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Keeping your best salespeople during a recession

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Once you find a good salesperson, think hard about what you need to do to keep them. A paper published this year by Chicago-based DePaul University (Centre for Sales Leadership) reveals some critical insights about this. These insights not only point to best practices for energising your top sales performers, but also identify the cost to the business of getting it wrong.

According to the paper, average per annum turnover in sales personnel ranges from 12 per cent to 18 per cent for most organisations. However, 24 per cent of firms report a turnover rate greater than 20 per cent. Some speciality areas (such as outbound phone sales) soar as high as 100 per cent.

Interestingly, involuntary turnover (dismissal and promotion) represents only 28 per cent of total turnover. It is a fair assumption that 72 per cent of individuals who are currently performing at an acceptable level still choose to leave their job based on differences between their expectations and the reality of the position.

Failure to find and keep the right salespeople negatively impacts your company’s bottom line. Research shows that firms with a very high turnover of salespeople (36 per cent), incurred costs 10 per cent higher than firms with low turnover (3 per cent).

You keep good salespeople by making them a trusted contributor to your business strategy. This means not just mutually agreeing sales targets, territories and commission structures, but also getting their valued input into the big aspects that really determine their success potential, like product/service design, marketing strategy and even the terms and conditions within the customer contract. The UK is also coming up with novel business solutions to help companies increase their chances of keeping good salespeople. For example, Saffron Consulting, a niche sales recruitment and consultancy firm, has recently developed FASTtrack. FASTtrack is all about helping new salespeople generate sales revenue quickly and subsequently feel motivated and successful at their new role. This unique solution guarantees to provide companies with three qualified sales opportunities combined with a sales recruitment service.

Whatever your strategy for keeping hold of your performing salespeople, make sure to execute it quickly. Losing a good revenue producer can be disappointing in good times and critical in a recession!

Get free access to the DePaul University paper*John Fedden is a director of Sales Factory

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