SCENARIO: For the first time in a long time, you have sales positions open, but the most talented salespeople likely are already employed elsewhere.
Well, this scenario is one managers often find themselves in. Even the most successful sales managers can find themselves in this situation if they aren't intentional with their management practices and focused on retention. Recruiting and filling your talent bank is important. Even so, don't lose focus on the effort it takes to retain top talent. There’s always a strain on your resources when you try to scramble to fill a vacant sales position, but it’s a double-whammy when the vacancy is left by your superstar performer.
4 Habits of Highly Successful Sales Managers Who Retain Their Top Performers
Here are four things that highly successful sales managers consistently spend time and intentional energy on to retain their top performers.
1. Schedule (and keep) Individual Focus Meetings
Even talented salespeople need (and like) your undivided attention once a week. Some use this time to help them with their most pressing challenges, while others want time to affirm the things they are doing well. Regardless of how a seller may use this time, for many it is sacred. When missed, or postponed, for perceivably less important things, it can be seen as uncaring and that they are not valuable enough for your time. Too many missed individual focus meetings can leave a bad impression.
If you find yourself missing these 1:1 times regularly, evaluate the ones that seem to be kept more consistently and rethink your schedule. Maybe a time of day or day of the week seems to work better than others.
2. In-Field Coaching
I hear some managers refer to in-field ‘days,’ but I prefer to use in-field ‘coaching,’ as a reminder of what these calls are meant to be: coaching opportunities based on your observations in-field.
These aren’t the 4-legged calls managers sometimes are asked to attend for tough negotiations, creative problem solving, or other situations where seniority may be necessary. These calls are focused on how you can help your salesperson perform better on calls. Great salespeople always want to improve. When you can site specific behaviors that you notice as opportunities for improvement, it’s appreciated when given the right way. This leads me to my next recommendation...
3. Positive Feedback
Our VP of Talent Services, Beth Sunshine, teaches the fundamentals on the impact of positive feedback, and how to use it in constructive coaching. In a recent Talent Focused Management workshop, she gave a room of managers something to think about when giving positive feedback; multiple pieces of positive feedback makes providing coaching around an individual's challenges more receptive. Also, things like being timely and specific with your feedback will let your high-performing salespeople know you genuinely care.
Yup! Superstar sellers love great sales training. And not the philosophical kind of sales training, but they crave tactics they can apply and practice that truly sets them apart from the rest and accelerates their sales process. I’ve heard story after story about how high-performing salespeople feel like great sales training is a company’s way of investing in their success. Offering excellent training on a regular basis is a great retention tool, as well.
There are going to be times when a sales manager finds themselves in scenarios they don't want to be in, and also times where they are comfortable and content with where they (and their team) are. When you're in a situation where you have one (or a few) superstar sellers on your team, that's not the time to sit back and get comfortable. Be proactive in retaining your top talent by activating these four actions of highly successful sales managers who retain their top performers and ensure you are intentional with your efforts towards your most valuable salespeople.