Last year I read a book, Predictable Revenue, by Aaron Ross. If you're not familiar with Aaron, he took over the sales team of a small company, struggling for acceptance in the marketplace, and in a few short years, built it to $100 million in sales. The company was Salesforce.com and you know the rest of the story.
After reading the book I contacted Aaron and, because of our expertise in recruiting sales talent, we partnered in a Strategic Alliance. I asked him if I could share a small excerpt from his book about building sales teams. He graciously allowed me to present it here. Having built and managed sales teams for healthcare, insurance, and RCM organizations I can say his recommendations are solid.
Here's what Aaron writes....
If you want to build a solution-selling, high-value sales force, commit the team and company to invest in their success just as much as you expect them to invest in the company!
Internal Training Builds A Better Sales Force
Ongoing training can be the cheapest and easiest (yes, easiest) way to improve your team's performance. It takes commitment and focus, but is always a great investment of your time.
The Best and Cheapest Investment In Your People…
...is consistent, regular training and coaching (especially new hires). I see again and again what a difference regular training makes in improving sales skills and results, reducing ramp time and increasing “promotability” (yeah, I just made that word up, but what a concept!).
Simple monitored practice exercises, with feedback, can make a dramatic, noticeable difference in performance, whether in public speaking, objection handling, phone skills, demos or personal/career development.
A program with an ongoing, regular format.
Includes exercises/role-playing and useful feedback.
Is designed effectively, to make it worth your reps' time.
Follow through on everything: maintain the schedule, check progress, keep it fresh and don't let things slip.
Finally, the most important thing to making this work is commitment from the CEO or VP Sales to follow through and stick to it. You will have kinks to work out over weeks, months or quarters. Internal training will only get the attention and time it deserves if the management team believes in it, and is willing to invest in it.
This is a resposted article by Dr. John Sullivan . The original article appeared on the ERE site.
There are few things that are more shocking to a manager then to have one of their top-performing employees suddenly quit on them. Some managers have described it as the equivalent to a “kick in the gut.” It is a shock not only because losing a key employee will damage your business results, but also because managers hate surprises, and as a result, they frequently wonder how they missed the signals that this person was going to leave.
Employee turnover is always an important issue, but most managers are unaware of the fact that overall, turnover rates went up 45 percent last year. And because I am predicting that they will go up at least 50 percent this year, individual managers should be aware of the precursors or warning signs that can indicate that an employee is considering looking for a job, so they can act before it’s too late.
After 20+ years of research on predicting turnover, I have found that if you approach the problem systematically, you can successfully identify which individual employees are likely to quit with an accuracy rate of over 80 percent. Firms like Google, Xerox, and Sprint, as well as several vendors, have developed processes for identifying who might quit. But for most managers, you must realize that you will simply have to develop your own identification process. So if you know of a manager who is worried about turnover, pass this list of turnover predictors to them so they won’t be surprised when their next employee announces that they are quitting.
The Top 10 Ways a Manager Can Determine if an Employee Is Considering a Search for a New Job
Even though every employee is different, most individuals who have or that are about to enter job search mode can be identified using one of these proven actionable approaches. They are listed with the most impactful approaches appearing first for the majority of managers.
Conduct individual “stay interviews” — many firms use exit interviews to find out why an individual employee is leaving their job. Unfortunately, asking on their last day “why are you leaving?” doesn’t provide useful information in time to prevent this turnover. A superior approach is to be proactive and to use what is known as “a stay interview.” A stay interview helps you understand why an individual employee stays in their job by simply asking them in an informal one-on-one meeting to identify the principal reasons why they stay, so that these important factors can be reinforced. As part of the interview, managers can also ask the employee to identify any major “frustrators” that have in the past made them, even for a moment consider leaving. As part of the interview process you can also ask your key employees to have the courtesy to provide you with a heads-up whenever they find themselves returning a recruiter’s call. Holding a stay interview with an employee has the highest predictive value because it is customized to the employee and it occurs before a decision to leave has been made.
Proactively search the Internet for indications — the best way to find out if an employee is searching or is about to search for a job begins with looking at their LinkedIn profile to see if it has been significantly updated recently. You can also search niche and large job boards to look to see if they have posted their resume or you can do a simple Google search on this employee in order to find if they have recently updated their resume. You can even ask an Internet-savvy person to create a “spider” that will continually search the Internet for LinkedIn profile and resume updates that are made by your key employees.
Previous job tenure can predict — one of the most accurate predictors of when someone will leave a job is their average tenure in the last few jobs. If an employee has a pattern of leaving a job after a certain number of months or years, it only makes sense to examine their resume to get a good indication of when they are likely to leave again. Obviously it’s better to underestimate their departure date, so that the worst that will happen will be that you will begin “too early” to try to retain them.
