Keep your Eye on your Prize

We are not referring to the old folk song/and or saying, but to companies not paying attention to their most important asset – their sales talent. I’ve encountered two situations in the past month where executives’ at large software companies were clearly following the guidance of Wall Street and not focusing on retaining their sales talent.

One particular company missed their earnings and revenue target predicted by Wall Street. As a result, put many of their open sales positions on hold, and forbid the use professional search firms to assist the highly overworked and understaffed hiring managers to fill their remaining roles. The goal – hold costs down to drive the earnings per share up and maintain revenue growth with the existing salesforce. The actual result, massively overworked 1st and 2nd line managers that were untouchable in 2014, are now very recruitable. The A level reps in the field that remained loyal to these talented managers now how inflated quotas, (to achieve Wall Street estimates), and are leaving in droves.

In the other situation, this company has recently gone through a large equity event and the executives were so focused on how to appease the private equity group they failed to recognize one of the best sales leaders I’ve ever met. He had turned an underperforming region into one of the highest growth regions in the country, and his AE’s would run through walls for him. They did give this person some accommodation in the form of verbal praise, but in this market it takes a lot more than that to retain top talent.

It should always be a company’s priority to retain top talent. In today’s high growth, war for talent market, companies should keep a very close eye on their top 10%. If they don’t, their competitors most definitely will be.