“We have a relationship with our customer, and that relationship translates into sales.” Richard Hayne
The Engineering industry remains the bedrock of every developed economy. The impact of engineering industry has cut across every sector of human endeavors from medicine, to energy, and even to construction. That said, the present-day engineering industry is bewildered with many challenges threatening its advancement. One of such is the challenge of hiring and retaining sales engineering talent that can bridge the gap between organizations in the industry and their clients or customers. Research from the Bridge Group published in Forbes Magazine shows that there is a minimum 20% annual turnover in Sales—and this can get to 34% if both voluntary and involuntary resignations are included. According to Harvard Business Review, sales positions in the last five consecutive years remain one of the hardest positions to fill in organizations.
The importance of sales to a business is like how oxygen is to life. The growth and the future of a business become stagnated and blink without sales. Sales remain the linchpin of every organization that is very important to its survival. The sales team in every organization bridges the gap between an organization, brand, service, or product and its customers or clients. This relationship with clients or customers translates to revenue that takes care of everyday expenses and help drive the organization short- and long-term goals. However, many engineering firms today have challenges in attracting, hiring, and retaining top sales engineers who can drive their organization vision. Based on a study at DePaul University, the average turnover cost per sales rep is above $97,000, when the training cost, lost sales, and recruiting costs are added. High sales team turnover results in stalled opportunities, loss of money and time. The rate of transition of top sales talent between companies in engineering makes the job for recruiting and retaining sales talent an important skill for sales managers.
Here are some tips for attracting, hiring and retaining quality sales talent in the engineering industry.
Tips on Attracting, Hiring, and Retaining Top Sales Talent in the Engineering Industry
1. Work on Your Brand
Every organization knowingly or unknowingly has a brand. What does your brand say about your organization? How strong is your brand? Your brand represents your organization identity; it shapes the perception of your current employees, prospective employees, and past employees about your organization. Attracting top sales talent today goes beyond offering impressive perks, bonuses, longer vacation, among others. Job seekers more than ever before spend time online scrutinizing a brand before sending in their applications. If the perception of your brand among your employees and in the public domain is unhealthy, most top sales engineering talent, no matter the allurement, would leave and discourage their colleagues from seeking employment in your organization. However, most top sales engineering talent would want to work for your organization, if your brand is associated with value and success.
2. Encourage Quality Talent to Apply by Keeping Your Recruitment Door Open
In order to attract top sales talent to join your work force, there is always a need to keep your recruitment door open, even if there is no vacant position. Encourage top sales talent to apply, and when applying ask questions about their vision and achievements in previous organizations they have worked for as sales engineer, the number of hard accounts they have won, and other things.
In addition, by way of incentives, encourage your current top sales engineers to refer top sales talent among their friends in other organizations to join your workforce.
3. Speed up Your Hiring Process
Many engineering firms are in the habit of over-delaying their recruitment process. This practice obviously would make you lose out to other competitors who are also in search of top sales talent for their organizations. If you want to attract top sales talent to your firm, you need to hasten up your recruitment process. Once a top sales talent has been identified, the HR team in conjunction with sales leaders in your organization needs to find a way to speed up the recruitment process.
4. The Place of Reward
Many things attract top sales talent to an organization. Obviously, compensation is chief among these. Based on Gartner’s sales talent benchmark, compensations, followed by work-life balance and stability are the three most important attributes that attract top sales talent to an organization. To keep attracting top sales talent, you should be willing to offer them something commensurate with what they have to offer your organization. According to Brian Kropp, Gartner’s HR practice, Group Vice president, most sales talent expect a minimum of 15 percent increase in compensation before they can switch to another company.
5. Invest in Your Sales Talent Development
“Train your people well enough to leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
Many employers in the engineering industry underestimate the importance of training and staff development as a key factor in retaining their sales engineers. No matter how good and talented an employee is, there is always a room for improvement. Every top sales talent would cherish an organization that offers opportunities for career development. Investing in your sales talent increases their value. This makes them feel valued and most employees in return would offer you back their loyalty.
6. The Place of Challenge
Challenging your top sales engineers is one of the ways you can retain them for long. Top talent get easily bored in environments that do not allow them to think out of the box when solving problems. This could make them contemplate leaving for another position that offers more challenges. Assigning more responsibilities that comes with rewards can help keep their motivation high.
7. Celebrate Achievement with Your Team
Every achievement might not have the same value. However, this can help the self esteem of your sales engineers. No matter how small the achievement is, making mention of this during your meetings help instill a sense of belonging and value in such a staff.
The importance of sales to a business can’t be over-emphasized. The demand for top sales talent in the engineering industry is on the rise, with more demand than what is available in the job market. This has placed more responsibilities on HR department and Sales Managers to augment their people skills in attracting, recruiting, and retaining top talent in their workplace.