Identifying past reasons for quitting can predict — most employees are consistent in the factors which caused them to leave previous jobs with the cause to consider leaving their current job. That is why it is a good idea to ask new hires during interviews or as part of onboarding specifically “which specific factors caused you to leave your last jobs?” Managers need to be vigilant in order to spot whether those past reasons for quitting may be reoccurring in their current job.
Identify those in high-turnover jobs — frequently, employees get the idea to leave simply because other employees in their same job family are leaving to what they consider to be better jobs. Managers should work with HR in order to develop what is known as a “heat map”, which simply indicates which jobs, teams, and business units are currently experiencing a high rate of turnover. Managers should then obviously target their own most desirable employees (i.e. innovators and top-performing employees) who are in those high turnover jobs for retention efforts. Because research has shown that 50 percent of new hires are unhappy with their job decision and 46 percent of new hires fail within 18 months, it makes sense for managers to particularly target all recent hires in any job as high probability turnover risks.
Someone close to them leaves the team — having a manager, a close colleague, or even a close friend leave the team can provide a powerful impetus for an employee to leave. In many cases the exiting employee may actively encourage them to follow as a referral (as many as three to five employees will follow an influential employee). But the thought of not being able to work alongside a great friend, having to work under a new manager, or having to train a new hire may be enough to drive them into considering a new job.
A career-damaging event occurs — for most employees, simply having a weak manager or an uninteresting job isn’t by itself enough to cause them to look for a new job. Instead, an additional catalyst or negative event (a.k.a. career trauma) is needed that the employee considers serious enough so that it actually damages their future career. These negative events might include having a major project canceled, a project proposal rejected, major layoffs or a re-organization, being rejected for a promotion, being assigned a new manager, or a major resource reduction or staff cut in their job area.
Recognize when an employee’s career stage is ending — most individuals go through predictable stages or steps as they progress through their career. Many employees change jobs when they reach the end of a stage or phase of their career. Those career stages often include entry-level, becoming a journeyman/ professional, becoming a team lead, promotion to a higher level and eventually complacency and preparing for retirement. So if their manager pays attention to and plots those career stages, they can in most cases predict approximately when an employee is likely to enter job search mode. Important outside-of-work life events can also cause an employee to move into their next career stage. The life events that can trigger job search include marriages and divorces, new births, children reaching school age, the last child finishing school, deaths, health issues, a large amount of their company stock vesting, an extremely negative performance review, and certain landmark ages (turning 30, 40, 50, or 60). There is no precise formula here but if a manager pays close attention to where an employee is in their career cycle and to their major life events, they can get an indication of when an employee is likely to begin looking.
Identify employees who are “overdue” for important things — one of the key frustrations for employees are when they perceive that they are unjustly overdue for something important. It’s partially an equity issue, in which they see others unfairly getting things before them. But it is also an internal desire to keep moving, growing, and learning, as well getting new tools, opportunities, and challenges. When they feel “overdue,” they become frustrated and begin looking for a new opportunity. Common overdue factors include too long a period since their last pay raise, promotion, training opportunity, a chance to lead, but also (especially among techies) upgrades in their tools, equipment, computers, and mobile phones.
Recognize when a top performer feels underused — top performers and innovative employees are unique in that they will begin considering a new job simply if they feel “underused.” Almost all top performers want to be continually challenged, as well as to make a major contribution. As a result, managers need to be aware that once a top employee feels that their skills are either eroding or that their talents are being underused, they will likely begin considering leaving (Google research indicates that the feeling of being underused is their No. 1 reason). You can find out if an employee feels underused by simply asking them or by talking to their close coworkers. Of all turnover issues, this is the easiest one to solve because the employee simply wants to do more challenging work.
Some Additional Lower Impact Identification Approaches
Although they didn’t make it in the top 10 list, here are some other effective approaches to consider.
Identify the office “gossip” (a.k.a. super-knower) who seems to know everything going on in the office and ask them to informally let you know when they suspect that a key employee is looking.
Their best friend at work and your own firm’s recruiters are also likely to know who is actively looking.
Managers should also realize that there is a high probability that employees who have recently increased their visibility by writing blogs, doing YouTube instructional videos, or by suddenly speaking at conferences are doing it to attract recruiters.
Frequent absences and especially those that are for only half of a day and on Fridays should be noted as possible indicators that someone is interview. And finally be aware that the No. 1 cause for employee turnover is often a bad manager, so be aware that you may be the most impactful reason why your employees leave.
