Here’s a poser: If the US spends around $15 billion annually on training sales reps, and around $800 billion on sales personnel incentives, what proportion of those figures is your business wasting due to turnover of sales personnel?
Of course, you can’t answer exactly because you’re not sitting in front of your spreadsheet!
But the truth is that, across several industries, the turnover of sales personnel has been shocking for a long time. Often below two years.
Worse, losing your sales personnel at this rate
- reduces your return on those training and incentive investments you made
- affects your sales process and, eventually,
- erodes your revenue.
So – what would make turnover of sales personnel too high in your company? And how can you ensure it doesn’t happen?
In this article, we’ll
- consider the root causes of the sales talent turnover and
- share some employee retention strategies with you.
You’ll have heard the cliché, “everything rises and falls on leadership.” It’s still relevant. It’s even more true for retaining top talents!
You can attribute around 75% of turnover in sales personnel to ineffective leadership. Although sales reps are often known to be able to work with little to no supervision, they still need direction and clarity of purpose from your leadership. When sales personnel smell incompetence in your leadership, they lose trust in you and, often, in your organization.
But beyond your show of competence, as the leader, there’s another point: You’re expected to set the pace and keep the team motivated.
But how can you keep a team motivated if your leadership style creates tension among your employees? It’s still true that people don’t just leave companies; they leave the leaders.
And even now when sales personnel are expected to work in sales teams, it’s still up to you, as the leader, to maintain the team dynamics and ensure the team achieves excellent results. No one wants to be part of a dysfunctional team, not even you – the leader!
Inefficient Recruiting Strategy
In an earlier post, we mentioned the importance of creating an effective recruitment strategy for attracting top sales talent.
That’s because how you recruit matters. Without a plan, you’ll not attract top talents, and you won’t want not-so-great talents to stay – or the rep who turned out to be more of a lone wolf than a team player.
Having said that, it’s entirely possible to get everything right with recruiting and succeed in hiring the best sales talents. But – you must also ensure you deliver on the promise you laid in front of them during recruitment.
The reason is that lack of transparency about what reps will get in-post also leads you to inefficiency in the recruiting process and consequently turnover of your sales personnel.
Your sales reps are looking for the great company experience you promised. That includes effective onboarding, timely compensation and benefits, support from you and your executive team, and a collaborative work environment. When that’s missing, you can be sure they’ll leave a.s.a.p. The time scale for that looks like this:
- honeymoon period: six months to a year
- quiet job-searching for a few months
- working off their notice
That’s your “under two years” turnover of sales personnel.
So – delivering a great post-hiring experience should form part of your recruitment strategy.
Lack of Growth Opportunity
Sales personnel also have goals and are constantly scanning to determine if your company can help achieve them. Three things come to mind here:
1 High-performing sales people want to work in a company with a clear path to advancement, whatever form that takes in your company (it doesn’t have to mean sales management). The sales landscape is competitive, and your sales reps should not feel left behind by their colleagues in the industry.
2 Top sales personnel want to work in a challenging work environment – a place with inspirational momentum that offers the possibility to learn new things. If your company culture is unchallenging and tepid, you’ll lose your best talents.
3 There’s a kind of sales environment that sets unrealistic goals in a mistaken effort to look forward-thinking. This is soul-destroying, not a growth opportunity. And it’s another recipe for a high turnover of sales personnel.
Low Sales Compensation
Of course, money isn’t everything, but your sales personnel need to feel you’re paying them what they’re worth! Otherwise, they’ll jump ship.
So – in addition to salary or sales compensation, depending how you work, make sure you limit your turnover of sales personnel by providing a range of other benefits they’ll value.
Examples might include
- gym membership,
- additional PTO or days when they can help their favorite charity, or
- some degree of flexible working, etc.
Never Lose Another Employee – How to Improve Employee Retention
Consider the following employee retention strategies to reduce sales personnel turnover in your company.
1 Develop better company-wide leadership. However few leaders you have across your company, it’s best to work together to improve sales personnel retention. Sales is integral to everyone’s success.
2 Design an intelligent recruitment and retention plan. You’ll need to create a recruitment vision, build the employee profile you want to hire, and design excellent post-hire onboarding experiences in a repeatable and measurable way. Sounds a hard task, but it’s effective.
3 Make your sales compensation competitive. You must find out what’s obtainable in your industry and see where to adjust. In making your sales compensation competitive, discuss it with your sales personnel. Their perspectives will help you evaluate the realities.
4 Provide growth opportunities for your sales personnel. No one cares how much you know as a leader until they see how much you care about your reps. They need to know you’re focused on their growth and career development. So – implement team-level, personalized training in addition to training your leaders. This might include up-to-date product knowledge and sales techniques.
5 Maintain a challenging and innovative work environment. When sales reps sense that your product or service may no longer do well in the market because of a superior competitor offering, they’ll start making plans to switch! So, keep everyone innovating in your company. Keep raising the bar while maintaining a positive and healthy work environment.
Need Help to Implement These Strategies?
At 360 Consulting, we reckon it requires outstanding leadership to implement these strategies successfully. We can help you raise the bar and tackle the root cause of turnover in your sales personnel.
We can provide systems and strategies that work throughout your business.
But the best systems won’t help you win if your sales personnel aren’t engaged. Our experienced sales leaders will give your company’s sales leaders the resources they need to implement change and lay the foundation you’re looking for to drive employee retention while growing your revenues.
Call us today and let’s talk!