10 Ways to Hire and Retain the Best Sales Talent
Salespeople are invaluable to any business, but attracting and retaining the best sales talent is a unique challenge, especially in today’s competitive marketplace.
Beyond simple dollars, here are ten ways you can attract and retain the best sales team:
- Provide a home – some sales people enjoy travel and in-person appointments. Others prefer inside sales and remote work. Regardless of the model or channel your salesforce is working in, provide them with a respectful and considerate home. Our experience has always been that the organizations that do this are able to attract the right people, and keep those people longer.
- Lead – some people think of salespeople as lone wolves. In reality, the best sales teams are a pack with great leadership at the head. Leadership is perhaps the most important part of the home you are providing for your team – great leaders inspire loyalty, personal development and growth that equate to higher returns for your sales force. Leaders should go to bat for their people, provide mentoring and be empathetic toward the challenges of their team.
- Be both realistic and strategic – target markets and sales goals should be aspirational, but also realistic. Nothing is more frustrating for a sales person than knowing they are entering a field of play where the goal is out of reach. Strategically identifying sales priorities and aligning the team – every time – is an absolute best practice that mitigates the kinds of disappointments and experiences that drive top talent away.
- Provide more than just sales – the best salespeople are people-people. If a key member of your team wants to stretch their legs into consultative work with clients they have landed, or wants to be more engaged with the business beyond selling – let them! This will pay off in spades as they become more attached to, and knowledgeable about, the firms and industries they work with and to the additional opportunities they are enjoying.
- Provide leads and appointments – most salespeople are decent at lead generation and set their own appointments. However, where the rubber hits the road for top talent is the actual relationship building and hands-on sales process. If you specialize your staff to have a sub-team focused on demand generation, lead qualification and appointment setting (or outsource these), the sales-rockstars can get right to work selling. And that generates more revenue for you and reward for them. When both parties win, neither wants to leave.
- Provide collateral material that is actually good – your tri-fold brochure, while immaculately designed, may not be the tool your team needs for success. Material that is "good," is material the sales team will use to build relationships and close sales. Marketing cannot create this in a vacuum – work with them to make sure your team has what it needs; these tools become invaluable and are another reason for top talent say, "I’m not going to get this kind of support and have this type of success elsewhere."
- Find contributors – the best sales teams are not just contributing revenue to the company – their contribution has to go beyond that. Salespeople have their finger on the pulse of the industry and the customer. They should be contributing back to their firm everything they learn and uncover. Asking this of them increases their own sense of value and loyalty, and makes the team a more valuable part of the company.
- Cooperation, not competition – focus on sales team cooperation, not competition. Competition-based-environments have their place, but generally, top-talent within them is always banking for higher returns. They will not stick around if a better offer comes, and the churn can ultimately diminish company returns even if sales performance is strong. Cooperative environments, on the other hand, foster better retention and better wins that build for the long-term.
- Compensate fairly – You had to make it to number nine to see the "compensation" word. Some managers will say that big payouts drive the best sales performers, but in reality, it is fairness you should be after. When a person works hard to cultivate a relationship and make a sale happen, it provides a great deal of value to their firm. Be clear and transparent about that value, and compensate fairly and equally across the team for that work. When fair compensation is matched to great sales culture, money becomes a part of the equation of what attracts and retains people – not the end-all solution.
- Get the word out – if you want to attract the best talent, take a moment to think about how you are presenting your company, your culture, and yours sales team’s culture. Determine how you need to communicate to attract the best talent – and if you build something great, they will certainly come.
So there you have it. Embrace these 10 keys to success and you will have the sales team you and your company truly deserve.