In recent years, we've seen drastic change in sales teams across the UK, with the impact of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic causing a huge shift in the way people and businesses buy and sell. To keep up with this ever-changing landscape, sales teams need to develop clear strategies around how they are going to retain their best people for the years ahead.

Why is it so important to retain your salespeople right now?

A challenging economy always elevates the importance of talented salespeople, who can be the key to keeping your business afloat when the number of potential buyers has shrunk. 

Sales professionals are certainly in high demand. In fact, our latest sales salary guide shows that, in the final three months of last year, over 5,000 companies advertised over 160,000 sales roles across the UK. At the same time, top salespeople are in short supply, and this dynamic is driving salaries up. The risk of competitors poaching your best salespeople is therefore high. After all, lucrative remuneration packages can incentivise even your most loyal employees to leave, creating a talent gulf that can be hard to fill.

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Why do salespeople leave?

To retain talented salespeople, you need to know why they might choose to leave. In order to better understand the current climate, Michael Page Sales recently surveyed hundreds of salespeople to find out what they value at work, from salary and benefits to a sense of meaning and purpose in their work.

We found that salespeople have, on average, been in their current roles for less time than the typical UK employee (6.2 years in sales vs. 7.2 years across all industries). This high employee mobility demonstrates that sales teams are not retaining talent for as long as other industries.

Salary is always a key element of any hiring discussion – but we found that salary was not the main factor: only 12% of sales professionals told us they wanted to leave their current position due to being underpaid, compared with 25% of people in all sectors of the workforce. Instead, we found flexible working in high demand. While 14% of the UK workforce would change jobs for the right flexible working policy, this figure rose to 26% of the salespeople we surveyed.

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Strategies to keep your best salespeople

Here are four proven retention strategies that will help you keep your staff turnover low, boost employee engagement, and keep your sales team strong:

1. Create continuous opportunities for growth

Most top salespeople want to grow in their roles. The moment that their development path becomes unclear is the moment they could become flight risks.

To keep your best salespeople engaged, keep raising the stakes for them across the board, and at the right frequency. Building out a strategically designed, transparent system of targeted milestones that increase in difficulty and responsibility over time is key to retaining top talent in today's market. But you don’t just need to build this framework; you should also make sure you're showcasing it to salespeople from the moment they join the business. This way, they’ll know how far they could go in your company.

For example, if a talented sales development representative (SDR) knows exactly what they must do to earn a promotion inside their first year, they'll be more likely to stay in the business and reach for that milestone. Once that's been reached, the next milestone should be a little bigger, again increasing their desire to progress. This will keep your talent engaged and excited – plus, it promotes from within, and will save budget otherwise spent on employee churn.

How to retain top sales talent

2. Be a great sales leader

It's often said that "people leave bad bosses, not bad companies". It's hard for an employee to do great work if they're facing obstacles from the same people who should be supporting them. Being a good leader for your sales team, or appointing one, will have a huge impact on their success and your retention rates.

So, what are the characteristics of a great sales leader?

A great sales leader is focused on team successes, not on their own. They are great at collaborating with others and will encourage creativity and curiosity amongst their team members. Finally, a great sales leader should have strong communication skills. you can access more expert advice on this subject in our article: How to be an effective manager.

Retain your salespeople with a high-trust environment

3. Build a magnetic culture

Building a positive company culture should be one of your top priorities if you want to retain your best salespeople. An open and friendly working environment boosts job satisfaction and productivity, which ultimately profits the company through increased efficiency and performance.

There's no definitive blueprint for a successful sales culture - they come in various shapes and sizes. However, a good sales culture will always bring out the best in its salespeople. That means:

  • Healthy competition amongst team members 
  • Collaboration and knowledge sharing
  • Trust and communication, both within the team and the greater organisation
  • Continual learning and development
  • Accountability for individual work and successes 

How to build a magnetic culture

Start hiring sales stars today

If you would like to learn more about how to retain your best people in sales or any other department, download our free Talent Retention Guide – it contains the latest survey data on what candidates are looking for from employers.

Or, for immediate support with your sales recruitment, get in touch with Michael Page Sales for an introductory discussion.

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