How to Retain Your Top Performing Sales Reps

February 3, 2016
retain top performing sales reps

According to Bridge Group Research, there is a minimum 20% annual turnover in Sales (up to 34% if you include both voluntary + involuntary.)

With top talent comes a flight risk, but the risk of losing top performing salespeople is especially high, since in general, they tend to be independent self-starters who have trouble sitting still for too long.

Your high performers are your organization’s most valuable resource—so it pays to make sure they are satisfied with their positions, engaged, and motivated to grow with you for the long-run. Here are 4 tips for getting your top performing sales reps to stick around.

1. Help Them Make Professional Progress

While cash is king for motivating salespeople, financial incentives are not the only path to creating engaged and successful sellers. According to the Harvard Business Review, the top motivator of performance across the board is progress. That feeling of progress can come from making headway in day-to-day challenges, but also in a more long-term sense—with skill development and career growth.

So how do you know if your top performers feel like they’re making professional progress? Gain an understanding of what professional progress means to them. If it involves advancing their skillset and increasing their subject matter expertise, be sure and give them plenty of opportunities to fuel their professional development.

Your investment will pay off in two ways: You’ll further elevate their performance with training, and by providing the resources for their progress, you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll continue to go to bat for your team. Keep in mind that everyone will be fulfilled in slightly different ways, and that millennials in particular need to feel that fulfillment to stay around.

2. Keep Them Feeling Challenged

Top performers thrive on challenge. If their position doesn’t keep them motivated to grow and develop their experience and skill level, they’ll quickly seek that environment elsewhere. Don’t allow your top performers to feel as though they’ve “maxed out” their growth potential in your organization. Hitting the goals you’ve set for them will no longer be fulfilling if they feel like their “market worth” has hit a ceiling.

Keep your top salespeople engaged and challenged by involving them in big-picture business strategizing. You can tap into their industry expertise to set the direction for your company’s growth, and being a part of something that will potentially outlast their tenure will increase their loyalty and motivation. Give them something they can look back on and say, “I was a big part of growing that (product line, company, division, market, etc.)”

3. Make Sure They Feel Supported by the Rest of the Organization

According to the Salesforce 2015 State of Sales report, high performers are 3 times more likely to view sales as 100% the responsibility of the entire company than their underperforming peers.


retain top sales performers

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Since they expect to be supported by the rest of the organization, your top performers won’t hesitate to leave if that support is lacking. Top salespeople will quickly become frustrated with a lack of organization or any interruption that prevents them from doing their job to the best of their ability.

It’s a sales leader’s responsibility to make sure the organization’s internal functions are designed to support the sales function. That means aligning the sales and marketing departments so that your top performers are armed with the right messaging and marketing materials—but the alignment shouldn’t stop with marketing. Get everyone in the organization on board with this attitude of support by communicating how individual contributions affect the ultimate goal of making sales for the company.

4. Let Them Know They Are a Valuable Resource

We all like to receive recognition for our efforts, but this is especially important for salespeople, who typically have personalities that thrive in the spotlight. Your top performing reps are your organization’s greatest asset, so let them know how valued they are when they consistently meet and exceed expectations.

According to Sales Force, 80% of Best-in-Class sales teams use public recognition, compared to 42% of Laggards. This may be as simple as monthly or quarterly newsletter announcements that recognize top performers, or highlighting their accomplishments at a company-sponsored event.

Designate top sales performers as subject matter experts and invite them to give presentations and encourage mentoring with other team members. Not only will you be validating your top performers, you’ll also be spreading best practices to the rest of the sales team.

Salespeople are engaged and perform at the highest level when they are in an environment and role that aligns with their strengths, personality type, and natural motivators. You can keep your A players performing at high levels and mitigate the risk of burnout by gaining a deep understanding of what motivates them, and factoring that into the ways you coach and support them.


Soft Skills Behavioral Interview Questions

Having an idea of the soft skills a specific position requires will help you determine whether a candidate is a good fit or not. Download our list of suggested behavioral interview questions related to specific soft skills such as:

  • Self Management
  • Planning and Organizing
  • Conceptual Thinking
  • And more!

Written By

Russ Sharer

Russ Sharer is a Chief Sales Officer at The Brooks Group. Russ combines his 30+ years in B2B Sales and Marketing with his in-depth facilitation experience to connect the dots for program participants with a practical, “easy-to-learn” approach.
Written By

Russ Sharer

Russ Sharer is a Chief Sales Officer at The Brooks Group. Russ combines his 30+ years in B2B Sales and Marketing with his in-depth facilitation experience to connect the dots for program participants with a practical, “easy-to-learn” approach.

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Ready to maximize the performance of your sales team? A representative from The Brooks Group can help get you started.