The Sales Retention Battle: Where Will Your Superstars Be in 2016?

Money and incentives matter, but they’re only part of the sales retention story.

You’ve got a great compensation and incentive package in place for your salespeople. Is that enough to keep them?

It’s a question that ought to be on every company’s mind heading into 2016. As the job market continues to tighten, CSO Insights notes that nearly two thirds of companies are planning to increase the size of their salesforce over the next 12 months.

Just where are those salespeople going to come from?

Money and incentives matter, but they’re only part of the sales retention story. And in an environment where ramping up new sales reps can take anywhere from 3-9 months (55% of companies, according to CSO Insights) to as much as a year or more (18.6% of companies), and turnover can cost up to 200% of the employee’s salary, retention strategies have never been more important.

The companies that not only hire but successfully retain top salespeople will always have an advantage over their competitors—and those are the companies that have a laser-like focus on retention from day one…and even before.

Here are two retention steps that should be part of your sales success strategy for 2016:

  1. Recruit People You’ll Want to Retain

Our experience has shown that retention starts with recruitment. When you have a strong culture that values specific key traits that you consistently develop and reinforce, and you hire people in alignment with those traits, then you will have a significant edge in the battle for retention.

Of course, not just any traits will do. Based on our research, there are four that top performers consistently demonstrate, and you can ask questions in an interview to uncover them:

  • Strong Goal Clarity
  • High Achievement Drive
  • Healthy Emotional Intelligence
  • Excellent Social Skills
  1. Make Sure Managers Can Coach to Retain

The manager also plays a key role in retention. While the salesperson has to have a strong belief in his or her own abilities, the manager’s belief in the person can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy: When the manager sees potential, a promising salesperson will rise to the occasion—and the reverse is also true.

The manager has to be able to coach effectively as well, and this should include regular coaching for new hires as well as the superstars. Coaching is one more way of demonstrating a belief in the salesperson’s ability to keep pushing beyond their own boundaries and reaching higher levels of success.

When their passion and achievement drive is continually being stoked, the person doesn’t feel they have to jump ship to find that personal satisfaction somewhere else.

Of course people care about the financial rewards. But just as you would tell your salesforce, “competing on price” is rarely an effective or sustainable long-term strategy. People want to work where there’s a connection between their personal values and what the company stands for, and where managers believe in them and help them accomplish more.

More than just a retention strategy, this is the mindset and fuel that drives people to go beyond their preconceived limitations and achieve more—for themselves, the company and their customers. What a way to head into 2016!