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Does your company attract or repel sales talent?


I’ve had multiple conversations recently with people from different organizations about the challenges they are facing in filling open sales positions. One company was facing a 10%-15% sales growth target, yet they have over 40 open positions. They were struggling to find the best people and they couldn’t close the deal to get them onboard. Another company was looking to build their inside sales team. Before they started interviewing they took a very methodical approach to what they needed to do to “attract and retain” sales talent. They sought advise and counsel from outside sources to get it right before they started.

People Management Flow Chart

Looking back over my career, I have interviewed, hired, coached and managed a multitude of inside and outside sales people. The following three areas are what I believe to be the most important elements for attracting and keeping the best people.

1) Coaching/Mentoring program– Top sales people want to be mentored, challenged and learn from others, preferably from people on the leadership team and in addition to their direct supervisor. This helps nurture the culture of the organization, and gives the employees multiple perspectives about the business.

2) Incentive compensation– Sales people are driven by a competitive compensation program. They love the thrill of the hunt and know if they sell more, they make more. Align their goals with the company growth initiatives and company core values, and let them go hunt.

 3) Career Development– Offer a developmental process for the individuals to continue learning and take on additional responsibilities for the organization. Give those that aspire to do more a career track to follow. Identify what training and experience the company wants/needs in sales leadership and challenge the high potentials to take the necessary steps.

Take a balanced approach. Don’t rely totally on just compensation. Sales people want to be mentored and know they are not in a dead end job. If your leadership team will address these three areas, you will be well on your way to attracting & retaining inside and outside sales talent that meets and exceeds their sales goals.



  • September 29, 2014

    How are you. I like your article coming from you a top sales person/manage,r you speak the truth my friend. They key is investing time in the 20% of the team that will run 80% of your revenue.

    Luv u bro
    Tell Lisa I said hello.

  • September 29, 2014

    So true. In today’s competitive landscape, finding the right people is increasingly difficult. Retention, however is the key to any successful organization’s sustained growth. Finding the appropriate mix of compensation and recognition and development is critical to keeping your high-potential/high-performers engaged, growing and aligned with the company’s goals. Great article.

  • September 30, 2014

    Great points. When you are trying to retain any old sales talent, a focus on compensation alone may be enough. Generally, though, if compensation is the only lever being pulled to retain talent, there is a high risk of eventual overcompensation. In my experience, top sales people are ambitious and hungry to learn more – and they will – on their own if it’s not available at work. And when they seek outside learning and mentoring, they might get exposed to opportunities and leaders that are more interesting than the ones they have now. So what’s the net? You end up overcompensating the sales reps that aren’t quite as interested in learning new things – which is not a great recipe to stay ahead of your competition. How do I know this? I’ve had a few great mentors, of course!