In a market that is becoming increasingly competitive, more and more talented sales candidates are leaving their jobs for greener pastures, causing their sales teams to struggle to hit their targets as a result. The average tenure of a person in sales is two years, so if you want to cultivate a healthy, motivated and successful sales team it is vital to prepare for the expected and put plans in place to manage your sales talent pipeline for the moment a top performer does decide to leave.
The answer is to create a sales talent pipeline that combines skilled and experienced workers with fresh and promising sales talent. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: create an atmosphere where the more senior workers can guide and help to train the less experienced workers. If you develop a flexible approach to talent, it will, in the long run, help you to develop a high-performing sales team.
Always be recruiting
When it comes to building high performing sales teams, it’s important to always be recruiting. When you meet that perfect person with the competitor experience you’ve always wanted or the knowledge of a market you’re targeting, an ‘always be recruiting’ approach means you can make the most of this rare opportunity.
However, as recognised at a previous sales dinner, available head count and internal politics can certainly hamper this approach, but it can be a great way to secure talent that you might otherwise miss out on. And don’t underestimate where you might find untapped talent. This can be people you meet from your competitors, suppliers or other internal teams. Being able to recognise top talent and always having in the back of your mind ‘would this person be right for the team’ can be a great way of securing top sales talent.
Create a formal plan
The biggest reason for employees in sales moving on in 2015 was because they considered their new job to have a better potential for career progression. You can address this problem directly by building a structured plan for career progression that will help you to retain your best – and most ambitious- talent. By focusing on the development of individuals who possess the right skills with a structured training programme, and by pairing junior and senior sales representatives for real-life learning, you will allow sales talents to learn on the job and pick up skills much more quickly than they usually would, which you can then channel into giving them increased responsibility and a change of job titles.
Indeed, creating a culture of internal promotion will not only motivate talented salespeople to work harder but it will ensure you have a team that knows how your business works from the bottom up.
Be aware of the skills in your team
The best way to create a strong sales team that performs well across the board is to be aware of what skills you have, and what you’re missing, so you can put steps in place to address it – especially when it comes to new challenges that you’re facing. And with an ‘always recruiting’ approach you may find untapped talent. Do you have somebody with specific product or market knowledge that you need? What about people with account management experience? If you have gaps when it comes to doing new business, plug them by promoting or hiring juniors: graduates are often more enthusiastic than their older counterparts, as well as hungry for new business.
However, it’s equally important to be aware of which people wouldn’t fit into certain roles. The skills required to be a successful manager aren’t the same as those required to be a successful salesperson; promoting them means that you lose a great team member for a manager who may not perform as well in their new role. Be aware of which people possess the right skills for which job so you can put them in roles that play to their strengths.
Be open about career prospects
Nothing motivates an employee like career progression, so it’s important to be open with your workers about where you think they are, and where they’re going. If they want to progress, offer them advice: tell them what their next steps should be. Communication is key: ask your sales team where they see themselves in five years time, and avoid pushing them into a certain job area. What is it they actually want? By fostering a workplace atmosphere where you are both clear about what you expect from each other, you will have a better idea of how to keep your team motivated, and they will know what to do to gain that all-elusive promotion.
How do you create a talented and motivated sales team in an industry where people are always moving on? By creating a sales talent pipeline of fresh new people who will learn from your older and more experienced workers, and by creating a workplace in which that talent is given the chance to progress upwards in the company. By approaching the hiring process in an open and flexible way, you can create a strong, successful and motivated team that not only retains skilled workers but encourages and inspires new ones. Be proactive: don’t wait for talent to pass you by.