The Right Time – How to Find, Develop and Keep great sales people

Earlier in the year I wrote about the “Right things” when trying to Find, Develop & Keep great sales people.

The cost of employee turnover in Australia is claimed to be as much as 75% of annual salary and costs Australia about $83bn pa – ouch.

On the back of this, it is critical to ensure you and your organisation are doing the “Right Things” at the “Right Time” to ensure engagement, longevity and return on investment. Tommy Shaw, the American Musician, is claimed to have said “Timing is everything” and, as Willie Nelson so aptly put it, “The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese”.

The Right Time falls into three categories – Ready, Willing and Able.


Ready – Your business best have a good idea about what your needs are in terms of skills, experience and cultural fit to ensure you have a few possible candidates when challenges arise. A recent survey found 46% of new hires fail within the first 18 months, 89% of those are due to poor cultural fit and personality mismatches.

Willing – Recruiting is like any sales funnel; it is hugely valuable to know who may be worth talking to, where they are and what they are up to when “life happens”. A good friend of mine once said “I am always recruiting but only sometimes hiring”. Additionally, management best empower their teams so these decisions can be effected as quickly as possible to avoid any extra delays and transition costs.

Able – good companies (both large and small) need to respond to the rapid changes in the market place; if you are growing (or not) your culture needs to be “able” to be flexible and accommodating in terms of the people that join it.  They quickly need to be understood and accepted as part of your team. I once worked in an organisation that was growing – we needed a better link between regional manufacturing and metropolitan marketing. We tried two strategies, i.e. production manager based in the factory and (after that failed) a sales director based close to the markets – neither were successful and not necessarily because of the individuals, but (maybe) because the organisation wasn’t ready for them. I feel for the two of them whose careers were disrupted by the poor decisions and actions of others.


Development is not a one size fits all approach – different people learn in different ways at different times.

Being Ready is about managing expectations – of employees and that of the company; this is the line managers job whose responsibility is to leverage other parts of the organisation to invest time, and in some cases money, to ensure their people are growing, challenged and engaged.

Organisations need to be Willing to invest; money is great but time and effort are more important. Development doesn’t necessarily mean putting your hand in your pocket, sometimes 30mins per month with a senior manager means more to an employee than a three day or six month leadership course that everyone knows is just ticking a box.

The company needs to (En)Able and facilitate these sorts of conversations within their teams to ensure they engage with all their staff – let’s face it the organisation has the most to gain.


Ready – The number one reason people leave their job is because of their relationship with their one up boss which should be seen as a challenge for anyone managing staff. The better, more inclusive, productive and respectful culture is the more chance an organisation has to retain their staff and the more they avoid the high costs of turnover.

Willing – This is mostly about awareness of individuals and the line managers, which is best realised through sound working relationships (see above). I love Richard Branson’s thoughts on this “Train people so they can leave, lead them so they don’t want to”.

Able – the size and scale of any organisation affects its capability to keep people. Growing organisations provide opportunities for their staff to manage projects, divisions, customers, geographies or products; shrinking or stagnant ones don’t.

The final piece is of course doing these “things” in the Right Way which I will cover in the future.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this, I hope you enjoyed it and please feel free to leave your comments.

Charlie Pidcock