Why Sales Team Development Is Exactly Like Saving For Your Retirement

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If long-term, sustained sales growth is part of your goal, you need to get serious about sales team development—before it’s too late.

Do you often wonder why you should be saving for retirement? Probably not. But how often do you wonder if you should be investing in your sales team’s development? Here are two commonly cited statistics that are meant to scare you:

What do these two statistics have in common? I will argue that the root cause is actually the exact same problem. Let me explain.

If you think retirement planning is your parent’s problem, I’ve got news for you. According to a recent study, nearly half of millennials have no retirement savings. The younger generation doesn’t see retirement as a priority, thinking first about student loans and financing the present instead. Getting people to save for retirement is an age-old problem, primarily because of “longevity disconnect bias”. People have a really hard time imagining what the future will be like, so they tend to ignore or de-prioritize it.

If you are a sales manager, you are faced with this same bias every day. Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You manage a sales team and your primary objective is to get your team to quota each month, every quarter. In the short-term, that naturally means inserting yourself into deals that are closest to closing, personally carrying any deal you need to, and riding your stars to try and make the number. In the short-run, that may indeed be the best plan to reach your goal.

But what sacrifices are you making when you prioritize short-term goals for long-term sales team development?

You are putting minimal attention on cultivating your early-stage pipeline for future quarters, you are creating dependencies within your team by trying to personally make up for deficiencies, and developing new sales stars gets lost in the chaos.

This pattern of putting short-term interests ahead of long-term sales team development may work for some time…but the music always stops. It’s the equivalent of waking up at 65 and realizing you have nothing saved, so you better keep working because retirement ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

Make sales team development your priority

One of the investment products that may make sense for retirement is an annuity. An annuity is basically an insurance contract in which you pay a financial institution a lump sum or series of payments to be invested. Your long-term investment ultimately provides you with a guaranteed regular income in the future.

To get past “longevity disconnect bias” think in these terms when it comes to your sales team development. Ask yourself: “Are each of my salespeople paying me today?”

If not, what investments do you need to develop a future revenue stream? Delivering on your quota becomes more sustainable when you have more sellers on your team who are paying you.

Imagine your future self. How does it feel to have an entire team of sellers paying you?

Sellers do come and go, so it’s true that unlike annuities, they won’t be paying you forever. But there is actually another form of payment that—to some sales managers—is just as important. It is your reputation as a coach and your own development as a sales leader. When you commit to your sales team’s development, you become recognized as a multiplier of talent. You become someone that top talent wants to work for, and someone that people in your organization want to work with.

Continuing to look into the future, imagine what this would mean for your career. Sustainable, recurring “income” takes away the stress of just getting by day-to-day. And it allows you to strategically focus on the real challenges confronting you and your team in delivering sales objectives.

This future you’re imagining is not for everyone. Despite society’s best efforts, some of us are simply not going to save for retirement. Sales managers who recognize the long-term benefits of sales team development and are passionate about making it a priority are far more successful in generating revenue. If you are one of those rare sales managers who believe that the development of your team may be the single most important variable in your future success, you may be interested in learning about a proven sales team development framework, which we recently presented during BrightTalk’s Sales Training & Leadership Summit.

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