This is how most salespeople are inducted into their sales careers:
“Welcome to our team, Rebecca. It’s great to have you on board. Here is your list of ABC accounts and the products brochure which outlines all the products we sell. I also want you to meet our best salesperson, Ben. He is awesome. As part of your induction I want you to go out on the road and learn to be just like Ben.”
That’s it, give or take a few iterations.
Rebecca is thrown in the deep end and at best asked to mimic Ben with no real context, no reference points, no framework or sales process to follow. Rebecca is being asked to learn selling and all its complexities by default, not design.
Is that the way we would train and induct mechanics, engineers, doctors or accountants, for example? We would hope not. Yet, this is the daily experience of almost every salesperson at one stage or another.
It can be so much easier and better for everyone concerned if we set people up for success from the outset with knowledge, skills and resources that can be learned and applied in a considered, repetitive manner.
So, how do we give salespeople the best start to get them selling better sooner?
Give them context, plans, processes and tools:
- Know what type of salesperson we need to deliver our sales strategy and go-to-market action. What is the minimum standard of sales excellence we need our people to be working at? For example, complex solution selling, strategic key account management, outbound telephone sales, or simple transactions. Recruit the right standard of people for the team.
- Give them an understanding of the sales strategy and go-to-market action plan of our organisation, including sales messaging, value proposition, products/services we sell and why, and the details of what the ideal clients/prospects look like in their region/territory/portfolio.
- Document the sales process – how we sell around here – to give people a road map that shows them what they need to do, how they need to do it and how often, and what is expected of them.
- Give them the sales tools and templates they will be using, explaining how they fit into the sales process, where they are used and for what purpose.
- Explain what they are accountable for and the numbers they are expected to implement and achieve. For example, input measures (types/quantity of activities and quality of activities) and output measures (results)
Now we are ready to send Rebecca out with Ben. But this time we will set it up by saying:
“Welcome to our team, Rebecca. It’s great to have you on board. We have already taken you through our sales strategy and go-to-market action plan. You can see what our core sales messaging is and what value we want to deliver to clients. There is a lot to get your head around and to help you see how we sell around here I want to introduce you to our best salesperson, Ben. Ben has been with us for 3 years now and best demonstrates how we sell around here.
“As part of your induction I want you to spend a week with Ben looking at how he applies our sales process, how he uses our sales planning, prospecting and solution selling tools and templates, and how he represents our value proposition in the market with our clients. Please, take this overview of our sales process to use as a guide to how we sell around here. Please, feel free to ask Ben why and how he does what he does. Observe how he applies his knowledge and skills in the sales process…”
And so on.
By setting up our salespeople properly from the start we will have a much better chance of improving their “learn to earn curve” and we will help them achieve great sales results, which is good for everyone.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett is the founder and chief executive of the innovative and forward thinking sales advisory and education firm, Barrett and the online sales education & resource platform www.salesessentials.com.