Blog | May 14, 2012

The Right Way To Keep Good Salespeople

By Jay McCall

One business struggle I observed from multiple business owners attending the HTG Peer Group 2012 event last week in Dallas was the challenge of hiring and keeping good employees — especially salespeople. During one of the small group sessions I sat in on, one small business owner described his frustration with a star sales rep that recently quit without notice a few months ago, with little more than an email announcing he'd never be back. This was the second time this MSP had experienced this type of resignation.

The initial response of the other CEOs in the peer group was to offer up the reasoning, "that's the way all salespeople are." As someone who's been on the employee side of the fence for most of my professional career and even spent three years as a sales rep, I was able to see something clearly that these intelligent, well-meaning business owners were missing.

Consider this: All the business owners at this event left their work for two to five days, believing that getting the latest business training from HTG and the vendors, as well as the accountability and moral support from their peers would pay for itself many times over in the long run. Contrast that scenario with what many newly hired "star performer" salespeople (including the MSP's salesperson mentioned earlier) get: 90 days to hit a sales quota or be fired.

It's not that probationary periods and sales quotas are bad. But, if a new hire's initial impression of your company is that: they're just a number, and they're on their own to get good or get gone, how can you expect them not to leave as soon as they sense they aren't going to hit a sales quota that month or quarter?

In the same way that it's 10 times more expensive to find a new customer to replace one that goes away, it's very costly to replace a star player with someone new. What if, once you find that next star player (after the myriad of interviews, background checks, references, and testing), you share some of the success secrets you've learned along the way and help them get plugged into the kind of training and peer accountability groups that have helped you get to where you are today?

By the way, one of the themes Arlin Sorensen, CEO of HTG Peer Groups, talked about at this year's event was the value of getting deeper in your leadership development. He acknowledged that out of the 4,400 employees represented by the HTG members, 90% of those employees weren't at the event. Starting soon, HTG is going to be offering leadership training for salespeople. I'm sure there are other good organizations that will be offering similar kinds of sales leadership training, too. Are you willing to make this kind of investment in your star performers?

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