And another one bites the dust… Another salesperson has left the team because of a toxic work culture. 

We’ve heard the song and dance a million times. Sales has a high turnover rate and it’s built into the culture. It’s accepted as…inevitable.

But what if empathy and intention was built into the way sales leaders intentionally communicated with their teams? What if you could actually improve sales team retention?

The key is empathy in leadership. 🗝️

Hear our conversation with Ronda Robinson, Founder at Robinson Alliance Group, where we discuss:

  • Attracting and retaining salespeople through empathy in leadership
  • Why salespeople are either hunters or farmers (and why that’s OK)
  • The three ways sales leadership should be measured so they don’t pay the dreaded “people tax”

According to Ronda, your business must:

💥Lead with empathy and intention

💥Set sales reps up for success by understanding (and nurturing) who are the Hunters and who are the Farmers

💥Avoid paying a ‘people tax’ by consistently paying close attention to the human aspect of sales teams

Following these guidelines from recruiting to retaining will foster an environment where salespeople are:

💥Excited to come to work

💥Set up for success and growth

💥Retained long-term

Join us on the latest episode of Mental Selling to learn more about breaking the high-churn culture of sales and fostering a revolutionary sales culture in your business. Check out the full episode! 🎧 Click the link above!

Attracting and retaining salespeople through empathy in leadership

When a salesperson is unhappy with their position, instead of speaking up about the problem, they tend to quit. This has been a problem that’s existed for quite a while, but who’s fault is it: Employer or employee?

The reality is neither party is really at fault. As work culture has evolved, it’s made the idea of speaking up about problems in the workplace impolite. If a salesperson speaks up about the things that they need in the workplace, it’s perceived as needy or complaining. Instead, salespeople talk superficually about the company, hiding how they really feel. 

If we want to stop the vicious cycle of disgruntled employees feeling powerless when they have a problem with their employer, the sales leader needs to create a safe space for those employees to voice their concerns. 

But be warned: This is more than installing a suggestion box in the office. Ronda advises a daily task of meeting with your team and asking how they are on a scale of 1 to 10. 

Instead of the employee giving the standby answer of, “I’m good,” they’re forced to open up a little more, allowing the sales leader to dig a little deeper when the employee hesitates to answer or gives a lower score than usual. 

Responding to a threat response

When people feeling threatened, Ronda explains that, depending on the level of threat, a sales leader can gauge the response, leading to a more productive conversation:

  • Light threat: The person will either freeze or appease — this is when you see an employee hesitate to answer or give a very generic response.
  • Heavy threat: Under a lot of stress, the employee will go into fight or flight mode — normal responses in this mode are excessive complaining or quitting. 

Why salespeople are either hunters or farmers (and why that’s OK…)

While all industries deal with problems of turnover, that number is notoriously high- and costly- in sales. To combat this, Ronda suggests the best first step is having the right talent strategy in place. 

Shape Copy

“The lifecycle of a product changes: You launch and you need the hunters, then it transitions and you need more farmers. But often you still have the same staff.”

— Ronda Robinson

Sales people tend to be wired one of two ways: Hunters or Farmers. The hunters are the ones that thrive in a startup environment, launching a new product or approach. The farmer loves to build customer relationships over time — wanting to go wider and deeper in the market. 

When you think about the lifecycle of the product, you want the hunters early on, but the farmers later. Each excels in their ideal stage, but struggles otherwise. Recognizing and helping your team in the less exciting areas will help with retention. 

Three ways sales leadership should be measured so they don’t pay the “people tax”

How the sales industry has groomed their sales leaders has led to them thinking about their everyday business in 3 parts — an issue that has been directly detrimental to team satisfaction in the workplace:

  1. Business results: The most crucial to sales leaders — putting up the numbers to hit their goals. 
  2. Performance results: The metrics of performance for themselves and their team.
  3. People satisfaction: Paying attention to employee satisfaction and needs at work. 

The emphasis on business and performance results, and little to no focus on people satisfaction, has led to what Ronda calls a ‘people tax’: A decrease in employee creativity, engagement, innovation, and teamwork. 

A sales leader could be putting up the numbers and doing the right things from a performance standard, but losing their team along the way. The only way the sales industry can hope to reverse the retention trend is to start listening to the needs of their employees today.  Show some empathy in leadership. It will go a long way…

Empathy in Leadership Podcast Related Links

Follow Ronda Robinson on Twitter

Connect with Ronda on LinkedIn

The Retain My Team website

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