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The Value of Feeling Valued: How to Keep Sales People

July 31, 2017

So, you have gone to the trouble of hiring a salesperson and within 6 months to a year, either they have found another opportunity or you are ready to fire them.  A certain amount of turnover can be expected or needed.  However, the statistics range from 10% to 60% of sales people leaving a company within the first year of employment.  There is a big cost associated with turnover.  Think of the training time, and the possible loss in customer satisfaction when they see a new face every few months.  What can Sales Management and Sales Leadership do to stop this exodus?

IMPROVE YOUR HIRING PROCESS AND SELECTION FOR SALESPEOPLE – Stop hiring people because of experience and start hiring them because of skills and self-motivation.  If you are going through an HR person, have them benchmark your top performers.  Spend the time necessary to do it right.  Remember the cliché “Hire Slow and fire quickly”.

MAKE SURE YOUR SALESPEOPLE FEEL IMPORTANT – One of the hardest things to do is sit and listen to someone. However, it is the most effective way to let someone know that their ideas and opinions are important to you.  Salespeople have a difficult job.  Expectations are high, they are typically out there alone and day to day failure may be a given. Give them the time and listen intently.  Focus on what they are saying and don’t let distractions or interruptions interfere with that private time. It is also important to answer everything within a reasonable time.  There is nothing worse than NOT getting a response from your boss.  Make sure that the salesperson feels that you have their back if there are problems outside the sales department.  A feeling of importance is the number 1 thing people look for in a job.

RADICAL CANDOR – I am a big fan of Kim Scott’s book and Ted Talk Radical Candor.  You must tell your people that you appreciate their efforts and at the same time in a calm, straight-forward way tell them where they are failing.  Do not wait for that quarterly or yearly review.  Do it whenever necessary while the mistake is fresh in your mind and theirs.  If they know you have their best interest at heart it will be appreciated over time.  It is your moral obligation to tell it like it is.

ACCEPT MISTAKES AND DON’T BERATE – Once you have discussed their mistake with them, if it is a common issue in your business, bring it up as a group. Highlight any ideas the salesperson has for fixing the issue.  Mistakes are powerful learning opportunities.  Don’t miss out on one!

UNREASONABLE PERFORMANCE EXPECTATIONS –  Sales people naturally want to be challenged.  There is nothing worse than having a salesperson not be challenged.  However, there are reasonable expectations and unreasonable ones.  Instead of dictating the expectations, collaborate with the sales people on the expectations, and then hold them accountable.

LOW COMPENSATION – While this is a common excuse for turnover, the value of feeling valued is greatly underestimated.  If you follow many of the above leadership points they will outweigh low compensation.  Who wants to leave an environment where one is respected and has a feeling that they can control their own destiny?

FIRE THE NEGATIVE ENERGY PEOPLE –  This may sound contrary to everything that I just wrote.  However, let’s be realistic. No matter how hard you try, some people just cannot be coached or motivated.  Fire them.  If you tolerate their behavior than you are giving permission for others to have bad behavior.  Don’t let them drag you or your company down. Fire them quickly!

Comments positive or negative are graciously accepted.  If you would like to have a free personal discussion, please give me a call at: (480)656-3565.

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