Whether you’re peddling newspapers, widgets, used cars, or the latest killer app, the sales space is a pressure cooker that all too often results in employee burnout, fatigue, and attrition. It’s no surprise that many sales-focused IT firms have grown used to handling relatively high rates of turnover among their sales staffs.
However, even though high turnover may be a fact of life in the sales biz, that doesn’t mean you can or should reconcile yourself to letting your firm morph into the organizational equivalent of a revolving door. Experts say that the costs of recruiting, interviewing, and training a new employee often approach or exceed three times the annual salary for the role. Add to that the cost of lost opportunities that can arise when a new member of your sales team isn’t quite up to speed, and the total financial impact of a new hire can quickly add up to six figures or more.
In the past, many sales firms adopted a somewhat lackadaisical approach to employee retention. Today, that’s a strategic misstep you probably can’t afford to make. In almost every possible case, it just makes more sense to focus on retaining skilled sales pros that already know the ropes and have a proven track record of success and networked contacts to fall back on, rather than starting from scratch with a rookie recruit. Here are some tips to help you keep your top sales pros on staff.
Recruit with retention in mind. Experts say you can increase staff retention rates significantly just by screening out candidates who raise red flags in the hiring process. Look for applicants who have stayed longer in past positions, who are stable and have roots in the area, and who show signs of looking for a career, not just a short-term job.
Create an organizational culture that demands and rewards excellence. It’s almost inevitable that high-performance employees will get frustrated and fed up if they’re surrounded by mediocre peers who reinforce a norm of complacency and low effort. Super-charge your workforce by hiring motivated self-starters, setting high expectations, and rewarding top performers handsomely.
Go out of your way to support professional growth and development. Top performers tend to be restless, ambitious types who are always on the lookout for a new challenge. If they aren’t sufficiently challenged in their current position, they’re likely going to be searching for a new setting in which to stretch their wings and test their mettle. You can combat this by offering your top performers ongoing training, lateral and vertical promotions, and frequent opportunities to take on new tasks and responsibilities.
Little perks can help cultivate lasting loyalty. Sure, money matters when it comes to employee retention. But experts say that the ‘little things’ can and do add up—sometimes having just as big an impact as a significant jump in income. Show your employees that you appreciate them with a fully-stocked break room, season passes to local sporting events, premium coffee, dedicated parking spots, schedule flexibility, and other pluses that make sense in the context of your business.
Ask your top performers what ‘job satisfaction’ means to them—and then deliver it. Believe it or not, each person has their own infinitely unique, completely idiosyncratic answer to this perennial question. Take your top performers aside and ask them to describe what their ideal job situation looks like in excruciating detail—and then do everything you can to deliver.
Is sales staff retention a challenge for your firm? If so, how have you tackled this problem? Let us know what works—and what doesn’t—in the comments.