Struggling with staff turnover in your sales team? Improve employee retention and employee performance with these simple steps

Struggling with staff turnover in your sales team? Improve employee retention and employee performance with these simple steps

Sales teams are notorious for high staff turnover. They’re one of the trickiest areas to recruit for in a long-term strategy, which is why a lot of companies have relatively long probation periods for their sales team and low base salaries.

Top talent know their worth, so it’s no surprise that they’re tempted by the competition when they don’t feel valued or rewarded appropriately. On the other hand, not everyone is cut out for sales, or even enjoys the competitive environment, so when they can’t reach the targets and never get that juicy commision pay out, they’ll leave ASAP for greener pastures.

It can be incredibly challenging for leaders to uncover someone’s true potential in sales, especially if you’re recruiting newbies without any proven experience. I’d never suggest to avoid the newbies, by the way. If they haven’t worked in a sales environment before, it means they haven’t picked up any bad habits and you can teach them your sales method without it causing any internal conflict around previous methods.

Sometimes the newbies can end up being the best. I’ve seen that happen more times than I can count! It’s all about attributes and attitude when it comes to sales success, and newbies have the motivation and excitement to help them achieve amazing things.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand! When you struggle to hire and keep the right talent, it can have a significant impact on your business performance. For one, inconsistency is never ideal when trying to build a fruitful customer relationship.

For an other, every time you need to start all over and train people from scratch you’re draining time and money.

You also don’t want to be ‘that company’ that always has new people on the team and you don’t have anyone with you for longer than a year. It looks bad to customers, and also looks bad for new potential recruits.

At POD HR and Training, we help Leaders develop high performing sales teams by helping them to recognise the right talent, keep them engaged by hitting the right buttons, and motivate them to perform at their best at all times. We’ll also show you how to get to the heart of any underperformance issues by looking at any limiting mind-sets and unlock their potential.

I know a lot of these issues can cause massive headaches for Leaders, so I’m happy to share these tips for free. I know not every business wants to book consultancy services or training programs, but you may need some extra help to get on top of any staff problem. That’s why I’m writing this today, so you can empower yourself with some guidance that could make the difference on if you lose or retain your top sales talent.

three employees talking about work and improving employee engagement

How to light a fire in your sales team

I used to work from the standard motivational tool kit that every HR and Leadership manual tells you to (which of course are still extremely relevant!). I saw great results and generally speaking, there were consistent improvements when used effectively. However, when I studied NLP and became a Master Practitioner of NLP, I was amazed at what I was missing out on before.

Not only could I use specific language patterns to light a fire of motivation in the sales team, but I could maintain that level of motivation for days, if not weeks to come!

I’ve also gained an extremely useful technique to empower sales professionals to use the right language with customers, which I’ll talk about later in this article.

My absolute favourite technique for sales teams is this: Values elicitation.

We all have values. They sit at the core of ourselves and make us who we are. They’re the ‘hot’ buttons for what we do or don’t do, and what we feel good about, or not good about.

Your reward strategy could be the best in the industry, but if their ‘hot’ buttons aren’t pressed and the job doesn’t fulfill the employees values, then they WILL leave.

Now, you may think you know what your values are. After all, you know your mind, right? You may be surprised to hear that it’s actually highly unlikely you know your true values, as they’re hidden deep in our subconscious.

A lot of the time, what we think our values are, are only what we think we should think. It’s not actually what we truly, deeply, think.

If you want to motivate someone indefinitely, you need to find these deep values and use them to keep them working towards a goal.

employees working on a glass board to create a plan

How do you elicit values?

First things first, you ask them the number 1 question:

“What’s important to you about…?”

This can be applied to any context, so it’s a good thing to teach your sales team to use.

When you’re asking your employees, you could ask, “What’s important to you about your career?”

When you’re talking to a customer, you could ask, “What’s important to you about this purchase?”

Once you ask the question, you’re looking for 5-8 keywords to come out. Ask “What else is important to you about…?” again and again until you get these. Real values won’t be long sentences, they’ll be a few words that stick out such as:

  • Progression
  • Recognition
  • Trust
  • Support

The quicker you get the answers, the more likely they are to be real and come from the subconscious mind.

You should keep going until they say that’s it, they can’t think of anything else. You can double check this by reading out every answer they gave and asking:

“If you have all of those things, is there anything that would cause you to leave?”

If they say yes, whatever they talk about is also a value so add it to the list. If they say no, then you have the full list.

There’s loads you can do with values, including finding the order of importance so you know the top button to press when it really matters. You can find out more about eliciting values and their uses in our article on creating sales motivation here.

For the purposes of this article however, let’s talk about using values to boost motivation and increase employee-employer relationships to reduce turnover.

Let’s say that their values are:

  • Progression
  • Recognition
  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Being the best

You want them to call through all their old clients that haven’t ordered in a while and it’s a big job!

