How to Onboard, Pay, and Retain an All-Star Sales Team

Lisette Walberer
Lisette Walberer
In Benchmarking
Lisette is a Content Manager at Xactly. She earned her BS from NAU and is working on an MA in English from ASU. She has experience in content strategy and creation.

If you manage a sales team, you’ve probably seen your fair share of sales reps. There are experienced top-performers, newbies with huge potential, and those who aren’t quite where you need them to be.  For each of your reps, how are you determining their individual value?  Can you identify and mitigate problem areas to cultivate top performers? What is your plan for their professional career path within the company?

Let’s look at a few scenarios and take an assessment.

Scenario #1: Maria is your highest quota achieving rep. She is an instrumental member of your team, and you don’t even want to consider how things would be if she took a position elsewhere.

Scenario #2: Gabe is new to the sales team. He’s got a lot to learn, and you’re just not sure if he’s on track—or when exactly you can expect him at peak performance.

Scenario #3: Timothy is in year two and struggling. He may have a tough territory to work in, or he could be a poor hire. Regardless, the real issue is not clear.

Now consider how you would manage each of these very different reps and their situations in a way the benefits your organization.

Watch the webinar "Shifting the Performance Curve: Identify Trends in Low Performers Before You Miss Your Numbers” to learn the key metrics that are often overlooked when evaluating the health of your sales org.

The first task in assessing different scenarios is to step back and take a careful look at the whole picture (read, benchmarking data). While it may seem intuitive to take everything on a case-by-case basis, a  reactive approach is less beneficial than having a proactive impact on their outcomes.

All three reps in these examples have varying levels of experience, but their tenure within the organization can provide clues that managers can use to encourage success and implement course-correcting as needed.

A close look at tenure can tell sales leaders many things. In fact, by identifying patterns from over thirteen years’ worth of aggregate data, Xactly has identified several key trends that can help you anticipate and influence your sales reps’ behavior.

Year 1: Your new reps are hungry and ready for success

Sales leaders should support steady learning and growth in their sales functions—and also be patient with missed quotas. Managers should ensure they’ve created fair and balanced territories and compensation plans that are competitive and drive desired behaviors.

Year 2-3: Your reps should begin meeting their potential

During this time, top and near-top performers will gradually increase performance. While the first year should be used to observe and support reps, managers should now work to motivate them and quickly step in to address any potential issues.

Year 5: Your reps are ready to take on a new challenge

If you’ve reached the five-year mark with your sales reps, congratulations! This is a great time to significantly increase his or her pay—or consider a possible promotion. Managers ought to empower these individuals to advance their careers.

So let’s jump back to our three scenarios. Maria may be due for a raise or possible promotion, Gabe could use some extra attention to keep him on track, and it’s possible that Timothy just may not be well suited as a sales rep.

Xactly data shows that the typical rep “sweet spot” is between three to five years. Getting your sales team members to this place—and keeping them content throughout—can be quite a challenge.

It’s also important to consider, while top reps will continue to perform at high levels, managers should dedicate some focus towards motivating near-top and middle-tier performers to increase their performance. By motivating middle-tier reps to become top performers, companies can see huge increases in sales performance.

Implementing a data-driven approach to management with Xactly Insights and Xactly Benchmarking helps empower your organization to drive sales behaviors and achieve optimal rep performance.

To see the full data on the impact of tenure on the retention of top performers, download the executive guide.

Watch the webinar, "Put the Darts Away: The Importance of Benchmarking Data in Sales Planning," to discover the importance of current benchmarking data for effective compensation plan design.


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How to Onboard, Pay, and Retain an All-Star Sales Team

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