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3 Ways to Retain Top Talent with Sales Readiness

Mar 20th, 2019

This post originally appeared on Smart Selling Tools’ Sales Technology Blog.

Finding the right sales talent isn’t easy – but even when you hire the perfect candidate, keeping them for the long-term can be a whole different challenge.

New reps must be supported from day one with sales readiness programs that prepare them with the skills and knowledge to effectively engage buyers. But even after new hires ramp up, the learning shouldn’t stop – they need continuous training, as well as coaching and career development every step of the way.

That may sound like a lot, but with sales enablement, sales organizations have found success when positioning these readiness initiatives as part of a broader sales talent and retention plan.

Here are 3 ways sales readiness can help you retain top talent.

#1: Make onboarding agile

Whether a new rep will make it or not can depend a lot on how well they’re onboarded at the beginning. Reps need to ramp up quickly, not just to complete their training, but to accelerate the time between their first day and their first deal.

By taking an “agile” approach to onboarding (inspired by agile software development principles), you can break the months-long ramp process into shorter time periods of training and coaching. This way, new reps will be focused on building proficiency in key sales competencies, before moving on to the next.

For example, a new rep may have 2 weeks to earn a certification on conducting discovery – followed by their first discovery call. After completing the call, they’ll start the 2-week process over again to prepare for the next key activity.

By splitting onboarding into these short dedicated “sprints,” you can monitor reps’ progress to catch potential problem areas early and address them, so they’re set up for success in the short and long-term.

#2: Avoid the ‘sophomore-junior year curse’

Even if reps do well in onboarding and have a successful first 12 months, years two and three are pivotal times. This is often when the reps (and you) decide if they’re going to stay long-term or start looking for greener pastures. In fact, 36% of high-performing reps have left companies due to a lack of learning paths, according to SiriusDecisions.

So how can you get ahead of this ‘sophomore-junior year curse’? Support reps with continuous training that’s proactive, not reactive. Instead of only assigning training around compelling events (i.e., product launches), provide reps with micro-learning with assessments on a regular basis and deliver it when, where and how they work (mobile, CRM, etc.).

When reps are met with training and coaching continuously and can learn automatically, they’ll not only feel supported by their company, they’ll also be keeping their skills sharp and mastering competencies so they’re always improving and prepared to sell effectively.

#3: Extend support with career development and mentoring

To retain reps for long and fruitful tenures, they need to feel like your company is a partner in their career. If reps have given years to your company but don’t see a clear path for what’s next with you, they might start looking for what’s next elsewhere.

When it’s still early in their time at your company, show them a path for growth and career advancement – whether it’s from SDR to account executive, or account executive to sales manager. Then offer them learning and assessment paths that will help them get ready for that next step. Not only is it beneficial to your sales team to keep long-tenured experts that can share institutional knowledge, but these top performers and rising stars are going to be the ones that help your company grow.

You can also support reps with internal development opportunities, such as training programs around leadership and management skills, and mentoring, where high-potential reps are paired with new hires to help them as they ramp.

Learn more by downloading our new special report, “How CSOs Can Win the War for Sales Talent in 2019.”