Keeping Your Best Sales People

What Are You Doing to Keep Your Best People?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reports that hiring by the nation’s small employers is starting to grow, and that large employer hiring is not far behind.  This will mean that as re-hiring accelerates, the competition for the best people will intensify.  Here’s the question:  “What are you and your company doing now to keep your people from leaving when they are offered attractive opportunities elsewhere?”

Various studies over the last few years have reported a number of interesting trends.  Among them:

1)  Youthful workers today like to earn good money, but the work environment is more important.  They want to “be part of things,” and have the freedom to collaborate with friendly team mates to achieve more.

2)  Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the Gallup Organization studied what “the world’s greatest managers do” and reported their results in the 1999 bestselling book, First Break all the Rules.  One of their conclusion that startled a lot of corporate executives was that “People do not leave companies; they leave their bosses.”

3)  One of the most effective ways to keep your best people is to create an environment in which they feel that they are personally growing in addition to professionally advancing.

4)  Effective coaching is one of the most cost effective ways to keep top people from leaving, and help managers focus on the factors that help the employee grow and the company prosper.

When I discuss “coaching” with clients and prospects, I learn that their view of coaching is more like a miniature performance review.  While there is a performance aspect to effective coaching, helping people grow personally and professionally requires a greater focus on behaviors that lead to the effective performance.  If I am not meeting my sales quota, my manager can talk to me about increasing my number of contacts.  But until she finds out what keeps me from picking up the phone, she cannot help me by simply telling me (or threatening me) to make more calls.

I believe there are two primary reasons managers do not coach their people.  One is that they do not think they have the time.  The real reason is that most do not know how to coach.  Reading a book, or attending a one-day class is not likely to change their coaching skill level.  At Integrity Solutions we have found that teaching a specific coaching process, coupled with weekly accountability and follow-up discussions with peers, led by a trained facilitator, removes obstacles and produces remarkable results.

One $2.8 billion credit union saw a 60% increase in closed loan referrals and a 5% increase in membership (customer base), when coaching was implemented.

A pharmaceutical manager reported that one rep reached 143% of quota “as a result of  coaching.”

For additional insights into the effectiveness of the right type of coaching in a selling environment, get the Integrity White Paper, “Balancing Accountability with Engagement.”

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