By Jeremy Cohen, Managing Editor, Sales & Marketing Management
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Matt O'Connell, executive vice president and co-founder of Select International. You'll find the highlights of that conversation in "Natural Select-ion," the featured Training Q&A from the new issue of Sales & Marketing Management. For those who may be unfamiliar with the organization, Select International is a Pittsburgh-based provider of employee assessment and selection solutions for Global 2000 companies. By extension, this made O'Connell the perfect person to speak with on the subject of employee retention (the focus of the article).
Great as the interview was, however, there was one downside: Space constraints prevented us from getting all of the insights he shared into print. Let's see if we can at least partially rectify that here...
As you're all well aware, there's been a lot of talk about the Baby Boomers and their impending exodus from the workforce. The problem is, far too much of that conversation gets focused on the folks who are going to fill that vacuum-i.e., the Gen Y-ers. You certainly can't fault upper management for looking to the future, but in the process of doing so, are they prematurely shoving their Boomer employees out the door?
If so, O'Connell argues, they're making a huge mistake. "Without a doubt, one of the most challenging things that an organization faces is trying to hire good, consistent salespeople who will be able to sell, and sell on a regular basis," he says. "Why would you not want to keep someone who is helping your organization and has a proven track record? If you've already found somebody who can do that, I would think that you'd want to do everything you can to try to keep them for as long as possible."
And as O'Connell points out, keeping them around may involve more than just keeping them out in the field. "As they get closer to retirement, one of the things that I think most people start to realize-and start to enjoy-is that, hey, there's probably more to life than just making their sale," he explains. "They would love to be a resource and a mentor to new salespeople, even if they weren't in a formal role of sales manager or whatnot.
"I think that you're missing a great opportunity to have an older, more mature employee working as a sales coach to provide some of the wisdom-the life lessons."