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What Career Paths Do You Offer Your Sales People?

by David Brock on November 7th, 2016

Career pathing is something I seldom hear sales executives and leaders talk about (unless it’s their own).

Part of it is driven by our focus on the here and now.  We’re worried about today’s, this month’s, this quarter’s, this year’s numbers.  We don’t think about our people and their aspirations and dreams of growth.

Too often, the only “advancement” we think of is moving from sales into sales management.  But not everyone wants to be in management, and too many don’t have the capabilities of being great managers.

But all of our people have–or should have–aspirations and dreams.  They want to grow, they want to contribute, they want to expand their level of responsibility.

If we don’t provide them opportunities to grow and develop within our own organizations, then they will leave for organization that do provide the opportunities they seek.

We lose many of our best people because they see no clear path for growth, they see no future in our organizations!

The costs of these losses can be staggering–in the millions of dollars, over years or a career in the tens of millions of dollars.

Even worse, many of them may end up with competitors, actively taking business away from us.

There’s a lot of talk around the idea, “people are our most important asset.”  But without growing and developing our people, providing them opportunities to contribute at a higher level, the talk is just lip service.

People our vital assets to every organization, yet too often, we treat them as commodities.  We use them for a period of time, swap them out for someone new.  Every time we do this, we lose all that we have invested in developing them, we lose all that knowledge of what it takes to be successful selling our products/solutions, or what it takes to be successful engaging our customers.

We try to capture a very small part of that knowledge in our CRM systems, but we can never capture much, we never capture the relationship or situational knowledge.  Ironically, we protect this information, we consider it an asset, we would never think of sharing it with our competitors.  Yet the greatest knowledge/experience is in the minds of our sales people and we freely let them move from job to job, taking that knowledge and experience with them.

Some might say, “Dave, you are being unrealistic, it’s the people that are choosing to leave and move to other jobs.”

Well, yes, but why?

Probably it’s to find a better opportunity.  If they can’t get the coaching and development to grow, if they don’t see any future in our own organizations, then the only way they can grow is through moving from company to company.

The data says, it takes roughly 1o months to onboard a new sales person, then they tend to move on after about 24 months.  We seem to accept that as a given, a cost of doing business.

What would happen if we shifted our views, starting to keep people through challenging them, providing great leadership, providing growth opportunities.  What if they could see great opportunities with our companies, continuing to grow and develop.

It’s the right thing to do, for our companies, for our people, and for our customers.

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One Comment
  1. Thank you for the article. I feel it important to have one-on-one reviews with the sales reps. Try to figure out what the company can do to improve their present experience. I ask how the company can improve the training also. Thanks again.
    Richard Benchimol

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