It’s every sales manager’s worst nightmare: You invest months (and sometimes years) into moulding, training and nurturing a sales person into becoming your star performer – and then they leave.

Not only is this frustrating for you as a manager, but it can also have a significant impact on your business’s bottom line. On top of this, your team’s overall motivation and productivity may wane, as reported in a report on Personnel Turnover and Team Performance released by the US Army Research Institute. The report discusses the change in team composition that occurs when members leave, which requires the redistribution of knowledge and social networks within the business.

In order to avoid all these pitfalls, you need a strategy in place to ensure you’re doing all you can to keep your sales stars happy in the first place. The following should help you hold on to your top performers and therefore keep your sales targets on track.

Offer a competitive salary and benefits

Let’s face it: Money is a major factor when it comes to attracting and retaining sales people. If you want the best people to stick with your business, you need to be prepared to match – if not better – the financial incentives they could be offered elsewhere. Our Quarterly Sales Performance Index revealed that in salary issues are the biggest reason for not securing the best candidate, and there’s no doubt that failing to pay your top performers an appropriate market rate will result in them looking elsewhere.

So how do you know what you should be paying your stars? Start by taking a look at salary comparison sites, salary surveys and what your competitors are offering in their job ads. While you may not always be able to offer the most on the market, you need to be competitive. If you can’t match the industry standard, think about your benefits package and what else you can offer sales people that will make your business more attractive. This could include a bonus package, company car, pension scheme, health benefits, employee perks and even a healthy social scene within the organisation. However, be careful about relying too heavily on your bonus, as a large annual sum could lead to people collecting and walking. Instead, consider a quarterly bonus with an accruing pot for over-achievement paid out annually.

Invest in them

Your top sales people will likely share similar attributes. They’ll naturally be ambitious and driven, with a desire to grow and develop in order to learn new skills and gain more responsibility. Harness this enthusiasm and potential by constantly investing in your sales staff and ensuring they feel challenged and motivated to hit new targets.

Research suggests the number one trait exemplified by top performers is, according to employers, problem solving. This is particularly relevant in sales, where the inherent competitiveness of the industry motivates top performers to achieve more and new goals. 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.

We know that 31% of employers do not offer a structured approach to career progression, despite this being the number one reason sales staff leave a company. Team members want to know what they need to do to hit the next level in their career, and what their projected path with your company might look like. Set clear, written objectives and review these regularly with your sales team, and provide coaching and training to further develop their skills and show you’re committed to their future development.

Create a culture in which they can thrive

Company culture is an increasingly important element of the modern work dynamic, particularly for millennials who want to identify with the values of their company and enjoy the environment they work in. Nurture these sales people by ensuring your culture is inspiring, positive and motivating, whether that’s by organising more social events in the office or entering a team into a sports league. Sales can be a hard job, so your team needs to like what they do and where they work in order to hit their targets. Tap into your teams’ competitive streak by incorporating a ‘Sales person of the month’ prize, and the same for top performing teams. Whatever you can do to make your office a more fun and friendly place to work will help you hold on to your top performers, so get creative!

Get help

If you do all of the above and still find yourself losing star sales people, take the time to conduct thorough exit interviews to help identify the root causes of departure. It might be something you haven’t even thought of. Find out more about how you can retain your best people here, or contact us to find out more.