Keys to boosting sales in a diverse market

By attracting, selecting, developing, and retaining diverse employees in a sales team, research shows that you are likely to build your revenue faster and further than less diverse teams. A McKinsey & Company study titled ‘Why Diversity Matters’ shows that the most diverse sales teams are 35%  more likely to generate above-average revenues.

The question is, how do you build and retain great sales teams?

Building a diverse sales team

The goal of creating a diverse sales team must be accompanied by positive action to invest in a diverse sales team. While employment laws prohibit discrimination, it is impossible for laws to disengage unconscious bias. Therefore, it must be incumbent upon organizations to put in place strategies to eliminate this from their hiring process.

Tactics that you may use include anonymizing application forms so that you remove identifying factors such as names, genders, dates of birth, etc. from them before they are reviewed. Additionally, organizations may consider affirmative action strategies and diversity training for HR and hiring managers.

Sales managers should also consider modern methods of selling, and how to grow sales in the ambiguous environment. Salespeople must be considerably client-focused, selling to needs and multiple decision-makers. Preconceived stereotypes are rarely the best salespeople in the VUCA market. Salespeople need to connect on multiple levels, and salespeople should be hired for their ability to do this rather than sell aggressively.

You should also understand why people decide to work for their employers. Promises of a big paycheck and lucrative bonuses are no longer the deciding factor. The most talented salespeople choose to work for organizations whose values and beliefs align with their own.

By examining your organization’s purpose and matching your values and beliefs to the sales role, you will be able to identify the qualities you require in your sales team. From this foundation, a sales organization should be well placed to develop a hiring process that removes unconscious bias and ‘self-selects’ for diversity and capability.

Retaining a diverse sales team

Understanding why salespeople leave their jobs is key to developing effective retention strategies. While uncompetitive compensation is high on the list of grievances, other factors weigh equally or higher in the reasons for quitting. These include:

  • Poor relationships with managers

  • A lack of support, training, and development

  • Burnout

  • A lack of opportunity for advancement

  • A toxic culture

To combat these issues, strategies include:

  • Ensuring that managers and leaders communicate effectively to pivot organizational behavior. Communication is key to engaging employees, and it is critical that managers are coached in effective communication techniques to achieve this. Clear and concise communication helps to avoid ambiguity and ensure that expectations are clearly understood.

  • Managing through recognition and reward, with behaviors that align with organizational culture valued as a lead to achieving sustainable sales. If salespeople are rewarded for their value-based contributions, this reinforces those values as being paramount to the sales effort.

  • Allowing salespeople time to recharge, and support them to do so. Sales is stressful, and forward-looking organizations recognize the need to provide support with mental health issues across their workforce.

  • Developing personalized career plans, with stretching but achievable targets and measurable KPIs. Managers should take time to interact with salespeople more regularly. Frequent check-ins enable progress to be monitored more effectively and problems to be discussed, and removes the potential for disappointment at annual reviews.

  • Fostering a culture in which salespeople can thrive and remain true to their personal values and beliefs. Engaging employees in the development of a positive culture, and ensuring that leaders and managers are examples of this culture in action should ensure that salespeople feel respected and that their voices are heard.

In summary

Developing a high-performing diverse sales team starts with attracting the best talent and continues with maintaining that talent through actionable retention strategies. In a multicultural environment, diverse teams perform more effectively. 

Those organizations that develop appropriate culture, remove unconscious bias, and train their leaders and managers to communicate effectively are likely to build the welcoming workplaces that salespeople wish to join and remain in.

To learn more about developing your sales managers and teams, contact Primeast.

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