How to retain sales talent in a competitive market

Dr. Marilyn Manning

How to retain sales talent in a competitive market
Drake Business Review | Volume 3, Number 2 | drakeintl.com

High achievers want to be in contact and dialogue with the colleagues they respect. They relish the opportunity to learn from each other and communicate on deeper levels.


Like many others, your company may have recently gone through a host of significant changes, possibly the introduction of entire new product lines or merger and acquisition. The culture may be rapidly changing, which compounds the problem of building loyalty and retention. Loyalty builds over time.When people feel they are contributing to an exciting product or worthwhile service, their level of commitment increases. Loyalty also increases when people feel respected and acknowledged for what they do.

People want to feel valued and know that they are making a difference. You need to recognize each person’s need to feel like they count. Do you let each member on your
sales team know how they fit into your company’s ever-changing environment?

Do you know what each of your people wants and finds most important? A study of exit interviews found that money was not the reason good talent left their jobs; they wanted to be part of a worthwhile enterprise, be influential in decision making, and create and contribute to mutually agreed upon objectives.

Top talent remains loyal when they believe they have chances for professional growth and challenge. So invest more time planning for these growth opportunities. Look for cross-functional team projects where your talent can effectively network and work with different teams in the company.

High achievers want to be in contact and dialogue with the colleagues they re-spect. They relish the opportunity to learn from each other and communicate on deeper levels.


Develop loyalty through team buildingYou can develop loyalty through team building, which enhances the energy and cohesiveness of a group. It helps group members commit to common objectives, striving for high-quality results.Team building is not something that happens in a one- or two-day workshop; it is an evolving and integrated process. Only a safe environment fosters open, honest, and appropriate communication. Sometimes an outside facilitator can offer a fresh perspective and new strategies.

Team building is a classic way to foster motivation but may not always produce the expected results. The needs and style of any given group must be considered. Some team activities designed to build trust may actually erode trust. For example, forcing too much intimacy in dialogue about personal matters is inappropriate. On the other hand, you might try this. Ask each person on the team to write down the biggest challenge they are facing, along with the obstacles to resolving that issue. This activity can build common ground. Next, ask people to discuss in pairs their issues.Then have each person describe their partner’s issue to the large group. The group can then work as a team to identify some actions and mutually agreed upon solutions. Team building grows out of working successfully together on real-time problems rather than playing some artificial games and activities.

Coach through situational strategiesTo determine individual behavioural or leadership styles, use a reliable measurement. Handled skilfully, this can help you coach and work better with diversity. Influencers like to be asked questions about themselves and their experiences.They enjoy getting credit and looking good.They like to be included and feel part of a team. Analyzers like to figure out how to get things done. They like structure, details, and clear expectations and time parameters. They value thoroughness and quality. They like to work with other high achievers who share these values.

Stable supporters are not high-risk takers. They need ample time to make decisions. Minimize conflict for them and keep them plugged into the team. They greatly value committed relationships. Controllers want to be in charge of change and keeping the team functioning.They need details and facts quickly. Problem solvers will give a high level of commitment when challenges and stretch goals are presented.

Recognize talent in ways that build loyaltyBesides professional growth, probably nothing motivates more than positive recognition for one’s achievements and contributions. Generous recognition sets the tone in any environment. It reinforces the cultural values and even the purpose of the company. Take advantage of every meeting by recognizing successes. Don’t spend more of your time correcting faults, mistakes, and problems; instead, spend it acknowledging others’ positive actions and behaviours. Ask team members how they like to be recognized. Often a personal, small recognition can be as meaningful as something monetary. Adjust your means of recognizing to individual styles and preferences.

People want more meaning in their work. They want a better quality of life, so find out what they need to enhance the quality of their work environment.

Taking time to coach and mentor pays off. You may need to point out opportunities in their career growth, like encouraging specific training. Don’t be afraid to ask them tough questions and guide them in finding the right path. Help them identify ways to leverage their skills and accomplishments. Encourage or sponsor them for professional organizations. Give meaningful feedback on how they can get ahead and be of more value to the organization.

Catch them doing something right. Then catch them again and again and again.

Reprinted with the permission of Dr. Marilyn Manning, CSP, CMC,and founder and CEO of The Consulting Team, LLC, and international author of seven business books. She specializes in interactive speeches, and workshops, and consults in the areas of Leadership, Teamwork, Conflict Mediation, Executive Coaching, Meeting Facilitation, Strategic Planning, and Communication. 92% of Dr. Manning’s work is repeat business. For more information about Dr. Manning and The Consulting Team, LLC email her at [email protected] or visit www.theconsultingteam.com.


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