I’ve never seen a manager’s job description where it specifically outlined their responsibility for identifying key employees who are likely to quit. As a result, I have found that nearly 95 percent of managers simply make no formal attempt to periodically sit down and systematically identify key team members that are likely to leave.
As turnover rates increase and as the economy continues to improve, managers need to realize that top employees not only have the choice of going to a competitive firm but they now have expanded opportunities to create a startup (known as the garage factor). Failing to be proactive has high costs because once an employee announces that they are leaving, it’s extremely difficult and expensive to get them to change their mind. I’ve tried to outline the simplest and easiest to implement approaches in this list, so that all that is required is for an individual manager to set aside the needed time.
Only if your company has the right strategic vision...
This is question that is being asked in more and more HR circles. Many companies still recruit like it is 1985, without regard to the realities of today's talent marketplace.
MMS Group President and CEO Richard Yadon talks when it might be the right time to make recruiting a function separate from HR
At least this is what a recent Forbes article recommended. But what do you do when your corporate policy seems to drag out the process of removing an underperforming employee? Why does employee termination seem harder then finding people for the job?
MMS Group President and CEO Richard Yadon answers this question in the short video below...
When Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and other business journals repetitively publish stories about a specific topic, it usually means there is a lot of interest. This is true for employee retention.
MMS Group President and CEO Richard Yadon talks about the real reason employees choose to stay and how companies can leverage this to keep their best people!
What is employee turnover? Conventional thought would tell you that the employee turnover ratio is hires compared to terminations over a period of time. Certainly there are complex methods that tell you how to calculate turnover. Companies spend a lot of money to find and understand staff retention rates. A high attrition rate is expensive. Staff retention has to be a priority for every organization.
I would suggest that the traditional methods that teach you how to calculate turnover are wrong! Yes, they can tell you a mathematical ratio and, yes, that number is true. But corporate leaders could be asking the wrong questions about their true retention rate. Instead of asking "what are our employee turnover rates?" a better question is "What is employee retention?" An employee doesn't have to leave your company to stop working. Recent surveys state that more than 50% of employees today have mentally or emotionally left their jobs. To really understand your attrition rate you must factor this into how you calculate turnover. A disengaged employee could cost a company more than a vacant seat. To truly understand staff retention, employee engagement must be part of the equation. Otherwise companies are fooling themselves into believing their employee turnover rates are simply a mathematical ratio.
The most overlooked fact about employee turnover is this; employee disengagement has to be part of employee turnover rates. Find out who is in the wrong job (see my other posts about job analysis). Add that number to your actual terminations. Then you'll truly understand your employee turnover ratio.
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Are you still Fishing for employee motivation? This was a popular employee motivation strategy several years ago. There are lots of books on Amazon.com that will teach you about how to motivate employees. Every business wants good employee relations and a happy, productive workforce. Strong and positive employee morale is necessary for optimum productivity. I can’t think of any client who has told me they didn’t want high employee satisfactory. All companies work hard to motivate employees.
Corporate leaders and business owners have a lot of reasons to know how to motivate employees. High levels of employee engagement make their jobs easier. They want less stress in their employee relations. They have profits to increase. They want to sharpen their competitive edge. They want to keep costs low and productivity high. They want to generate more revenue. They want, they want, they want… Are you reading this? They want to motivate employees for all their corporate reasons and this is why most companies fail in how to motivate employees.
Employee motivation, employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and employee relations will never improve if it is all about what the company wants. No one is going to work to make the company better or to reach company goals. Organizations will fail if they believe a slick, new “program” is the way to motivate employees. Employees will only be motivated when they know what’s in it for them. They will increase productivity only when their needs are met. Incentives to motivate employees must be tied to what they value and desire. Strategic employers know this. They work hard to understand what makes their employees tick. Only when employee values are linked to motivating incentives will companies succeed.
Entrepreneurs and business leaders report employee retention is still on of their top 3 challenges.
A 2011 AFLAC Workforce Report found that 18 percent of business owners see the benefits package as a direct influence on an employee's decision to leave. The report lists voluntary benefits as a way to reduce costs and still offer quality benefits.
What is important to note, however, is that even in a recession and high unemployment, good people are willing to leave their jobs. This makes solid employee retention strategies an essential part of every business opeation. As the report states "it takes time and money to recruit, interview, train and hire a new employee." Buisnesses who don't drive employee retention strategies from the top down are going to lose their competitive edge.
If your business doesn't have a written and implemented plan to minimize employee turnover, today is the best day to start!
Since 2006, MMS has been involved in building their clients’ senior management teams as well as their sales, medical management, and HIM staff.
When you need top talent, you want the best and you want it quickly. That can only happen when your search partner understands your business and your needs. The MMS Perfect Match search process delivers the comprehensive search results you need.
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