Sales success hinges on having the right talent in the right roles. But since every marketplace will grow and shift—most often unexpectedly—it’s important to make succession planning a priority to guarantee that you have the right people on hand when a position needs to be filled.
To avoid scrambling for a quick replacement, sales leaders should work to instill a “talent mindset” within their organization. That means continuously identifying and developing an internal talent pool of promotable employees.
Follow these 4 tips to improve your bench strength and backfill your key positions with top talent.
1. Map your talent management strategy to your sales strategy
Since your business goals will determine the skills, personality type, and number of people you need on your team, your talent and sales strategies must be tightly aligned. There should be a living document that is created with senior leadership input outlining your succession program, and it should be routinely updated to reflect changes in strategy or market conditions. Make sure that succession planning gets integrated with other processes of talent management including performance management, training and development, and compensation.
2. Identify high-potential rookie reps early and develop their skills
Sales skills can be developed, but a person’s natural motivators and personality type will determine how successful they will be in a particular position. Create a process for identifying rookie team members with “raw talent” and focus on developing those skills with targeted coaching and training. Investing in the right tools and technology will allow you to spot potential early on, and when employees see that you have a vested interest in their career development and growth within the organization, they’re more likely to be loyal and engaged.
3. Preserve position expertise with cross training
It obviously benefits your organization to have team members with diverse subject matter expertise, but it becomes a risk factor when a single individual is the only one capable of performing key operational responsibilities. Minimize the risk of lost expertise by ensuring that critical position knowledge gets shared in an effective, collaborative way. What are the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that your key positions are responsible for? Prepare for succession with cross-training that gives at least one other employee access to critical documents and relationships, and the depth of knowledge needed to transition into the role if needed.
4. Pair junior and senior reps in mentorship programs to foster growth and a sense of connection
It takes time for new salespeople to grow into their roles, but make sure that your current high-potential employees clearly see their career path within your organization. Pairing senior and junior reps in mentorship programs helps individuals realize their potential, while providing them with regular feedback from someone whose position they may one day fill. Your succession planning program should be designed to benefit both the individual, as well as the overall strategy of your organization. Being proactive requires figuring out exactly what your key positions require for success, and developing the members of your team that show potential for high-performance in those roles.