Sales Awards: Retain Top Performers with Managed Virtual Assistants

Updated: 02 Dec, 2021 | Bill Peatman

While there has been much discussion about the "Great Resignation" among rank-and-file employees, sales turnover is also "a big problem," according to sales operation solutions provider Xactly.

Consider these numbers:

  • Sales turnover rose 58 percent this year

  • It costs 150-200 percent of a salesperson's salary to find a replacement

  • It takes 6.2 months to hire a new salesperson

  • Staffing shortages are making it even harder to hire

Turnover is up partly because salespeople can now work from anywhere, and it is easier for competitors to lure them away. Sales incentives, used by 90 percent of businesses to boost revenue and play an essential role in retaining top performers, and programs can increase sales by 44 percent.

But any company can offer the usual perks--sales bonuses, travel, contests, and most already do. Instead of just throwing more money at employees, innovative companies are using an out-of-box incentive that boosts retention and sales at the same time.

Virtual Assistants for Sales Leaders

Virtual assistants (VAs) have been popular with sales teams for years. That is because most salespeople spend just 38 percent of their time selling. Where does the time go? Pace Productivity's used a time tracker to monitor sales teams time use and found that on average, each week, salespeople spend:

  • 7.3 hours on admin and paperwork

  • 6.6 hours on internal communication

  • 8.2 hours on email management

VAs can take all of this work off of your sales teams' plates and more. It is common for salespeople to use virtual assistants for personal tasks, too, including:

  • Travel planning

  • Scheduling personal appointments

  • Making meal reservations

  • Shopping

  • Scheduling home services

You can see why this kind of service builds loyalty. Once you have this kind of support, you don't want to lose it.

Managed Virtual Assistant Services for Sales Teams

More businesses are turning to managed virtual assistant services to provide much-needed admin support for stressed executives to reward and retain top performers. National insurance brokerage and consulting firm Graham Company started giving six high-performing salespeople VAs and quickly scaled to 13. "By offloading our admin tasks, our top producers are now able to spend more time in the field with prospects and clients," said Managing Director Carl Bloomfield. And they are a lot happier.

More Support, Less Management

The managed aspect of the service makes all the difference. A service provider hires, trains, and supervises the assistants on behalf of executive teams. The last thing stressed execs want is more people to manage. Your leaders list the tasks they want off their plates, and the service provider makes sure it all gets done. Trained backup assistants and managers ensure quality control, and because the assistants are employees of the service provider, no additional HR resources are needed.

Healthcare navigation platform maker Castlight Health found its offsite regional vice presidents were managing teams of up to a dozen reps while juggling basic administrative tasks like scheduling, expense reports, booking travel, and updating their CRM. The company turned to a VA service provider to provide admin support. A big attraction for Castlight was the low lift required by the executives.

"I initially expected the service to take substantial upfront time from me to get it working. But the service processes made it impressively turnkey," said Regional Vice President Seth Cohen. Castlight now supports 17 happy and loyal executives with virtual assistants.

How to Make it Work

Think of a virtual assistant service as you would other sizable sales incentives you would give top performers—those that exceed a set percentage above quota, or the top 20 percent of earners on your sales force are common criteria for elite awards.

Common sales awards for elite performers include:

  • A “President’s Club” trip to an exotic resort.

  • A Rolex or other high-end watch.

  • A lease for a luxury car.

We can look at how a managed VA service compares as a reward.

  • Prialto’s managed VA service costs $1350/month or $16,000/year.

  • A “President’s Club” type trip costs about $15,000 per couple—plus the cost of planning and flying execs and other team members to the site (Insight Partners).

  • The average price of a Rolex watch is $11,000 (Wrist Advisor).

  • A luxury car lease is $3,500 per month or $42,000/year (Consumer Reports).

But none of the traditional rewards help the salespeople sell more. The impact can be powerful.

  • A global insurance company added a virtual assistant service to its package of benefits for top performing agencies—with a year of service paid for by the insurance company.

  • A financial services company offers a managed VA service for salespeople that exceed quotas by 25 percent. The program has been so successful at boosting sales that the company is considering providing VAs for every salesperson as a standard benefit. The manager overseeing the program said, “if we took this away, they would probably all quit.”

Win Win Win

The pandemic has caused all of us to rethink our priorities and work-life balance is at a premium. Providing admin and personal task support for sales teams:

  • Frees them to spend more time selling.

  • Gives them more time at home by taking on personal tasks.

  • That added selling time means more revenue for your business.

Overwork and lack of recognition are the two biggest reasons people leave any job, according to Worklife. Giving overwhelmed executives support with virtual assistants addresses both needs—it is a strong gesture of appreciation and a way to reduce executives' workloads.

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About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.

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