“I’m quitting!” declares your top salesperson on a Friday afternoon. And if that isn’t bad enough, your four biggest customers are following your star salesperson on the way out. Like getting punched in the stomach, nobody wants to get hit with that scenario.
“So what could you have done to prevent this situation?” asks Lisa McLeod, a sales leadership consultant and author of Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud. According to McLeod, you can avoid that gut-wrenching scenario with three retention strategies for sales employees. In short, you have to meet with them frequently, give them a sense of purpose, and keep track of their customers.
1. Meet weekly with your salespeople
The first strategy, McLeod says, is to make sure you meet with your sales team every single week. A lot of small and medium-size business owners tend to neglect such meetings, she says. But it has to happen. The meeting should include everybody on the sales team, even if it’s in a video conference.
There’s a “really important reason for this,” says McLeod. Unlike office employees, salespeople spend a lot of time out in the field. “So oftentimes, they’re not as connected to your company as the people who work inside,” she says. “So you want to establish not only a physical connection with them but also an emotional connection.”
2. Give salespeople motivation beyond money
Another strategy, she says, is to provide employees with motivation beyond money. It’s one of those counterintuitive retention strategies for sales employees, but it works.
McLeod says that everyone thinks top salespeople are solely motivated by money. According to her research, however, top-performing salespeople are most motivated by knowing they have a positive impact on their business and on their customers.
“Salespeople who sell with a sense of noble purpose, who truly want to make a difference in the lives of their customers, outsell salespeople who are just focused on sales quotas and targets,” says McLeod.
3. Keep a database of all customers
One more thing that you can do is make sure you have a database of all the customers, she says. It’s a retention strategy for salespeople—and customers.
“Because that helps you know what’s going on—to be a better coach to your salesperson—but the other thing that it does is provide you with a safety net,” McLeod says. “So if that salesperson leaves, you still have direct contact with the customers.”
Having a non-disclosure, non-compete agreement can help, too. It ensures that existing employees don’t take customers. But that’s a discussion for the lawyers.
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