Fortune 500 companies have a structured onboarding process which every new salesperson follows. The plan lays out detailed timelines and benchmarks, specific action items and goals. This formal process is great for both the company and the new representative because it leaves nothing to interpretation and establishes shared expectations. The initial training is structured and detailed; giving your new employee the knowledge and confidence that your organization has a plan and intends to succeed.
The problem lies with many of the small- to mid-sized businesses I work with on a daily basis. In most cases, these are owner-operated companies where the onboarding process and training falls to the owner or manager of a small sales team. Although the intentions are always good, I regularly hear from the new salesperson that there was no process in place and they spent too much valuable time trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. Secondly, the new rep is often not sure what is expected of them in terms of direction and performance. “Welcome to the company. Here’s your price book, now go out and sell,” is not a recipe for success or a viable onboarding process!
Not having a process in place from day one results in the salesperson losing direction and becoming frustrated, and the business owner being disappointed and fearing they have made the wrong hiring decision. So how do you fix this problem? First, regardless of the size of your organization, you must develop a written plan of action that lays out specific actions, goals and timelines for the first 30, 60 and 90 days, with a continuing plan for the first year. This may sound like a daunting task but it is actually much easier than you would think.
If you are the business owner and COE (Chief of Everything), you should look for outside expertise to assist you with this process. This can be an inexpensive way to develop a quick start program allowing you to remain focused on revenue driving activities. After all, you most likely hire an accountant, web designer, and IT firm so why would you attempt to self manage the one area of your organization which directly affects your bottom line? Each dollar in lost sales opportunity is revenue you will never recover.
The complete ninety day plan needs to include goals, activities, product training, competition, prospecting, order processing, customer service, market evaluations, performance metrics, as well as simple things like getting to know your company and its people. Once you have a sales process in place, your new sales rep will be highly motivated, more confident and able to perform better.
You may be a good driver but will you take the time to teach your son or daughter to drive or would you rather they go to an accredited driving school? Besides, if they learn from a driving school, the insurance companies will provide a discount. It’s a better ROI for you and less stress for your kids. The same theory applies to your onboarding process. What’s the fastest way to make a new salesperson profitable?
Studies show companies with a defined sales process consistently out perform those with no process. Aim Higher!
About the Author:
Robert J. Weese is managing partner of B2B Sales Connections Inc. He has a proven track record of success, with over 25 years of direct sales, management and executive level business to business experience.
© Robert Weese, 2009. Reproduced with permission.