Top salespeople are notoriously difficult to retain. The demand for experienced salespeople is extremely high and good salespeople are very difficult to find. According to CSO Insights, turnover among sales reps is 25.5%, nearly double the national average across all industries. Below are four ways that your organization can beat the odds, retaining tops sales talent for lasting success.
Set Realistic Expectations – It’s best to start a relationship off on the right foot if you want to increase its chances of succeeding. Once a new sales rep is brought onboard, the sales manager should develop realistic goals and objectives, which should be discussed and mutually agreed upon with the salesperson. You both should be on the same page about what needs to be done, how they should go about doing it and what resources you will provide to help them to be successful. Then, the progress of these goals should be monitored in an effort to help the sales rep stay on track and so that you may tackle any obstacles together.
Provide Ongoing Training and Development – Your salespeople need to see that you are making an investment in them, that you are playing a key role in their success. There needs to be a solid talent development program within your organization that not only caters to your A team, but also builds up your B team because they are the future sales leaders of your company.
Offer Administrative Support – It’s important to show your top talent that you value their time. As a sales manager, you almost have to treat your sales team as the sales team treats their clients. You need to woo them a little by offering them incentives and showing them that you care about their needs and want to keep them around. You need to offer a solution to their problems. One of the biggest problems facing sales reps is that they don’t spend enough time selling. This is due to time spent on meetings, prospect research, administrative duties and a whole host of other things that they are responsible for.
By offering them administrative support, it helps to take some of the mundane tasks off their plate and it frees them up to do the one thing that they love, the one thing that fires them up – closing more sales.
Conduct Exit Interviews – Perhaps the most important thing that you can do to retain top salespeople is to learn from past mistakes. When you do lose a top sales rep, take the time to find out the reason why they are leaving. You may be surprised to discover that it usually has little to do with monetary gain. A survey of 1,000 employees by human resources software company BambooHR revealed that the top two reasons employees resign are issues with bosses and co-workers and a skewed work-life balance, while money lagged behind at number three.
In most cases, people don’t leave companies, they leave people. They leave managers and they leave colleagues. Perhaps there’s a recognition issues, a cultural issue, a respect issue, a communication issue or a work/life balance issue. No matter what the issue is, it’s important that you care enough to ask about it. If you continuously hear your top sales reps citing the same reasons for leaving, it’s time to make a change within your organization, quickly if you want to stop the bleeding.
The only thing that would be better is if you received this kind of feedback and acted on it BEFORE it got to the point of resignation. It’s important to address complaints in a timely manner as opposed to turning your back and hoping it gets better. The best way to retain top sales talent is by having a proactive approach to setting expectations, ongoing professional development, offering support and soliciting feedback on a regular basis.