This week I was in New Delhi, India working with the sales leadership team at Microsoft’s inside sales digital center. The team was eager to learn new skills, and frankly surprised me with all the sales methodologies, books, podcasts, etc. that they consume on the regular basis. But what caught my attention most was their upfront transparent view on sales training, and its ability to enhance sellers' careers (knowing full well that some sellers then become a flight risk).
Are you strong & bold enough as a leader to recognize you’re helping people move up AND out of your organization?
Two quotes that have stuck with me over the last few years (I'm paraphrasing):
1. John Chambers – ex. CEO and Executive Chairman, Cisco: “It’s less of a risk to the business if my sales professionals becoming digital and leave, then doing nothing and stay.”
2. Justin Shriber – VP, LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions: “My responsibility as a leader is to make people better when they leave to organization then when they came in.”
These are bold, yet strong leadership statements. I can’t tell you how many weak leaders I’ve met over the years that would shy away from these type of conversations.
They would be the first people to say to me, “I’m afraid that by giving my salespeople these skills, they’re more attractive to our competitors.”
Guess what—these are the same leaders I see change jobs 6 months later.
Stop kidding yourselves! The average Northern American & Western European sales professional will keep their job for only 2.5 years, and have 11 job changes in their career.
The days of getting hired at IBM at 21, and retiring with a gold watch at 60 are over. We’re in the era of increasing the yield and throughput of your sellers while you have them on your mission to the moon.
In fact, astronauts are a great analogy. On almost every mission into space, the crew changed.
Do you think NASA would say, “I’m not going to fully invest in these astronauts' development for this mission because all they’ll do is leave and become Sputniks or commercial airline pilots after?” That’s obviously flawed logic.
My advice to sales leaders today is: while you have this team, maximize it. Maximize it to not only drive revenue potential, but also think about a secondary benefit… future recruiting.
Top talent knows top talent. If you create a great environment for learning & development, more talent will be attracted to your team.