Employee retention is tough in functions like sales where high turnover can be the norm. But retaining staff is made easier by keeping them motivated throughout their career. If your sales people aren't performing well it could be because they are feeling uninspired.
We started a discussion in our Michael Page Sales LinkedIn group in the UK, asking those who work in sales about the best ways to motivate and retain a sales person. Here are the top suggestions:

1. Set clear targets that are ambitious but realistic

Setting goals for your sales people has an immediate motivation effect, but in order for this to work in the long-term you must be prepared to review targets frequently. If it's obvious soon after the target has been set that the employee won't be able to meet it, they will feel de-motivated until their next aim is in sight.

2. Recognise and reward success

Celebrate your employees' achievements with them, it is demoralising for a sales person to receive no thanks for their hard work. Monetary reward isn't the only motivator in their work life, so think of other ways to recognise those who perform well, perhaps a lunch out or drinks on a Friday afternoon.

3. Understand the needs of the individual

Goals should be personal to each sales person as not everyone is motivated by exactly the same thing. In order to set individual targets you will need grasp what gets your employee going or, adversely, what has a negative effect on their performance.

4. Communicate

If you've hired a top sales person then that's the first step done, but don't then leave them to guess what you want from them. Be clear about the goals of the business and make sure they know how they fit into them. Many sales people perform better with a certain amount of freedom but that doesn't mean communication has to stop.

Take action

Another key issue that came up in the discussion was the idea of nurturing your all your sales people, including top performers. The suggestion was to send them to external training and development courses. This has joint benefits of teaching your team skills to improve their sales performance but also, importantly, shows them they are valued by you and the business. The point you should be making is that you're willing to invest in your employees, and this is a motivating factor.
The general consensus is that taking the time to develop your staff will result in better employee retention. Knowing what skills you can get out of different employees can only benefit business and this is much easier to evaluate when you don't have to constantly make new hires.
Please contact Simon Ganter in our Dublin office to discuss your next sales hire.