Suppose for a moment that 25% of your sales team quit before the end of 2021. Recent polling suggests this is possible. This article explains the research behind the prediction that voluntary turnover will increase as we exit the pandemic and prescribes specific things managers can do right now to prevent good salespeople from saying “I quit” to you and your company.
More than 40% of the respondents to Microsoft Work Trend Index, a global survey of 30,000 people, said they are considering a job change later this year. Prudential’s “Pulse of the American Worker” survey found 25% of US employees expect to look for a new job once the threat of the pandemic has eased. This is almost four times the voluntary turnover rate from pre-pandemic.
As scary as those numbers sound, I think the turnover of salespeople will likely be even higher than that for non-sales personnel. This is because the quality and quantity of coaching that salespeople received has suffered during the pandemic.
Sales managers have been unable to observe their salespeople in action so too often their only recourse was to manage by the numbers: “Let’s discuss your sales last month.” “How many sales calls are you making?” “How many appointments do you have for next week?” And the only solution that the manager could offer was to say, “make more sales calls,” which is lousy coaching.
This means more salespeople than ever before are likely unhappy with their current positions and itching for new positions. And that’s bad news, especially if it’s your top performers who choose to leave. The loss of just one peak-performing salesperson in 2021 can be devastating to your team’s sales results. Experienced and skilled salespeople are the most important role models for successful sales performance. So, when one top performer quits, everybody else starts wondering if they should find another job, too. That’s how the loss of just one top salesperson can trigger an avalanche of sales turnover on your team.
The good news is that it’s not too late to take action now to improve your own coaching and thus reduce the likelihood that your salespeople will want to leave. Here are four steps that will help you retain your top performers.
1. Have a career development discussion with each of your top performers ASAP!
Top salespeople are far more likely to stay with a manager who shows sincere interest in their career development. Get ahead of this problem now by holding 1-on-1 career development discussions. Ask questions that are targeted at providing career development beyond promotions. Here are two great questions from my “Career Development Discussion Planner:”
- Two or three years from now, where would you like to be professionally?
- What would you need to achieve now to accomplish this?
2. Increase both the quantity and quality of sales coaching you provide to your top salespeople
The instinct that many sales managers have is to ignore coaching their top salespeople because top performers are making their numbers, and managers have under-performers that take a lot of time.
But ignoring your top performers, when combined with the pressures of the pandemic, can lead to top salespeople feeling disengaged from you and your company. Rob Falzon, Vice Chair at Prudential, when releasing their “Pulse of the American Worker” survey, said that the pandemic has led to a “very real experience that employees have around a lack of career progression, and a concern around skills development.”
While top salespeople may not require as much coaching and guidance as your lower performers, don’t ignore them completely. Don’t let them get complacent—find out what skills they want to get even better at and find ways to help them achieve those goals.
3. Ask your boss for help in making your team’s top performers feel more appreciated
Most salespeople are motivated by recognition from the top of your organization—or at least from people at least one level above you. So, get your boss to:
- Communicate to your top salespeople, individually, that what they do is important.
- Say “thanks” more often by celebrating successes.
- Surprise top performers with enriching, challenging goals or special assignments.
4. Set a Breakthrough Team Goal
You can’t play it safe if you want to truly inspire your team, so choose a goal that’s out there—by which I mean a level of performance your team has never achieved before, something currently beyond its capability (or so everyone thinks!).
Setting a breakthrough team goal for your team can be a huge motivator for your top salespeople. Make your breakthrough goal something that feels difficult, a number that is higher than what your company expects your team to sell. What’s the worst that can happen? A year from now, maybe you and your team won’t have achieved it, but I guarantee that you will have gone further than you previously thought possible!
To re-engage with your top salespeople, you must coach them
When it comes to improving the skills of your top salespeople, time is of the essence. If you don’t help them improve their skill levels now, they may soon start looking for another employer who will.
Better sales coaching is the solution to retaining your top salespeople as we exit the pandemic. Achievement, recognition, and improved engagement in your company and the work of selling are powerful sales rep motivators that are enhanced by your coaching.
Our company offers a three-part “live-online” program that VPs of Sales employ that motivates sales managers to maximize the quality of sales coaching, improve sales performance, and ramp-up new-hires faster, in just 8 weeks.
“Kevin has really hit a home run with his new virtual training for sales managers. SpotX sales managers were hungry for this type of training. My managers are putting the program into action, and we’re already seeing results in terms of both improved attitudes and increased levels of engagement from salespeople.” Jon Romano, Vice President for ad-tech leader SpotX
Kevin F. Davis is the author of “The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness”, which was been named the 2018 Axiom Business Book Award Winner, Silver Medal and is currently on three Amazon Business Bestseller lists including Sales and Selling Management.