated software, data and analytics solutions that facilitate and automate many of the business processes across the homeownership life cycle.”

“With an impressive 177-year legacy and the support of a phenomenal group of investors, Dun & Bradstreet is entering an important next chapter in its evolution as a company.  I am excited by the opportunities in leading Dun & Bradstreet and look forward to working closely with management, Bill and the rest of the consortium and continuing the Company’s long history of excellence in helping customers and partners around the world.”

Anthony Jabbour, Incoming CEO of Dun & Bradstreet

Dun & Bradstreet shareholders have already approved the $6.5 billion transaction which is expected to close no later than Q1 2019.  Other investors include CC Capital, Cannae Holdings and Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. 

Last month, Dun & Bradstreet shareholders approved the deal.  Dun & Bradstreet still needs approval from the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service and the UK Financial Conduct Authority.

Motive is a sector specialist investment firm focused on technology-enabled financial services companies.

Daffron served as the CEO of Interactive Data and held senior positions at Morgan Stanley, Renaissance Technologies, Goldman Sachs and Motive Partners.

“I am excited by this unique opportunity to work side-by-side with Anthony [Jabbour] in leading Dun & Bradstreet and look forward to working closely with management, Bill [Foley] and the rest of the investor consortium to help unlock the value within this renowned company,” said Daffron.  “Dun & Bradstreet is entering an important chapter in its evolution as a company and will be well positioned as a private company to increase operating efficiencies and effectively execute the company’s growth strategy.”

Salesforce: Benioff Names Block Co-CEO

logo-salesforceAfter 19 years, Marc Benioff has chosen to share the reins at Salesforce, naming President and COO Keith Block his co-CEO.  Block, who decamped from Oracle in 2013 where he ran the sales and consulting groups, will focus on “growth strategy, execution and operations.”  Benioff will lead Salesforce’s “vision and innovation in areas including technology, marketing, stakeholder engagement and culture.”

Block emphasized that Benioff is not looking to step down at the company he helped found in 1999.  “This is just a natural evolution of what’s been happening over the last five years,” Block told The Wall Street Journal.  “Marc is very engaged in the business, and he’s going to work for a very, very long time.”

Block was responsible for Salesforce’s verticalization strategy with targeted offerings in financial services, healthcare, and retail.  He also has been out front in explaining recent acquisitions such as the $6.5 billion purchase of MuleSoft in March.

“Keith has been my trusted partner in running Salesforce for the past five years, and I’m thrilled to welcome him as co-CEO,” said Benioff.  “Keith has outstanding operational expertise and corporate leadership experience, and I could not be happier for his promotion and this next level of our partnership.”

The firm also named co-founder and CTO Harris Parker to its Board.

“Since our founding in 1999, Parker has been instrumental in driving Salesforce’s innovation and shaping our culture,” said Benioff.