Although it may seem like it would be obvious when a sales rep is about to leave, you’d be surprised how many managers say they never saw it coming. That’s because they were not paying attention to the little things, the small changes, and the patterns even the top tier sales reps display when they are about to leave. Today on the funnel we talk about the 5 signs you’re about to lose your top sales rep, and how to see the pattern when it happens. As always if you have any questions please schedule a free 30-minute consultation and I’ll do my best to help in any way I can.

What we’re going to cover:

  • Numbers slipping
  • Patterns
  • Hints
  • Personal use
  • Short vacations



Numbers slipping



“There are some obvious signs here that you could be losing them. For example, their numbers are beginning to fall and it’s sudden with no logical reason for it.”


No customer loss

“You often hear the excuses in sales ‘I lost a customer’, ‘the economy was bad’, ‘it’s that time of year’, ‘my inbound leads suck‘. But typically your star sales reps don’t go down that road of excuses, they perform over any kind of obstacle and very consistently hit their targets without any reasons or excuses. Then all of the sudden you see this obvious slippage of the number.


Less in the pipeline

“You haven’t lost any customers but there is less in the pipeline. That’s a real sign that there’s an issue going on there, that’s a real sign that there’s something happening.”



“They could have something going on personally.Those are things that you understand but if there’s something wrong, the numbers are slipping, it’s sudden and there’s no real reason, no customer loss, and there’s less in the pipeline, you better start trying to figure out why. It could be something personal but it could be you’re about ready to lose them.”



Creatures of habits

Most of us in the world are creatures of habit, we do our stuff the same way every day. We leave for work at the same time, get home at the same time, prepped for the day the same way. This is especially true for your high performing reps, they know how to get things done, they have a routine.”



“Your job as a manager is to be observant of those routines and understand if those routines are beginning to change, or if something changed in how they’re acting.”


Be observant

“Maybe they’re not coming in the morning on time anymore. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are leaving but you have to do a little digging, you have to pay attention and you have to know your people. I’m talking about real patterns that change.”


Gut instinct

“This is where I think gut instinct and feeling come into play. Through the interview process, a lot of managers say ‘well I’ve got a gut instinct and I hired them’ and while your gut instinct is wrong more than it’s right in those situations, in this it plays a role. If you’re seeing some pattern shifting, and you’re not understanding why that’s a key indicator that you might be ready to lose somebody.”




Little hints

“People leave little hints. They say things that are a little passive aggressive in their commentary or responses, it’s the little things that they say and do to people that they’ve never done before because they can’t help themselves. They want to get it out there, they just know they can’t.”


Social media

“Maybe they post something on social media like ‘great interview today!’ not realizing you can see it. We had a rep years ago, when Facebook was first popular, who was posting his workout routine on Facebook, unfortunately, he spent several hours in the middle of the day in the gym. That was a red flag for us.”


Angry email/voicemail

“They could send an angry email or leave an angry voicemail, which they’ve never done before. Maybe all of the sudden they’re sending angry responses to basic requests for information and dropping those little hints. So, that’s something to look out for.”


You can usually tell

“This goes hand in hand with the pattern change if all this stuff is coming together, you definitely have a problem on your hands. You can see it, your gut is telling you something is not right, they’re not observing the same patterns they’ve observed in the past, and they’re dropping bread crumbs.”


Personal use



“Personal use means if, for example, they all of the sudden have a personal smartphone they’re using, instead of their work phone. This way they can have those conversations and they can make those outreaches and not get caught.:”



“In some cases, they’re using a personal laptop during the business day. So, if you see them and it’s not the company issued laptop, all the sudden they’re using a mobile hotspot, that’s a red flag that something is going on that they don’t want you to know about. If that’s generally not a pattern you see with them that’s  a red flag”


Short vacations


Out of the ordinary

“I don’t think it’s uncommon in the sales area for a sales rep to do personal things on business time. I’ve never seen a sales rep that doesn’t do that. But if you have a sales rep that all of the sudden is taking one-day vacations and half days, and that’s never happened before, that’s a red flag something is up.”


Sick days

“So, if you see stuff like that, out of the ordinary in terms of their days off or even sick days, that’s a red flag. Somebody who’s never taken a sick day is taking sick days left, and right? That’s a red flag they may be doing some interviewing.”


It’s okay to talk to them

“They’re not going to come out and say I’m looking for a new job, nobody in their right mind is going to do that and I wouldn’t expect them to. But you can come out and ask them. You can ask those questions and have those conversations about the numbers and call them out on use of personal items. Explain you’re not there to reprimand them but just to ask what’s going on, is there something you need to know?”

“People have a right to look for other jobs and they have a right to quit, but you also have a right to prepare for that.


Keep Filling The Funnel

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover.  You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.

sales candidate assessment free trial


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *