Top Tips to Retain Your Superstar Salesperson

May 3, 2018

When you consider the average employer spends 3.7 – 5.5 months replacing the role of a salesperson and spends $97,690 in doing so, there’s certainly commercial advantage to be gained by retaining top sellers.

On the flip side, a Glassdoor survey reported that “only 19% of sales reps have no immediate plans to leave their companies. Meanwhile, 68% plan to look for a new job within the next year and 45% plan to look for a new job within the next three months.”

Given salespeople are notorious for hop, skip and jumping out the door in the hope of so-called greener pastures, now is the time to reconsider all the reasons why this may be the case, particularly if it’s happening within your own business.

With statistics like those mentioned above already on the table, you can bet your boots one or more of your very own salespeople is currently considering leaving or is in the actual process of tendering a resignation as we speak.

The critical question remains. Which strategies can a business implement to retain top performing salespeople? As we now know, if we didn’t already, their value is greater than gold (well, almost!).  As with any staffing challenge, the best place to start is by listening to your people on the ground. What are they telling you? What are they asking for? What are the key things that contribute to success in their job?

1. The Toolbox

There’s a lot to be said for sending your sales team out into the field with the best tools possible. What exactly do these look like? Well, ensuring they have access to a contemporary toolbox that enables them to do the best job possible. Not only will this lead to increased sales over time by shortening the sales cycle but if staff feel they’re provided with the right type of support through the technology they use, pain points and frustration will also be reduced.

It’s necessary as an employer to provide the right suite of tools to enable staff to operate as seamlessly as possible. Otherwise you risk opening the door of temptation for staff to look elsewhere. Their search will prioritize companies that provide competitive edge when it comes to the types of technology and quality of products sellers are expected to use.

Ensure the tools you equip your people and your business with are modern and highly competitive in terms of what others within your industry are utilising. You want to be equal or in front of competitors in terms of the level of sophistication of your sales tools, including the technology platforms used.

2. Sales Coaching

Managers are busier than ever with larger teams, higher sales targets and more pressure on their shoulders. However, despite the fact that salespeople by nature are often fiercely independent types, reportedly they still value strong leadership from their manager and don’t necessarily want to be left to their own devices all of the time.

To assist with addressing this challenge for managers and in order to address time pressures and other constraints resting on their shoulders, sales leaders should consider ways to provide coaching and support for their staff, in times when they themselves may not be available.

Tools such as those that measure deal-by-deal progress often prove to be a great investment, as well as enabling salespeople to have access to real-time analytics so they can identify where their time is best spent and understand best how to prioritize their time.

Another method is to build a “perfect pitch library” where recordings taken of the most successful customer and prospect meetings are readily available. By investing time listening to these recordings, established salespeople can better investigate just what success looks like in your business. New recruits can learn about the various stages of the sales pipeline and learn from the best in your business.

3. Creating a Culture of Success

Irrespective of the size of the business, sales are undoubtedly a determining factor in the profit margins of success in your business. Salespeople recognize the weight of this driver for employers and their value in any business for this reason. Therefore, from an employer’s perspective, there’s a vigorous need for good solid salespeople with strong skills that possess the drive and motivation to succeed. Once hired, give them plenty of reasons to stick around!

Somewhat surprisingly, employees today are increasingly reporting that life at work isn’t all about financial gain. One Harvard Business Review article reported that “higher pay does not produce better performance”. In addition to dollars in the bank, people want to feel their work is valued and that they are actively contributing to the company’s bigger picture. They want to understand how their role fits into the broader success of the company as well as where the company is headed. Essentially, they want to know the role they play in broader business success. This makes transparency fundamental from the top down and is a large contributing factor towards engaging staff at all levels, salespeople included.

Joe Flanagan

Senior Career Advisors

Joe Flanagan has over 14 years experience in recruitment and HR and is currently the Senior Career Advisor at VelvetJobs, outplacement & employer branding services selected by the leading companies. When he's not trying to reduce the unemployment rate you can find him walking his two Jack Russell terriers in the hills.