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How To Empower and Retain Your Top Sales Talent
Want to hold on to your best sales talent? We have solutions to help you keep them (and keep them happy) long-term. See how in this post.
A great sales rep is like the baking soda in your favorite chocolate cake…without them in the mix, everything just falls flat!
They are the ones who showcase your company's values and build trust with potential customers. They can turn a lead into a loyal customer and are the driving force behind your revenue generation. And as the face of your company, they hold immense power to shape the perception of your brand.
So if you are fortunate enough to have great sales reps who go above and beyond, you’ll do whatever it takes to retain them.
But how do you ensure the best sales talent stays committed and loyal to your company?
Let’s look at the reasons your sales reps might quit and how to make sure your best reps don’t.
How Long Do People Stay in Sales Jobs?
Sales reps tend to stay in their role for 18 months on average. This makes the turnover rate for sales reps 3x higher than any other role. Add in the time it takes to train your employees and get them selling, and this leaves little time for them to work at maximum performance before leaving for another job.
Sales professionals typically remain at a job for only 18 months.
Consider everything it takes to hire and retain your workforce—interviewing, onboarding, training, competition, benefits, investment in growth opportunities, etc. Factor those all together to see how much time, effort, and money you lose when an employee jumps ship.
Additionally, it can take months to fill a role for a sales rep after you lose them, and if you’re asking people to return to the office, you may find it hard to attract the quality candidates you need.
All of this means it’s more important than ever to keep your best sales talent at all costs so you can save your company thousands, possibly millions of dollars—not to mention a series of hiring headaches.
Why Do Sales Professionals Quit?
As a sales leader, you may be caught off guard when sales reps who excel at their jobs quit just a few months in. So, before we can talk about how to retain sales reps, we need to understand the reasons they leave.
Good sales reps quit for lots of reasons—some that you don’t even think apply to your company—so it’s best to identify them ASAP.
Here are some of the main reasons your sales reps may leave:
- Poor management
- Poor company culture
- Insufficient training
- Lack of support
- Non-competitive pay and benefits
- Little or no opportunity for career advancement
- Unrealistic sales goals
And that’s just some of the list.
So how do you figure out if these are current issues in your company? Foster a “safe” environment where your sales reps can give you honest feedback—and reward them when they do so. If some of it stings a little, take a beat, tell them you’ll give it serious consideration, and get back to them when you’ve been able to evaluate it without emotion.
Take an honest look at what might be driving turnover at your company - and then make a plan to fix it.
Once you’ve determined the common reasons your sales talent might leave, you can make more informed changes that can help with retention.
Ways To Motivate, Empower, and Retain Sales Talent
Now that we know some of the main reasons your sales reps might leave your company, let’s explore some of the main ways you can motivate, empower, and retain your best sales employees.
1. Refine a Solid Hiring Process
When you’re hiring people left and right but they keep leaving, you may need to adjust your hiring process.
Are you attracting the right candidates with your job postings? Are your expectations for the jobs clear? Are new hires experienced in your industry? Do their values match your company’s?
Ask yourself these questions or get help from an experienced hiring manager to help you improve your hiring process. You may be able to weed out sales reps just looking for any port in a storm and find those looking to stay for the long haul.
2. Create a Sales Culture They’ll Love
Sure, a job can have great benefits and above-average pay, but if there is a toxic culture behind it where all employees struggle to thrive, most people will decide pretty fast that it’s not worth it.
There are many ways to improve company culture: let your employees be creative, make your workplace more DEI-friendly, talk openly about work-life balance, offer parental leave and PTO—be the example by showing your employees they don’t need to hustle or work 24/7 to succeed.
If you’re unsure about the state of your culture, consult your human resources manager about conducting an employee survey. Then make sure you follow through on the feedback you receive.
3. Support Them with Vital Training and Tools
Sales teams not properly trained are doomed to fail. Train your employees fast (and well) so they can start selling early. This is not only good for your bottom line, but will also keep them excited and motivated.
Training is not just for onboarding. As your messaging changes and competitors emerge, there are new ways to talk about your products and to overcome objections that may include comparisons to your competitors.
There are literally hundreds of sales enablement tools to choose from, ranging from CRMs for small businesses to competitive intelligence tools for every business, and call recording platforms for enterprise sales.
If your sales team is spending time on manual tasks or is missing important opportunities because they’re lacking the right tools, you can bet they’re frustrated. Ask them where they feel they are wasting their time, and see if there is a tool that can help.
