How to Retain High-Performing Sales Talent

How to Retain High-Performing Sales Talent

Find out how to keep your high-performing sales reps on board through the use of retention strategies tailored to your specific needs.

Kayvon Kay
Kayvon Kay

May 14, 2023

Sales Rep Retention: Become a Retention Specialist and Retain Top Sales Talent

Keeping top performers in any business is difficult these days. Every single month 3 to 4.5 million U.S. employees are quitting their jobs. Taking a close look at your current business practices and learning new methods is crucial to retain your high-performing sales talent.

In this blog post, you'll learn the methods and strategies to retain high-performing sales talent and how your business can start implementing them today.

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How to Retain Sales Reps

The Society for Human Resource Management determined the cost of hiring a new employee averages around $4,700 for every company. Unless your business has the budget to spare, it's imperative that you start implementing the strategies below to recruit sales talent.

Stay Competitive with Compensation

A photo of a person counting money

If you don't have a competitive compensation structure for your sales employees, it's only a matter of time before they move on to greener pastures. You need to be offering salaries and incentives that are in line with the rest of your industry to keep your top salespeople happy and motivated. Consider performance-based compensation structures that reward those who exceed their goals. Simply providing a salary for your top sales talent won't be enough to keep them on staff.

To stay competitive, you'll need to offer monetary incentives, such as commissions, bonuses, and profit-sharing plans. These incentives can be performance-based, providing added motivation to top performers to achieve more considerable results. Additionally, businesses can offer additional benefits like life and health insurance, retirement plans, paid vacation days, and flexible hours. These perks not only attract new hires but also help retain existing employees.

Perform research by looking through open job positions with your competitors to see how they structure their employee compensation packages. Doing this can give you insight into best practices for creating a competitive salary structure and put your business on par with industry standards.

Support Future Career Paths

Salespeople appreciate career growth opportunities because this encourages them to invest in new skills as part of their professional development. Moreover, it shows the sales organizations commitment to helping them build a career rather than just filling a position. This is vital for value-driven employees, who are committed to their growth and development.

If your team members can find pathways for career growth within your organization, they'll be more likely to stay on for the long haul. This means that your business must provide opportunities for career advancement for its sales staff to increase retention.

Regular career development meetings are crucial because they give employees space to share their future goals and ambitions. In the meetings, managers can take the opportunity to discuss future growth opportunities in the company, such as promotions or training and development programs. This enables employees to see a clear path forward, helping them envision a long-term future with the company.

Provide Flexible Working Conditions

A woman pointing at her laptop screen

Without upsetting the rest of your team, find ways to offer flexible working conditions to your top sales performers. Flexible working arrangements allow employees to have more control over their work schedule, enabling them to balance other life commitments and make time for leisure activities.

It is important that the arrangement works for both parties, so it's best to have an open dialogue with your employee so they can let you know what kind of arrangement works for them. Flexible working arrangements can be anything from part-time hours, remote work, flextime, and job sharing.

Salespeople will be more likely to remain with your company if you are willing to work with them regarding their personal life. Your commitment to their work-life balance is a deposit of trust the employee will likely return in the form of increased loyalty and dedication.

Set Clear Milestones and Expectations

Establishing clear expectations and milestones is crucial for employee retention in sales. It helps create a standard performance level for employees, which ultimately gives them a metric to determine job performance. Employees who are meeting and exceeding sales goals and receiving appreciation for their hard work are more likely to stay on board.

Your targets for sales staff must be quantifiable and measurable. Set clear sales goals such as the dollar amount of monthly or quarterly sales per salesperson. It is important that these goals be realistic, challenging, and tailored toward each salesperson's strengths and capabilities.

Make sure your expectations and milestones are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.) so employees have goals they can reach that produce momentum, not frustration. After each milestone is achieved, reassess the objectives and set an even higher bar for them to reach. The key is to make sure that your sales staff always has something to strive for.

Consistently Re-Evaluate Retention Strategy

A man writing down something

Until you have a proven method for retaining sales candidates within your team, you'll need to re-evaluate your strategies similar to customer retention strategies consistently. This approach helps you understand what is working and what needs improvement. Sales employees are driven by different aspects of a job, such as more money or flexible schedules, therefore you need ongoing assessments to ensure they stay motivated.

To conduct an effective evaluation, start by gathering information from the sales team on what they feel could be improved. From their feedback, identify any patterns or areas of concern. For example, if the feedback from the sales team indicates that the compensation is inadequate, re-evaluate the packages and create a comprehensive plan that is competitive with the market.

An evaluation should be held every quarter with your team to assess the current retention and attrition numbers and compare them to the performance of the previous quarter. Over time, you'll recognize the changes that are important to your specific team and be able to be proactive against losing more high-performing sales talent.

Focus on Employee Engagement

Your focus as a business owner should be to identify the key factors that increase employee engagement and then create the right workplace conditions to foster it. According to a study conducted by Gallup, companies with an engaged workforce have on average a 21% higher profitability.

