Unemployment is at an all-time low in most parts of the country. “Help wanted” signs are posted everywhere. It’s affecting all professions, including sales. So what can CEOs and VPs of sales do to attract and retain top talent? Here are a couple of strategies that my successful clients are deploying to win the war for talent.
Create a mentorship program. Companies talk about mentorship and that’s all that happens -- talk. The hard reality is good mentors are successful people -- and they are busy. Often, the mentor or mentee really don’t know their roles in the relationship. Make mentorship easy.
For example, teach mentees the power of empathy. Have them step into their mentor’s shoes. Mentors are happy to give their time, but they are unhappy about wasting time. They want their advice used and applied. So teach mentees the power of feedback: When a mentor gives specific advice or direction, make sure the mentee provides feedback to the mentor about how they used that advice. The mentor is inspired to keep sharing time and advice because they see a return on investment.
Build your sales bench. Progressive sales organizations are filling their sales bench by building intern relationships with universities and colleges, preferably ones with a sales minor or major. There is a twofold benefit from this. First, you are getting interns that have chosen the sales profession rather than individuals that have defaulted to sales -- those that choose to do sales until they figure out what they really want to do in life. (And 20 years later, some are still trying to figure it out!)
I have clients that have developed great sales intern apprenticeships. Their efforts are directed at college sophomores and juniors, which allows them a couple of years to see the interns’ work ethic, desire to learn, initiative and ability to play well with others. Upon graduation, they have their next new sales candidates ready to go. Their sales bench is full.
Win the war on sales talent. Invest the time to create strong mentor and internship programs. Your work today will help you attract and keep the best salespeople.