Episode 94: 7 Tips to Retain Your Best Salespeople with Shivani Gupta

Shivani Gupta

Hello everyone, and welcome to the AskShivani podcast, one of the questions I have been getting over and over again from clients is being really around on how to retain their sales staff. So, what I wanted to do was I'm going to run, write a bunch of information about it on the blog, I'm going to do a LinkedIn live around there. But I also wanted to do a podcast depending on how you access the learnings and information, that wisdom that I share with you. And I wanted to talk about seven different ways that you can try and retain your sales staff.

Now, this is specifically the sales, but you could also apply this to other people as well, depending on the industry that you're in, obviously, some places are starting to lose people everywhere. I had somebody who's in the retail space, and they said, look, if you lost somebody, you know, that was on $25 an hour. And he lost that retail employee, just to be able to look at the turnover rate of some of what's happening in retail, which is over 50% of the turnover at the moment. When you look at and you've got people with that up that attend people. And you're going through that sort of that is, you know, almost $100,000, in terms of training that you're going to lose rehiring, and the cost of non-retention is extremely high. Really good salespeople are so key depending on what business you are running and losing them, perhaps the numbers are even greater in terms of what occurs.

So, the first tip that I have for you is how to actually get your salespeople to actually input into the products and input into the customer service that they might be having. So, for example, if there's a particular product that's not moving off the shelves or online, depending on what service and product that you're offering, one of the things would be great is to be able to incorporate conversations that are structured and recorded with some of your key high performing salespeople and say, Hey, this isn't moving. Tell me what you think, tell me what your viewpoint is, that’s a great strategy in terms of being able to engage them doesn't mean that their story will be absolutely right. But getting their perspective, getting their data, their backstory, in terms of why not happening, might become really critical in terms of being able to move those sales in terms of being able to have that. So, for example, I know that there are clients that will say, hey, you know, we've got, we're a retail store, we do clothing, and one of the things that we do is, we've noticed that certain sizes are moving very fast, but others aren't moving very fast at well, or certain colors are moving very fast and others there. And so, one of the things that occur is they're talking to the salespeople, one of them talked about the fact that certain times of the year, people will actually start buying clothes, they're a little bit smaller size, particularly around the beginning of the year when they join gyms, etc. And even that sort of data to know what to market win comes in really handy.

The second thing, which I'm going to talk about, sounds like it's a bit of a given that so many organizations don't do this very well. And that is to give your salespeople excellent training, constantly training and constantly reinvesting in training, not thinking, Okay, I sent them to this course, this course cost me $5,000. And they're doing actually more investing in retraining and doing smaller amounts, if your budget is say $5,000 per person per year, or even less or more, rather than doing it in one load. One of the things that organizations are noticing is that if that money is spent over a period of time, and you sent them to one thing a quarter, for about a quarter of the cost, so it's not costing you more, that's going to be much more effective than a one. One of the things I love and that I read about constantly is Costco. Costco is a retailer that often exclusively only hires corporate workers. And one of the things that they report is that they're some of the happiest people on the planet. And one of the things that they do is hire from the floor which gives them a really good understanding before promoting them, it is because they understand how it's done. And they know that when they get into those corporate roles, they have that in there. And look organizations do, I know some people like scrunch their faces at the sound of role-playing but actually some of the training around role-playing particularly when they're looking at real situations, not a made-up situation from 10 years, and bringing that are is really, really important.

