We would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.
— Norman Vincent Peale

3 Keys to Keeping Your Top Sales Professionals Happy

It’s no secret sales turnover is expensive. Putting a number to the financial loss can make you feel queasy. But what’s even worse is finding a replacement for your top rep. It’s an exercise in frustration, disappointment, and frankly, it’s an excruciating process.

Although some turnover is obviously healthy, when you start losing the top 25% of your sales team, things can start to look bleak. Too often it starts when one top rep leaves, then before you know it; your top three performers are gone.

So what can you do to keep your best sales pros happy and productive?  

Stay one step ahead of sales turnover with these three keys:

#1—Always be Thinking About Your Rep’s Sales Career

After hours of meetings with the higher ups about pipeline, activity, and deal flow it’s only natural to get comfortable thinking about your sales reps as revenue generating machines. Reporting on rep performance can be sterile, overly matter-of- fact, and devoid of the color that surrounds each and every rep’s individual situation.

Spend too much time in meetings like this and after a while, you’ll start to see your reps as purely revenue producers.  You may even begin to take their stellar performance for granted.

But if you want to keep your top performers for the long haul, you’ll be better off if you can help your salespeople manage their careers. The number one reason salespeople leave is because they don’t see their career going anywhere at their current company.

Salespeople are eternally interested in developing their careers. They are eager to take on more responsibility, work with larger clients, move up the ladder, and lead new projects. They welcome input, suggestions, and overall career guidance.

When employees have opportunities within an organization, and a manager who’s taking an active interest in their careers, they are more likely to stay and deliver results. If you want to keep your sales people performing at peak levels, invest time in their career development.  

How?

Find out what they want to accomplish long term, learn more about their strengths, and offer your point of view on areas where they can improve.

They want your opinion on how they can increase performance, get tapped for new opportunities, and keep their careers moving forward.

#2—Stay Connected and Celebrate Accomplishments

Overbooked days, demanding bosses, and moving priorities can lead to behavior that looks volatile and flighty. If too many days go by before you return a rep’s calls or emails, or if you find yourself constantly canceling meetings at the last minute, reps start to believe they’re at the bottom of your priority list.

You’ve got a lot of people pulling at you, but if you keep missing time with your reps because you’re giving it to other higher-order priorities,  it won’t be long before they stop calling and emailing you.

celebrate sales achievements

Because they’ll be moving on to another company.

Make it a priority to keep your top salespeople engaged by staying connected.

Acknowledging small wins helps build and strengthen connections.  All big wins start with small wins. If you don’t acknowledge strong performance you’ll eventually lose your performers. If your sales team doesn’t feel like they matter to you, the money won’t be enough to keep them long term.  

The most talented salespeople are good at winning business, exceeding goals, and making money. But money alone, it isn’t enough to keep them focused over the long term.

When you take the time to acknowledge your rep’s hard work and contributions, they’ll be more likely to continue producing at top levels.

#3--Request Feedback and Be Open to New Ideas

Set aside time to talk to your reps. Ask them what they need. Find out what you can do to help. Here are a few questions that can get the dialogue started:

1. What’s your favorite thing about working here?

2. What didn’t you like about your last boss?

3. What would you change about your job if you could?

4. If you managed this team, what changes would you make? What would you be known for as a leader? What would you want your reps to say about you?

5. If I left this role tomorrow, who do you think would be ready to lead the group? Why?

If your top salespeople leave it will be difficult to fill their shoes. Take the time now to gather information on each individual. Find out what’s most important to them and start owning the responsibility of helping them learn, grow, and develop.

No One Matters More Than YOU

As the current leader of your sales team no one matters more than you. Yes-that’s a lot of pressure. But when you’re on the front lines and in the trenches, you have the most opportunity to engage employees and influence their work, lives, and careers.

If you can invest the necessary time to implement these strategies now, you can save yourself the heartache of having to recruit for your number one rep’s job.  As you probably know, these three keys require constant focus and attention. You’ll need to maintain strong relationships with your employees and continue to inquire about what they need and where they’re trying to take their careers.

So what are you waiting for? Start setting up meetings with your top salespeople and get the dialogue started. Try everything. Let me know how it goes!