According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 3% of the US workforce quits monthly. Voluntary turnover, especially among our salespeople, is at an all-time high. The workforce is shrinking, baby boomer retirements are accelerating, and your employees have more options than they have had in a long time. In the last several months, we have seen a decrease in traffic in our stores, and losing an experienced, knowledgeable salesperson hurts. Sometimes we spend so much time on the front end with our newest salespeople that we lose sight of those seasoned employees helping our bottom line right now. This new gap can cost your organization money in hiring, recruitment, lost company knowledge, and customer relationships.
It creates emotional and personal challenges with your sales team as well. Sales team morale can suffer, productivity, and possible confusion about roles. Even your managers may have difficulty imagining a future without their star players.
Several trends have emerged over the last several years that are crucial employee engagement drivers for seasoned employees. We have some tips and have talked with several retailers to see what they do to keep their seasoned salespeople engaged.
- My opinion counts at work.
Employees always want a voice, but it’s significant for well-seasoned salespeople. Employee engagement Surveys are a great way to understand how well your employee engagement is working and identify areas of opportunity. You can conduct pulse surveys on any topic at any time, but at the minimum, perform an employee engagement survey once a year.
Rob Ball, HFA Sales Academy Trainer, and owner of several retail stores in Florida evaluated his value chain within his stores. A value chain is the number of touchpoints you have with all the salespeople within your organization. “I saw within our organization that my touchpoints were depleted to almost nothing, whether through a webinar, phone calls, live meetings, or one-on-one. I mean, like literally one a year during a holiday party.” “How can I manage my sales team and keep employees engaged if my touchpoints are so few?” If you encourage your management team to increase their team touchpoints, it is a way to hear them, understand them and give them a voice.
Rob also stated another way to keep seasoned employees engaged is to “Have your seasoned salesperson write a sales process. Not only are you asking for their opinion and paying homage to their success, but you are also finding out what works for them. Plus, when they work through it, they may remind themselves of things they might have forgotten or don’t do as much, and this process might help sharpen their skills.” Rob continued, “We have seen after this process, all of a sudden, they are moving beyond what they did 2 or 3 years ago and selling much more.”
- Goals and accountabilities are clear.
This driver becomes more critical across tenure. Seasoned employees want to know the goals and get a clear direction to help them understand how they perform and contribute to the organization’s success. Discuss team and individual objectives and expectations when you meet with your employees. Help align their goals to the company’s mission, so their work feels relevant and significant. Keeping your employees in the know and helping them tie their plans to the organization’s strategy will make them feel positive about how they contribute and more optimistic about the future. Rob Ball further talked about management touchpoints, “Have your management team out on the floor and understand how they do what they do, you can go over their KPIs, discuss their wish lists and career goals, and listen to their suggestions. The touchpoints need to be personal and frequent. You must manage sales teams by ensuring that you’re talking about what’s in it for them and that it’s not always about the KPIs.” Your store also wins if they are happy, and their goals are achieved!
- My job is interesting and challenging.
It’s essential to keep seasoned employees engaged by finding new and creative ways to challenge them in their roles. Keep your superstars involved by investing in their career development—share opportunities for additional training, certification, or responsibilities with your other team members. New opportunities will help them with boredom and potential burnout. Keep things interesting by ensuring your employees have growth opportunities and challenges at every level they desire.
Matt Pridemore is also an HFA Sales Academy Trainer and owns and operates 16 top-producing retail furniture stores in the Southeast commented, “as a sales manager, it is your job to figure out from your team what is challenging and where they want to go. Not every good salesperson wants to be a sales manager, and that’s ok, but they still want to be challenged differently.” Matt further states, ” you need to talk to them with one-on-one conversations. I like to take my people to lunch and get to know and understand their hopes and dreams.”
Miguel Valle, Senior Sales Manager, El Dorado Furniture, comments, “At El Dorado Furniture, we have El Dorado University, a several-week training course for our new salespeople. We have asked many of our seasoned salespeople to be instructors at the university. “Miguel also went on to say. “One of the best ways we keep our superstars engaged is to have a yearly awards gala. For us, it’s like the Oscars, and we celebrate top performers across the organization. It is about sales, sales associates’ performance, and their leader’s performance at the store level. Every speaker addresses them by name and, by storytelling, explains what they did to get to where they are and why they are being recognized. And we watch our sales associates and leaders work all year to get a seat at that event.”
- I have the information I need to do my job well.
This driver becomes increasingly essential as time goes on. Frequent communication and feedback are crucial to helping employees feel informed and connected. Don’t stop paying attention to an employee just because they’re doing well or have been on the team for a while. Create a feedback culture with your sales team and company to encourage honest and open communication. When employees trust their management to listen, they are more likely to share feedback and insights into their work, including communicating what resources and support they need to succeed.
It is essential to keep your seasoned salespeople engaged in their work. They are valuable assets and can provide insights that new employees may not have. Review the employee engagement trends we’ve outlined and ensure your business is doing everything possible to create an engaging work environment for these experienced employees. Are you providing regular feedback? Giving them opportunities to learn and grow? Making sure they feel like their opinion counts? If not, start today! Your bottom line will thank you.