Salespeople are known to change jobs frequently. And there are millions of us with tentative tenure. In 2009 there were 16 million salespeople in the U.S.
If we miss our numbers, have a difficult boss, get assigned to a barren territory, go to market without marketing materials, or get stuck with a bum offering – we can be out the door in the blink of an eye.
Of course, when we succeed we’re paid better than many of our customers – that is if we sell them.
We are Not Alone
Salespeople aren’t the only people losing or changing jobs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010 the average employee had been with their current employer only 4.4 years*. That’s not very long.
Average employees are among our buyers/ customers. They too suffer 4.4 years on average with their employers.
What does short job tenure among buyers mean to sellers?
Lots. As a salesperson, imagine meeting a buyer for the first time and they’re ignorant of the service they’re managing and buying – which unfortunately is the one you’re selling. Painful. Time consuming.
In addition to minimal service knowledge, low job tenure for buyers can mean:
Job insecurity – how does that effect buyers’ decision making?
Wearing too many hats – how likely are salespeople to get buyers’ time or attention?
Limited business experience – how long before they experience the taste of poor quality overcoming the allure of low price?
What does short job tenure mean for salespeople?
Salespeople are an independent people with a nomadic soul. They’re eternally looking for that restfull homeland where their success compensates them well and keeps their employers happy and off their backs.
But the reality. The reality of 9 to 10 to 20 different employers in their lifetime points to a belief system that shouldn’t be brought to their employers’ attention.
For the professional salesperson this is a cascading set of beliefs that flows from the first to the last. Here they are:
- Salespeople will have many employers in their careers – each requiring results gained from relationships with buyers/customers
- Salespeople must put their relationships with buyers /customers over that of their own company
- Salespeople must see their relationships with buyers/customers are for life – wherever buyers/customers go, so goes the salesperson, and the sale
- Salespeople and buyers/customers can become social friends – which increases the satisfaction & enjoyment of working for a living
- Salespeople must act with integrity as their greatest business currency is the trust, credibility and loyalty of their buyers/customers
In the End
We’re all transient workers. The current company that employs us will most likely not be the one we’ll be with in five years. The same is true for our buyers/customers.
The lesson for salespeople is to play the sales game with 150% integrity, honesty and authenticity, as our team mates (buyers/customers) are on the same ride as we are, and we want their support (sales) as we both go through our careers.
* Interpreting Tenure Data
The U.S. Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ survey data is relatively simple yet the more you dive into it the less it tells you anything definitively. Here’s the Bureau’s own caveat on interpreting the data:
Interpreting tenure data
Data on tenure have been used as a gauge of employment security, with some observers regarding increases in tenure as a sign of improving security and decreasing tenure as a sign of deteriorating security.
However, there are limitations to using the data in this way. For example, during recessions or other periods of declining job security, median tenure and the proportion of workers with long tenure could rise because less senior workers are more likely to lose their jobs
than are workers with longer tenure. During periods of economic growth, median tenure and the proportion of workers with long tenure could fall because more job opportunities are available for new entrants to the workforce and experienced workers have more opportunities to change employers and take better jobs. Tenure also could rise under improving economic conditions, however, as fewer layoffs occur and good job matches develop between workers and employers.
A changing age distribution among workers would also affect median tenure. Since older workers are more likely to have long tenure with their current employer than younger workers, aging baby boomers in the workforce would provide upward pressure on overall median tenure.