Give them opportunity. Give them recognition. Keep them from boredom. Give them challenges. Make sure their compensation is adequate and appropriate. Train them properly and adequately upon hire and offer ongoing training and coaching.
Get out and ride along with them. Coach them and provide positive feedback and constructive critiques. Help them create daily, monthly, annual, and long-term goals and action plans to improve and achieve. Then monitor and track their progress. When salespeople make mistakes, don't be so quick to beat them up. Point out their error and help them learn from it.
And, by all means, support them. The company, management, and co-workers should support every effort of its sales force in any way possible.
Don't just take my word for it. Consultant Drew Cameron, president of HVAC Sellutions, makes his living - in part - preaching the importance of keeping the sales force happy. According to Cameron, lack of opportunity accounts for 41 percent of the reasons why salespeople quit.
"Money aside, most salespeople feel a need for career advancements or progression," said Cameron. "While management positions tend to be few, do not discount the possibility of logical, strategic expansion. Motivated co-workers will welcome the opportunity and make the move justifiable.
As he put it, when you grow your people, your company will grow.
"Do not resist growth," he suggested. "It will kill your company and your morale, and you will lose good people who no longer see opportunity for them."
NEED FOR RECOGNITIONGenerally speaking, salespeople do have strong egos. It's what makes them good at what they do and a major reason why supplying them recognition is important. As we all know, a simple note of appreciation and thanks to a deserving individual can go a long way. According to Cameron's statistics, lack of recognition accounts for 25 percent of the reasons why salespeople quit.
"Believe it or not, salespeople need to be coddled and pampered more than any other position," he pointed out. "They need to feel like they matter since they face rejection so often in the marketplace. It's how they get their need for approval met and positive strokes."
Watch out for boredom, too. According to Cameron, boredom accounts for 5 percent of the reasons for salespeople quitting. Jobs can become routine, monotonous, and boring. To fight that, one must accommodate the sales force. In his eyes, a contractor should provide variety and find new products, services, markets, ways of going to market, marketing programs, contests, incentives - whatever it takes "to keep things stirring."
This means providing challenges. Salespeople thrive on new stimuli. A job can lose all its appeal and luster if it does not offer new horizons. "Fuel their fulfillment," is how Cameron put it.
GIVE THEM RESPECTHaving income limits for your sales force is counter- productive, too. According to Cameron, inadequate compensation accounts for 15 percent of the reasons why salespeople quit. "Top producers should not be limited," he said, frankly. "If they are, there is nowhere for them to go within your company once attained, and therefore they may leave."
While 4 percent leave for no particular reason, Cameron said 10 percent leave due to lack of company support. This could mean little and/or no marketing, little and/or poor training initially and/or ongoing, weak internal support from co-workers, and poor or inadequate management.
"Remember, nothing happens until somebody buys something, and it's usually from a salesperson," said Cameron. "Think about it. Next to your customers, your home comfort experts are your most precious assets. Treat them as such."
You should take note that income is only third among reasons for salespeople changing companies, and even at that, it is the limitations (perceived or otherwise) rather than the income level that prompts job shifts.
Simply put, a company, from the owner on down, must treasure salespeople, hold them in high regard, and promote appreciation, goodwill, and gratitude towards them.
Cameron put it this way: "They are the ambassadors of bringing business, income, profits, benefits, job security, etc., to everyone in your company. They are diplomats, and should be treated as such."
Consultant Drew Cameron can be contacted at 888-621-7888; or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Skaer, Senior Editor, 618-239-0288, email@example.com
Publication date: 03/20/2006