3 Ways to Retain and Motivate Your Top Salespeople

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In nearly every discussion I have with senior sales executives, they mention one of their key challenges is onboarding new salespeople and customer success roles. Constantly having to re-hire and re-train teams is not only costly, but it also makes it harder to hit revenue targets and sales productivity goals.

A recent study from CSO Insights, a global research firm, pegs the annual rate of sales team turnover at 20 percent. And while more than two-thirds of sales executives say it takes six months or longer to ramp salespeople at all levels, most organizations don’t have specific plans in place to retain the sales and service talent they have — or even address the root causes of why people are leaving.

If you drill down into the reasons for turnover when it comes to salespeople, three factors quickly emerge: a lack of modern tools for them to do their jobs effectively, not enough coaching and substandard sales cultures within organizations. Let’s take a closer look at each factor and some solutions that can turn things around — even in a competitive job market.
1.Modern sales tools.

Despite the growing investment in cloud-based sales tools, it’s still hard for salespeople to do their jobs effectively. More than 60 percent of sales organizations report that lack of proper tools lengthens the sales cycle. Access to the right content and messaging is a particular challenge — Forrester Research reports that 90 percent of sales organizations deem it difficult to find and use content. And with sales teams becoming increasingly more mobile, CSO Insights reports that 65 percent of salespeople don’t have full access to content from smartphones. Salespeople need more modern, sales-specific tools — and if they don’t get it at your company, they may start looking for greener pastures with your competitors that provide these solutions. One option is to invest in a Sales Engagement Platform that integrates content, communications, mobile and analytics together — a platform approach can be cost effective, and also eliminates the need to manage disconnected point solutions.

Related: 4 Tools That Make Your Small Business Look Big
2.Sales coaching.

Managers are busier than ever with larger teams, higher quotas and heavier administrative workloads. The CSO Insights survey revealed that sales leaders only spend 20 percent of their time helping their team close deals — and salespeople don’t feel that they get enough support and coaching when they need it. Despite the challenges, a sales team that’s engaged can be incredibly productive. The Sales Management Association found that organizations with fully engaged salespeople have 70 percent higher win rates. To address this coaching gap, sales leaders need to invest in new tools that help measure deal-by-deal progress, as well as have access to real-time analytics so they know where to prioritize their time. Another great approach is to build a “perfect pitch library” where recordings of all the best customer and prospect meetings are readily available — so sales leaders can be prescriptive by sales stage, and newer salespeople are learning from the best pitches versus figuring it out on their own.

Related: 3 Ways Small Businesses Can Retain Talent
3.Winning culture.

It may sound counterintuitive, but for today’s generation of salespeople it’s not all about money — they want to feel part of something bigger than themselves. They crave a more transparent organization that is upfront about objectives, and clear about learning and career paths. Sales leaders should address this by taking the time to celebrate successes and milestones along the way — not just when the team hits the quarterly numbers. Break goals down into smaller units and use sales enablement tools to track key metrics including the number of calls made, emails sent and engagement time with customers among others. And recognize employees when they meet or exceed those objectives. That will go a long way toward building a winning culture.

Related: 10 Ways to Build a Winning Culture

Sales turnover remains a persistent problem for many organizations. It’s costly to replace and continually onboard new salespeople — and it can be demoralizing to those left behind when good people leave the company. But as a sales leader, there are concrete steps you can take to turn it around if your company is experiencing high turnover.

Make sure you and your team have a modern toolkit and a Sales Engagement Platform that lets you access content, communicate efficiently and analyze activities and progress toward goals. Provide your teams with the support and attention they need to perform at peak levels. And give them a sense of purpose and belonging, celebrating successes, and providing career development opportunities. When you address these three factors, you can eliminate some of the primary causes behind staff churn and keep your best people on board.

Wearable Technology: A Powerful HR Tool

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Wearable technology — devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers — is hugely popular these days. People from every demographic are mapping their fitness accomplishments and keeping tabs on sleep patterns, heart rates and weight loss goals. In fact, according to eMarketer, nearly 40 million U.S. adults over 18 used wearable technology in 2015 — a jump of 57.7 percent over 2014. The usage of wearables is projected to hit 81.7 million adults by 2018.

Some businesses are exploring opportunities to turn the wearable device trend into a powerful HR tool. From promoting a healthy lifestyle to enhancing workplace safety, there’s a lot of potential for companies if they have a clear implementation strategy and a focus on personal privacy.
Encourage employee wellness initiatives.

Studies show that healthy employees cost less: They have lower healthcare costs, fewer lost work days and they’re more likely to stick around if their employer has an excellent wellness program.

Related: Wearable Tech Will Soon Be Work Attire in These 4 Industries

According to a study published by ABI Research, 13 million wearable devices will be integrated into corporate wellness plans over the next five years. Wearables are perceived to offer encouragement to work toward better health, without appearing to be a requirement, and apparently, 44 percent of U.S. workers are already wearing them to work.

A survey by Salesforce found that many companies are exploring other uses for wearable tech, such as workplace security (23 percent), employee time management (20 percent), and real-time employee communication (20 percent). And, as the market for wearables continues to evolve, business applications for wearables will grow also.
Improve safety and on-the-job communication.

Incorporating wearables can help ensure employee safety in hazardous work environments. For example, truck drivers can wear a “Smart Cap,” literally a hat with sensors in it, that helps keep tabs on their levels of alertness, reducing the risk of accidents due to fatigue or falling asleep behind the wheel.
Enhance operational efficiency.

Large distributors, such as Amazon, use wearable tech to give warehouse employees an extra set of eyes. Once outfitted with GPS tags and handheld scanners, warehouse “pickers” find the most efficient paths to take, when gathering order items, reducing time spent traveling up and down aisles. Use of the wearable tech speeds up order fulfillment increases daily shipments.

Related: Wearable Tech Is Improving Employee Productivity and Happiness
Have a clear strategy to secure employee buy-in.

There is a barrier to adoption for any new wearable program: It can seem creepy. It’s one thing to know how many stairs you climb in a day, but another to know your boss can monitor your heart rate, water intake, or activity levels on a sick day. Making use optional instead of mandatory and being transparent about how data will be collected and used, can help put employees at ease.

While in some situations — like workplace safety — individual monitoring has a clear purpose, employees can have mixed feelings about personal privacy. Use it at a granular level, like employee discipline and you risk building mistrust and resentment; anonymize it too much and you could lose a lot of the data’s value.
Ensure security, back-end support for wearables.

Privacy and security are serious concerns for any business; when you add personal information to the mix, any breach can severely reduce employee trust and morale and open the company to liability for identity theft and other potential legal entanglements.

“While wearable devices generally fall outside the scope of the FDA and HIPAA, the data collection activities associated with wearable devices could be governed by state privacy and security laws,” advised Health Law Gurus. They noted that some wearables send personal information without encryption, and in some cases, collected data is sold to third parties.

Related: 4 Ways Wearable Tech Can Make Managers More Effective

Before handing out the wearable devices, think through the potential issues you may face and policies you’ll need to support the initiative. Help employees understand any security risks and ensure you’re familiar with the provider’s terms of service, as some limit an employer’s use of data. Wearables need to be supported by sound data collection software and reliable analytics, with a simple way to keep data in sync. Doing this well may take multiple tools, and may require dedicated maintenance of the organization’s back-end system.

Human Resources is dedicated to providing organization and structure to their company’s day to day operations, and wearable technology offers a wealth of opportunities for employee engagement, including benefit incentives, increased productivity, and enhanced safety. However, you need to consider, very carefully, how you’ll approach and implement wearable tech in your business.