The third way to engage and try and retain some of your key salespeople is to make sure that you do incentives and perhaps if they do better than some of the others have some incentives or perks. Now, if you didn't tune in to my LinkedIn live from last week, I gave over 50 tips. In terms of the different types of perks, some that are free, some that are low cost, some that are higher costs that are available in terms of being able to provide incentives, I would so suggest that you have a look at that. And so, if you just find me on LinkedIn and go into my profile, you'll be able to find that recording, which is over 50 different types of incentives. But some of those incentives, a couple of them that I really want to focus on are free. One of them is praising them, seeing them do something right in front of other employees, and saying congratulations, well done. Sometimes they can be really costly, low cost. So, they might be $20 gift voucher for something and one of the things I keep saying to people is rather than buy gift vouchers for alcohol or for things that you don't know people are going to use, keep their well-being even if it's a local shop, even if it's a Costco voucher or something or a fuel voucher, petrol slash fuel voucher, it's something that will use a lot more rather than sending them across to alcohol. And I keep saying, you know, go to the wellness.  

The other thing to really think about if you don't want to lose key salespeople is don't blame the stores and salespeople when your numbers are down. The one way to really demotivate your people is by saying and you know, not praising them when they're up or giving them the praise, but really saying to them, this is not great. And when people get given negative feedback after negative feedback after negative feedback, they will actually start to lose interest and lose motivation in terms of how to work for you. There is a great Stephen Covey example that talks about how feedback and giving them negative feedback is a four-to-one ratio, you need to give four lots of positive feedback before you can make a withdrawal a bit like you would have money in the bank on a debit card and you make that withdrawal. Don't blame people sit there and listen to and don’t reprimand people, and don’t embarrass people in front of others. And one of the things you want to do is sit down and talk through what they believe that is not working, what they believe is the solution. And if you agree or disagree, then talk through a number of solutions and come up with a bit of an action plan.

The other thing and again, this is going to sound very simple. But I'm amazed at how many organizations and teams don't do that well in avoiding verbal abuse. So, one of the things that happen is having an on-call scheduling of an employee that wasn't hired, or people that request time off. You know, I know that sometimes people need time off, I know that some of you might be listening, have smaller teams or smaller businesses where you can't afford some of those people. But just keep checking in on people making sure that their mental health is okay and making sure that their mental wellness is okay. Not going into how many days they take it, they're starting to take some days off, go back and have a one-on-one conversation or have one of your team members have a conversation with them. Or have your HR team have a conversation with them and say, Hey, before we go into judgment, what are some of the things that are happening? What is why are some of the reasons that you're taking a look, they might be suffering from a mental health issue, they might have an aging parent’s issue, or they might have childcare issues, always seeking to understand before you pass judgment is so crucial.

The sixth and the second last tip that I'm going to talk to you about particularly around salespeople is making sure that they've got autonomy. Now autonomy doesn't mean you go out and do everything. There are some boundaries and rules of delegation and authorities of delegation. So, they might be allowed to give away a certain amount of money, they might be allowed to, you know, talk to people about certain contracts around certain dollar values, but make sure that they have the opportunity to act. If they've constantly got to go back and run things by the managers, managers get super busy. Salespeople love having the autonomy and understanding what their boundaries are. So, if you've got high-performing people to look at what they've been able to achieve, either expand some of their autonomy or reinforce it to make sure that they can get most of the work done. And it's only when it's, you know, 5% or 10% of the issues that they can solve. That's when they need to come back to the manager to see that authority.

And the last thing that I want to talk about is actually the issue becomes not only the salespeople but also training your managers to become mentors. And I know that people, this whole thing of coach the coaches has been around for a long time. I always say mentor the managers, train the managers to become mentors. If you want to have great salespeople and retain them, they love constant feedback sometimes even after every individual call or a particular day. Teaching and training your managers to become mentors will really help them ask questions, dive deeper, making sure that if there are some issues and hurdles, they can help them. But a lot of the time when you step into the mentoring role, the manager does not keep problem-solving. The manager now becomes a confidant, a sounding board, somebody that generates questions and helps that salesperson become better at it.

I hope you are doing already some of them. I hope one of those tips really helped you. If you ever want to have a question. My brand is called AskShivani. Please go to https://www.askshivani.com/ and send us an enquiry and I'd be so happy to jump on a call and be able to help you, thanks for listening.