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Is salesperson turnover hurting your business?

Andrew Ford
By | High Performance Sales Tips, Sales Coaching, Sales Organization, Sales Strategy, Sales Talent, Sales Team Management | December 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

3 ways to improve your sales ROI

The average tenure of salespeople is 2.5 years, in some industries it is even less. Think about what this means for your business. This is costing money, slowing growth and frankly ruining careers.

There has to be a better way of managing sales teams to get salespeople to stay longer in roles and in companies.

The Challenge: When sales are rolling in, companies do not fire and salespeople do not quit. So how do we make sure we have a sales team that can sell?

Step 1: Get the right people on the bus

Our last blog: 3 Things to get ROI on new salespeople faster spoke of how to invest in a strong recruiting process, an optimized on-boarding program, and the importance of hiring validation in the first 90 days.

Step 2: Build a bus for salespeople to stay on longer

Old school selling, and there are lots of people still pushing the old school, puts too much responsibility on the salespeople for getting to high sales performance. Sales has traditionally been seen as an act of individuals. This leads to a “sink or swim” approach to survival. As mentioned in other blogs, this model works sometimes, but not often enough to build an effective team. This approach is driving the high turnover found in many companies today.

The best in class today know that the organization must take responsibility for building the bus; the salesperson can only be responsible for managing their seat. Below are the three key things to build a high sales performance bus:

1. Know what success looks like

The best teams have a proven success formula for their teams.  This formula includes:

  • Where we win and why (Tribal Knowledge)
  • The activity metrics of success which focus on quality more than quantity (Salesperson Operating Plans)

2. Commit to development

Today’s Globe and Mail has an article called: “Google’s secret: Hire people for what they don’t know yet”.  In the article, they stress the idea of hiring people with a passion for learning. In our blog “3 Things to attract Generation Y sales talent”, we described the concept of employability for life, which says the new employee agreement is to prepare employees for future roles even if those roles might not be with your organization. In a recent conversation with a group of millenial MBA students, when asked what they want from their future employers the most popular reponse was development.

Done well development attracts and keeps salespeople longer and leads to a better ROI for the business.

Two value equations to consider

  • Training + Coaching = Development
  • (Development + Time) x Great Talent = High Sales Performance

Development is more than training alone, it is training and aligned coaching to help people learn skills, but much more importantly, learn how to apply those skills to win consistently in their sales role. In a high quality development environment the validated talent on the bus, will, over time, lead to a high performing sales team. A high performing sales team will sell, and salespeople do not leave positions when they are selling, making money, and learning.

3. Create a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement

Combine the development forum with a collaborative team environment to apply continuous improvement principles inside the sales team.

How?

A development forum is a place in the regular meeting cycle of the team, at least monthly, preferrably bi/weekly or even weekly, where the team gathers to follow a consistent series of exercises to practice their craft:

Deliberate Practice

  • A consistent set of exercises
  • Performed in a specific way
  • Repeated over time
  • Supported by an expert coach

This is the Malcolm Gladwell principle of 10,000 hours from Outliers.

In this environment, you are able to create a common framework within which the team can also use the time to share experiences from the field that allow the on-going refinement of the content of your success formulas.

The keys to unlocking the performance potential of both the development and collaboration environments are:

  • Common content, a playbook, that everyone learns and works from
  • Consistency is essential, it is part of the regular team meeting cycle
  • Everyone participates, new hires prove they understand, senior salespeople refine their craft

For the managers, it creates a chance to assess the strengths of their team:

  • Who has really mastered the content?
  • Who needs more support?
  • Who leads in the group in the context of developing others?
  • Who comes back with the strongest contributions to the continuous improvement?
  • Who is in, and who is out?

In closing

If you build these three things into your teams operating environment, validate your hires to make sure the right people are on the bus, and commit to the long game; the business will have a high sales performance team that delivers significant ROI.

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