Sales Management Corner: Common Sense Rule #11

               So You Just Hired a Salesperson-Now What?

If you really hired a stud or studette then you may not have much more to do. Sales professionals understand what it takes to be successful so they know what they have to do as they enter a new company. But, not all salespeople hired will have this innate knowledge so it pays to put some training together.

Regardless of whether you’ve hired Zig Ziglar or Betty Jean the newbie the next thing you do is take the new rep and the rep’s spouse out for dinner. I don’t know how many managers do this but if they don’t they should. When you hire a salesperson you hire his or her spouse. Understanding the spouse and what makes him or her tick is as important as understanding what motivates the salesperson. There were only two managers that my wife ever cared for and both of them took the time to get to know her.

If you don’t have an organized training program that is documented then start making one. Here’s the way I look at this. You’re the sales manager for Widget International. You have all the training regimens, times, people etc. in your brain. What you did not know was A. You thought that you were going to be with Widget for your entire business career but you just got a mouth watering offer from another company that you cannot pass up or B. You were traveling to work and got hit by a bus and it’s tough to implement training programs from the cemetery. So what happens to the new rep without a training program? OJT to the tenth power!

In my opinion a new salesperson does not walk out the door until they are thoroughly familiar with:

  1. The product
  2. The marketplace
  3. Why people buy the product
  4. Competition
  5. Marketing plans
  6. How the product is made to include some time on the assembly line
  7. R & D activity assuming there is a department
  8. The CRM system
  9. Their Customer Service representative
  10. Current customers if they are taking over a territory that has been worked before
  11. HR policies
  12. Expense policies
  13. Organization chart
  14. Creating a sales territory plan
  15. The sales language used by the sales department

Are there any rules of thumb for how long it takes a rep to be productive once they’re in the field? Mine has always been six months but that will differ by company and individual. The bottom line? Have a documented training regimen.

The Final Thought:     I Like this quote I dislike this quoteI have no use for bodyguards, but I have very specific use for two highly trained certified public accountants.” Elvis Presley

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4 thoughts on “Sales Management Corner: Common Sense Rule #11

  1. On-boarding effectively is one of my favorite topics because so much else depends on how companies do this. I’ve been meeting with Fortune 500 companies over the past two weeks reviewing some amazing on-boarding “systems”. One thing I would add to your list is “building relationships internally”. If part of the on-boarding schedule involves them meeting and working with their internal team in conjunction with those learning objectives, they will feel more comfortable and know their “go-to” people in many important areas. I believe your internal team is key in helping you get up to speed.

    Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what happens before and after on-boarding. I am hearing from these large organizations that they aren’t aligned with recruiting on the front end and field sales leadership on the back end. So, the on-boarding system is trying to make “bad hires” into good sales reps and then field leadership is “undoing” some of the hard work from on-boarding. Surprisingly, there seem to be common disconnects along the way….
    Would love your thoughts!

  2. Tom-

    Agree with the your thoughts overall, and would like you to expend on the level of understand you expect the new sales person to have about items 1-4 on your list. I am most curious about one and two. As an example, should the new sales person understand the product and marketplace at the same level as a sales person who has been on the team for 6 months or 3 years?

    I struggle with “how much” question and have posted about it myself a couple of times. In the next two weeks am doing and interview with a CEO who is willing to spend up to a year getting the sales person fully functional around their product and marketplace before he really sees ROI from adding that sales person. For most of my clients they would like this to occur, but in 30-90 days. Less in some cases.

  3. Bravo! Strong believer here in documented training regiment, pre-testing and post-testing to gain additional information on how well the training works. We brought 140 sales people through a training facility with a very regimented process. I think it worked well and I still hear from some of our charter hires that it was the best training ever received. Good post thanks. Richard we had people in front of existing clients for service work to talk about the product and gain confidence, then they began calling on smaller prospects within 8 weeks from training day 1.

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