Attrition is an anticipated byproduct of every business, but when it includes losing key salespeople, whether they are part of your permanent staff or contract employees, the impact can be devastating. Measures such as non-compete agreements and transferring of accounts to other sales representatives can mitigate the loss in revenue, but accounts are extremely vulnerable during the period when trust and confidence are being built between the new rep and the client. Sales professionals by nature are relationship-oriented people, and just as their rapport with key accounts is vital to a company’s business, employers should consider whether they are nurturing or squandering their relationships with top salespeople. They should be aware of the warning signs and have measures in place to redirect salespeople who have one foot out the door.
A recent article asserts that a key measurement of any client risk situation is relationships, as well as the quantity, quality and tenure of those relationships. The same criteria can be leveraged to assess relationships with individual members of a company’s salesforce. “Just as it’s important for salespeople to establish and maintain multiple relationships with key contacts within a client account, it’s important for employers to build a multi-thread relationship with their account executives,” says Donna Carroll, vice president, North America, Global Staffing Services for CDI. “Companies that provide a variety of channels for their salespeople to experience upward mobility, leadership opportunities and personal growth, lower the chances of their account executives moving on.”
Carroll provides the following advice to companies looking to develop multi-dimensional relationships with their salespeople:
Lead with a motivational, team-building management style. When salespeople are disgruntled, the root cause can frequently be traced back to management. Don’t create a divisive environment through unfair policies around quotas and commissions, or by giving preferential treatment to other staff. This is particularly important when you have a blended salesforce, comprised of contract and permanent hires. Instead, create policies that both incentivize salespeople and encourage them to collaborate on a sale whenever possible.
Leverage your training and development team. If the organization delivers or has access to renowned sales training programs, or even certification programs, salespeople are more likely to remain engaged and motivated. It’s not just about up-front training, but also continuous development both on basic concepts and new techniques. Contract employees will value your company over others they could choose if they have access to career development opportunities.
Encourage account executives to access the public relations or external communications team to promote their market knowledge on behalf of the company, through media opportunities that can help establish them as industry thought leaders. This can also include personal or volunteer projects that are aligned with the company brand. Although your contract team members may not typically be an integral part of this kind of activity, they will recognize the value of being associated with a company that achieves industry thought leadership.
Cultivate exceptional sales teams. Top-performing salespeople will leave if they feel they are working with sub-par sellers. Talented people want to work with talented people. If they feel that they are surrounded by salespeople who are not as motivated to achieve, they start to wonder, “Why am I here?” Top salespeople are energized by other successful salespeople because they like to measure their success against what their co-workers have achieved. Contract salespeople are also conscious of the impact their time with your company will have on their future assignments; they won’t stay in an environment that may limit their options.
Keep it fun with sales contests, incentives, company celebrations, etc. Day-to-day sales activities can be very draining and monotonous. Anything that can be done to lighten the mood and improve the company culture will help offset the daily frustrations encountered by salespeople. Make sure that your contract salespeople are included as valuable team members in these activities. Just because they will be moving on when you no longer need their services doesn’t mean that they don’t need the same sense of belonging as their permanent counterparts.
Successful salespeople move on when they feel they’ve exhausted their income potential, their growth opportunities, or when they don’t agree with management policies,” adds Carroll. “However, when companies promote a culture that encourages account executives to become deeply rooted in the organization through several mutually beneficial, relationship opportunities, salespeople find it more difficult to leave.
Recent CDI Analysis
Companies that provide a variety of channels for their salespeople to experience upward mobility, leadership opportunities and personal growth, lower the chances of their account executives moving on
Vice President, North America
Global Staffing Services, CDI Corporation
The October Employment Situation report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed another strong month of job gains for the nation. Employment increased by 214,000 over the month, pushing the unemployment rate down to 5.8 percent.
Growth in professional and business services hiring remained strong, adding 15,000 positions, but fell below the sector’s 12-month average of 56,000 hires per month. The sector also gained 15,000 jobs in temporary help services and 7,000 in computer systems design and related services.
Employment in architectural and engineering services added 2,900 employees.
Job growth in mining and logging, information, financial activities and government changed very little over the month.
The full Bureau of Labor Statistics report can be downloaded by clicking here.