How to Retain High-Performing B2B Salespeople

Your ability in retaining B2B salespeople hugely impacts the success of your sales teams. Many of your top-performing sales reps are being actively recruited by other companies. According to a Glassdoor survey, 68% of sales professionals plan to look for a new job within the next year. Another 45% plan to look for a new job within the next three months. Your best performers are oftentimes at the most risk of leaving because they have many promising opportunities.

Retaining top-performing sales representatives will require more than simply a robust compensation plan. Here are some best practices for retaining B2B salespeople:

1. Provide a clear path for advancement within your organization.

Top-performing sales professionals are ambitious by nature. The allure of more promising opportunities elsewhere can be a major factor in prompting them to leave. To address this problem, you need to be proactive. Create a clear path for advancement and make sure that every sales rep in your organization understands it. During performance evaluations, check in with your team about their progress. Clearly explain what they need to do to reach the next step, and follow through with any plans you create together.

One-on-one meetings with sales reps are a great opportunity to provide career guidance. Managers should personalize career coaching to the individual. When a new team member comes aboard, ask them about their long-term career goals. Together you can create a plan for achieving their goals. If the plan changes, that’s okay, but the salesperson needs to know that the organization will enable their career progression.

2. Streamline the onboarding process for a smoother transition.

The onboarding process is critical for establishing a sales representatives’ feelings about your company—and whether they want to stay. A chaotic onboarding can permanently impact a representative’s likelihood of staying, even if the situation improves.

Make sure that you clearly communicate expectations for onboarding. Give new representatives plenty of opportunities to ask questions and check-in with their managers to ensure that the process is going smoothly.

Follow through on all your promises on schedule. If you tell your new reps their personal computers will be set up by the end of week one, you need to ensure that it happens on time (and preferably early). Don’t delay setting up training sessions or assigning a mentor if that’s part of your process.

3. Offer opportunities for mentorship and continued learning.

Top-performing sales representatives are passionate about learning new skills. You need to facilitate their professional development, or they will seek those opportunities elsewhere. Provide a budget for continued learning opportunities and encourage your team members to make use of it. Keep your salespeople informed of opportunities that are particularly promising.

Mentorship should not just be a formality in your organization. Assign every team member a mentor that isn’t their manager. Be thoughtful about matching mentors and mentees, and make a change if a pairing isn’t working. Encourage your senior salespeople to provide mentorship informally by rewarding those who display outstanding mentorship abilities.

4. Create a comprehensive benefits and incentives program.

Although compensation isn’t the only factor that prompts excellent salespeople to leave, it definitely has an impact. Make sure that your incentive program appropriately rewards top performers. In general, it’s best if your compensation plan is easy to understand and doesn’t change much from year to year.

You also should not overlook benefits. Robust healthcare and retirement benefits are a great incentive to stay, as are non-standard benefits like a health/fitness stipend or pet health insurance. Even providing high-quality accommodations during travel can make a difference.

5. Create a bonus structure that rewards salespeople for staying with the company.

You should structure your bonuses in such a way that incentives your team members to stay with you long-term. There are several possibilities you can consider:

  • Provide retention bonuses that pay out every year that a sales representative stays with your company.
  • Offer equity in the company that vests after six months or a year.
  • Provide assistance in paying off salespeople’s student loans after they’ve been with your company for a specified period.
  • Give extra paid vacation time for every two years a salesperson spends at your company. This also helps them to feel refreshed.

6. Develop a culture that emphasizes your company’s mission.

Many salespeople, particularly younger representatives, want to work at a company that has a mission. They want to feel that their work matters. To keep great salespeople in the fold, your mission has to be an organic part of your company’s culture. It shouldn’t be just something you trot out during beginning-of-year meetings, but a constant presence in your work.

From the moment a representative begins the onboarding process, they should be learning about the “why” behind your company. Why do you provide value to your customers? Reinforce this message throughout all of your group meetings and activities.

7. Foster team spirit by offering opportunities for teamwork.

Sales can be intense and isolating. It is helpful to provide opportunities for your team members to develop meaningful working relationships. People are more likely to stay at a company if they genuinely like and respect their team members. If everyone is working autonomously, there are many fewer reasons to stay.

8. Create a comfortable and flexible work environment.

Great salespeople work hard, but they also understand the importance of developing a life outside of the office. You need to facilitate that for your team members by offering options for flexible work, paid vacation time, and generous parental leave policies.

Supporting salespeople as they transition from their 20s into their 30s (and beyond) is critical if you want to retain experienced, skilled sales professionals. Your goal should be to make it possible for them to thrive in both their professional and non-professional lives.

Excellent sales professionals have a wealth of opportunities. Retaining B2B salespeople requires creating an environment that enables them to thrive.

James Meincke

Director of Marketing @ CloserIQ. Previously Recruiter @ ManpowerGroup & Freelance Social Media Strategist. University of Wisconsin Journalism & Strategic Communication Grad.