How to Retain Sales Talent

One of the largest issues facing today’s sales manager is trying to retain their talent. Employee turnover costs organizations billions of dollars in lost revenues and operational dollars. From lost clients to reengagement fees, turnover create headaches for many organizations. In addition, research from just a few years ago reveals the tremendous impact sales managers have on their employee’s level of commitment. It is imperative to note that individuals do not leave companies - they leave poor managers.

Poor management-employee relationships contribute to negative morale. As recent as 2006 the Gallup Organization estimated there were 32 million actively disengaged employees costing the American economy up to $350 billion per year in lost productivity. With sales forces required to produce more than ever, it is imperative for sales managers to retain talent.

Here are ten tips for success:
1. Leaders as exemplars. Leaders need to act in harmony with employees and ensure equal treatment of all. Employees and managers need to operate simultaneously without lines of bureaucracy. Culture within the organization must ensure equality of all and consistent focus on the customer.
2. Best practices from the best people. Sales Managers attempt to enforce selling methods based on personal methods and desired bureaucracy. For example, the notion exists that if all selling professionals are out of the office they must be selling. However if a representative lives in the office but produces the best results, rather than use the exemplar managers default to the requested norm. Seek to emulate the best practices from the best.
3. Hire for talent. The principle from “First Break All The Rules” is true. Hiring for talent is needed. Talent is innate and is the best method for gaining the best people for the best jobs.
4. Training and Development. Of the 120 billion dollars per year invested in human capital development only a small percentage focuses on sales training. There are three prevalent issues; 1) Sales Managers typically state a lack of time for training, yet nothing is more imperative than an investment in your human capital. 2) Sales Managers typically hold short-term event based training. Development is a process not an event! Beliefs, habits and values will not alter in seven-hour program. 3) No accountability. A travesty of development is the lack of accountability following a development program.
5. Communication. Sales Managers and their people must communicate. Few studies have been conducted however; a recent sample illustrates a decline in sales meetings and one on one communication. Feedback loops are vital for establishing goals, policies and corrections.
6. Culture. The profession of selling requires a strong and energetic culture yet the entire of the entire organization must focus on its most imperative asset- the customer. A lack of customer focus creates employee aggrandizement and selfishness.
7. Customer Service Culture. Peter Drucker said “The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” Nothing is more important, that is why a business exists. There is no other purpose.
8. Onboarding is a vital resource. On boarding requires a coordinated organizational effort to guide and mentor new and existing employees to huge gains in productivity. Research illustrates that 69% of organizations with a structured program have a higher success factor of maintaining employees beyond three years.
9. Self Mastery. Sales professionals must be enabled to improve. Although tuition reimbursement is available little investment is provided for personal development. Sales professionals remain when organizations continually enable investments in personal development.
10. Positive Feedback from Customers. Gain the insight and testimonials from selling representatives and boast. Good news from clients that understand and exploit value are those that create buzz and excitement about the firm.

?2009. Drew Stevens PhD. All Rights Reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Drew Stevens PhD is one of the worlds leading experts in sales and sales skills. Dr. Drew is the author of the best seller Split Second Selling and the soon to be released Ultimate Business Bible – 12 Strategies for Ultimate Success. With over 25 years of sales experience and business leader, Dr. Drew has extensive experience in assisting both entrepreneurs and selling professionals to experience higher efficiency and effectiveness.

His expertise has been featured in Selling Power, the Chicago Tribune, Entrepreneur Magazine, and the New York Times. Drew travels around the globe providing over 50 workshops, and keynotes annually. In addition, Dr. Drew is adjunct instructor in marketing and entrepreneurial studies at several graduate universities and is the founder of the Sales Leadership Institute at St. Louis University.