Three tips for retaining great salespeople this summer

Attracting, and keeping, good salespeople is at the top of every sales manager’s list of priorities. The better we are at inspiring, and holding on to, great salespeople, the happier, more engaged and the more successful they will be. Here are three things that you’ll want to keep in mind this summer to help your organization keep your best salespeople.

Remove the roadblocks. You want your sellers to focus on selling: having conversations with prospective buyers, making sure that they have enough opportunities in the funnel and managing that funnel from initial contact to close. As a leader, you must make sure it’s as easy as possible for your sellers to get a given deal through the internal systems. That means minimizing the administrative load your sales contributors must carry. Yes, they need to do some reporting and they must get essential information to senior leadership. No, they don’t need to generate detailed reports that no one ever looks at. And no, they shouldn’t be spending big chunks of their day managing inventory or attending operational meetings. Do your best to remove the organizational roadblocks that keep salespeople from doing what you hired them to do: interact with buyers.

Consistency. Salespeople want consistency in three different areas:

Do we treat the members of our sales team consistently or do we give some people “special consideration?” The phenomenon of treating a so-called “star performer” differently from the rest of the team is known as entitlement and is highly counterproductive. For those not being treated the same way as the “star performer” there is inevitably resentment, confusion and a sense of unfair play. And those who are receiving special treatment come to feel like they’re above the law and are justified in focusing on “me” over “we.” Add it all up and you’re looking at a tumor on the sales organization.

How do we act? What are the processes that we follow? Do we even have a process as sales leaders? What are all the things that should happen predictably, such as sales meetings and one-on-ones or account reviews? We need to have a known process, but most salespeople don’t like process and may feel that too much process represents micromanagement. In fact, the right amount of process, and consistency, equals freedom. That consistency and comfort, should always be clear to the members of your team.

How do we react?  Salespeople want to know how we react to certain situations. They want to understand our emotional makeup and they want stability. If we have a strong emotional response to issue X on Monday, but for no apparent reason downplay the same issue on Tuesday, we are sending mixed messages and that makes salespeople uncomfortable. An unknown, or ever-changing, target can be confusing and unsettling for salespeople. We want them to focus their energy on the buyer environment rather than on figuring out how we’re going to react to something.

Tools/Training. Salespeople may sometimes feel bombarded with too many tools or, perhaps, may not understand the value of these tools. Our job is to identify the tools, and training, that offer the highest impact and then make sure they are being used properly to make the salesperson’s job easier and more efficient. For instance, you certainly want to make time to train your salespeople and you want to make sure you’re reviewing, and coaching, their talk tracks based on that training. Personalized playbooks, as an example, are important tools because they clearly lay out the daily, and weekly, behavioral plan for each individual salesperson. Another tool, the precall planner, helps both managers and salespeople focus on the critical action items for an upcoming call. It allows salespeople to strategize ahead of time about the most important things they hope to accomplish during the call. 

Address those three big issues—roadblocks, consistency and tools—and you will find it much easier to hold on to the best salespeople this summer and beyond.

Jim Marshall is owner and president of Sandler Training of Tampa Bay which provides sales, corporate and management training to high-achieving companies and individuals. Contact him at 813.287.1500 or [email protected].

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