Recently, it was announced that the US Economy is growing at a rate of 4.1% (the best growth since 2014) and unemployment is at generational lows. This means that one of the greatest threats to any business and therefore any sales organization is the war for talent.
Today the job market reflects a candidate-friendly environment. Opportunities are everywhere with the North American economy at full employment. With millions of job openings available, the best sales organizations are continually focused on developing and implementing strategies to retain their top sales talent.
In sales the concept of sales team retention can be straightforward but implementing the process is complex. Top sales organizations create environments where sales people can thrive in and be rewarded accordingly. The key then becomes how do sales organizations looking to move beyond retention struggles create an environment that breeds success?
Successful Sales Team Retention Begins with the Basics
It’s no secret that top sales performers are constantly being recruited by members of their personal networks, rival organizations, and the desire for potential greener pastures. With a burgeoning US economy filled with opportunity, it’s imperative that sales organizations have an effective strategy in place to avoid talent loss. Here are two key attributes that have the greatest impact on creating an environment where sales team members will remain loyal:
- Ensure that sales compensation is fair, easily understood by reps and payouts are always on time. For example, the best compensation plans allow sales reps when leaving a great sales call to be able to approximate how much they would make on that potential sales opportunity by the time they get to their car. Ultimately, sales people are motivated by compensation; if they cannot make the direct connection between sales success and sales commission payments they may falsely believe that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
- Create a highly collaborative and competitive team. The old adage of “there is no “I” in team applies to great sales teams. Sales teams that are true teams foster great engagement. Team members are there to be successful but also to help each other achieve similar or greater objectives. When you see and hear sales team members reach out to each other to solicit input, bounce ideas off each other, or simply seek affirmation of a chosen strategic direction, the power of the team is greater than the sum of the parts. It is possible to identify and hire sales people that will thrive in this environment. Success breeds success and when you foster this type of sales environment, you create a winning culture.
If your organization is currently experiencing challenges with sales compensation components, consider connecting with Intangent. Our strategic services team provides industry insight and best practices on how sales program excellence can be achieved. You can learn more here.
Leadership and the Benefits of Coaching for Sales Team Retention
Once the key attributes have been implemented as a foundation for an effective sales retention strategy, leadership should change focus and concentrate on developing communication and coaching strategies instead. Here are some points to consider:
- Communication must be clear and specific when it comes to goals and objectives for the sales team and each individual sales team member. Break goals and objectives down into bite size chunks that roll up into delivering annual sales success. This will provide for the opportunity to assess progress regularly and make mid-course corrections when needed before straying too far from the stated objectives.
- Ensure that actions are aligned to the identified goals and objectives. All strategy development and identified actions should be aligned and tied to specific goals and objectives. If they are not, then their importance/necessity should be questioned before committing to them.
- Prioritize coaching and creating a culture based on trust. The ongoing interaction and coaching between sales management and individual reps will determine the greatest impact on success and long-term goals within an organization. Consider the following:
- Don’t tell reps what to do. Instead, ask questions about their activities that lead them to understand the challenges they face. When they identify/understand their short comings, ask them how they may overcome that obstacle. By taking this approach you will engage them in active problem solving and enable them to come up with their own solutions.
- Focus on the early stages of deals. Many sales leaders focus on the closing end of the pipeline when the ability to affect the outcome is minimal. Their approach is all about driving to the close of the sale. However, if the sales opportunities are poorly qualified, this can lead to disastrous outcomes and missed sales goals. Devote more time to understanding the early stage opportunities and helping your sales team pursue the highest probability sales opportunities and you will dramatically improve your ability to close sales and hit quarterly and annual sales targets.
Putting it all Together: Key Components to Sales Team Retention Strategies
Today we find ourselves in a near full employment economy. While this is positive news, sales organizations must remain vigilant in their approach to retaining top sales reps. Failure to create a sales environment that is built on trust, measured by accountability, and rewarded for success can lead to disastrous results for sales leaders. Remember:
- To develop a culture that inspires performance and delivers results, deploy sales compensation plans that are fair and easy to understand
- Build a collaborative culture where all team members help each other and contribute to each other’s success
- Leadership and coaching are the intangibles that will help you align actions with goals and assist with retaining top sales performers