How Are You Retaining and Attracting Top Sales Reps?

Sports fans have grown accustomed to players leaving their beloved franchise every off-season. While free agent season is off to a booming start in the NFL, when it comes to retaining top sales talent, the challenge is on all year long. Retention and recruitment are two of this year’s top business challenges, according to the 2015 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmark Report. This is no surprise if we look at the stats.

How to retain and attract top sales talent


Turnover rates in sales organizations have increased in 2015 from historic lows in 2014, with a 35% increase in involuntary turnover, as indicated by a recent CSO Insights study. What’s more, companies with higher turnover rates have lower percentages of salespeople achieving quota, the same research has found.

In a market short on talent, the buyer (prospective or current employee) is in the driver’s seat. They decide if they want to keep their employer or find a new one.

Faced with a potential decrease in overall performance due to low morale and with increasing turnover rates, the question executives have to answer is: how can we retain and attract top sales talent?

Based on my experience with clients and on industry insights, here are a few measures you can take to retain and attract top talent:

  • Improve the hiring process. What are the competencies, behaviors and skills you are looking for? What is the profile of the ideal candidate? According to CSO Insights 2015, even minor changes in the recruiting process can have a major positive impact.
  • Optimize on-boarding processes. Establish performance metrics and provide training and feedback based on them.
  • Design fair and achievable sales targets and communicate them clearly at all levels of the organization. This goes a long way towards improving sales force motivation and morale.
  • Eliminate sales quota bias to make sure that top performers are rewarded according to results.
  • Invest in training, ongoing learning, and career development. This will help you cultivate top talent and show performers they have found a place where they can grow.
  • Develop and maintain a positive working environment. Encourage a corporate culture based on communication, team-work, and ownership.

When done correctly, these are the steps that can really make a difference. They help retain and attract talent, in conjunction with competitive pay. When environmental factors are marginalized, companies must further differentiate on pay, often exorbitantly above market value. This strategy might work on the short term but it cannot be sustained, nor is it lucrative in the long term.

For employees (and NFL players!), there is often a choice between the environment (winning) and getting paid. Forcing this dichotomy is not the answer. Employees need an ‘and’ option. Companies that prioritize the ‘and’ option win the challenge of retaining and attracting top sales talent year after year, and sustain performance over the long term.

What are you doing to retain and attract top sales reps?

Michael Nagorski

Senior Consultant

Michael has 6 years of experience delivering business insights that enable change in sales and incentive performance.

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