When it comes to new salespeople, we often write about sourcing, assessments, applicant tracking, recruiting, selection and of course, getting it all right. We also write about skills and Sales DNA and sales management coaching. All of this is good and helpful but I don’t recall reading any articles that discuss new salesperson ramp-up!
Even salespeople with experience in the industry need to participate in a formal, structured 90-day ramp-up where they can learn, internalize, practice and master those things that assure success at your company and help them to understand why and how you are different. What are those things?
Let’s begin with the 4 core messages that everyone at your company should possess the ability to deliver, with the same exact words, on-demand:
- Brand Promise
- Elevator Pitch
- Value Proposition
- Positioning Statement
You may think that this is elementary but I can tell you that in 98% of the sales organizations evaluated by Objective Management Group, this messaging is not only inconsistent, but it’s also dead wrong. Off-target. Reworded to please the salesperson. These messages must not only be taught, but also reinforced, with periodic quizzes to make sure that they are being used correctly.
Targeting should come next. Who do we want our new salespeople to call on and why? If there are sweet spots, let’s discuss those. Is it a certain vertical, an individual with a certain title, a company with particular revenue, a specific number of employees, a certain technology missing, with a specific technology in already in place? It doesn’t matter what ideal is for you, but new salespeople should be able to find and recognize companies that meet your ideal.
Who is your competition? How do they position themselves in the market? How do you compare? What are their strong points and weak points? How do you sell against each of them? What are your salespeople going to hear about them? What are they telling your prospects about you? How will they handle it?
What do they need to know about your sales cycle? How long? How many calls or meetings? What does the first call sound like? Can you role-play it? What does the first meeting sound like? Can you role-play that too? What is your sales process? Can you walk them through it? Can you demonstrate it?
What are some of the typical applications for your products or services? How do your products and services address client/customer issues? What’s a great fit? Are there customers that new salespeople can speak with to learn why they chose your company, how they are using your products, and how your products are helping?
Do you have CRM? What are the expectations? Who will train them?
Are there expectations for the:
- First Day
- First Week
- First Month
- First Quarter
How will those expectations be measured? On what will they be measured? Are there metrics or KPI’s that must be met? Who will hold them accountable? What happens if they fail to meet expectations? What happens if they exceed expectations? What must they have in each stage of their pipeline in order to succeed?
Is there a model for success at your company? An effective model is duplicable and must be achievable. At its core, it shows salespeople the behaviors and activities required in order to reach certain revenue and income levels. It should basically demonstrate that if they do A, B, C, D and E each day, and maintain conversion ratios of X, Y and Z, they will close N new customers, resulting in R new revenue and $$$ in commissions.
Who can they go to in your company for help with:
- Product information
- Company Information
- Technical Assistance
- Executive Presence on an Important Sales Call
New salespeople can fail when:
- Companies get selection wrong
- Sales managers don’t invest enough time preparing them for success
- The company has inferior systems and processes
- Specific goals and milestones for the first 90 days are non-existent
- The culture fails to support a high performing sales organization
- Sales managers are not effective at coaching salespeople.
These issues can all be addressed and improved but it requires awareness and a commitment to change.