To foster your employee engagement, develop a supportive and caring work culture. Employees who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to remain with a company because they feel they are part of a family that cares about their welfare as well as their professional growth. Encourage participation in social events, provide training opportunities, and regularly recognize the hard work and accomplishments of the sales staff.

Another important tool to enhance employee engagement is providing regular feedback. Employees crave regular and constructive feedback on their performance, from which they identify areas of improvement for their personal development. This feedback should be timely and give necessary guidance when needed to help employees correct their mistakes before they escalate.

Tighten Up Your Onboarding Process

Imagine walking into an airport and someone immediately telling you that you'd be great to fly the plane that afternoon. You've experienced no training, you don't know what any of the knobs mean, and you have no idea how to speak to air traffic controllers. This is exactly how an employee would feel without a proper onboarding experience.

The Brandon Hall Group found that businesses experience an 82% increase in retention rates and a 70% increase in productivity from new hires that go through a comprehensive onboarding process. To achieve a successful onboarding process, you'll need to create a systematic and structured program that provides comprehensive training on the company's products, services, culture, and processes. Make sure new hires receive the necessary resources and support to thrive in their position. This includes access to adequate library resources, involvement in training sessions, team-building activities, and mentorship.

You'll want a way to gauge the effectiveness of recruiting top sales talent over time. To do this, create an environment of open communication. Encourage new hires to ask questions, share their insight, and reach out for assistance whenever needed. This emphasizes that you value their feedback and care about their success within the company. Their fresh eyes on the process will also help to improve your onboarding and training for even better retention rates.

Encourage Sales Rep Camaraderie

A photo of a man and woman high-fiving each other

The sales team environment requires healthy competition to produce better results, however, fostering a sense of camaraderie among sales reps can lead to increased collaboration. Salespeople who collaborate with one another share secrets about their success and help each other reach their goals. This connection creates an environment of support and empowerment, which can lead to higher retention rates in the long run and better revenue for your business.

To encourage good rapport among your team, facilitate team-building activities such as outings, after-hours events, and competitions. This gives the sales staff the opportunity to connect and discuss sales strategies to encourage healthy competition. Furthermore, celebrating achievements such as hitting sales targets, winning a contest, or even reaching a milestone can enhance your team’s morale.

You can even support the development of strong sales rep camaraderie and teamwork by providing cross-training and mentorship opportunities. Through these opportunities, sales reps can gain new skills and learn more about the sales process while fostering a positive working relationship with others.

Look to Hire Internally

No matter how many strategies you implement to increase your retention rates and decrease turnover, sales reps are still going to leave your company periodically. When they do, rather than searching for new talent externally, consider developing existing staff instead because its hard to find qualified candidates. A LinkedIn Global Trends Report states that 81% of talent professionals believe internal hiring improves employee retention.

This has multiple benefits. It not only allows you to groom your current team's skills and keep them engaged, it also helps attract potential candidates interested in joining your business. This approach sends a positive message that the company values its employees and provides incentives for hard work and loyalty. Furthermore, internal hires have a better understanding of the organization’s culture, processes, and goals which makes it easier for them to mesh into their new roles more quickly.

Before posting a job opportunity for a new position, assess your current team to see who has the skills and capability to succeed in that role. This allows you to identify potential stars within your organization and give them the opportunity for growth. Approach them individually to see if they would be interested in the role and get a sense of what motivates them for a new position.

Use the R.E.A.P. method

The R.E.A.P. method stands for recognize, encourage, adopt, and provide and it serves as a framework for retaining talent on your sales teams. The idea is that by recognizing employees' achievements and encouraging them to adopt new strategies, you can provide the resources they need to succeed.

First, recognize your employees’ efforts. Acknowledge their hard work, whether it is a big success or a small step forward. This helps them feel seen for their accomplishments. Second, encourage open communication from your sales team so they communicate their concerns and issues with you.

Third, adopt the best technology to help your team succeed. With automation and scheduling tools, you can streamline activities and make it easier for your reps to do their job. Lastly, provide long-term career opportunities for your sales team. Employees with no clear career path within your organization will quickly look elsewhere to secure career stability.

While some of the R.E.A.P. methods are touched on in previous sections, the acronym gives you a simplified way to remember some of the most important aspects of retaining employees.

Retaining Top Sales Talent

Recent years have seen a drastic rise in attrition and employee turnover for companies all over the world. To keep your employees on staff, your business needs to reconsider how it treats, trains, and retains its sales staff. Developing and implementing the strategies mentioned above will help you create a work environment that is supportive, collaborative, and values each individual’s contribution to the company. 

The Sales Connection has experience helping more than 20,000 sales professionals reach their goals and boost their performance. To immediately plug the turnover holes in your business, speak with a retention specialist for a free consultation.

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Kayvon Kay

Kayvon Kay

Kayvon has over two decades of experience working with high-level closers and perfecting his sales methodologies. He has earned the title of Canada’s #1 pharmaceutical sales representative and continues to share his expertise as a keynote speaker and through his multi-million-dollar coaching program.

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