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Use ICM Software to Retain Top Sales Reps During an Economic Downturn

By Grayson Morris, CEO, Performio

Retaining top-performing sales reps should be high on your priority list. Not only does this help maintain stability within your organization, but it also reduces the impact of the high cost of hiring and training new employees. And that’s critical as the reports of a looming recession continue to intensify.

Here’s the million-dollar question: what’s the best way to retain top sales reps?

There’s more than one approach, and there’s no right or wrong answer, but there are steps you can take to boost retention. For most companies, one of the best places to start is implementing incentive compensation management (ICM) software.

Before we discuss how ICM software can contribute to a strong employee retention plan, let’s review three general tips for retaining salespeople during economic uncertainty. These tips will set the table for everything else you do.

1. Decide who you want to retain

Maybe you want to retain everyone on your sales team. Maybe you want to keep the high-performers. Either way, you can’t create an employee retention plan until you know who you want to keep on the payroll. Make this decision based on performance, experience, and industry knowledge.

2. Keep your eyes on the prize

When times are tough, the easy thing to do is lower your standards. You may even give up on sales performance altogether. That’s not the right approach. Instead, work with your team to identify productive buyer segments and then double down on those. The goal is to continue to make sales and that will never change.

3. Adjust your compensation plan

When it’s inevitable that sales will suffer, consider adjusting your compensation plan to meet the present needs of your company and sales team. You must be thoughtful about the approach you take.. Don’t make rash decisions like raising base salaries, lowering commission rates, or cutting quotas without careful evaluation.  Also, consider ways to reward high-value activities such as prospecting and appointment setting. Doing so keeps sales reps engaged at every step of the sales cycle.

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ICM software is essential to a strong employee retention plan

ICM software makes it easier and more efficient to implement the tips above. Here are four ways that ICM software can contribute to a strong employee retention plan during tough (and prosperous) economic times.

1. Transparency

Transparency builds trust, and that’s a must in any relationship between a sales manager and a sales rep. If you’re going to adjust compensation plans — or even discuss this — reps must understand what they’re being paid for, how sales and commission are tracked, and the progress they’re making.

Don’t attempt to share this data with an outdated spreadsheet or in an email. ICM software can automate the collection of data while streamlining communication. All pertinent information is visible.

2. Prevent errors

One error is all it takes for a sales rep to lose trust in the way you track and payout on commissions.  The right ICM software can help you avoid manual errors such as entering the wrong commission rate or sales numbers.

3. Credibility with your team

No matter who you’re trying to build credibility with, investing in software that makes sellers’ lives easier shows that you’re serious about their success. For example, if you want to show sales teams that you’re serious about rewarding them for their performance, introducing software that ensures that accurate and timely commission payments won’t be an issue will undoubtedly get their attention. It’s an excellent way to prove that you care about your people and their day-to-day experience.

In other words, sales professionals want to work for organizations that treat them right.

4. Reporting

Reporting goes along with transparency, as discussed earlier. You want your sales reps to have access to real-time data that tells the entire story of how they’re performing. Use ICM software to report on data such as total commission earned, % attainment by individual or team, and total budget.

Through an ICM dashboard, sales reps can access their sales numbers in real time. This access eliminates any guesswork about how they’re performing and what they’re earning.

Final thoughts: The ability to retain top sales reps is critical to the long-term viability of your business, especially during an economic downturn.  These are the people who will generate revenue for your company — even with new challenges. Use ICM software to put your sellers’ minds at ease and better implement and track compensation plans that work for all parties.

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