According to The Harvard Business Review, this is how you can retain top sales talent

Many employers, especially CEOs and other top execs, would like to believe the Great Resignation is a thing of the past – that hiring, engaging, and retaining superior sales talent will become easier from here on out. But recent studies indicate that not only are high turnover and widespread vacancies still plaguing the sales industry, an employee’s satisfaction is a poor indicator of their intention to stay in a job. Seriously.  

Part of the problem is that CEOs believe that hiring, rather than retaining existing talent, is the biggest hurdle to overcome. And many companies don’t have the resources for increased hiring efforts anyway, still hurting from slashed budgets during the pandemic era. 

What’s more, many industry leaders aren’t aware that almost half of their workforce (56%, according to a recent survey by SBI and Top Percentile Collective) are actively looking for other jobs. This is true for salespeople at all levels and across all generations. Many execs assume that it’s Gen Z and Millennials who are always on the hunt for something better, but in fact, Generation X showed the highest instances of job-seeking behavior in this survey, and, the vast majority of these job-seekers still reported satisfaction in their current job.

So how do you retain good salespeople, you ask? Here’s what the research shows: 

Offer Career Mobility and Support

SBI’s research came to a strong conclusion: “Compensation adjustments, work-life balance, immediate promotion opportunities, title adjustments, and creating a strong sales culture have little impact on retention.” Salespeople don’t just want perks, bonuses, or title raises, they want bosses who are invested in their short-and long-term success. When considering whether or not to stay with their current position, salespeople judge a company by its likelihood of helping them build their career.  

Develop Your Sales Force, Don’t Buy It

Organizations with low turnover organically develop sales talent, investing in their people and helping them become better at their jobs, rather than promising them the title of “Assistant to the Regional Manager” to tide them over. Unfortunately, this type of development went by the wayside during the pandemic at many companies. But the research shows that if companies can bring it back, they will see improvement in retention. 

Involve the C-Suite

SBI’s research showed that advocacy for sales teams from cross-functional leadership teams — especially from the C-suite — is a characteristic of companies with low sales attrition. 

The best C-suites engage with sellers, show interest in their success, and make themselves available for questions and concerns. 

Lay Out a Clear Path to Success

Salespeople tend to stay in positions where they see a clear, realistic path to career success. Companies that do a good job of setting expectations and offering clear avenues for upward mobility retain more talent than those that don’t. This could look like sharing territory quality analysis with new candidates or assuring new hires that their new territory will not consist of previous sellers’ castaways.

A Clear Path Forward 

The strategies discussed here are not expensive, but they do require top-down change. Hopefully, companies will become aware of the underlying reasons for turnover and invest the time and energy in providing short - and long-term career support for their employees. If not, then they’ll never get off the hire-to-churn treadmill that plagues so many sales organizations.  

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