If you do a google search on why people get into sales and read through the many articles titled “Top Reasons to work in sales”, you will find a pretty clear correlation between the articles. All of them talk about money. Each article references the ability to have flexibility, job security and other similar factors, but all of them reference the ability to make lots of money. The ability to be financially independent has been a driving factor behind career aspirations on young and old alike. Why is it then that the sales profession has one of the highest turnover rates and companies are constantly trying to figure out how to keep and recruit sales talent? Could it be that it isn’t all about money?
Sales organizations today are constantly looking for ways to engage their sales professionals. They are creating new financial incentives, have promotions for new products and yes, still giving away lavish vacations to the top sales performers at the end of the year. The challenge is, this is only motivating to a few individuals and does little to grow the company. There have also been attempts to change how sales professionals are graded. They are graded on performance scales measuring sales growth, product growth, market penetration and pipeline management. All of the above are fine but we are still not getting to the core issue as to why a sales professional stays or leaves a particular company.
Just like our customers, engagement has to come from somewhere else other than financial. We all know that if you acquire a customer simply on price, you will more than likely lose them to price. However, if you acquire a customer because you solved a problem or brought them value, you are more than likely going to keep that customer for longer because of the connection you now have. This is no different than the engagement that has to be created with your sales staff.
Are you creating a culture of purpose where your sales professionals truly believe that they are making a difference for their customers?
This sense of purpose comes from the top down. If the organization is not communicating and living a purpose of being customer centered, you can’t expect your sales professionals to be. It is increasingly important, especially in today’s younger generation that they feel like what they are doing makes a difference. According to Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial survey, 75% of millennials believe that businesses are focused on their own agendas rather than improving society. This study also shows that a majority of millennials want to use their skill sets for good.
Many companies today don’t value the input of their younger employees and still try to engage them with the possibility of financial growth if they stay put for a given period of time. Their focus is still superficial and does not cultivate the heart. Millennial professionals today want to have a voice. They want to be a part of the direction a company is going. They want to believe that their company is about truly making a difference for their customer. This doesn’t mean that company profit and growth aren’t important, on the contrary, it is necessary. What it means is that the growth of the company will be even greater because the sales professionals will hold a higher value in the services and products they are providing for their customers.
Simon Sinek says, “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” This statement couldn’t be more true. It doesn’t matter whether you are selling toilet paper, jet fuel or the latest app, if you aren’t creating an atmosphere where your sales professionals believe that what they are doing is truly making a difference, you will continue to struggle with a lack of engagement and turnover. Create an environment of growth starting with a heart for your customers and employees and watch your company grow and succeed in ways you couldn’t imagine.