By Dan Harris
Salespeople aren’t going door-to-door selling vacuum cleaners anymore. But that same type of motivation and personality – and tech savviness – are all now needed to keep today’s top sellers moving forward.
That need for highly-skilled team members keeps the sales field more competitive than ever. Yet the sales gap is increasing and we’re experiencing the highest talent shortage since 2007, according to ManpowerGroup’s 2016/2017 Talent Shortage Survey of more than 42,000 employers.
However, for the second year in a row, sales leaders continue to excel in their efforts to keep employee engagement at an impressive high, according to Quantum Workplace’s December 2016 report The Sales Talent Shortage: How Organizations Can Attract and Retain Top Sales Talent.
Even though an incredible 80.5 percent of sales employees are engaged, according to our report, turnover rates remain painstakingly high. In fact, a January SalesFuel study (What Your Salespeople Are Afraid to Tell You) of 725 salespeople found that 69 percent of millennial sales reps have already voluntarily left an organization.
If employee engagement is so high among salespeople, then how do you stop your talent from jumping ship?
Of all the important engagement factors, three stand out as the biggest motivators for sales employees. Here’s how you can stop your top sales talent from leaving and taking their skills with them:
1. Know your most valuable resource.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in quotas, customer requests and complaints, and the everyday business rush. But keeping employee engagement high and retaining a strong sales team means you won’t lose sight of what’s valuable – your employees.
Keeping the sales team productive and expressing your belief in their value begins with effective training and mentoring. This doesn’t mean putting all your efforts into the first few weeks of onboarding.
Offer your sales team continuous training and mentoring that aligns with their goals and expectations. Take time to focus on strengths, but also understand each person’s weaknesses and struggles. Use this information to format personalized coaching and training sessions.
2. Enhance their strengths.
You’ve worked extremely hard to acquire and train a sales team that doesn’t want to just come to work, do their jobs, and go home. Instead, they’re dedicated to being the best salespeople they can possibly be.
This ability to take their strengths and put them to use in the sales field is the number one driver of engagement, according to our previously-mentioned report. When salespeople are incapable of this – often due to a lack of leadership or technical tools – their motivation to continue doing their best for the company wanes.
Create an environment that aligns your processes and tools with the company and individual success. To do this, it’s crucial that you remain transparent about planning and bringing sales members in on the process.
Encourage your team to suggest new technology and processes as they run into roadblocks throughout their day. Ask them to explain what the issue is, if they have suggestions for improvements, and then be sure to keep them updated as you solve inefficiencies.
3. Grow trust in leadership.
Quality leadership is an obvious asset for any company.
However, in a highly competitive and unpredictable sales world, your team needs leaders they can count on. What promotes strong employee engagement is the trust that salespeople have in their leaders to help guide them into a successful future. As your team sees leaders guide the entire company to success, they’ll feel empowered and comfortable trusting leaders to do the same for their future.
Trust between leaders and their sales team is built the same way salespeople build trust with customers: through strong relationships.
Communication is the foundation to building genuine relationships. So meet with each team member on a monthly basis. Recognize how their achievements are helping the company reach success. Then give updates on what the company is doing to improve processes, plans for the future, and its current status.
Above all, engagement of your sales employees relies on a continuous focus on improvement and guidance. When your team is left to deal with roadblocks on their own after an initial rush of success, they’ll lose confidence, motivation, and eventually interest in staying onboard with your company.
Take the time to really get to know your team as individuals and offer them the guidance they need to reach sales success.
Dan Harris is workplace insights analyst at Quantum Workplace, a company dedicated to providing every organization with quality engagement tools that guide their next step in making work better every day.