<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Do We Retain Our Sales Force

January 28, 2001

    How do we retain our sales force formore than six months? We are in wireless communication. We have great benefitsand perks. Problem: most who leave are not making their quotas. What else can wedo?

 -Lisa, Human Resources, largetelecommunications company 

ADear Lisa: 

    "Most who leave are not makingtheir quotas."  Hmm. Are your quotas too high? Are the peopleyou’re hiring not qualified to do the job you expect them to do? Are yourpeople getting sufficient training? Coaching? Great benefits and perks areuseless if the sales people are unhappy, embarrassed, or unmotivated.

    First, consider the qualifications of the position. Are yourecruiting the right people for the job? What kinds of messages are you givingthem as they join you - positive messages of probable accomplishment of greatthings, or discouraging messages containing high quotas that may seemunattainable? Are you, through your expectations, setting people up for failure?Why would they stick around if they have a sense of futility about their chancesof success?

    Bring on the right people, with enthusiasm. Train them, coachthem and inspire them. Work closely with them to help them make their realisticgoals for a few months, then turn them loose. If performance is insufficient,find out why, correct the problem, and move forward. If they can't cut it, severthe cord early. If they have potential, encourage them and support them in everyway possible to make it short- and long-term.

    If salespeople are not making their quotas, analyze yourexpectations carefully. Are your standards too high? Are you enabling people togradually work up to high performance, or are you throwing them to the lionsright away? Build competence. Build confidence. Then, motivate and inspire them,get out of the way, and stand back to watch the results.

SOURCE:Roger Herman, CEO of the Herman Group andauthor of "KeepingGood People," "Lean& Meaningful," and "Howto Become an Employer of Choice."

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