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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.