Instability and turnover within a sales force can be one of sales management’s worst nightmares.
When a sales rep resigns, it leaves a hole that must be rapidly filled. And it’s not like someone can just walk in and take over where the old rep left off: even the new (although experienced) salesperson must learn all about the product, the market and the company’s sales process before they can really start making a satisfactory number of closes.
There are five key elements to recruiting—and far more importantly, keeping—a stable sales force team of high-powered sales reps:
What Are Salespeople Looking For?
When recruiting salespeople, too many companies take the shallow view of thinking that it’s only about the compensation plan. If you are an experienced sales manager, take a look over your history in sales and see if you can’t recall well-paid reps leaving a company despite the compensation. Why did they go?
Certainly the compensation is at the top of the list—but for experienced and talented reps, there are other factors that are equally as important. Of course they’ll want to know how successful your company is in your particular industry—but they probably wouldn’t be sitting in front of you if that success didn’t exist. So beyond that, what is the company’s sales support system like with regard to actions, people and automation? Answering this broad question in its various components will demonstrate to the potential rep the stability, longevity and overall success he or she can expect to achieve at your company.
#1: A Proven Sales Process
No sales force today is going to survive long without a sales process—that series of established steps a sale travels through from lead to close and beyond. A field-hardened sales rep knows this, and knows he or she is not going to be able to come quickly up to viable speed in your company without it.
#2: Best Practices Knowledge Base
In making good use of the sales process, salespeople evolve efficient methods of moving prospects from one stage of the sales pipeline to the next. If sales methods aren’t being documented so that other sales reps can share the wealth, your sales force is not operating at maximum efficiency. A new salesperson coming on board is going to want to rapidly find out “how to do it right” without going through a long period of trial-and-error. In today’s competitive sales environment, nobody has time for that.
Before sales can occur, marketing must pave the way by making potential customers aware of your product or service and creating interest in it. Marketing plants the seeds so that sales can go in and nurture, grow and harvest the crop. Any salesperson who has been around the block will have had the experience of trying to sell prospects that have never heard of a product, haven’t heard enough about it, or haven’t heard about it recently. It’s an additional sales barrier that a salesperson can really do without.
#4: Lead Quality, Quantity and Methodology
A big selling point for a new sales recruit is going to be how your company’s leads are handled. Today experienced sales reps want to sell, not spend time farming and extensively qualifying leads. Robust marketing that generates an adequate quantity of quality leads, as well as a team of inside sales reps to qualify them, will show your new recruit that he or she is going to be able to make the most of his or her time.
#5: A CRM Solution Encompassing All of the Above
In truth, the above steps cannot be accomplished without a flexible, intuitive CRM solution—and a proven salesperson knows that, too.
Salespeople must be able to follow every step of the sales process through CRM. For each step of the sales pipeline, best practices should be readily accessible for reference right from CRM. Marketing campaigns and actions should be noted all the way along the pipeline so that the salesperson knows what is being promoted and can tie pitches in with them. Leads should be assigned through the CRM application, which should also possess the capacity for rating their potential value. The salesperson should be able to easily track every one of his or her leads all the way through the pipeline as well as be able to gain a quick overall view of that pipeline to establish its potential.
There are certainly other factors involved in recruiting and retaining a sales force—but these five thoroughly accomplished by sales management will go a long way in getting the job done.
See our other articles on sales management and sales force stability.