Three Ways to Retain Top Sales Talent In a Candidate-Driven Market

Finding and hiring top talent has been top of mind for business leaders since McKinsey’s Steven Hankin coined the term “war for talent” in 1997. While more than 20 years have passed, the statistics are still harrowing: more people are quitting their jobs than ever before and 30% of new hires are leaving their jobs within the first 90 days.

In speaking with sales leaders around the world, we know that finding and retaining top sales talent remains one of the hardest business challenges to crack. With shifting employee priorities and an increasingly complex and nuanced sales market, how can leaders make sure they’re finding and keeping the best of the best?

Here are three ways to retain top sales talent in today’s candidate-driven market:

  1. Recognize Employees Shifting Values—And Meet Them Where They Are
    Where employees once prioritized benefits and work perks, a recent ServiceNow/Edelman Intelligence survey found the number one benefit employees seek is greater meaning and purpose in their work. A study reported by Harvard Business Review similarly found 9 out of 10 people would earn less money if it meant they could do more meaningful work.

    As Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow shares in this article, “Employees today want to know that they are realizing their full potential at work. Using technology to reduce the mundane tasks they face every day frees up people to focus on the more creative, important and fulfilling aspects of their jobs.”

    When you’re pitching sales roles to potential new hires, don’t focus solely on your organization’s competitive salaries. Employees want to know you’re also dedicated to helping them reach their full potential and have systems and processes in place to keep them focused on doing work that matters.
  2. Build a Better Onboarding Process
    According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee turnover can be as high as 50% in the first 18 months of employment and cost companies six – nine months of the employee’s salary.

    We humans make first impressions within seven seconds of meeting a new person or being introduced to a new brand or product. An employee’s onboarding experience is that first impression and dictates whether that employee believes your organization is aligned to his values, meets his needs and is worth his long-term commitment and loyalty.

    Few organizations are investing in building comprehensive onboarding strategies. But those that are are reaping the rewards. As reported by SHRM:
    • “69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.
    • New employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58 percent more likely to be with the organization after three years.
    • Organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50 percent greater new-hire productivity.” 
  1. Invest in Top-Notch Professional Development
    As Inc. contributor Ryan Jenkins wrote in a recent article, “Top talent have a proclivity to be future oriented. A strong indicator that someone might be a top performer is they will ask future-focused questions.”

    Traditional professional development falls short in two areas:

    First, programs fail to address people’s full human experience and focus, instead, on mastering specific work-related tasks and skills. As employees increasingly look for work experiences that offer purpose and meaning, they want to think about their work as more than a series of tasks—and know the companies they work for do, too.

    Second, most professional development programs are offered as one-offs and don’t build in ongoing support—a critical piece to helping employees realize their full potential and build long-term trust.

Have you and your sales team implemented practices to help your retain top talent? If so, we’d love to hear what’s worked. Drop them in the comments below!