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50 Ways to Lose a Sales Rep

April 7, 2023
Desiree Grace used her love of music to compose a little riff based on Paul Simon's hit song, "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," that highlights common mistakes sales managers make when managing their reps.
Thinking about the pain-points in our industry with recruitment and retention, I have to wonder whether much of our pain is self-inflicted.  As we try to squeeze every penny out of our sales teams, are we actually making a sales career in our industry less-attractive? Are we over-complicating life for our sales teams?

Being a music fan, the 1975 Paul Simon hit “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” inexplicably came to mind.  If you don’t know this song, use your favorite search engine or streaming service to look it up.  The beat even somewhat matches the rhythm of car wheels on an interstate road.  Hum a few bars, and read on.  Join me in singing “50 Ways to Lose A Sales Rep.”

The problem is all inside your head he said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be 50 ways to lose a sales rep
He said, so you find expenses to exclude,
Do it such you won’t risk being sued,
But, I’ll repeat myself at the risk of being rude
There must be 50 ways to lose a sales rep.

You can micromanage, Gage,
Increase paperwork, Jerk,
Make bonuses complex, Rex,
Cut those expenses, and
Have ‘em stay home, Sloan.
Or, keep ‘em in meetings, Lee,
Change the territory, Rory,
Reduce entertainment, Len,
And you’ll reduce your number of salesmen.
He said, it cheers me to impact the bottom line,
And you can start this well before it’s bonus time,
There must be 50 ways to lose a sales rep.
In case you need another ploy,
Make up more reports, Sport,
Cut the travel, Ravel,
And the bottom-line will give you joy.
Disregard the customer complaints
Short-term results are your aim.
As you look for personal gain
There must be 50 ways to lose a sales rep.
As you climb the corporate ladder
P&L is what matters
Cut expenses where you can
There must be 50 ways to lose a sales rep.

Next time you are invited to a webinar on recruitment and retention, or the next time you get a resignation letter from a top seller, hum along with me to the tune of “50 Ways to Lose A Sales Rep.” You might want to consider if any of your business practices match the lyrics.  (Sincerest apologies to Paul Simon.)

Desiree Grace is president of Cembre. You can contact her at [email protected].