It’s been said time and time again that the sales function is the lifeblood of any successful business, and it’s true that your sales team can be the deciding factor between whether your organisation sinks or swims. A good salesperson not only drives revenue for a business, but can also develop a brand’s reputation, build positive relationships with clients and customers and enhance company culture. They’re some of the most valuable people in any company – so how can you hold onto them?

Sales turnover bears a high cost, with one Aberdeen Group study estimating the average cost of replacing a sales representative to be US$30,420. Other studies put this figure much higher, including as a DePaul University Sales Effectiveness Survey that factored in acquisition, training and replacement costs to come to a figure of US$114,957. And this is aside from the fact you have no one on patch generating sales! But no matter how much or little it costs to replace a star performer, the fact remains that no organisation wants to lose one in the first place. Here’s how you can avoid it.

How effective is your online employer brand?

In the modern age of social media, everything is on display. Platforms like Glassdoor, LinkedIn and even Facebook make it easier than ever to see what people think about an organisation (whether they work for the company or not), meaning it takes just a few clicks for a sales employee to read negative reviews of your company and positive stories from a competitor. If attraction and retention of key sales staff are your priority, focus on how your company is perceived both internally and externally and put steps in place to remedy the negative outcomes. With social media an increasingly important component of the modern sales strategy (Forbes suggests 78% of salespeople who use social media outsell their peers who don’t utilise these platforms), your team will want to be aligned with a brand that is well regarded.

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How competitive is your salary and benefits?

In the compensation-based world of sales, it’s no surprise that money is always on the minds of your sales staff. If your best people are leaving you in droves, it might be that they feel like they should be receiving a higher level of compensation for the results they’re giving your company – and that they can get these financial rewards elsewhere. Your salespeople aren’t only interested in their basic salary package, but also their potential for increased bonuses and promotions on the back of ongoing strong performance.

Sales staff are typically ambitious, motivated and highly driven. They can also expect to have a clear understanding of the compensation and bonuses they are working towards. This means clearly stated compensation plans put in place before the financial year, consistent goals and realistic targets. Avoid sudden changes in compensation plans as much as possible as this will likely contribute to confusion and mistrust in your organisation.

If your star performers aren’t getting the opportunity to take over larger or more challenging territories, take on bigger accounts or manage teams of their own, they might look elsewhere

What career progression opportunities do you offer?

Sales people are always going to be interested in compensation, but for many the opportunity to develop and enhance their career opportunities is an even more compelling reason to seek out a new position. According to the Institute of Leadership and Management, 58% of British workers who were planning to leave their jobs in 2015 were doing so in the hopes of increased opportunity for progression. The BMS Index reported earlier this year that the number 1 reason sales people leave their role is a lack of career progression.

Salespeople don’t just want a job – they want a career in which they can grow and develop new skills and achievements. If your star performers aren’t getting the opportunity to take over larger or more challenging territories, take on bigger accounts or manage teams of their own, they might look elsewhere for a company that allows them to do so.

Feedback and coaching are also essential for those who work in sales. Managers must think of themselves as leaders, putting the time and effort into their salespeople to help maximise their performance. Professional coaches and conferences can also help to provide new opportunities for development to staff.

How attractive is your company culture?

Company culture can play a significant role in a person’s happiness and ultimate lifespan in a company. The BMS Index showed that 51% of sales people will leave for a new role within 2 years of joining a new company. A positive company culture is one that fosters staff growth and encourages success, celebrating individual and team achievement. There should be a positive atmosphere in the workplace, with a fair and consistent management approach that encourages a ‘pro-sales’ culture. A negative or dysfunctional company culture can be signalled by constantly changing leadership, favouritism and a lack of empathy from management.

As salespeople are inherently social creatures who thrive on relationships with clients, customers and peers, a rep’s relationship with others in the office is vitally important. A star performer who is rewarded financially and with development opportunities may still look elsewhere if they experience negative workplace interactions. As a manager, it’s your job to ensure your team is functioning as a unit and members are engaged and happy in their work.

Salespeople will always be vitally important to the performance of a company, and it’s up to you to ensure you’re fostering the right talent to flourish and thrive.