Attracting & Retaining Sales People image

As a direct revenue generator, your sales department needs to be able to attract and keep star performers. However, sales is also a function which often struggles with high staff turnover. This makes a strong employee value proposition (EVP) – the sum of all the value you offer to current and prospective employees – essential for high performing sales teams. 

At Michael Page Sales, we regularly consult with clients on the essential building blocks of a competitive EVP. To gain deeper insight into this crucial area, we recently surveyed hundreds of sales professionals across the UK to find out what they want from employers, and what drives them to seek new opportunities. 

Here, we’ll be presenting our findings and discussing what they mean for your EVP.  

Why optimise your sales EVP?

Our survey found that salespeople have, on average, been in their current roles for less time than their counterparts in other disciplines (6.2 years instead of 7.2 years). This highlights the levels of mobility in the sector - and the poaching potential for employers with the right EVP.

An EVP can be thought of in two parts: the value you offer to new hires, and the value you offer to existing employees. So, within the sales function, your EVP is a combination of recruitment value and retention value.

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Pull factors: Bringing in the best sales talent

The headline figures suggest that sales employees have, on average, been in their current role for less time than most – so what does this mean for mobility within the sector?

We found that, on average, sales professionals take:

  • 18 months to get 'itchy feet' (all-sector average: 19.3 months)
  • 4.2 months to look for new jobs (average: 4.3 months)
  • 3.6 months to secure new jobs (average: 3.8 months)

While these differences are not huge, they point to a slightly higher rate of employee churn in sales. That means better prospects to entice talent away from 'safe' roles elsewhere, and highlights the importance of proactively working to retain your most valuable salespeople.

Desired job attributes

When we asked them to identify the aspects of a role that appealed most, we found that sales candidates are generally less motivated by the intangible, non-financial considerations:

  • Work-life balance: Selected by 57% vs. all-sector average of 64%
  • Good colleague relationships: 43% vs. 51%
  • Sense of purpose: 46% vs. 48%

However, we found job security a slightly higher concern, at 52% vs. the all-sectors average of 51%. It's only a very small increase from the average, but it sets job security apart when taking into account their relatively low interest in the other values.


We again found lower-than-average interest in almost every benefit in our survey. The highest-ranked benefits were 28+ days of holiday per year (49%) and company pension contributions (41%).

Sales professionals also showed lower than average interest in flexible, hybrid, and remote working - just 32% of sales respondents selected these, compared with 43% across all sectors. While hybrid working is being embraced by many industries, sales teams and leaders often emphasise the importance of an office presence as a way to keep motivation and camaraderie high. 


Among the perks listed, sales professionals showed a clear preference for three:

  • Early finish on a Friday (38%)
  • Local discount schemes (28%)
  • Training opportunities (24%)

We also found a below average interest in having a well-equipped office (just 20% vs. the all-sectors average of 28%), perhaps because many sales professionals spend time on the road, meeting with prospects. This would also align with the group’s relatively low interest in remote working, which suggests a preference for in-person interactions.

Push factors: How to retain sales talent for longer

As mentioned, respondents in this sector were likely to change roles slightly faster than average. So how can you retain your sales talent for longer? 

The results of our survey showed that salary was a relatively uncommon reason for sales employees to seek new employment. Just 12% said they wanted to change job due to being underpaid, compared with 25% across all sectors.

Despite the relatively low demand for flexible working among salespeople, we that found an unusually high 26% of sales respondents cited a change in flexible working policy as their reason for seeking a new job. This is almost double the all-sectors average of 14%.

This suggests that hybrid working policies are likely to have significant impact on your existing workforce, if not on new hires. Essentially, scaling back hybrid working allowances can hurt retention. So, be sure to engage with your sales teams when considering any new rules on remote working.

What's next?

Our survey of sales professionals returned some intriguing responses, with high levels of movement and notable differences in attitudes toward current and prospective new roles. These insights show why it is necessary to consider both hiring and retention when building your EVP.

Whatever your talent needs, we have a team on hand to help. Our Page Consulting team specialises in workforce planning and helping organisations build their EVPs. When it comes to hiring, we have sales-specific teams operating across multiple levels of the job market: 

Michael Page for qualified professional and management roles.
Page Personnel for professional clerical and support roles. 
Page Executive for executive level roles. 
Page Outsourcing for custom volume hiring solutions.  

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