Taking into consideration the time and cost involved in recruiting and training a new sales rep, the loss of revenue incurred in the interim and the potential loss of key clients who may have deep rooted relationships with your top performers – the issue of employee retention is patently clear.
So, how do you prevent the dreaded moment when your top performing sales rep knocks on your office door and tells you that they’re leaving?
Tackling the problem at the source
While there are actions that can be taken to retain your top performing sales reps once they are firmly settled within your organisation, often the most successful retention strategy begins at the recruitment stage.
The key is to find people who are genuinely passionate about what they do and will therefore be committed to and engaged with the role.
There is an old expression: ‘choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life’. What is more, when you find individuals with this true passion for what they do, nothing will stop them achieving their goals. The hiring process provides the best opportunity to uncover sales reps with genuine purpose and drive to work for your organisation, ultimately bringing you both rewards.
Look for potential sales reps whose visions and values are aligned with those of the company, who want to feel part of the culture and to move forward to achieve mutually beneficial success. Those are the sales reps who will stick around and be an asset to your organisation.
By taking more time and adjusting your focus at the recruitment stage, you can ensure that you have a sales rep that is engaged, will deliver excellent customer service, are loyal to your organisation and won’t be swayed by the temptation of offers elsewhere.
You have spent time recruiting the very best and most committed new sales rep, now how can you develop them further?
Employees are more likely to stay in a company where they feel valued. This is something we know. It demonstrates that you, as an organisation, care about your employees as individuals and are committed to their ongoing development.
This is also true for your top performing sales reps. However, when it comes to development they can often be overlooked. Viewed as being ‘at the top of their game’, sales managers may instead focus their attention on their lesser performing sales reps, offering them development and training to improve their performance, assuming their top performers do not need development – but they do.
Do not be afraid to offer opportunities such as further training. Open up conversations; explore your top performer’s development objectives. Some may request advanced sales training whereas others may want to focus on personal development objectives or coaching,. Whatever it is do not miss the opportunity for further development.
By taking this time to really understand your top performing sales reps, their development needs and goals for the future, you can help them achieve more, both in monetary terms and personal and organisational success, keeping them performing at their very best.
Communication is vital to maintaining the happiness of your employees – by encouraging regular open and honest conversations you can alleviate any grievances as they arise and ensure that employees feel listened to.
This is particularly important with sales reps. Often out on the road at meetings, they’re not always physically in the office and may at times feel out of the loop. By encouraging regular meetings you can ensure that your sales reps voices are heard and that they feel part of the organisation, even when they’re out and about, helping to maintain and reinforce strong relationships.
To continuously get the best from your high performing sales reps, strong leadership is crucial. Sales Managers must have the skills required to effectively inspire and motivate these particular individuals to achieve increasingly challenging targets.
There is also a fine balance to be made. While it’s important to avoid micromanagement and allow top performers to get their job done, sales managers must also set clear performance indicators and tangible targets so individuals understand what is expected of them and whether they are on the right path.
To develop strong relationships with high performing sales reps, sales managers must draw on a number of different management skills, to be seen as a mentor and enabler, and have the ability to hold in depth career conversations while not being afraid to challenge.
Reward and recognition
Ensuring bonus and commission schemes are attractive is of course important to help incentivise and reward high performing sales reps. However, while top-performing sales reps will expect – and be used to receiving – a sizable package, you should offer more than just a monetary reward.
Sales Managers should take time to understand what drives their top performing sales reps and where possible offer rewards that are specific to the individual. This can be crucial for retention, particularly as high performers can often find themselves under more pressure to perform, making up for shortfalls elsewhere in the team. Leading to another, less obvious form of recognition, reduce pressure. Ensure all members of the sales team are performing and have the skills needed to achieve their targets, rather than relying on the few consistently high performers.
Retain high performing Sales Reps
The risk of losing one of your top performing sales reps has never been higher than in today’s recruitment climate. There is no one action you can take to ensure retention, it’s a combination of elements, but if one is not right, you are at heightened risk of losing your top performing sales reps.
By identifying the most passionate and talented sales reps and giving them the support, investment and recognition they crave, you can stack the odds in your favour so that you top performing sales reps remain and thrive in your team – not a competitor’s
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