The 3 fundamentals for Keeping Top Sales Talent

keeping top sales talent

Sales turnover can halt your forward momentum in a big way. It’s not only costly financially, it also eats up valuable time and takes sales managers away from the rest of the team who depend on their coaching for success.

According to Compensations Resources, Inc., the average voluntary turnover rate in sales is 15.9%, higher than the 14.3% average turnover rate for all jobs in 12 industries surveyed. High turnover in sales positions has always been an issue due to the nature of the work, but Best-In-Class sales organizations fight this reality by prioritizing their talent to improve retention, motivation, and performance levels.

Hold onto your top sales talent by committing to these 3 fundamentals. 

1. Recognize Them Regularly

Everyone likes to feel recognized for the work they do, but salespeople respond especially well to positive recognition—even more so when it’s made public. Research from Sales Force reveals that 80% of Best-in-Class sales teams use public recognition, compared to 42% of Laggards. Knowing they could have time in the spotlight keeps reps motivated, and publicly recognizing successful behavior acts as a powerful reinforcement for the rest of the team.

Coaching Tip: Be specific when you recognize a team member for their positive results. Stress the behaviors they took that led to the success, and then designate them as a Subject Matter Expert in that area—they’ll carry ownership and be reminded that they are an asset to the team.

2. Compensate Them Appropriately

What motivates one person to do great work will be different from what motivates someone else—but ideally all of your salespeople will be highly motivated by money. If you want a rep to sell to their greatest capacity, remove caps on commission. If you’re forced to retain some ceiling, set it as high as possible—research consistently shows that companies sell more when they eliminate caps that reduce a salesperson’s marginal incentives.  

Coaching Tip: Don’t be afraid to set aggressive targets. It can actually increase motivation in salespeople who are generally competitive by nature. Stretch goals can lead to more creative thinking—resulting in new strategies and tactics that boost growth. (Check out the infographic at the end of this post to reduce the anxiety of aggressive sales targets)  

3. Develop a Culture of Coaching Excellence

By this time, it’s common knowledge: quality sales coaching has a huge impact on a salesperson’s performance.

Getting your salespeople to perform at higher levels is the ultimate goal, but a strong coaching culture will do so much more than that. Coaching on a regular basis and providing continuous development opportunities really proves to your sales team that your organization has their best interest in mind. They’ll see that you want to help them advance their careers, increasing their confidence and boosting morale. In short, salespeople will grow loyal to leaders that genuinely invest time and energy into making them better.  

Coaching Tip: During sales call evaluations, structure your corrective feedback in the following way:

  • Keep the feedback positive by starting out with 3 examples of things they are doing well and should keep on doing.
  • Follow with 1 thing they should stop doing in order to increase their success.
  • End with 1 thing you recommend they start incorporating into their sales calls.


Top performing salespeople are generally self-starter, independent types. If they think greener pastures exist, there won’t be much to stop them from leaving.

The key to keeping the top sales talent you have is to make your organization as appealing to them as possible. That doesn’t mean they should be the ones calling all of the shots, but they should feel like they’re in an environment where their work is appreciated and they have the opportunities and the resources to grow. Provide those fundamental needs and your people won’t have a reason to leave.

aggressive sales targets


Josh Winters

Josh Winters is a Group Vice President/Director of Sales at The Brooks Group, where he serves as the first point-of-contact for organizational stakeholders looking to improve their teams’ sales effectiveness and overall talent management.

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