There are many challenges facing sales leaders. Especially since they make strategic sales decisions. But, these influential individuals have one other critical task. They empower and guide the sales team. We wanted to gain more clarity over this responsibility. So, we asked sales leaders about their biggest challenge relating to sales talent.
From the results, we found that productivity and defining what a sales qualified lead is were key considerations. Then again, the biggest challenge, winning 36% of the vote, was retaining talent. But why, in today’s market, is retention such a critical issue for businesses?
Why businesses are struggling to retain sales talent
Sales professionals contact prospective customers on behalf of businesses. Their aim is to drive revenue by selling their company’s products and services. Companies use various methods to motivate their sales talent. But, the most common, is giving salespeople performance-based bonuses for hitting targets. Yet, sales organisations' turnover rate is three times higher than other organisations.
A high turnover rate is bad for various reasons. For a start, consistency is important for businesses. This is especially true for those looking to enjoy continued growth. Also, hiring talent is expensive, whether through recruitment or training costs. When one salesperson leaves, there’s usually a drop in productivity. This is yet another challenge facing sales leaders. This is commonplace with new starters, as they take time to adjust to their new roles. Yet, why is retaining salespeople proving to be so difficult for sales leaders?
Competition for talent
Salespeople play a pivotal role in a business’s growth. The top 20% of talent in the sales industry often delivers 80% of the results. Of course, that means there’s high demand for top talent. This should be no surprise, as they provide businesses with the best results. That’s why, one of the biggest challenges sales leaders face is the competition for talent. Even a settled salesperson can be tempted away by a bigger company. Whether through the promise of a higher-paying role or career development opportunities. Either way, there will always be a fierce battle for top talent.
Sales roles can prove to be very lucrative for talented salespeople. And to retain the best sales talent, companies need to offer good bonus incentives. Yet, not all businesses are on the same level, some are smaller than others. And it’s often the smaller businesses that have a limited pool of resources at their disposal. As a result, they can’t afford to offer the same financial benefits.
The issue is, top salespeople need to receive a suitable investment. Moreover, the most ambitious sales talent won’t put their own growth on hold to wait for a company. Instead, they will join a bigger company to grow their careers. This is often where smaller businesses fall short, making it a difficult challenge.
A company’s sales culture is the attitude and behaviour the sales team maintains. Sales culture can’t be measured like productivity, revenue and retention. Yet, it plays an important role in all of these related factors. A sales team must uphold a good culture to guarantee a positive environment A culture is built with friendly competition, shared values and trust. There should also be an emphasis placed on individual accountability. Whether by recognising achievements or providing learning and development opportunities.
The culture should remain the same even when results aren’t where they need to be. A good culture is what will keep everyone together during periods of uncertainty. In contrast, a toxic culture can have a devastating impact. This can lead to low motivation, poor results and a high turnover rate.
Hiring the wrong talent
Poor recruitment has a negative impact on businesses. In the sales arena, hiring the wrong talent can disrupt the culture. As a result, they might not gel with the rest of the sales team. This can damage team morale, meaning targets aren’t met. Yet, it’s not only productivity and performance that suffers from a bad hire.
Hiring the wrong sales talent can be expensive. Negative interactions with salespeople can push both loyal and prospective customers away. In fact, this could lead customers right into the arms of competitors. And if enough customers have a bad experience, this can damage a company’s reputation. Of course, this can have a detrimental effect on staff as well as customers. Realising the company is no longer an attractive place to work, there can be a drop in the staff retention rate.
Lack of development opportunities
Professional development is one of the best ways to keep employees engaged. The best salespeople are very ambitious. As a result, there needs to be learning opportunities available. This will allow your sales talent to develop their skills and progress in their careers. Learning experiences take various forms. Whether through on-the-job learning, personalised training or performance reviews. Employees are more likely to stay with a company when they know their development is a priority.
Companies can provide their employees with effective training and development programs. Of course, for the biggest impact, these programs need to be designed with the employee in mind. Sales talent benefits from interactive training. They can learn the latest selling techniques, before putting them into practice. This has the biggest impact on salespeople, as they are actively refining their skills.
Unclear sales processes
The sales process is the set of steps that salespeople follow to complete a sales cycle. It takes them from the prospecting stage all the way to closing the deal. This process of repeatable steps provides structure. It should be clear and easy to understand, helping to ensure the sales team are on the same page. A clear sales process provides a more stable working environment for salespeople. With this, Salespeople will provide a more consistent and positive experience. An effective sales process will boost conversions and close more deals. And when it's combined with the previous points, employee retention improves.
Do you want to learn more about how you can retain talent in a challenging market? If you do, then make sure to give our retain talent paper a read.