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Practice Management > Building Your Business > Leadership

Retention is a problem that won't go away

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Why are some sales managers able to consistently recruit and retain quality salespeople, while other managers have a revolving door? Excessive personnel turnover is not only unhealthy for the morale of a sales force, but it is also costly in terms of time and money. Perhaps less obvious, is the negative impact excessive turnover has on eroding customer confidence and loyalty.

A career in sales can be extremely lucrative for the person who is able to prospect effectively and willing to work hard. However, surveys indicate that compensation is just one piece in the career satisfaction puzzle. Salespeople make their decision to leave or stay with a company for a variety of personal and professional reasons. Retaining successful salespeople is not a secret recipe, but a formula that includes factors such as leadership, recruitment, training, and professional growth opportunities.

Salespeople don’t quit companies– they leave managers. While the skills required to be an effective salesperson are fundamentally important, they are not always a reliable indicator of leadership ability. Companies need to select the right people for management positions and offer them development opportunities to ensure that they continue to enhance their leadership and communications skills.

Both success and failure leave a trail. The retention of quality salespeople is not accidental and begins up front in the recruiting and selection process. Due to the high rejection and demanding nature of a sales career, it is fundamentally important to administer a temperament suitability evaluation early on in the hiring process. While there is no testing instrument that can guarantee you will hire the right person every time, a temperament evaluation will provide valuable insight into a candidate’s career suitability and potential success as a salesperson. Sales managers who utilize temperament evaluations find that they are better prepared to interview in a more in-depth manner.

There is absolutely no substitute for a well-trained and highly motivated sales force! In his best selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey makes a strong case for the fundamental importance of on-going training, or as he calls it, “sharpening the saw.” Salespeople are often reluctant to take time away from their busy schedule for training and as a result, over time, become less productive.

In an effort to retain solid performers, progressive managers offer a clear career path and proactively support the leadership development of their top salespeople. Access to ongoing training and personal development is important and often provides a strong incentive to stay with a company.

A sales manager’s career advancement and income potential is inescapably intertwined with his or her ability to recruit, develop, and retain a top producing sales force. The key to staying one step ahead in these competitive times is recognizing that people are by far a company’s most important asset!

About John Boe

John Boe ( presents motivational and sales-oriented seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions.


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