So you’ve hired a new salesperson to take your company to the next level. You’re both excited about the possibilities and the sky is the limit. Now all you’ve got to do is sit back and wait for the revenue to roll in, right?
BUZZ!! Wrong Answer!!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with a new employee is not to have a solid on-boarding plan. Studies show that engaged employees significantly outperform those who are not engaged. By taking an approach that is anything but intentional and well planned, you are needlessly risking the return on investment for your new team member.
The following are 5 critical actions you can take to leverage your investment and maximize results:
- Understand and Articulate your Value Proposition. The best way to understand how clients value your product / service is to ask them. Have your new salesperson talk to a handful of your key clients to learn what challenges you’ve solved for them, the impact it has had on their business and any R.O.I. you can tie to your solutions. Also, ask why they decided to do business with your company. Asking for advice on who else to target is ok, but don’t overdo it. Remember, they’re helping you by having the conversation and should not be sold in this situation.
- Establish a pattern of Great Activity. Waiting to get on the phone until a salesperson is “comfortable” with all aspects of their new role is a big mistake. Habits are established early and are tough to change. It is a lot easier to increase the quality of conversations than the quantity of conversations. Once a salesperson has examples of how clients value your products and services, they should be able to cite those examples to prospects. Remember, customers care about what we can do for them. They will relate to examples of how their peers have benefited and will quickly tune out those who are not able to articulate potential value. In the beginning, we’re selling a conversation or a meeting, not your product or service. If your salesperson is starting their career or is new to the industry, have an experienced team member accompany them on appointments for a while.
- Introduce your Sales Process. Make sure your salespeople understand what you do and how / why you do it. While we want to take advantage of each person’s strengths, there are certain actions everyone should take. For example, when I sold phone systems we knew that 80% of the prospects who came to our office for a tour and demonstration became customers. Needless to say, a critical part of our sales process involved getting prospects in our building. If you don’t have a sales process, get one immediately! (“Smiling and Dialing” is NOT a sales process).
- Shadow Top Performers in Action. Hearing about a process and seeing it in action produce two different levels of understanding. It’s critical for new team members to experience your sales process being executed successfully. That doesn’t mean they will only learn when they witness deals being won. It does mean that they need to see that the process is real, and is followed by those who are successful. Don’t have a new hire shadow someone else who is new unless they are successful. And do not have them shadow someone unless you know they’ll reinforce your existing processes. Nothing is worse than having an experienced salesperson derail things right off the bat by contradicting what you’re trying to do and “showing them the ropes”. This damages your credibility and sets everyone up for failure, whether it is intentional or not.
- Communicate and Coach. Open communication is a must, particularly in the early stages with new team members. This is a great opportunity to reinforce expectations, develop trust and add value. Studies show that employees leave managers, not necessarily companies. Building a strong relationship with your team members should not be overlooked. This does not simply mean that your salespeople want to be your friend and drink beer with you. It does involve a healthy level of professional respect where people perform at higher levels because of your involvement.
While there are other actions that are important and beneficial in getting new team members off to a great start, these are five that will make a huge difference. What other actions have you found to beneficial?
Here’s to growth!
- Hiring Your First Salesperson: How to Pass the Torch (entrepreneur.com)
- Secrets Of A Great Salesperson (forbes.com)
- Become a ‘Rainmaker’ [Jon Black] (ecademy.com)
- Startup Strategies: You Can’t Grow Without Process (gigaom.com)
- My Sales Process, Strategies and Tactics in Your Voice (customerthink.com)