Turnover. It's a costly word if you are a sales manager in the media sales space today. To start with, it is inevitable. It will happen. In today’s world, turnover of your sales personnel usually occurs for one of two reasons.
First, sadly, you may have to strategically de-recruit someone due to a myriad of reasons, usually performance issues; or, secondly, because one of your reps is moving on to what they believe are greener pastures. No matter the reason, turnover negatively affects your ability to deliver consistent sales results.
Now, many reading this blog may say that the best way to address the second reason above is to build a sales culture where "A" talent, once recruited, will never want to leave due to your ability to grow and develop them. I agree wholeheartedly. I also would posit that the most talented salespeople tend to be the most highly sought after, and you are not going to win them all, even with the best intentions and efforts on your part.
So, it happens. Now the question you must answer is, how do you not miss a beat? How do you protect the sales output and the relationships of the individual who is leaving?
1. Visibility of account history. Make sure you have a tool that will allow you to have a high degree of visibility on the status of the departing rep’s book of business. A CRM and account management software program, such as Efficio Solutions or other industry-specific CRM, will allow you to “look inside” that book of business. This is critical, because the activities, notes, pending, proposals, aging, and account status will assist you in zeroing in on what you need to pay attention to NOW. The period of transition between sellers is a time when you can lose a lot of business and momentum.
2. The internal hand-off. A quality industry-specific CRM will also allow you to re-assign accounts and their associated billing history quickly with a touch of a button. No more looking for rolodexes and pulling manila account files from the departed’s desk wondering if you have everything you need, like contacts, e-mails, and phone numbers. All your data is accessible 24/7/365 in your cloud-based CRM. You can pull this critical information from anywhere at any time. You want this process to be easy and efficient, because you may be really busy covering those accounts yourself for a period of time.
3. The client transition. A third piece of this puzzle is how you now COMMUNICATE this transition to your clients and prospects. If your rep is moving to a competitor in the market, time is of the essence. Efficio offers you an e-marketing tool integrated with all your contacts and agency personnel that will allow you to communicate details of the rep’s departure, who the new rep will be, and allow you to acknowledge the status of any pending business and/or sales campaigns currently being executed.
There is NOTHING worse than a client feeling they have been left out of the loop, and this is only intensifies when they have an active campaign.
4. Be prepared. Finally, the best way to handle attrition is to be prepared. Make sure you are conducting one-on-ones each week and setting the expectation that data must be entered into your CRM. This is the only way you will be guaranteed the necessary visibility in the event of a departure. It is not about holding a hammer over someone’s head. It is about YOU having the necessary SALES INTELLIGENCE.
Make sure you are aware of the key and target accounts that are on each of your reps' account lists. If you don’t, you will miss critical knowledge and the ability to respond in a way that protects both the client and your sales team in a time of transition. You would also be well served by actively recruiting and having a solid list of talented potential reps who want to work for you.
In today’s fast paced and hectic world, the need for accurate and relevant sales intelligence is critical. Most reps in our space today have grown up in the age of software, apps, and mobile technology. So making sure your reps use and engage a CRM provides you with critical visibility. If you currently don’t have one, now is the time to budget for one for 2014. Once the rep is gone, you don’t want the knowledge, contacts, history, and pending/booked business to go with them.
By Chris Crawford, General Sales Manager, Efficio Solutions