Do you want SuperStar Salespeople? You can either hire them or train them. Hiring them is expensive and difficult to do. If they are true SuperStars, they are happy where they are or will cost a bundle to lure them away. Then there are non-competes and other obstacles to overcome. Training them is easier but has mixed results. Most won’t try the training route.
Why do companies fear sales training?
Selling is a Profession
Selling is a profession like any other and it takes work to become a professional of any type, including sales. Professional salespeople put in the hours to learn their craft. They ask questions and read books. They dig into sales brochures to learn about products.
Most have to do it on their own because most companies don’t offer the necessary training to turn their people into SuperStars. Make no mistake, the salespeople must want it enough to put in the work.
Why is that? Embarrassment? Lack of confidence? Fear of knowledge?
I’m not sure what the answer is but real, substantive training makes a difference in lives. It can be as simple or complicated as needed.
Sales Training is Essential
When a new salesperson is hired, they must go through the Human Resources department to complete piles of paperwork. Then meet with their sales manager to discuss the specific requirements of the job if those weren’t covered during the interview process. They are then assigned a laptop with which they are required to enter customer and prospect information.
Most companies don’t offer much in the way of computer training but will do a cursory overview of the CRM software along with any other special software needed for the job.
Then as one of my former Sales Managers said, “There’s your territory. Go call on anyone you want.” I’m serious. That was my formal training for my very first outside product sales job.
Unfortunately, I’m not alone in that aspect.
Since then I have worked as a professional salesman for many different companies and only one had a real, formal sales training process. It was a breath of fresh air at the time.
The company required thirty days after hire to gain product knowledge. No sales calls allowed. Sit at your desk and learn about your products. They furnished a huge binder with everything you needed to know.
Then off to the corporate training facility for a week of days that stretched deep into the night. What was the first agenda item on the first day of training? A product knowledge test. A score below 90% and you were taken back to the airport and sent home without a job. They were serious but effective.
Some of the most effective training I received was how to present the product in a demo. Whether a hard product or software doesn’t matter. The ability to show a prospect how you can solve a big headache for them is gold once you get to that stage.
Why are most companies reluctant to build a sales training program. Some possible reasons might be:
- Cost of meetings/personnel to decide what to include in the program
- Cost to build a program
- Time spent building a program
- Personnel required to build the program
- Personnel required to implement the program
- Location to implement training
- Time and Cost to build metrics to measure the effectiveness of the program
- Personnel to measure and develop metric reports for management
I get it. However, if you think investment rather than cost, it changes the perspective.
Trained sales reps will make more sales and with a higher margin than if you just throw them out into the field. The latter has only one weapon, the price.
Also, the turnover cost is high. A few years ago the statistic I saw showed more than a 50% turnover rate for sales professionals. Not all if from a lack of training but a lot is directly related.
Companies have no problems making requirements from their new salespeople.
- Sales Quotas
- Number of Dials
- Number of Appointments
- Number of sales/week/month
Company New Hires
It seems that with the cost of hiring a salesperson, companies would be more willing to invest in their own profit. The hiring cost is substantial but look at the ongoing costs.
If you use an agency, there is an additional cost associated with the new hire for a specified period of time. And even with their assistance, the company must conduct additional interviews to make sure the person is a fit for the company.
If you do all the hiring in-house, there are many people involved that are either pulled away from their normal duties or are full-time and have a significant salary themselves. There is the testing, the multiple interviews, and the onboarding process. It adds up quickly.
Once a salesperson is hired and placed in the field, they will get paid. Three of the following pay structures cost whether the salesperson is successful or not. Whether he ramps up fast or slow. The last one will cause a considerable turnover rate in today’s market.
- Salary only
- Salary + Commission
- Salary + Bonuses
- Commission only
When you add up the hiring cost and the ongoing expense of having salespeople, how can you not be instrumental in their ongoing success?
What is Minimum Training
When considering training, what is the minimum a company needs to cover? Here is a beginning list to get started.
- Product knowledge – What does it do for the customer.
- Competitive knowledge – What is our competitive advantage?
- Competitor knowledge – Maybe a SWAT analysis after identifying them.
- Time management – How should their time be split for their duties?
- Territory management – A Zip Code is different than 3 states for a territory.
- Appointment setting – Why should the prospect meet with you?
- Conducting/handling meetings with prospects – What are the “need to know” items?
- Prospect research; who, what when where and how? – Do your work!
Without this information, it is hard to succeed at a new company, a new market, or a new industry.
I’d like to expand on much of this in the coming articles, but will leave it for another day.
What is your experience?
Does the company you work for have a training program for their newly hired salespeople?
If so, what is helpful to your success?
Did it cover everything you needed to succeed?
How is it going now?
I’d like to know and include any details you feel free to share.