Most strong managers, when searching for the right talents, skills, and experience, recognize that the talent piece is primary. If a salesperson doesn’t have the talent, he or she can’t be highly successful. Once you have someone who has talent, you can provide the right coaching that turns that potential into skill. So, that leaves only the area of experience where there may be some “give”—which is exactly why I know there is a good chance you have hired some pretty green salespeople.
Hiring a talented newbie is often a great move, but you don’t have 12 months to see if they are going to make it. You need to spot positive signs much sooner than that, and it all starts with playing a proactive role in their development.
Many companies provide a pretty good on-boarding plan, yet nearly every manger I work with asks me if there is something more they can do to get these rookies started. The answer is yes. Here are some strategies that I recommend to help those new to sales ramp up quickly.
Set expectations for activity.
This is different than giving them a revenue budget to hit. It’s about making sure they are focused on the right activity in the first 90 days. Set specific expectations for the number of prospects they should identify, appointments they should go on, or needs analyses they should complete. Get them used to doing the right activities now which will lead them to sales success down the road.
Get to know them as an individual.
Schedule some time in the first 30 days to learn more specifically what makes them tick. Don’t assume you know how they want to be managed—ask them. Each new hire comes with a unique set of talents and personality, and they will each need a different kind of coaching. Ask them questions like: “When you do great work, how do you want me to recognize that? When you seem to be struggling, how do you want me to approach you? What is the best way for me to teach you something new?”
Schedule daily meetings.
A new salesperson can easily get lost in the hustle of the busy day. Schedule fifteen minutes at the beginning of each day with new hires to answer questions, celebrate successes, and make sure they are effectively meeting their activity goals. Not only will this daily check-in allow them to ramp up more quickly, but they will also gain confidence as they build momentum.
Pair them with a mentor.
This mentor should not be their manager or their trainer. It should be an individual who is dedicated to showing them the ropes and letting them in on the things that all veterans know. Where to park in the garage for an easy exit, where to go for great coffee near the office, what day to turn in paperwork. That stuff gets confusing when you’re brand new!
Spend time in the field.
Get out in the field with them right away, but start by having them shadow you. Demonstrate how you expect presentations to go and how you position your product. Make sure you dedicate time before the appointment to discuss what you expect to accomplish during the call, and then after the appointment to review how it went. Ask the new seller to take detailed notes during the meeting so you can see what they are picking-up. Ask them how they might move this process forward and see if they are on track. When the seller is ready, switch roles so they run the meeting and you provide the feedback. But not until they are ready.
Invest in sales training that supports your culture.
If you want this person to make it, you need to invest in their development. Enroll them in a sales training program that supports the culture of your sales organization. I advocate a strong customer-focused approach to selling which is all about changing the conversation from Why the client should buy your product or service to How the client can use your product or service to achieve their business goals. Find the right training and be a partner, guiding them through.
If you take these steps, you'll help establish your rookie and set him or her on the path to success.