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Selecting and Hiring Effective RetentionLike every organization, you know the importance of selecting the best candidates when hiring sales professionals and helping those employees develop into your top performers – and equally essential, retaining them over time. 

This concept is at the heart of what we refer to as “effective retention”.  In our research and ongoing work with top organizations, we do not simply predict and evaluate only performance or only retention. “Effective retention” is looking at these two factors together and understanding that as an organization you must focus on retaining salespeople who are performing well.

It’s not enough just to retain people; it’s not enough just to hire top performers.

The key to achieving effective retention is gathering systematic data and using a systematic process for hiring. With systematic data about your specific company, you can build accurate predictive analytics that consistently maximize ROI. Predicting effective retention is the ultimate goal of most systematic selection processes.

In order to best understand effective retention and how it can be achieved through systematic data and processes, let’s break down the concept in terms of retention and performance.

Predicting Retention when Selecting Sales Professionals

In our over 35 years of gathering data and research, we have found a number of data points that typically predict retention.

For example, previous job stability often predicts future retention. People who stay in their previous jobs for longer periods of time tend to be more easily retained than those who were jumping around prior to applying to your organization. In many cases, past behaviour predicts future behaviour (although predicting retention cannot be achieved with only one data point – the person may have had good reasons for changing jobs).

Once you start collecting systematic data about your own organization, you will be able to see patterns in terms of which types of candidates tend to stay at your specific company. This will reflect people who are “stayers” and who fit well with your workplace culture.

We have found that compliance with a systematic selection system can double retention, compared to skipping components of it. The best predictor of retention is to follow every step in your predictive selection process.

Predicting Retention Only?

If you are only concerned with retention, it’s easy to predict and improve it… if you don’t include metrics having to do with performance. Simply hire stable, dependable, loyal people who fit in with your company culture and who will stay indefinitely.

Of course, that isn’t necessarily what you want for your business! After all, the loyal and dependable employees may not be the sales professionals who will perform and generate real results.

If you only focus on retention, you may find you have a performance problem.

Predicting Performance when Selecting Sales Professionals

As discussed in previous posts, top performing competitive sales professionals share a number of critical attributes:

  • They are self-managers.
  • They are highly motivated by achievement and challenge.
  • They are high energy, with significant drive and ambition.
  • They require middle to high levels of independence.

Using a selection tool specifically designed for selecting high performing sales professionals, such as our POP™, can help organizations select the top performers from the candidate pool.

Download a sample POP™ profile.

With systematic data collection, these selection tools are refined over time to be customized for your specific organization based on how well employees perform in your sales environment. If your sales environment is more competitive or relationship-based, for instance, you may find nuances in the types of candidates who generate the most sales.

With a focus on predicting performers, organizations can hire top performers for their specific sales environment.

Predicting Performance Only?

We have worked with many organizations who were only predicting performance when selecting salespeople – and we have seen the retention problems they have struggled with.

Without any thought to retention, organizations will spend time and money hiring and training top performers only to have them leave a short time after. Possible reasons include that they are not being challenged enough, they don’t like the compensation strategy, they don’t like the workplace culture, they aren’t being given the right level of independence and/or coaching, or they feel as though they don’t have progression opportunities.

Whatever the reason, continually losing top performers is an expensive and ill-advised strategy.

Predicting Effective Retention

It should be obvious by now that the solution is to predict both retention and performance together – predicting “effective retention”.

If your company can not only select the top performers, but select those who are likely to stay at your organization for a long time, you will experience an exponential increase in profitability. Effective retention reduces the expenses of hiring and training (giving you bottom line growth) while improving overall sales and productivity (giving you top line growth). It’s a win-win!

To select for effective retention you must have a systematic process for hiring that can be replicated and will be followed, and you must collect ongoing data to track the types of people who are retained in your culture and the types of people who are performing well in your culture.

Effective Retention Example: Company A

About Company A:

  • Hires 1000 sales reps annually
  • 50% retention rate at 12 months
  • Average sales rep performance is $3,500 / month (850 average reps in the company)
  • Top sales performers average $7,250 / month (150 top performers in the company)
  • Turnover costs are $10,000 / rep

ROI of Improving Retention ONLY:

Company A improves retention by 10%, translating into an additional 100 reps retained at 12 months.

  • $4.2M in additional sales revenue / year
  • $1M in turnover savings

ROI of Improving Performance ONLY:

Company A hires 100 more top performers; however, 50% will terminate.

  • $4.35M in additional revenue / year
  • No turnover savings

ROI of Improving Effective Retention:

Company A improves effective retention by 10%, translating into an additional 100 reps retained and more top performers hired.

  • $8.7M in additional revenue / year
  • $1M in turnover savings

Improving effective retention translates to double the ROI compared to addressing retention or performance independently.

While it is harder to predict both retention and performance at the same time rather than either one individually, the results speak for themselves.


With over 35 years of research and historical data, SMG can provide the tools and insights your organization needs to predict retention and performance when hiring salespeople. Contact us now!

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John Marshall

About John Marshall

John is the President and Founder of The Self Management Group, and has a doctorate in psychology from York University where he also worked as a lecturer. For over three decades, John has helped hundreds of organizations develop into self-managed, high performance cultures. Using advanced statistical methods and principles, SMG has become a leader in applied research and using predictive analytics to assist organizations in attracting, selecting, and developing top performers.

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