Onboarding has long been recognized as a critical element of employee and overall company success. Recently, however, Gary Vaynerchuk, a leadership and marketing mogul, shared the importance of off-boarding.
“How your employees feel on their way out matters just as much as how they feel on the way in — if not more,” he commented in a recent LinkedIn post.
The “ … if not more” is challenging to grasp at first. After all, when an employee begins, how they feel sets up their entire relationship with your company. Onboarding plays a huge role in their retention, satisfaction, and dedication to success. So, how can off-boarding matter more than those factors?
To Vaynerchuk’s point, how an employee feels when they off-board reveals the truth behind their relationship with the company. Once they’re beyond your four walls, there’s little you can do to influence their opinion of the company.
In sales especially, healthy relationships with former sales reps directly impact the company’s future. If parting doesn’t go well, both employee and customer referrals are hurt, connections with top customers get cut short, and top sales reps may never return.
To keep any of these from happening, read below for three tips on how to successfully off-board sales reps:
1. Share your appreciation and genuine hopes for their future
The majority of employees hate handing in their notice. It’s an anxiety-filled situation where they may feel they’re letting the team down. And of course, nobody likes the awkward discussion regarding why they’re leaving and where they’re going.
Leaving the company is also challenging for dedicated reps because sales is such a personal career. They poured hours of their time and emotions into each customer. So, it’s essential for them to feel it wasn’t all for nothing.
Go beyond a simple “thank you” and share your appreciation for everything they’ve done. Make your notes about their time with the company personal. For example, what accomplishment of theirs was your favorite? This type of personalization proves they weren’t just another sales rep on the board — their work mattered.
Then, move on and share your hopes for their future. Use phrases like, “I know you wanted to … ” or “I remember you saying your ultimate career goal was ….” Showing them you understand that their career goals extend beyond your company walls is a great way to show there are no grudges.
2. Review non-competes face-to-face
Hopes, dreams, and wishes are nice. Unfortunately, in sales especially, legalities always come into play. Set aside time to review non-competes and other prior onboarding materials with reps.
Legal paperwork can lead to tough conversations. That’s why it’s important to address them in a nonconfrontational manner. Let sales reps know you want to ensure there are no misunderstandings and that this is to protect both them and the company.
As a result, reps will walk away with a clear understanding of how they can remain compliant. Additionally, you’ll feel you took the appropriate measures to safeguard the company.
3. Gather key insights
Off-boarding sales reps isn’t just about sending them off to their next role. Actually, a critical component of the process is finding ways to improve the company for current and future employees.
During this time of transition, reps may be more open and honest regarding their employee satisfaction. Because they’re no longer an active employee, they don’t feel threatened if they say something negative about their experiences.
As an added bonus, gathering feedback lets reps know their opinions matter — even after they’re gone. Send exit surveys once an employee has officially ended their employment. Ask questions that reveal key insights to improve retention, employee experiences, leadership initiatives, and sales numbers.
A few questions to consider are:
- -Why did they choose to leave their role at your company?
- -What about the other company enticed them to accept the role?
- -What tools helped them be successful as a sales rep?
- -What do they believe held them back in their sales role?
- -What would they change about leadership?
After the survey is administered, send a follow-up email. Thank prior employees for taking the time to complete the survey and let them know their answers will positively impact the company’s future. Also, communicate that if there’s anything they’d like to discuss further, your team is always available.