How to Keep Your Best Salespeople Happy (And Selling)

Salespeople may seem easy to find, but top-performing salespeople are not. Once you’ve put the time and resources into attracting a top talent, or developing skills in a new hire, you’ll want to invest time and energy into retaining them.

To accomplish this goal, and hold on to your best salespeople, follow these 4 steps:

1. Invest in their continuous development

Top salespeople want to always be developing their skills — it’s part of what makes them top salespeople. They are motivated by new challenges and responsibilities. “Make sure they get new experiences even if they don’t get new titles,” says Jake Dunlap, CEO of Skaled, which helps fast growth ventures develop their sales processes and systems. “That’s why salespeople stick around.”

Top sales performers also like to be recognized for their achievements, so if you can’t outright promote them, give them new opportunities to demonstrate their skills. That might include hiring an executive coach to work with them, to help them hone specific skills, or offering to mentor them.

2. Provide them with new challenges

Ongoing growth and professional development is important to high performers in any role, but especially in sales. Keeping your best salespeople learning and growing entails investing in them, says Dunlap, and making sure they know you’re doing it.

Such investments can range from sending a top performer to conferences or seminars to learn from the best, moving them into more complex selling situations, or assigning them larger territories to manage, suggests Joe Morone, principal in Worldleaders sales and training.

3. Help them reach their goals

Keeping salespeople engaged also requires understanding what motivates them as individuals. Why are they working so hard? What drives them?

Morone advises digging to discover what each salesperson is working toward. You might learn that one team member is saving for an early retirement, or looking to fund her child’s college education, or saving for a new car. Once you know specifics, you can “help them reach their goal, not your goal for them,” says Morone.

In other words, instead of discussing how many units a salesperson needs to sell for the company, you can discuss how many units it will take for them to reach that personal goal.

In addition, learn about their professional goals. Are they hoping for a promotion? Do they want a lateral move into a new part of the company? Where do they want to go next and how can you support them? If you don’t support these goals as well, the employee has no reason to stay long-term.

4. Eliminate poor performers

“High performers become frustrated when working alongside poor performers,” says Morone. This demotivating factor may be reason enough to ease those at the lower end of the spectrum to new opportunities, either inside or outside of the company.

Granted, this is easier to do when you’ve established clear performance goals and tracked who is (and isn’t) meeting them. “When a salesperson is two or more quarters behind on quota, it’s time to provide training or make a change,” Morone says.

Above all, “sales managers have to be committed to developing their salespeople,” says Morone. “Salespeople leave managers, not companies.” If you can forge bonds and provide ongoing support, you’ll successfully retain your best salespeople.