Trouble Finding Sales Talent? Here Are Eight Powerful Retention Strategies.

Lauren Bailey, Founder and President, Factor 8 and #GirlsClub

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Hiring crisis? Check. Sales talent shortage? You bet. New-rep ramp times? Longer (not a surprise here, with fresher talent being hired). Hopefully you’ve already revamped your job profiles and onboarding practices at least once in the past year, but have you maximized your retention strategies?

Before spending another dollar on recruiting, be 110% sure your top performers – heck, your average performers – are rock solid. Because someone is trying to recruit them right now.

Here are eight strategies to keep your talent safe (and to advertise to attract new talent)!

  1. Implement micro promotions immediately. The title and social status are more important than the band and base pay. Help them brag to their friends – even if you have to invent a few titles! This was a new idea five years ago, and it’s standard practice now. That means their friends are getting promoted faster than they are!
  1. Establish a development budget. Make it per employee and keep it in your budget as a line item forever. Career growth and development opportunities outrank pay in nearly every millennial and Gen Z recruiting study. Budget for it; then, advertise it and help them spend it! Don’t make them find the “loophole” in the employee manual.
  1. Train your managers immediately. Call coaching skills are priority one since the Sales Executive Council ranks it as sales managers’ worst skill. We find it’s also the hardest behavior to change in leaders – because their natural sales talent fights their coaching muscles. When done right, call coaching is a double whammy of sales improvement (up to 30 points!) and employee engagement. Unfortunately, it’s seldom done right unless you teach it.
  1. Train your managers some more. One and done won’t work. If you want the development culture today’s workforce craves, embrace the notion that training isn’t something you did; it’s something you do. Training managers on how to be great managers and leaders is an investment that will always pay you back. It pays in lifted revenue, employee engagement, and retention. A recent study proved that employees who loved their boss required a pay increase of over 20% to be lured away.
  1. Embrace failure. I know: You’re a sales hero and you embrace winning! But millennials and Gen Z’s want room to fail. This means doing things like celebrating hang-ups, sharing bad call recordings, and making imperfection part of the process. There’s no faster path to a learning culture.
  1. Help them win faster. New reps on your team are likely new to sales altogether. If your onboarding program isn’t award-winning, get it that way quickly. Also, consider lowering your targets in the first few months (I know it hurts, but an empty seat hurts more). Reps are literally auditioning sales as a career. Help them win faster and get a taste of commission before they exit left into marketing, community, or customer success.
  1. Implement diversity ERGs. Employee resource groups are fast becoming table stakes! If you don’t have a resource for your POC sellers, your female sellers, or your LGBTQIA+ community, then pay to help them join outside groups. And if these groups aren’t represented on your board, your Website, and your hiring committee, fix it!
  1. Focus tools and training on getting to first base. Remember Moneyball? Billy Bean won the pennant by getting more players on first base, because you can’t get home if you can’t get on first. The same is true with sales. Tools should help reps get a hold of more customers – data, predictive dialers, etc. Skills should help reps capture more contacts, get callbacks, and keep customers on the phone longer. More conversations = more sales! Faster sales = higher retention!

Get the short list on how to retain the new generation of sales here. I’ll be presenting on first-base skills to help reps win faster at Selling Power’s Sales 3.0 Conference. Check it out right here.

Headshot of Lauren Bailey

“LB” is the founder of three successful brands: Factor 8, The Sales Bar, and #GirlsClub. A proud “AA-ISP Most Influential” recipient for the past 10 years, she’s also been billed as a Top Coach and Top Woman in Sales. Her mission is to change lives by helping more people find confidence and success in sales.