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
One of the patterns we see repeated year after year with IT staffing companies is sales quotas continue to rise, even for salespeople and recruiters who failed to make their quota. That is actually not all that surprising, but what is surprising is that most organizations lack a training budget and supporting plan for ensuring their salespeople & recruiters meet quota. What we often hear is "how do we get the biggest bang for our buck? We've found that very few organizations have a systemtaic strategy for learning and development including a budget to support their people in helping them meet and exceed quota. My intention with this blog is to share with you the key considerations to account for when establishing your sales training budget. Additionally, I have dug up some data points that demonstrate how high performing sales organizations invest their sales training budget including how much they invest per employee vs. underperforming sales organizations.
Accelerating your customer’s hiring and buying process refers to managing all of the tasks and events that must be acted upon and the decisions that must be made by you and your customer. The better you can understand your customer’s hiring and buying process and the things they have to do in order to buy from you, the better you can stay aligned with them. Managing this process is complex not only because of the various tasks, events and milestones and sequence in which they occur, but also because there are multiple stakeholders involved in making the final decision. Despite the fact that many of the hiring managers you will work with have hired dozens or even hundreds of consultants or employees, most still don’t do it frequently enough with a consistent process. Because you sell to, and work with hiring managers every day and help them hire and onboard employees, you see patterns of the things customers must do in order to hire and buy from you. As such, you will often know things about what your customer has to do in order to hire and buy, better than they do. Here are just a few of the common patterns, tasks, and events that the typical IT hiring manager must complete before a new hire can begin work:
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Make no mistake, sales enablement is on the rise. Companies of all sizes and across all industries are investing to improve their sales training, onboarding and coaching strategies. One of the easiest and most powerful tools they're taking advantage of is the power of video training and coaching.
One area in which we invest a lot of time with our customers is educating them on the importance of change management and user adoption. Training, learning and development doesn’t end when the training program concludes; it’s only just begun. In fact, the real work, the heavy lifting, begins once your learner or learners have completed their training. Providing your learners, whether they be front line managers, salespeople or recruiters, with regular and consistent opportunities to practice applying the skills promotes retention. Learners only change their behavior when their direct managers and leaders provide continual reinforcement through a user adoption plan that includes a series of communications, tasks, events and activities before, during and after the program concludes.
Sales enablement has grown dramatically over the past few years. In 2013 less than 20% of companies dedicated resources specifically for sales enablement. Yet by the end of 2017, close to 60% of companies were focused on this vital business function. This is one of the most remarkable sales enablement statistics, and CSO Insights expects this figure to continue to grow rapidly. But is sales training and sales enablement really that important? Can it really make a difference for your IT staffing organization? The short answer is YES. But I will will let the industry statistics do the talking. I’ve compiled relevant research on sales training and sales enablement that shows not only how important it is to prepare your sales reps for success, but to consistently reinforce training through sales enablement tools, coaching and user adoption and change management.
Developing, delivering and maintaining training programs can be time-consuming and costly. Knowing when to relinquish control and when not to can be an essential part of creating a skilled workforce. Whether the goal is to attract new talent, retain highly qualified employees or develop an internal path to leadership, companies looking to create educational or coaching programs can either go it alone or, like most business processes these days, outsource part or all of the training function to a third-party. There are benefits and drawback to both approaches, of course. Knowing the goals of your program will help you determine whether to rely on in-house expertise or go out-of-house to a contract training company. If you and your staffing staffing firm are looking to implement a training program or hit the "reboot" button on your current training program, consider the following 10 questions: Is there someone in your organization who possess the skill, knowledge and expertise to script word-by-word your sales training material? Recruiter training material? This includes but may not be limited to objection rebuttals, how to open a sales meeting & cold call, how to negotiate, etc. Is there someone in your organization who has the time to script the content, create the videos, quizzes, exercises and role play scenarios? Is there someone in your organization who can physically model the desired sales and recruiting behaviors by recording themselves in front a video camera for team members to watch, analyze and then adopt those behaviors? Does someone in your organization understand microlearning best practices and possess the instructional design skills to put your training content in a format that is engaging for your learners? Does someone on your staff possess the software and skills to create and edit training videos? Does the person creating your training material truly understand the common challenges and pain points your recruiters and salespeople face on a daily basis? If so, can they write (script) solutions for these pain points such as email and voice email templates, playbooks for opening accounts and recruiting passive candidates and rebuttals to common objections and will the sales and recruiting team buy into and commit to this person’s suggestions? Does the person creating your training material understand how to design content that aligns with each stage of your sales and recruiting process including the buyers journey? Do you have a technology platform which includes eLearning best practices such as asynchronous, mobile and microlearning and video based training? If not, is your organization ready and willing to invest in purchasing and maintaining a platform? Does someone in your organization understand change management and user adoption and do they possess real world experience with sustaining change to ensure your training sticks long-term? Do you have a mechanism for creating quizzes and certification exams to track and measure performance and gamify the learning experience? Do you have a way to build and share a library of sales best practices videos for all to learn from? By answering these questions and taking these key points into consideration the answer to whether or not you should build or outsource your training and new hire onboarding program should be clear.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone if you are not familiar with the term microlearning. It’s not a new concept, but it has been a hot topic of late regarding employee training and new hire onboarding. While chunking training content down into short bite size pieces has been around for some time, we are seeing an increased focus on microlearning as a significant element of an organization’s overall training strategy and delivery model. Below I share with you eleven benefits of microlearning based training. The first seven benefits focus on benefits to the learners while the last four benefits are benefits to the business.
Not too long ago I had a customer who hired me to do an assessment of their front line sales managers. The owner wanted me to provide objective feedback on the effectiveness of a few of their Branch Managers including their ability to coach and develop talent. I kicked the process of with an introductory phone call to make introductions and properly set expectations at which time the manager shared with me "I provide coaching all day, throughout the day. My coaching is very hands on and in the moment." I said that is awesome, I look forward to working with you and seeing you in action. When I arrived in the office however I discovered that this manager, like many managers, believed that the purpose of sales coaching was to correct negative behaviors by telling their reps or recruiters what they did wrong, in real time. He would say "do more of X" or "stop doing Y."
Many sales organizations have invested more time, money and effort over the past few years training their managers to improve their coaching skills then they did in the previous 25. This makes perfect sense when you consider a recent report conducted by the Sales Executive Council shows that no other productivity investment comes close to improving sales performance than sales coaching.
There are managers who coach and mentor their employees and there are those who don't. Sales and Recruiting managers who fail to coach are not necessarily bad managers, but they are neglecting an amazing opportunity and a proven tool for developing and retaining talent and accelerating the growth of their business. I've worked with hundreds of IT staffing leaders over the years and have observed what distinguishes them from managers who fail to coach. What has stood out in my dealings with these leaders who do coach is their attitude and mindset: They simply believe in the value of coaching. They think of their role as a manager as less about managing process, and more about increasing the value and self-worth of their employees. Coaching is a natural part of their "managers tool kit. Keep in mind, these are not professional coaches, they're front line managers who manage a group of sales reps and/or recruiters, they have their own book of business and they're crazy busy, hard-working people like every other manager. So why do they consistently commit to making the time in their daily schedule to coach their direct reports? Here are four reasons why managers should dedicate time to coaching.