Rewarding and Retaining Your Sales Talent

Salespeople are unique in that they are both the key to the expansion and consistency of revenue, yet are often treated as expendable. Many a salesperson has found an open door and open arms that stay open just until they’ve exhausted their contacts, and then they’ll find that door firmly shut.

Talented salesman doing sales presentation

This might make sense from a purely economic point of view, but people aren’t mere data and numbers, and mistreating your salespeople will not only drain them of their loyalty, but also their incentive to stick around when a better offer crops up. As a business which respects its employees, you’ll want to consider these tips to retain your sales talent for the long haul.

A non-compete clause for example is a pretty standard part of many a sales contract, but it is inherently negative in nature. Its purpose is to make it against the rules to leave the company, ultimately punishing them for leaving rather than rewarding them for staying. It will likely keep them around, but just how effective will an unhappy salesman be?

Consider giving them a reason to want to stay, rather than being forced to stay.

Salesman with golden handcuffs

Golden Handcuffs

This is the idea that you provide them something that ties them to the company, but is also something they want. Give those golden handcuffs a custom fit, so that they are tailored to the specific motivation of each salesman. It will require a bit more effort on your end, but will pay off in the long run.

You might lease a car in their name, but on your dime. They are the owner on paper, but you, as a business, are making the payments. If they leave, the payments cease and the remainder of the lease is their responsibility. This deal could also work with tuition, rent, or other assets of value.

Some salespeople will want equity in the company, which provides an additional incentive to help the company grow. You can even offer it at a discounted rate, so it’s a better deal while they work for you than in the open market. You might find the idea of a minority shareholder, but in such an event you can set them up with phantom stock. It would not be in their name, but it would be a specific portion that pays them dividends or pays out if the company is sold.

Closing sales deals

Prioritize Trust

Whenever you’re dealing with other people’s money, there is the potential for conflict. If you promise a certain level of compensation or salary, but there are hidden caveats or catches that limit the payout, then you can be sure you’re pushing your talent toward the door.

Trust isn’t only dependant on being honest. Unnecessarily complex compensation plans or incentives that take too long to payout can breed distrust, even if it’s all clear on paper.

You want the system to be simple and intuitive enough that everyone understands, and that it matches their expectations. Keep the entire transaction simple with easy to use tools and invoice forms. Delays and unwelcome surprises are on the same footing with willful deception, so consider your plans carefully and make sure the lines of communication are wide open to clarify any and all confusion before it festers.

Company Culture

A pleasant workplace makes for happy employees. Google is famous for their perks. Cafes, gyms, and child care — they don’t do this just because they like giving things away, rather they understand that the more pleasant the workplace, the more likely employees will stick around, both in the long term and on a day to day basis, potentially making them even more productive than they might be with mere overtime pay.

Attitude reflects leadership, so if you have grumbly, tense, negative-minded employees, that’s probably down to you. Treat people with respect, treat them fairly and attend to their individual needs where possible and you’ll see that trickle out into their own interpersonal relationships. If they feel the need to compete, you’re more likely to have a cutthroat culture. If people are rewarded based on their own efforts, rather than being the top of the pile, then they’re more likely to focus on themselves and the team.

A pleasant workplace can be difficult to find, and as such is a valuable incentive for employee longevity. If you might make more money elsewhere, but have a worse time, many people are likely to choose the former — your sales talent included.


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