In the CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, it was revealed that the average staff turnover rate in sales organisations currently stands at 16.3 percent. That means that for every ten employees you currently have, between one and two will leave your organisation in the next year.
Coping with this level of turnover is difficult, because staff who leave need to be replaced by new employees and they need to be trained up to the same level, requiring time and budget. Here, we take a look at some of the ways you can reduce your staff turnover and cope better even when employees do decide to leave.
Provide Development Opportunities
In the modern world, employees are not content with a stable job – they want to advance their careers – and if you wish to actually retain staff for the long-term, you need to provide them with the opportunities to do so. This means investing in employee development strategies and promoting from within.
Any training you provide should be backed up by one-to-one coaching, helping individual team members to identify their strengths and weaknesses, so that they can set targets and continually improve.
When employees do leave, or when new positions open up, take the time to consider whether you have the ideal candidate already on your pay roll before automatically looking for an external hire. Employees are much more likely to leave if they feel their hard work is unlikely to ever be rewarded with promotion.
Address Poor Sales Management
Another important thing to consider when trying to address talent retention issues is the impact your managers may be having. A recent Gallup survey found that 50 percent of respondents had left a job “to get away from their manager”. Just 12 percent felt their manager helped to set work priorities and that 12 percent were happier.
This should perhaps come as little surprise, because most companies do not sufficiently train their sales managers. This is a point that was highlighted by CSO Insights in the 2017 Sales Manager Enablement Report, with the statistic that 18.6 percent of businesses made no investment in sales managers training in the previous year.
You do not want to be losing top reps and sales consulting staff due to incompetent sales managers, and if your sales managers are incompetent, it is down to you to address the problem.
Prioritise the Transfer of Knowledge
Finally, some amount of staff turnover is inevitable, even if you provide development opportunities and have effective managers. However, most organisations could stand to make improvements to the way knowledge is transferred from experienced staff to newer staff, so that turnover is less damaging.
“What if, rather than trying our best to hold onto employees and satisfying our own needs, we redesigned work to be accomplished by people who give us their all while they’re with us, and seamlessly pass the knowledge onto new generations?” asks Chris Cancialosi writing for Forbes.
This means your experienced sales reps should be passing knowledge on to less experienced reps, even if it is just listing processes. Likewise, experienced sales consulting staff should be passing on to inexperienced sales consultants, and sales managers should be passing on to prospects who could become sales managers one day.
Staff turnover is one of the top challenges faced by sales departments, but retention issues can be helped by providing sufficient employee development opportunities, ensuring your sales managers are well-trained, and by putting systems in place, so that knowledge is being constantly passed on, reducing the impact of turnover that does occur.