The market is getting more and more competitive for top sales performers, which is why your sales organization may be losing top talent to competitors. This could either be helpful to you in ways you haven’t realized, or serve as a symptom of a serious issue within your sales organization.
Find out how to keep your regrettable losses at a minimum:
It goes without being said that one of the most critical decisions you can make is hiring the right staff into your company. The other half of the battle is keeping the right staff. Before we dive in, if you’ve missed the blog post on the cost of a bad hire – go here to learn how to avoid the $250,000 mistake and practices your sales organization should adopt in this process.
While the cost of hiring the wrong person is an astounding $250,000 per bad hire, the cost of losing a top performer is even greater. When this person walks out the door they are taking their productivity with them. So, you now must invest in finding a replacement as well as trying to close a big gap in your plan. On a personal level, you will likely need to spend a lot of your time trying to care for your recently departed team members customers while you try to manage their transition.
Since retaining top talent has such a tremendous impact on sales organizations, we asked leaders from organizations like LinkedIn, Emerson, Transunion, NCR, SalesLoft and Siemens to share their perspectives on this topic through our Sales Leadership Community panels. Below are some real time perspectives on why top performers may be leaving your organization and what you can do about it.
The employee experience doesn’t match the candidate experience
False promises never end well. One mistake employers make in pitching their company to candidates is selling a vision that is incongruent with the reality of the work environment. David Cohen, (Vice President of Sales, North America for LinkedIn Talent Solutions) said at the Chicago Sales Leadership Community panel,
“If the new hire experience in the first few months doesn’t match what was sold, they’ll leave the company” – David Cohen.
Transparency is key to gaining the trust of your staff. Now when it comes to training, sales organizations have to be thorough and committed to developing a training program that is relevant, up-to-date, and provides clear expectations of the employee in their position. Listen to your staff and get feedback on the training procedures. If new hires aren’t confident in training they may lack the tools they need to be successful on the floor, which can propel them to other sales organizations with more structure and clarity.
Misalignment of goals
Customers are the bread and butter of any sales organization, but sales performers need more than that to complete a balanced meal. Sales performers want to be paid competitively- yes, but they also want flexibility, their voice heard, to feel valued, and to be engaged in the conversation with executives. Sales leaders are accountable for having the right environment or creating the right environment for their teams. Sit down with individual members of your sales team and develop a road map for their goals that entails where and when they want to go, and determine if and how they can fulfill these goals. Jim Hunter, (Emerson Retail Solutions, Vice President, Sales), recommended at the Atlanta Sales Leadership Community panel to employ individual development plans, because it’s not just about the next promotion, but how each person wants to interact with the company. Engagement is found in customizing a plan for the individual and realizing that it is not about herd mentality in any way, shape or form.
Firing before treating
Find remedies to heal a situation before performing surgery to extract a member of your sales team. Maybe a member of your sales team isn’t being fulfilled or challenged in their role. Also consider that a re-occurring issue may be due to a misunderstanding. You shouldn’t be quick to fire an employee over mistakes because it is both expensive and can decrease morale amongst the team. (Remember, there was a reason you brought on this employee) Derek Grant, (SalesLoft, VP, Commercial Sales), used a fantastic example at an Atlanta Sales Leadership Community panel when referencing Frank Pacetta’s book “Don’t fire them, fire them up!”. You should be intent on motivating your team to perform their best and understanding their weaknesses and how to improve them. Have the conversation with the sales performer and reconstruct a new plan for success if possible.
There are better opportunities out there
It’s okay to be the donor. Sometimes you lose employees to competitors, customers or other ambitions but if you’ve done a good job with the steps above, you have nothing but opportunity to look forward to. Sophia Weatherby Williams (NCR, Telecom and Technology Division, Vice President and General Manager) stated at the Atlanta Sales Leadership Community panel,
“Sometimes people move on to bigger opportunities that I can’t provide and I’m more than happy for them” –Sophia Weatherby Williams.
In this view, opportunity arises not only for the talent, but for the company as they have lost an employee, but gained an advocate- that in many times comes back in the form of a customer. David Cohen shared at the panel event that LinkedIn Talent Solutions welcomes career trajectories within their staff, and they even highlight their new role (which is usually multiple levels above the one in which they entered LinkedIn). This is great because existing staff can see that their time at LinkedIn is valuable because they see people who are leaving and the roles they are getting are massive leaps. It even works out when people leave to competitors because competition makes the industry better across the board. So send them off with the same hospitality that you welcomed them with and realize that many employees boomerang back into the company they leave because the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Top sales performers want success, challenge and understanding in today’s market. It’s up to sales organizations to meet the expectations and requirements of top talent if they want to remain competitive. Training and developing a plan to meet the goals of the individuals of your sales team is critical in the retention and success of your team. Work on improving communication and identifying where your team can use reconstruction, and practice creating an environment where everyone feels included and valued.