In the fast paced world of sales, it’s sometimes hard to be patient and acknowledge the time commitment certain things take. Getting your new sales hires up to speed is one of those things.
All sales managers want their team to start performing at plan ASAP. But building a great sales team is an ongoing process and investment for any company.
My first job in sales offered little to no onboarding support. Unfortunately this meant that I learned on the go and wasn’t necessarily up to speed as quickly as my manager would have liked me to be. I had come into the role with no sales experience and could have really benefited from some coaching on the sales process. (I could have also benefited from a Proactive CRM, like Spiro, to help alert me who to call and when to call them.) But neither of these were offered to me, so I was left on my own to jump on the phone and close deals.
Sales stats show that it takes most sales departments about 6 to 10 months to get a rep fully trained. However, there are ways you can trim this time.
Here’s some tips I’ve learned over the years on how to reduce onboarding ramp time for new sales hires:
1. Hire the Right People
If your company’s sales hiring policy is based heavily on sales experience, that may not lead you to the best sales person for the job. Instead, hire based on certain behavioral characteristics that are necessary to excel in sales. Look for someone who is a good listener, or someone who asks thoughtful questions and initiatives conversation. This approach allows you to hire people that may have no sales experience, but can easily be trained to sell.
People that have been in sales for years and years sometimes have habits that are hard to break. On the other hand, you‘ll typically find that people without selling experience may be more open to selling your way. They are willing to learn new approaches, and can therefore accelerate to quickly fit into your sales organization. If you want to reduce ramp time, make sure you are putting your training energy into the ideal candidates.
2. Focus on the Sales Process
When training new salespeople, don’t focus all of your time on explaining all the nuances of your company’s product or service. Instead, make sure your new hires understand the sales process. No matter how basic it may seem to you, it’s worth your time to cover all the basics of sales.
You can then dive into how the sales process is unique for your company. What is your company’s typical sales cycle? What is different about the way your team approaches sales that may be new or unusual? An outsider coming into your company needs to know how your sales process works so they can get onto the same page as the rest of the team as fast as possible.
3. Set Clearly Defined and Measurable Goals
You can’t expect a new salesperson to meet or exceed their goals if they don’t completely understand them. To reduce ramp time, clearly define and explain your KPIs to all new hires in terms they can understand. Be cautious to not use too much internal company lingo, but instead just speak to the goals.
It’s also helpful to have dashboards and reports automated so the sales reps and managers can both view to see how they are doing against goal. This will also help your weekly sales one-on-ones be great from the start! If a new salesperson knows what to focus on, they will be performing at plan much faster than one whose goals are vague and outcomes not measurable.
4. Provide Your New Sales Hires with the Best Tools
One thing that can slow down ramp time is having employees struggle with hard to use software and systems. Make sure your sales team is utilizing a CRM that is easy to use. Find a system that minimizes their time wasted on data entry, allowing them to focus more time on selling.
Use a system, like Spiro’s Proactive CRM, that does the data entry for reps and recommends what deals to work on next. This makes the sales team more efficient and productive by allowing reps to connect with more customers at a faster pace. Your new hires will be ramped up to speed quicker without having to waste time on learning tedious data entry protocol.
5. Be Prepared to Put in the Time
There is no easy way around it – getting a new sales rep up to speed is a time consuming process. You have to go into it willing to put in the time and think of each employee as an important investment for your company. Make sure managers are prepared to sit down with a new hire and make some calls with them. Hearing a seasoned professional deliver their pitch, can help them feel comfortable and learn the ins and outs of your product’s benefits. If the manager gets hung up on while making a call, that’s a double learning experience. Salespeople need to learn to take rejection in stride, which may be something new to a new sales hire.
Also share best practices from star sales reps at your company. A mentoring relationship goes along way, so ask fellow salespeople to give some of their time to help get teammates up to speed.
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