A couple of years ago, a mailing list to which I subscribe had a question from a participant who owned a real estate franchise. She wanted some advice about how to both attract and retain a top notch sales force.
Well, for me, answer was very simple. Just apply golden rule of networking: treat other people way you would want to be treated and watch them beat a path to your door, AND stay there, too! Treat them as if they're invisible, take them for granted, ignore PERSON behind salesPERSON and watch them run like an Olympic Gold Medalist. Since a lot of subscribers to Networking Gazette are business owners or sales managers (or coaches to business owners and sales managers), I thought I'd share some of suggestions I gave franchise owner. I've edited content a bit to try to make information apply to any field of work. I started off by asking her:
How involved are you in your industry? Are you active in your local chapters of your professional associations? Are there opportunities for you to speak in front of these groups, serve on committees, write articles, teach a professional development course? Do a first rate job volunteering for these organizations, and you will get you a lot of attention and respect from people you're seeking:top producers. Quality begets quality.
Regarding retaining employees, you can not only keep employees, but you can turn them into your greatest recruiters if you treat them like your most important customers! In a way that's exactly what they are because they are generating an income for you, same as a customer does. When customers are happy, they tell their friends. When employees are happy, they tell their colleagues.
Some simple suggestions for keeping your sales people happy and creating your own in-house cheering section:
--Remember their birthdays. Send them birthday cards. Wish them a happy birthday--doesn't cost a cent, yet it's so easy to overlook! Put a cupcake on their desk. Have a birthday present delivered to their homes! Sound outlandish? At one time I worked for a large company (2,600 employees in our office). Every single person in that company had a gift delivered to their home on their birthday! One year it was an umbrella (everyone got same gift so you can purchase in bulk). The next it was a beautiful brass ruler. Nothing had company logo on it. It was NOT a promotional product. It was a show of appreciation. This one does cost a bit, but that's why you have a marketing budget, right? :-)