Don’t Scare Sales Talent Away!

Top-notch sales talent contribute the most to meeting the organization’s targets, but also act as a catalyst, setting the bar for the rest of the team. Since top sales performers are in high demand, they are not easy to recruit. Keeping them on your team can be just as challenging. Here are a few essential elements in attracting and retaining the best sales people.

scared salesman


Lure them in. These aspects play a significant part in finding top performers:

  • When recruiting, carefully define your ideal candidate. Give an accurate description of the qualities, knowledge and background you are seeking, but also consider how the new hire will interact with your team and your customers.
  • Offer a career, not a job. Great sales talent is interested in growth opportunities, not just a paycheck.
  • Be flexible. Employers that cannot stretch the rules to support reasonable requests for alternate work hours, vacations, etc., can lose ground. If you can’t bend, try to compensate limitations with extra benefits.
  • Sell the position, but do not oversell. Make sure to present all the benefits of being a part of your company, but don’t create expectations you cannot meet. Be aware that your reputation and external perceptions about your business impact your recruiting success.

Once you’ve brought on top sales reps, give them every reason to want a long-term career in your organization:

Help them succeed by coaching them from day one.

  • Invest time in educating new sales reps about the compensation plan, as this will ultimately lead to higher levels of performance.
  • Explain the details of the sales compensation plan clearly. Emphasize the “why” of the plan in addition to that “what”, so new hires understand the underlying organizational strategy.
  • Do not limit on-boarding of new salespeople to just their individual part in the sales plan. Provide them with market insights, empower them to take on wider initiatives, and make them feel a part of the company’s culture.

Calibrate your compensation plan and communicate it properly.

  • First, make sure there is an effective plan design process in place, allowing you to set reasonable and attainable goals for the sales force. Unrealistic objectives or inequity can discourage them.
  • Keep your compensation plan competitive with the market. Remember that sales employees are more motivated by compensation than employees in other parts of the business.
  • Devise compensation plans that will be motivating long-term. Reward talent that have stayed with the company for years and consistently produced top results.
  • Let their voices be heard! Conduct focus groups during plan development to foster buy-in among your sales force. Also, provide as many feedback channels as possible to capture input at all levels: one-on-one reviews, tutorials, Q&A sessions, and so on.
  • Effectively communicating changes in compensation is critical to keeping sales reps engaged. Eighty-three percent of “highly engaged” sales professionals believe „clearly communicated goals and assignments” are one of the main indicators of effective management, according to a Towers Watson report.
  • When rolling out a new plan, give your sales force tools that will help them envision their success and keep them motivated. Enable reps to calculate “what if?” scenarios so they can see what’s possible to achieve, and increase their confidence in the new plan.

Support them with the right sales infrastructure.

  • Operations and Marketing are two of the functions that matter most for sales support. Marketing helps by packaging the message and generating leads. Operations ensures that tools, processes, and policies are effective in helping sales reps.
  • Provide a centralized platform that includes CRM functions, gives reps access to compensation information, and helps them complete all sales processes.
  • Give your sales people access to well-designed and timely reports and dashboards, so they have clear and actionable information at their disposal.

Retaining top sales talent is a process that requires constant work. Apart from attractive compensation, top performers expect a reliable company infrastructure, ongoing coaching, growth opportunities and acknowledgment.

Ben Thoren

Director of Strategic Engagement

Ben has 8 years of experience in partnering with clients to improve operational efficiency and sales effectiveness via sales operations process transformation.

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