How Job Hopping is Hurting Your Sales

  • Maura Kautsky
Employee giving resignation letter to boss
Reading Time: 5 minutes

By now, most business leaders have had some kind of run-in with the effects of the Great Resignation.

This era, characterized by loyal employees suddenly switching careers — or leaving the workforce completely — has given rise to rampant job hopping.

And job hopping, or changing jobs frequently (usually holding a position no more than two years), is taking its toll on the talent pool.

As the president of Sales Xceleration, a firm specializing in assessing and implementing sales strategy, sales processes, and sales execution to drive growth, I’ve seen how job hopping can affect otherwise stable sales teams.

I’ll walk you through the impact of job-hopping on our post-pandemic sales landscape, and what it actually does to sales careers and team culture.

Job hopping by the numbers

The numbers don’t lie — job hopping is on the rise.

  • About 68.9 million workers left their jobs in 2021 — 70% of them voluntarily. (Grant Thornton consulting firm)
  • Sales organizations experienced 58% higher voluntary turnover in 2021 than in 2020. (Xactly)
  • The professional and business services industry (which includes B2B sales) had the fifth highest turnover rate in 2021. (U.S. Bureau of Labor)
  • Over 20% of American workers took a new position in the last year —
  • and 40% of those are already looking for new jobs. (Grant Thornton consulting firm)
  • Tenure is shrinking: People who switched jobs in 2021 were likely to have spent less than a year in their previous job. (IBM Institute for Business Value)

I’ll explain why job-hopping may be so prevalent — which is to say, why sales reps keep doing it. But also the cost it has on their careers — and your sales team.

Why reps job hop

For sales reps, job hopping can have considerable benefits.

Switching jobs is often the quickest path up the ladder. In organizations that don’t prioritize professional development and internal paths for career progression, the only way workers can climb the ladder is leave. The draws include better base salaries, competitive variable compensation, better perks, or remote work opportunities at other organizations.

And the data backs this up. Zippia reports that the average salary increase for employees who job hop in the professional services industry is 9.6%. Not bad.

Why else do sales reps hop? According to MarketSource, leaders consistently struggle with developing a sales culture. Talent erodes quickly in a toxic environment, and many job hoppers flee for the promise of better culture elsewhere. About 15% of sales representatives listed “company culture” as their main reason for changing jobs, according to Xactly.

But while sales reps might stand to benefit from job hopping in the short term, it has devastating impacts on long term career prospects and sales teams as a whole.

How job-hopping damages careers and workplaces

This trend especially impacts sales teams. One company noticed that salespeople with three or more employers in the past 60 months had a 90% or higher turnover rate (see: how turnover negatively affects companies).

The benefits of job hopping are real, and some leaders even argue that hiring job hoppers is good for your sales team. However, job hopping doesn’t represent a sustainable way of working.

Here are the downsides of the rapid job switching:

  • Time to ramp. New sales reps need time to learn your product and company, and some responsibilities aren’t granted until sales reps gain more experience. This onboarding period hurts both the company and the sales rep financially, which is why companies try to hire talent that will stick around. If people leave shortly after they’re hired, then no one has the chance to fully settle into their roles.
  • Limited depth. When sales reps rapidly cycle through jobs at different companies, they fail to gain in-depth knowledge and experience that could help them positively impact the future of the company they’re stepping into. Short-term experiences are all well and good, but without the learning that comes from mistakes and challenges and iterations, they can soon prove a little shallow.
  • Fewer experts. Job hopping may be a quick way to bump one’s pay but it takes away your sales representatives’ ability to become experts in your product and space. When sales reps switch jobs, you miss out on the benefits of tenured team members.
  • Chaotic sales departments. Job hopping can be detrimental to your sales department, which needs cohesion to succeed. Team members learn from one another over time. Without this learning, sales teams especially can easily lose momentum. A high turnover of employees can lead to high turnover of prospects and buyers.

How to protect your sales team against job hopping

The downsides of job hopping can be truly detrimental to companies, sales teams, and even the sales reps themselves.

Here are a few ways you can address the trend and save your team from the repercussions of job-hopping:

  1. Take responsibility for sales rep retention.
    The first step to addressing the potential problems caused by job switching in your company is to be aware of it.Notice when and why sales reps are leaving, where they’re taking their talents, and what your new hires are switching away from. If you’re listening to your sales reps, you’ll know when they are sending out a message of dissatisfaction.
  2. Refocus your sales culture
    Refocusing culture can be something you do as early as the hiring process and onboarding. Notice what kinds of conversations you’re having with candidates. What are they preoccupied with? What kinds of questions are they asking? What are their values?If you’re seeing that most candidates are asking about flexibility, it’s time to invest in creating flexibility as part of your culture. You can also look at other issues and opportunities within departments that you can fix, such as loss of faith in leadership or lack of recognition.
  3. Reassess your compensation offer
    Why do sales reps switch jobs? Often, it comes down to money. Compensation plays a major role in incentivizing sales reps. Improperly aligned compensation packages or unfair base salaries can be a major source of dissatisfaction.This is especially pertinent in today’s world, where inflation and cost of living are soaring. Many families are economically vulnerable in a way they haven’t been before, which causes understandably nervous sales reps to try and secure better compensation to protect their livelihoods.
  4. Find internal opportunities for growth
    Job growth is one of the most important factors for satisfaction. Without clear career paths or additional rewards, sales reps might feel like there’s no room to improve.As a sales leader, you can address this by providing and communicating opportunities for individual sales reps to achieve their personal career goals within the company. Offer and invest in training to fill in their gaps and growth opportunities. Open up regular space for those discussions, and potential job switchers will feel more heard and seen.
  5. Level up your managers
    People don’t tend to leave industries or even companies; they’re much more likely to leave bad bosses. Conversely, great bosses can protect against high turnover and secure employee retention the right way — through respect and appreciation.

Becoming aware of what job switchers are looking for, and going back to the drawing board to figure out how to offer them those things, could be an enriching step for your company. Discover how to bring flexibility, spontaneity, and independence into your sales culture. Find new ways to express appreciation to loyal team members. Seize the opportunities of this era of rapid evolution to switch things up, not just for sales reps with itchy feet, but for everyone who wants to pursue a future with your company.

Maura Kautsky is the president of Sales Xceleration and has over 20 years of experience in the marketing industry. She has helped companies build and grow their brands, created meaningful customer relationships, and implemented practices that have resulted in increased client retention.