4. Supply the Messaging and Positioning That Closes Deals
Ever listen to 10 sales calls and hear 10 different answers to the same question? Have you noticed sales reps using ineffective or even inaccurate messaging on demo calls?
You’ve conducted and listened to enough calls to know what works, so make sure your team isn’t left to their own devices here. While this is a part of ongoing training, there’s more you can do to encourage consistency in messaging.
One of the most effective methods is to make sales playbooks or Battlecards available when a rep is talking to a potential customer. Great Battlecards include strengths and differentiators as well as information about competitors, guidance for overcoming objections, and the best language to position your product as the top choice.
5. Track Progress and Intervene Early
Challenges with performance and reaching goals can arise for even experienced salespeople, so tracking the numbers is key to spotting problems before it’s too late. Slipping performance can be reversed, but left unattended can lead to turnover.
When you see falling productivity or goals unmet, the first step is a conversation. What does your rep feel is causing the problem? What are their suggestions for improvement? Often the best changes in team-wide processes and messaging come right from your team, so listen up!
Our free Sales Performance Tracker is a great way to see the performance of each member of the team and the team as a whole and to build an action plan to support those who need it.
6. Be the Manager You Always Wanted
One of the main reasons employees leave a job is because of poor management. Do you tend to micro-manage? When was the last time you gave praise or recognition? Do your employees feel comfortable approaching you with challenges?
You’ve hired people for their expertise to help your company grow. As Steve Jobs said, “We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Build trust and camaraderie, become a collaborator, practice better communication, have respect and compassion, and be transparent.
And whatever you do, never try to change compensation terms (unless it’s in their favor!) or fail to honor agreements (even verbal agreements) about commissions and bonuses.
7. Pay Them Well
Be mindful of the industry benchmarks to make sure you’re up to par with compensation. If your sales reps have the qualifications and experience and you’re not paying them for it, it sends a strong message to an employee that they are not valued.
Employees need incentives for giving their best work, and that includes good base pay, commissions, bonuses, and benefits.
8. Provide Growth Opportunities
Give your sellers a space to grow in the company. If they go into the role with great pay but no room for advancement, it’s only a matter of time before they move on. Speak with your sales reps about creating achievable goals and milestones to help propel them into roles with more responsibility, or whatever it is they want to do next.
As a sales manager or director, it is easy to get caught up in quotas and details, but don’t overlook the difference you can make when you’re a coach and cheerleader as well as a leader.
9. Celebrate Wins
Recognition does wonders for employees and their motivation. Studies say that productivity, performance, and engagement are 14% higher in companies where employees are recognized for their work.
So be sure to celebrate your salespeople’s wins—monthly sales achievements, closing a new deal, or having a new idea—if you want to help keep them around. And don’t be afraid to reward them for their hard work.
You can give shout-outs in weekly team meetings, start an employee of the month program, take them to lunch if they close a big deal, or just thank them for their hard work.
10. Provide Helpful Feedback
Take time to provide honest, sincere, and constructive feedback to your employees. According to a Forbes article, “Reps crave feedback: the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
If you’re going to empower your salespeople, help them improve, and see them grow in your company, feedback is a crucial component of their success. For many people, a simple but genuine, “I saw how fast you closed that deal last week. Nice work!” can go a long way—especially if it’s said within earshot of others.
11. Set Measurable and Achievable Goals
Setting realistic goals is essential to good performance. Help reps improve by expecting progress, but don’t set them up for failure with goals that are impossible to reach.
Instead, create clear expectations, set measurable goals, and help them track their progress.
12. Arm Sales Reps with Competitive Intelligence
Do you know how many deals you are losing to competitors? Chances are, the number is higher than you think.
Does everyone on the team know why you win against a specific competitor? Do you know what they’re posting to their blogs, what users are saying about them in reviews, or what is working for them on social channels? If not, you could be missing out on valuable insights that can help your sales team succeed.
Competitive intelligence automation from Kompyte gathers and filters important customer insights and makes deal-winning information easily accessible to sales reps in the tools they already use (think HubSpot, Salesforce, Slack, Teams, etc.).
Cut down the time your salespeople spend on research, put the most important information in front of their eyes, and see the results.
Next Steps—Retain Your Top Sales Talent
Keeping your best sales reps is vital to improving your bottom line. But with an industry turnover rate that’s 3X the average, you’ll need more than positive thinking—you need a world-class sales enablement program.
Hire smart, pay well, and support your best talent with everything they need to succeed, and your top talent may stick around to help grow your revenue for years to come.