As a sales leader, you know first-hand the importance of investing in your team members. When a new sales professional comes on board, you dive into detailed trainings, roleplays, and shadowing. On a weekly basis, you’ve got sales quotas, one-on-ones, and team meetings to help them stay focused and perform their best.
These activities don’t just build their skills. They raise the likelihood that they’ll stay with your company for the long haul.
Recruiting talented and experienced salespeople today is a challenge, and retaining them is even tougher. Sales employee turnover rates are notoriously high, almost triple the average turnover rate for all industries. You need all the retention tools you can get — and a sales career path is one of the most powerful.
In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of sales career pathing for employers and employees and an overview of how to build one, step by step.
What Is a Sales Career Path? An Overview for Employers
A sales career path is a roadmap that shows how different sales roles at your company can progress. For instance, you could map out how the right sales team member can advance from Business Development Representative (BDR), to Small and Medium-Size Business Account Executive (AE), to Mid-Market AE, to Enterprise AE.
This gives you a realistic 5-7 year path for any incoming rep. You can adjust the starting position and journey for your new sales manager, VP of Sales, and more.
That said, the best career paths are tailored to the individual and based on their unique skill set, career objectives, and interests. They outline the specific steps the employee needs to take in order to reach certain milestones along that path. And they promote professional development and growth among your employees, while allowing them to go after the career opportunities that are meaningful to them.
5 Benefits of Career Pathing for Your Sales Organization
Now, let’s walk through the key reasons you should prioritize sales career pathing for your team and how it benefits your entire team.
1. Evaluate Your Business Goals
Think about your company and what your needs are right now. Where are the gaps? Where are the opportunities? Which roles and skills will be essential five years from now? Do you have the capacity and desire to promote people?
For instance, maybe you know your revenue operations team will be critical to improving your sales process and data analysis for the entire organization, but you’re struggling to attract RevOps professionals. You may want to look for sales operations professionals who have experience streamlining workflows, tech stacks, and data, and offer a path to the RevOps team.
2. Get Aligned With Your Employees
Next, you need to get on the same page as your employees. Sit down with them and ask them where they see themselves going in the organization and what their ideal role looks like. You could also include this as one of your sales interview questions when you’re hiring, such as “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Find out what motivates them, the goals that excite them, and their skill set now. How does it line up with the team needs and potential career paths you brainstormed in step one?
Meet face-to-face (in person or over video) if possible and encourage transparency and honesty during this discussion. They may also ask you to address earning potential for the next proposed role, so be ready to address that.
It’s not about agreeing on every point, but instead, understanding how the greatest number of needs and goals can be met.
3. Build an Action Plan
Once you’ve agreed on an end goal, you can determine the key steps and objectives along the path. Here are some important elements of a concrete action plan:
- Identify each employee’s strengths, weaknesses, skill or knowledge gaps, and training needs. Do they have a great track record with prospecting and cold calling? Do they need to build up their interpersonal, communication, or time-management skills?
- Establish clear requirements and objectives to progress. Identify the sales performance metrics they need to focus on and reach, providing a broad timeline for any necessary skill-building activities, quotas, or other goals.
- Set realistic expectations. Successfully progressing through a career path isn’t a given. It’s a joint effort and works best when the employee is committed and proactive and leaders are providing the necessary support and resources. Everyone should understand that there may be obstacles or adjustments.
- Avoid creating a one-size-fits-all plan. Treat each person as an individual and tailor their plan as much as possible. Ideally, you’ll create this career development plan with each team member when they start and revisit it once they hit the six-month or one-year mark. It all depends on the “hunger” of the sales employee.
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4. Recognize Their Progress and Give Feedback
Schedule regular check-ins with your employees to review progress along their career path and create space to discuss any roadblocks, ideas, or new opportunities. These milestones help keep your employees motivated and keep these objectives top of mind.
There are a variety of sales career pathing tools you can use to monitor progress and set up these touchpoints. You could use a project management tool like Workday, an HR management suite like BambooHR, or an applicant tracking system (ATS) like Greenhouse. The most important thing is to have your career paths organized and accessible to anyone who needs to see them.
5. Be Ready to Adapt and Adjust
Finally, there’s no one way to create career paths and it’s very common for them to change with the employee and the business. Each salesperson is a unique individual, so the process, timeline, and so on may look different. Ideally, you’ll revisit each career path and action plan at least twice a year, and you can always iterate. It’s about progress, not perfection!
Investing in your employees is the best step you can take toward creating an engaged, productive, and loyal salesforce. We hope this sales career pathing guide has given you the information and confidence to implement (or improve) these paths at your company and see the benefits.
You know how to create sales career paths — now how do you help your sales team progress through them?
When you join Sales Assembly, you can level up your entire team with our in-depth trainings and certification programs. Recruit new hires from our pool of top talent and enroll them in our onboarding and ramping programs too. Chat with us to get started or learn more.