You could simply say, “Please can you call through all the old clients next week and see what’s stopped them ordering in the last 2 years and let me know once it’s been completed.”

This may seem like a simple request, and a reasonable one given the the fact you employ them to do this kind of work. However, if you put it in the wrong way, you’re just asking for them to hate every second of it.

Instead, you should be using their hot buttons (especially with the right emphasis on the words that relate to their values).

You should use something like this:

“I know that progression is really important to you and I want to ask you to complete a project for me that I trust you with completely. This will help you achieve more and get closer to your next step of progression. Completing this project will help you to be the best and I can give you extra recognition for your success, because going the extra mile means that I can profile you.

Please can you call through all the old customers that haven’t ordered in the last 2 years and get some feedback on what’s stopped them coming back to us? The customers will respect you for caring enough to ask and we can celebrate any orders you generate.”

In summary, know what’s important to them and use it!

Words are extremely powerful. Neurologically speaking, this sort of statement will get engagement when the employee feels the words are authentic and you really do care about what’s important to them.

When you say you’ll do something to support what’s really important to them, please, PLEASE, stick to it. If you don’t, it will backfire epically and you’ll have to work very hard to build any level of trust again. The likelihood is that you’ll lose that employee fairly quickly.

Values can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. That’s entirely up to you. It would be far better to put in a little effort now and treat people’s values as if they’re your best friend because ultimately, the more you look after them, the longer they’ll be in your life and the more they’ll give to you.

Every time you use values, you’re putting logs on the first and the desire to succeed will burn brightly inside of them.

employees working together on sofas in a relaxed setting

How to keep your team in resourceful states of mind

When your team have good states of mind at work, they’re more likely to be happy working for you and will be more productive.

Negativity sucks the life out of people. Don’t let that disease spread around your team!

The ability to work with people at a mind-set level is imperative for leadership roles, particularly within sales. Mindset is everything in sales.

That said, I’m still surprised to find that sales managers aren’t always given the tool kit to influence mind-sets at a deeper level! Teams are often equipped with skills and standard techniques, but if they don’t have the right mind-set and belief in their abilities to implement these skills, it’s game over.

I always make sure that the sales training I provide is packed full of tools and techniques to keep the mind in the right state because this is what will revolutionise performance.

One of the most powerful ways to do this, and one of my personal favourites, is a technique called anchoring.

Anchoring is a process that uses high states of joy, achievement, love, or confidence, to collapse negative states that are triggered by situations at work. While this is too complex to teach in this article, we do have a more focused article on anchoring here.

I want to at least give you some idea of how to uplift states, so here are some easy to apply tools and techniques you can start to use without getting a professional in to train your team for you.

First, get your team to consider what they will see, hear, and feel when they reach their goals.

You might be thinking this sounds too simple and it’s just goal setting. It’s not, I promise! There’s far more to it then what you’re hearing on the surface.

When you get someone experiencing what it would be like to reach their goals, you need to get them to consider their sensory channels. Get them to really consider what they see, hear, and feel and really connect with what that future will be like. When you do this, they’ll want it more and more, and their mind will look towards a bright future rather than being trapped in any negative mindsets.

Another small mind management technique you can use is: change the voice in their head.

At this point you might be thinking i’m mad! Let me explain…

If people have negative thoughts swirling around in their mind, they’re limiting themselves. If they have a voice in their head kicking themselves, they’re blocking their success.

Depending on the fun and rapport you have with your team, you can help them change the neurological impact of limiting thoughts and inner voices by getting them to experiment with changing the voice in the head.

Depending on the rapport you have with your team, you can change the neurological impact of their limiting thoughts and inner voices by getting them to experiment with changing the voice in their head.

Find out what they say to themselves, and then get them to say it in funny voices. Try a squeaky voice, or a cartoon character. Even try out a different accent!

When it’s no longer your own voice, you take it far less seriously and therefore it’s less debilitating.

If a member of your sales team is worried about how the customer will react, ask if they have a picture in mind when they consider the reaction. If so, get them to change the picture to what they want to see. Switch up the colour to make the picture brighter. Get them to see that picture shrink to the size of a stamp and see it on an envelope being sent far, far away.

I know this sounds a bit weird and like it would just make you sound crazy, but we make our internal world with pictures, sounds, and feelings. Therefore, when we change our visual representations, we change our neurological reactions.

These representations and associated techniques are known as submodalities. Don’t worry, we’ve written more about them here so you can understand the science a bit better!

You can also consider getting sounds or actions for success that means that each time they hear a certain sound the mind recognises it as success.

It’s a way of cementing in the feel good factor and inspiring them to enjoy more of it!

I’m so passionate about this subject that I could go on forever (sorry for the long article!). I’m going to stop myself for now, but if you want to have a chat with me about getting your sales team fired up with the latest and best NLP techniques that’ll stand them out from the crowd, email me to arrange a discussion on natalie@podhr.co.uk.

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