IT Staffing Sales Effectiveness
Sales best practices for improving sales win rates, shortening the sales cycle and increasing overall quota attainment. Sales strategies to make revenue growth repeatable, and scalable
Chances are you're adding new sales reps and recruiters to your staff this year. Chances are that you also expect those new hires to help you hit your 2017 revenue and profitability goals. As you look over your current team you know which reps and recruiters you can count on to meet and even exceed quota but it's your new hires that make you anxious. Your new hires are the "X Factor" because they're the unknown, the unproven. The reality is you have no idea what kind of performance you're going to get from your new hires once they start. So the question is, what can you do to increase new hire productivity including the likelihood for success? Better yet, what-if anything-can you do to make new new hire performance predicable after just the first thirty days? In this post I'm going to share with you just that, how to make new hire sales performance predictable in just 30 days. Before I get started I want to make a quick disclaimer. You should never, EVER think of new hire on-boarding as a sprint. On-boarding is not a one time event but a process for enabling long term success. Companies who treat new hire on-boarding as an event by providing "crash course" training experience high failure rates which equates to high turnover. According to Topgrading, the cost of a bad hire is 15X their base salary. Depending on your market a new hire base salary can run anywhere from $40K-$75K or more and that doesn't even include your recruiting costs, travel or benefits costs. New hire on-boarding requires thoughtful planning. Without an on-boarding plan you're essentially asking your new hires to run a race without a map, blindfolded.
When your new employee walks through the door on day one you should have two objectives, to make them feel welcome and a part of the team and second, to ramp them up to quota attainment as quickly as possible. The shorter the ramp up the quicker they build confidence and start adding value to the business.
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In this day and age it’s unfathomable to shop without using the internet. We research and buy products, pay our bills, book vacations, register for classes, file our taxes and download music all from the internet. Just the other night I was with two buddies after work for happy hour when one started sharing with us how he bought a new car. He shared with us how he started off by researching different makes and models on the internet. After narrowing it down to a couple of different cars he did additional online research on each specific model to gain insight on the performance and safety features of each model and to see what current owners had to say about their experience owning those cars. From there he started looking at different dealerships-all online-to compare prices and financing options and figure out who was offering the best deals. In essence my friend had walked us through his buying journey and how he arrived at the car he purchased. Keep in mind that about 80% of this was all done on his own, before he even picked up the phone and spoke with a sales person.
Learning doesn’t end when you graduate from college and enter the workforce and it certainly doesn’t (or shouldn’t) end with the completion of your new hire on-boarding experience. No matter what industry or sector you’re in, learning new skills, understanding the latest trends and innovations in your industry and gaining a deeper understanding of your field is essential to professional success.
Chances are you've heard some variation of the following statisticss: 85-90% of sales training has no lasting impact after 120 days. Sales Performance International reports that new reps lose 84 percent of what they learn in sales training within 90 days. Trainingindustry.com says U.S. companies spend an average of $5,000 per sales rep on training annually and the average time it takes to get new hires to the same performance level as tenured sales reps is 381 days.
One of the biggest challenges senior sales leaders face is how to on-board and train millennial salespeople. It’s a daunting task, and an expensive one. Getting new employees up to speed can cost up to 30 percent of a new hire’s annual salary. This is particularly true for more established organizations who have used traditional classroom-based (static content) as their primary method for training new hires.
How confident are you that you and your sales team will hit your sales quota this year? How certain are you that each and every rep is ready to consistently have more productive sales conversations with prospects and customers? Can they clearly articulate your value proposition to the point that it actually progresses deals down the sales funnel towards closure? Now ask yourself those same questions regarding your new hires. If you’re like most sales organizations than you’re probably thinking "it's 50/50 whether or not my new hires hit quota." There is a genuine and universal struggle for IT staffing organizations to properly prepare their sales reps (especially their new hires) to sell efficiently and effectively. According to a study conducted by The TAS Group, as many as 67% of sales reps fail to reach quota every year.
If you’re an IT staffing business owner or IT staffing sales leader than you know how incredibly difficult it is to not only find good sales people but to retain them. A recent report by Harvard Business Review found that only 37% of your new hires (sales reps) will become consistent performers. And even after you find a good sales rep, it is still going to take you on average 381 days to get that new hire selling at the same performance level as your tenured sales reps according to a study conduct by Training Industry.com
While most IT staffing firms saw revenue growth in 2016 not nearly as many experienced improvement in their sales effectiveness (the ability to close a high percentage of deals, shorten your sales cycle, increase quota attainment, etc.). According to Staffing Industry Analysts, the IT staffing market is expected to exceed $30 billion in 2017. While growth of course is a good thing, it surely will mean more competition, more barriers to entry for opening new accounts and buyer behavior will continue to evolve. To counter these challenges many organizations are making sales enablement or sales readiness a core function of their organization. According to the CSO 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study there was a 19% increase in the number of B2B companies that have implemented a sales enablement function since 2013.
Building a high performing IT staffing sales team requires one to hire the right people, create a culture in which employees are empowered to make their own decisions (but still held accountable), and provide them with the skills and knowledge they need to consistently execute at a high level. In the staffing industry these first two topics generate a ton of buzz and are always hot topics for discussion at industry conferences. But where I see less discussion is on the topic of how to provide employees with the knowledge and skills they need to consistently execute. Most of the staffing owners I have met over the years tend to skip over new hire on-boarding, particularly sales on-boarding. I can’t speak on behalf of the owners but I think this happens because most owners were top performers themselves before they started their own company. As a top performer working for their employer, they were just able to figure things out on their own. Because it was easy for many of the owners to just “figure it out,” the assumption is that their new hires (sales reps and recruiters alike) will also figure it out. This of course is a huge mistake (a big reason why 65% of IT staffing firms are under $20M in revenue) as it takes far longer for new hires to become effective and meet quota and often leads to high turnover. Nowhere is this more important than sales on-boarding as I covered in my six part blog series New Hire On-boarding & Training that Delivers ROI. Investing your personal time and energy into designing your new hire on -boarding program will have huge paybacks. First of all, who knows your customers better than you? As the owner, you in all likelihood know your customers the best including their pain points and how to handle customer concerns and objections. The knowledge built up over the years makes you the most qualified to build your on-boarding program. Besides, this is how you make your business scalable, by passing on the valuable knowledge and insight that has been sitting in your brain all these years. Getting On-boarding Right Allows the Business to Scale Just about every IT staffing leader I have met is obsessed with growing their business. More specifically they're obsessed with figuring out how to scale their business. But I have yet to meet an owner who is obsessed (or really given it much thought) with scaling desired sales behaviors across their organization. A big part of achieving scale and repeatable growth is having processes, systems and technology in place but another part, a bigger part, is scaling the behaviors of your employees who are driving and executing. I’m talking about sales behaviors like: