Organizations need to look beyond basic compensation and benefits if they are to attract and retain consistently high-performing sales teams

Sales organizations in innovative industries such as Technology, Digital, Media (and many others) are a critical engine behind growth and investment; with tight windows of opportunity and competitor landscapes in constant flux, organizations need to attract and retain the highest sales performers to stay ahead of the game.

So if a company is feeling the pain of high sales staff turnover, or cannot attract top performers to their team, it is crucial to identify the root causes and resolve them swiftly.

It is only natural that sales or talent leadership may jump to obvious conclusions: “We need to pay our sales teams more;” “We need to change our commission structures;” “We need to offer better benefits and stock options.”

Yet for many of the best sales performers, while the financial basics are important, there are other factors that influence career satisfaction, performance, and employer attractiveness that do not revolve around the hard cash.

So if you are struggling to build and maintain the sales leadership and sales teams your organization needs, ask yourself how your organization scores in the following areas:

Great support from all angles

The best sales performers have a knack for aligning two organizations to the mutual benefit of both, creating real win-win situations that lead to sustainable, long-term relationships and revenue. They can only do this if the colleagues they rely on across Marketing, Presales, Consulting, Finance, and Legal can all play their part. Are there enough people supporting the sales effort, and are they set up and motivated to accelerate sales success?

Consistent leadership and culture, with efficient decision-making

Even the best sales performers need clear executive leadership to perform consistently, and a strong business culture primed for sales success is essential. Frequent changes to management structure and direction, or repeated delays in decision-making, can hinder sales efforts and slow momentum — particularly crucial with longer sales cycles and larger, more complex deals.

The ability to build for the long-term

Businesses can have many good reasons for reorganizing their global sales organization: shifts in buying patterns, new product portfolio or changes in customer, and competitor make-up, to name a few. But the best sales performers often plan their pipeline and revenue streams way beyond the current financial year and create consistency in performance through this mid/long-term approach. So beware of too frequent re-assigning of accounts, territories, product portfolios and measures/compensation — it can hinder (or worst case render pointless) effective planning and encourage short-term thinking, with an inevitable rise in inconsistent performance and staff turnover.

Top-notch systems that minimise admin and complexity

We are all familiar with the notion that sales people and efficient admin are not a match made in heaven; but the often mistaken underlying assumption here is that sales people are somehow inherently lazy, always trying to minimize workload or divert responsibility. Sales leaders know this couldn’t be further from the reality: top sales performers are typically some of the hardest workers in any organization, pushing themselves hard to get the best results for themselves, their employers and their customers. Because of this, they are always looking for ways to improve productivity, ways that they can achieve more with less. And so ‘admin for admin’s sake’ is not an option. Show a top sales performer a CRM system that really saves them time or helps them build stronger relationships, at the same time as delivering the performance and planning insight required by leadership and finance, and they will embrace it with open arms.

A solid product offering

In every industry, there are examples of great products that have failed, and pretty good products that have blown all expectations. But you will find very few examples of poor products performing well at all (unless fraudulently). Top sales performers don’t need to have the best product behind them in order to be successful; that’s partly what defines them as top sales performers. But they do need something that is reliable and resilient if they are to build long-term success.

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