HR Challenges: Keeping the Superstar Sales Reps Happy, Motivated and Engaged

It’s no secret that a dealer’s sales division is often the one area that frequently sees the highest turnover rates. To what extent the vice president of sales and/or the sales manager can effectively chart out the expectations for a rep, and provide the tools necessary to meet the criteria laid out, will go a long way toward establishing a department tenure that is stable.

Emmy Georgeson, imageOne

At imageOne of Oak Park, IL, the company relies on a thorough communication process to keep reps informed and engaged, accord to Emmy Georgeson, head of Recruitment & Development. The dealer conducts one-on-ones and weekly huddles for every department. Another is the weekly “what,” a cross-functional huddle of all the different administrative departments to stay abreast of developments. Monthly company-wide meetings, followed by lunch, also helps bring all team members up to speed.

Perhaps the greater challenge for imageOne is logistical, as 60 percent of the company works remotely. Thus, the dealer holds remote meetings an hour before the live gatherings via Skype or GoToMeeting. Remote employees are provided with gift cards to purchase lunch.

One activity that promotes bonding at imageOne and fosters ideas is the Great Game of Business. All employees are provided with the company’s income statement and balance sheet to gain financial literacy and become educated about how their actions impact the bottom line.

“We play mini-games where there are incentives for people to think about cost-saving ideas,” Georgeson noted. “Everyone is rewarded if we win the big game, which means there’s a profit-sharing bonus program. So they actually see how the decisions they make every day, especially in the cost of goods sold, can impact the bottom line and ultimately help the company’s profitability. They also realize the difficult decisions that are made in running a business and have clarity of over what we’re investing in and what we need to spend money on so that there’s no mystery to why we’re doing what we’re doing. Everybody’s involved every step along the way.”

Pivotal Mile Marker

Kevin Fries,
Eakes Office Solutions

Kevin Fries, human resources manager for Eakes Office Solutions of Grand Island, NE, points out that the first 24 months of a rep’s tenure are the most critical for retention. Once that threshold is crossed, Eakes has a pretty strong track record for retention.

“It all goes back to understanding what motivates them, what makes them tick,” Fries said, noting the dealership has an average tenure well in excess of 10 years. “We keep them engaged, especially when times are tough and they’re not making as many sales as they’d hoped.

“Money is still a big motivator, but there are other elements around being happy in a job. Getting support from the operational side of the business can be just as important to a sales rep as money.”

Chris Taylor,
Fisher’s Technology

Fisher’s Technology of Boise, ID, has the good fortune of enjoying a high retention rate within its sales team. CEO Chris Taylor believes the key there is recognizing the individuality of each sales rep, and not using a one-size-fits-all approach to management.

“Each rep is driven by different motivators, is fearful of different things, is encouraged by different tactics, and has different communication styles and needs,” Taylor said. “So our sales leadership spends significant effort to customize their leadership styles to each individual, including enticements. That, in conjunction with our overall culture, has led to low turnover in our sales team.”

Rewarding Experiences

Alexandra Goodman, Fraser AIS

Sales reps at Fraser Advanced Information Systems of West Reading, PA, enjoy an excellent total rewards package and compensation structure, which includes incentive bonuses like President’s Club trips, tickets to Philadelphia sporting events including Eagles and Flyers games, an awards banquet and other enticements. Alexandra Goodman, HR manager for Fraser, believes this accentuates the positive feedback sales reps provide, supporting the notion that they not only feel valued but that their efforts are having a salutary impact on the success of the dealership.

“Being able to impact the trajectory of an innovative company while being compensated and recognized for your efforts and having the resources and support to be successful is how we are able to attract and maintain our top team members,” Goodman said.

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.