Getting Salespeople To Hit The Ground Running
Once business owners have found a sales producer who can take their business to the next level, many of them are in a very common emotional state, which I refer to as “faith.” Faith is defined as a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.
Faith is also what a lot of business owners have to rely on when reading resumes from thousands of sales people. For example, after teaching a sales session, a past president of a $5 million buying group once said to me, “I will give you a truism you can use in your session that everyone can relate to. The most creative writing a sales person will ever do is their resume.”
Owners and managers hire sales people with the faith that they can and will execute on the goals the company has set for that position. This includes faith that they will generate the revenue they have projected for that position and the faith they will hold the profit margins.
Ramping up new hires
The reality is, when most companies hire sales staff the results have been hit-or-miss. For the time being, let’s assume you have hired the right sales person.
I have a simple equation to determine how long it will take to “ramp up” your new salesperson: Sales Cycle + Learning Curve + 30 days = Realistic expectation for a sales person to be producing what the company exacts that position to produce.
Understand that this is the ideal circumstance. I also expect that you have a hiring process that is able to determine the little issues that cause new sales performers to act like sales pretenders and weed them out before they infiltrate and cause havoc within your sales organization.
Let’s take a closer look. Sales cycle defined is simply this: Figure out exactly how long it takes from the time you identify an opportunity that is within your company’s “Ideal Prospect” range to the moment you successfully close the account or money exchanges hands.
But how will you know you have found an ideal prospect? Each will:
- Have a need for what your company sells.
- Have a budget or access to money to procure what you are selling.
- Be introduced to you at a timely opportunity so that you are not too early or too late in the process.
- Be the right decision maker to make the deal.
Once you have found identified the ideal prospects, we can now begin to quantify the sales cycle and start the new salesperson learning curve.
Activities for new sales producers
After hiring a new salesperson, how do you integrate them into the company and its sales routine? The single, most important key during ramp-up time is providing the sales person the correct environment during the first 30 days.
For example, new Marines don’t sit back at the base or type orders for ammunition and supplies for troops out in the field. It’s the same way that a new NFL lineman isn’t put into a cushy, plush environment of massages and very easy life of manicures and pedicures.
So why do we take our top revenue generators and put them in an environment that is the total opposite of what they will be doing? Why do we have new top performer sit and spend days passing tests and certifications when their gift is going out and making things happen?
For the Marines, they are told to crawl on their bellies while live rounds are shot over their heads. Imagine if the hiring process was as solid as the Marines. For the NFL lineman, the expectation is this: show up for spring training in shape. The first day, they are pushing them harder, working on things they will be doing six months in the future. Sure, they don’t know the plays, but they know how to block, tackle, hit, sprint, run and be committed. What does knowing the plays have to do with being successful? I will take talent any day over knowledge, especially in sales. You can’t instill talent. You identify it, and guide it.
To me, it’s clearly the wrong course to put new sales producers in an office setting and require terribly lengthy orientation programs. My simple recommendations are these:
- Get them out in the field the first day.
- Don’t pair them up with the sales rep who is getting ready to leave.
- Pair them up with someone who is doing the activities that they themselves are going to need to do in the first 30 days to build a solid foundation from which to generate a book of business, a territory or relationships that will pay dividends in the future.
So now that you’ve hired that sales producer and you have the plan for them to become your next revenue generator, go back and decide if you have properly set the expectations to be congruent with the reality of ramp-up time.
Bryan Arzani is the vice president and co-founder of the Results Group, Johnston, Iowa. Arzani will be speaking at ISSA/INTERCLEAN® in Las Vegas on Monday, September 8. His presentation titled, “Competing For Sales Talent: Finding Knockouts, Not Knockoffs” is sponsored by Sanitary Maintenance, a sister publication of Contracting Profits.