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“Keeping Top Sales People Won’t Cost You a Thing”

June 26, 2018  |   Employee Retention,Uncategorized   |     |   Comments Off on “Keeping Top Sales People Won’t Cost You a Thing”

BCR.jpgIf you haven’t heard, sales jobs are a buyer’s market. With national unemployment at historically low levels, qualified candidates, especially top sales people, have many choices for where to work. In the past, the negotiation for hiring and retaining a top sales person came down to money — either in the form of bonuses, higher commission rates, lower quotas or salary increases. However, research shows that to retain top talent, you must appeal to the more fundamental and important factors that drive intention to stay and stave off turnover.

Scientific research shows that well-adjusted employees who declare an intention to stay
feel that they have role clarity, are productive, and have social acceptance in the organization.

Smart, productive, and committed employees want three things to stay with an employer: a realistic understanding of the job, tools to not only be, but truly feel successful, and a supportive integration into their teams and into the culture of the organization.

If your recruiting, onboarding, and performance management systems don’t include careful attention to these factors, then your company will perpetually be at risk for losing top sales people, regardless of what they are paid. Many organizations that have recognized these needs have refined their talent management process to incorporate programs that promote a stronger relationship with sales people, one that can weather the inevitable highs and lows of quota achievement.

Steps You Can Take

1.) Review the recruiting tools and resources used for sales people to ensure that the message accurately portrays the company culture, requirements of the job, and the organization’s approach to training and support. This includes reviewing the website, talking to recruiters, reviewing selection tools, and training hiring managers to give potential employees a realistic view of what the job truly entails.

The keys to retention are meeting the basic psychological needs we all have: feeling competent, having autonomy in our job, and relating well to peers, managers, and the company’s culture.

2.) Create more opportunities for internships, short-term contracts, contract-to-hire jobs, and shadow assignments. Whether available before committing to full-time employment or early in their tenure, sales employees can use these opportunities to understand their own fit for the job as well as get a head start on building a strong bond with an organization. These may give your company a leg up on other competitors by creating a talent pool from which to hire full-time sales talent.

3.) Consider the length, content, format, formality, and goals of your onboarding program. Organizations often limit their thinking of what is required for successful socialization to cursory training on the basic policies, procedures and expectations of the organization. Even a full week of training doesn’t adequately reflect that integration happens over the first nine (9) to twelve (12) months or more after joining an organization. A no-cost way to extend the life of the onboarding program is to develop learning cohorts that meet throughout the first year, developing a comprehensive and guided mentorship program, and including new sales people in evaluating the organization’s performance in helping them adjust.

4.) Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of a manager that can be supportive and helpful in assisting new sales people get through the process of working within the sales function ecosystem. Sales operations, support, legal, product, senior management, and more are all complicated functions which require strong first line management assistance to navigate. Don’t assume because your sales people know who to contact that they are successful in getting things done within these groups.


Creating committed employees is a combined effort of newcomers seeking the information and connection they need and the organization using validated tactics and programs to develop this commitment. When sales people have clarity about the job as they expected to be, feel successful in completing the requirements of the job, and have strong social connections, their bond is strengthened to weather the inevitable job challenges they will face.

With the explosion of remote working arrangements and the significant amount of time sales people spend away from the office, careful attention must be paid to how their socialization occurs, and how each new sales person has internalized the tools and resources provided to them.

A comprehensive, structured, and consistent program that guides employees from recruiting through training and adjustment provides the opportunity to reap the benefits of a more productive and committed workforce.

Contact Us

BCR has a great deal of experience in working with organizations to improve their sales compensation plans. Reach out to us to discuss how we can assist your organization.

Written by: Sheila McCarthy, Consultant

BCR is a local, minority-owned firm with more than 25 years experience in serving non-profit, public, and privately held entities in the key areas of Benefits and Compensation Consulting, Performance Management, Human Resource Organization Development, and Human Resource Information Systems and Processes.


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