I can’t think of a single sales leader who has told me, “Yeah…when we have open sales positions, we’re definitely looking for average sales performers.” That’s ridiculous. Everyone is obviously after top sales talent.
In spite of that, so many companies fail to invest the energy in creating an environment that attracts and retains top sales performers.
Organizations that are attractive to top sales talent don’t typically happen by accident. Instead, they are carefully cultivated by leaders who understand that top performers have options; they choose the most attractive positions based not just on earning potential or benefits, but for other reasons related to culture and environment.
So, below are 6 ways you can create an environment that will attract and retain top sales talent.
1. The sales team has an executive sponsor (or sponsors) on the leadership team
Top sales performers want to feel supported. More importantly, they want to work in an environment where the work they do is appreciated and enabled. Organizations that lack a sales culture – or sales subculture – typically struggle to retain strong performers because the sales team is seen as an afterthought – or in the worst cases – as a necessary evil.
2. The organization has a strong focus on sales coaching
Top sales talent wants the opportunity to become better at what they do. They want the chance to grow in their career and this, in large part, depends on having a strong sales manager and coach. Organizations which foster a culture of sales coaching excellence are much more attractive to top sales performers than those that don’t supply meaningful coaching.
3. The organization emphasizes sales and marketing alignment
Top sales performers want to work in an organization that understands how crucial it is for sales and marketing to be tightly aligned. It makes the rep’s job easier, allows them to be more creative in their approach, and helps them connect with buyers earlier in the decision making process.
4. The organization develops career paths that are clear and realistic
Organizations that are able to attract and keep top sales talent are very intentional about how they communicate and illustrate the upward career mobility inside (and outside) of the sales organization. Top sales performers – as a general rule – tend to seek upward mobility and/or increased responsibility and organizations that know this tend to be very attractive to these people.
5. The organization provides clarity around what success looks like
Top salespeople want to know when they’re winning and when they’re losing. They want to have access to clear success indicators that don’t leave a lot of ambiguity about what the goal is and how they can get there. Unclear pay plans, unclear or nonexistent communication and an absence of real-time feedback are all things that will repel strong sales performers.
6. The organization provides current, up-to-date, and ongoing selling skills training
Along the lines of having access to strong sales coaching and career pathing, top sales performers generally want access to sales training that will help them enhance their skillset and find more success. Forward-thinking sales leaders know this and invest in ongoing skills development.
While there are many other ways to attract and retain top sales talent (the use of personal assessments for development, uncapped pay plans, “President’s Clubs,” etc.) these 6 tend to be those that are overlooked by many organizations we’ve worked with.
Implement one or more of these and the chances you’ll attract more top sales talent will increase.