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Ernie Kasprowicz

Ernie Kasprowicz General Manager

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If Retaining Salespeople Were Easy...

If retaining top salespeople were easy, everybody would be doing it.

No kidding.   Seriously, so what can be done?  To be sure, there are many strategies to employ and different schools of thought.  For now, let's explore one possible solution.  To gain a different perspective, it may be helpful to start at the end, at the moment a quality salesperson tenders their resignation.  How did it get to this point?

The very first thing you need to do when a salesperson tenders their resignation is to react immediately.  No excuses, no delays, do not wait until after the morning meeting.  The number one priority becomes speaking with this salesperson.

The second must is not to mention the potential resignation to anyone else. This works for both parties and is extremely crucial.  This will allow the salesperson to save face with their peers should you successfully change his or her mind. Also, preventing the would-be resignation from becoming common knowledge will go a long way towards preventing wild rumors that could spread, suggesting a big pay raise was offered to retain the person.

It is imperative that we listen and "hear" what the salesperson has to say.  Try to understand the exact reason(s) why this person intends to resign. If you fail to find out for certain or accept the real reason(s), you will have no chance to keep this salesperson. You will also want to understand what opportunity is available to this salesperson; more money, less stress, more interesting work or perhaps more stress but a bigger career step. Give an unfiltered review to your immediate superior, even though this may be uncomfortable.

You will have to carefully think through your arguments and focus on why it is in the salesperson's best interest to stay. Remember, most likely the salesperson has had feelings of frustration for a long time and it has taken one final "incident" to make up his or her mind to leave. On the other hand, another business may have presented this person with a more attractive offer.

Now you should know why he or she is leaving.  By all means, solve the salesperson's problems!  The majority of sales representatives who have expressed their intention to resign actually like the company, their occupation and the people they work with and would like to stay.

Lastly, prevent further resignations! Think about the rest of your sales team and try and recognize problems early on and resolve them before they reach a breaking point.

By no means will this keep all the salespeople you want, and certainly isn't the only set of ideas to explore. There are many things that need to be done from the moment a salesperson is hired that will lead to retention. However, as part of an overall strategy, implementing these points can help to retain good salespeople and therefore make a positive impact on business performance. 

 

Wendi Venable
Right on Ernie! I agree to every point you made. What sometimes amazes me is that a store will do very little to prevent or minimize turnover before it happens. "Surprise" resignations can be greatly reduced by making sure that management has its finger on the pulse. There are three rules to make sure your store follows, communicate, communicate, communicate. When a new hire comes on board and has gotten 30 days under his or he belt, it is imperative to take just a few minutes to ask them a few "new hire" questions. Usually best to create a survey of sorts to follow- questions like, "have we met your expectations from when you interviewed?", and "are you being provided the tools you need to meet your goals here?"...this is just an example. To ask these questions heads off issues before they become unmanagabe. People resign when they feel they have no other option and/or they feel you cannot provide what they need, developmentally and monitarily. By the time someone resigns, 90% of the time its too late. If during the employees employement they felt they were able to communicate openly, and were communicated to openly, they are less likely to feel that they have no other choice but to move on. SO with this being said, in 10 minutes per month on average per employee a manager can keep his/her finger on the employees pulse, know where they are parked while keeping the employee up to speed about their performance as it relates to a stores performance expectation. It looks like this: New hire interview 30 days in- asking about their perspective thus far, along with a reiteration of performance expectations a monthly 5-10 minute 1 on 1 reviewing performance, giving attaboys when due, and realigning and providing guidance when marks are missed. Along with this an annual review with a formal and detailed review of performance, attitude, teamwork, customer satisfaction as areas to grade are critical. Every store I have been in that has followed a similar committment to the managerial/employee communication has significantly lower turn over than those that don't. So you are dead on about when the resignation comes in, but to avoid the expense ofthose resignations (they cost more than a store would even imagine) I think that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.... Wendi Venable

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