Sales managers, especially B2B and technology sales executives, are fighting an uphill battle to recruit and retain their sales staff. In fact, according to Manpower's 2016 survey sales representatives are the third toughest role to fill for any organization. But, it turns out that more so than many other tools, effective sales enablement programs can play an outsized role in helping sales managers increase retention and job satisfaction amongst the sales team.Why is it so difficult to fully staff a sales team?
First let’s consider why it is so difficult for sales managers to hire and retain a complete sales team. It’s not just the lack of available and experienced talent in the sales industry that makes hiring and retaining qualified sales reps so difficult. A number of generational and logistical issues also contribute to the high turnover sales managers contend with each year. The following factors are all working against sales managers that want to maintain consistent, experienced and knowledgeable sales teams:
- Millennials are job hoppers: Millennials make up a third of today’s workforce, and millennials are notorious for job-hopping. Unlike generations before them, they have little interest or patience for building a career in one company, and instead switch jobs in search of upward mobility and greater flexibility.
- Millennials have a low opinion of sales jobs: Quite simply, many millennials are not interested in holding sales positions, preferring to work in more creative fields or more life-affirming pursuits, over the high-pressure, revenue-focused field of sales.
- Talent Poaching: Sales is a competitive sport, and every manager is looking to hire and retain the best and brightest stars for their team. That means sales leaders are constantly chasing after each other’s most successful reps, enticing reps to make the jump with signing bonuses and favorable commission structures.
- Remote, distributed teams limit connections: Sales reps often work remotely, either from their regional home office, or from a hotel. Either way, sales reps often function as lone wolves, hunting for leads and closing deals with few direct connections to the main office. That set up helps them stay in front of customers all over the globe, but it does not inspire work place loyalty as these reps have few opportunities to build meaningful connections with other employees. It’s those connections to bosses and co-workers that engender loyalty and promote long-term employment.
Sales Enablement is the Surprising Tool Powering Veteran Sales Teams
From cash incentives and commission plans to President’s Club trips and other goal-based incentives sales managers have a variety of tools at their disposal to improve employee retention rates. But, there is another tool managers can tap into in order to increase employee retention: sales enablement.
Sales enablement tools help to shorten sales cycles, increase deal size, and better educate customers and prospects. However, as it turns out, one of the biggest benefits of sales enablement programs might just be its impact on sales rep retention and recruitment. Sales enablement tools:
- Help reps meet their quota: Sales reps that have access to strong sales enablement programs are better able to identify the best leads and nurture them through the pipeline to close. When reps consistently meet their quota they are unlikely to look for other job opportunities.
- Help lower stress and increase confidence for sales reps: When a sales rep is well-supported with just-in-time, situational content that he or she needs to close deals that rep is more likely to be successful, feel less stress, and more committed to the company and its products.
- Attract veteran sales professionals: Seasoned, senior sales reps recognize the impact sales enablement programs can have on their ability to beat quota and close bigger deals, so those reps are more likely to sign on with a company that has made an investment and commitment to sales enablement practices.