Sales staff turnover may be the most expensive and frustrating thing a sales manager has to deal with these days. You know the cost of making the wrong hire extends far beyond their salary and commissions, but did you know that their compensation probably only accounts for about 28% of your total loss? A recent study determined that managers waste about 150 hours of time on each wrong hire on top of the additional costs from soured client relationships, additional disruptions, and opportunity costs. Your mis-hire could cost you as much as 15 times their annual income!
So, how do you reduce the turnover in your department?
Here are a few best practices from some of our clients who achieve a great deal of success:
Start by hiring the right people.
Make a commitment to only hire individuals who have the innate talent for this job. Sure, training and experience will be key to achieving success, but if someone isn’t born to do this kind of work, your coaching and training will only go so far. Use a strong screening process and a statistically valid talent interview that you can count on to uncover the specific behaviors you need. Schedule time to talk with a Talent Analyst about the position you are filling and how their strengths match up. People often ask me, “Can anyone sell?” The answer is, yes—to a certain extent. Can anyone be great at selling, though? No—not even close. Hold out for those that are great at selling and make both of your jobs much more rewarding.
Re-recruit your people every day.
And remember that if you don’t, someone else will! Top performers are hard to find, and you can count on your competition to reach out to yours pretty regularly to discuss opportunities or just “have a conversation.” What is the best way to re-recruit your top sellers? Pay attention to them. Attention and retention go hand in hand. Let them know they are important to you, spend time with them to develop their natural strengths, and give them specific feedback on what they are doing right, often. Did you know that the average person needs 5 positive comments before they are really open for one piece of constructive coaching? They also need to hear positive feedback from you at least once every 7 days. We call that the “5-7 Happy Hour Rule.” Take the time to pay attention to your top sellers so they don’t want to take that next phone call that’s going to come in.
Treat each person as an individual.
People join a company but they leave a manager. By understanding each individual’s strengths, needs, likes, dislikes, and personal goals, you can be the kind of manager that a seller wouldn’t leave. A great way to do this is to ask them how they want to be treated. It’s a pretty novel idea, and it may feel a bit weird at first, but it is enormously effective. Make a list of the things you will need to know in order to individualize your coaching, and then ask them every question on the list. How do they like to celebrate successes? When they are struggling, how do they want you to offer your help? Will they come to you with things that are on their mind or should you make it a point to ask them instead? What do they expect of you as their manager this year? What do you they think you expect of them? Great managers can make some pretty good, educated guesses about these things. But if you find out for sure how an individual wants to be treated, and then act upon what you learn, you can show them you care.
Build a strong Talent Bank.
At the same time that you are re-recruiting your people and individualizing your coaching to fit their needs, you should also commit to a never-ending search for talent. Manage this search with the use of a good talent bank. Do you have a drawer at home that holds all of your screws, nails, bolts, and other fasteners? Most of us do—and we stockpile all sorts of hardware in there that we just might need some day. That drawer gives us peace of mind because we know that when a job around the house arises, we are going to be able to dig through the drawer and find exactly what we need at that moment. Your talent bank will work the same way. You can put names in there of people that have a wide variety of talents and skill levels, and most (if not all) may already be employed. But, you will still want them all in your talent bank so when a job arises, you can look through and find exactly what you need. Schedule time each week to work on your talent bank and don’t let that slip. Keeping this talent bank will also provide you with alternatives to non-performance on your staff, reduce the time that a seat remains open, help you to become a better interviewer, and promote more readily since you will always have a replacement handy. Most importantly, it will allow you to hire better people.
It’s not as easy as flipping a switch, but if you take the time to implement these best practices now, you will soon begin to see results. Reduce your turnover, increase your sales performance, and eliminate the frustration of making the wrong hires!