A 5-Step Plan to Boost the ROI of Your Sales Training (for IT Staffing Firms)
There are thousands of IT staffing firms across the country, with new ones springing up all the time as IT veterans leave larger firms to strike out on their own. According to Staffing Industry Analysts, the IT staffing market grew 6 percent in 2015, and after a period of similar growth this year, it’s expected to reach $28.9 billion in value.
The problem is, so many of these new firms get stuck in the startup phase, around $10 million or less in revenue.
What’s it take to break through that barrier? A sales team that can consistently bring in new business to your firm.
About 85 percent of the IT staffing firms I work with as a sales training coach rely on one or two key people for 80 percent or more of their revenue.
This is clearly not scalable. And the reason it’s happening is CEOs and sales directors don’t know how to train new sales reps to replicate the success of their top performers.
Sales training in the IT staffing industry is usually too short, too reliant on inefficient methods like shadow training, and disconnected from any kind of consistent sales methodology based on proven best practices.
In my latest eBook for IT staffing firms, I plot a five-step path forward for overhauling your sales training program and empowering your entire sales team to contribute to the growth of your firm.
Here’s a preview of what I cover in-depth in the eBook:
Step 1: Map Out Your Sales Process
As I told a Bullhorn Live user conference, a sales process “defines the steps that a sales rep and a customer need to take in order to complete the purchasing process.”
Without a sales process, you have nothing to train new sales reps on.
As I describe in my new eBook, your sales process should include these seven things:
- Lead creation
- Lead qualification and conversion
- Lead nurturing
- Opportunity qualification
- Clearly defined stages that are aligned with the customer’s purchasing process
- Opportunity management
- Customer segmentation
Step 2: Create a Job Scorecard
What does success look like for a sales rep at your firm? What does a rep need to know to achieve that? What roadblocks will they encounter?
Once you’ve answered those questions, you can create a job scorecard. This will ensure you and your reps are on the same page regarding the expectations and duties of their job. Most importantly, it will allow you to measure their progress as they strive toward those goals.
A job scorecard should include specifics like revenue and GP quotas, daily/weekly/monthly metrics, and KPIs.
Step 3: Move Beyond Shadow Training
Shadowing — training new sales reps train by having them observe experienced reps — is the most common form of sales training used in the IT staffing industry. As I wrote about in my recent article, it’s also the most ineffective.
In summary, shadow training spreads several different sales processes throughout your organization, rather than unifying your team around a single one. New reps witness the strengths of the reps they shadow, but learn nothing about their weak areas. Because it lacks a baseline of best practices, It’s also impossible to track the effectiveness of shadow training.
Step 4: Create a Regimented, Milestone-Based Training Program
Sales training should not be a one- or two-day event like it is at most IT staffing firms. Reps rarely absorb and remember all the information that’s thrown at them during those intense one or two days. The human mind just isn’t built for it.
I recommend a training program that follows reps through at least the first 90 days of their jobs. Up to and beyond a full year is ideal and, typically, needed.
During that time, establish training “milestones” for your reps. Have them work toward developing specific skills and meeting specific goals within specific, pre-determined timeframes.
Read my eBook for more tips on reasonable milestones to set for your sales reps during their first year on the job.
Step 5: Track the Effectiveness of Your Training
Most companies are doing nothing at all to track the effectiveness of their training programs. They track metrics like closed deals, but closed deals aren’t necessarily the result of good training. Sometimes, it’s just luck.
Here are the metrics that you should be tracking (again, I expand on each of these in my new eBook):
- Engagement. Did your reps read their training documents? Did they watch the videos and complete their exercises? A learning management system can help you here.
- Ramp-up time. This is a measure of how long it takes your reps to go from trainees to productive salespeople. To track ramp-up time, the first thing you’ll need to do is define it. If you don't have a specific definition of ramp-up time, then you won't have a baseline to track against.
- Win-rate percentage. Win-rate percentage is the number of deals you close divided by the total number of deals you put into your pipeline. It’s the most obvious yet the single most overlooked metric in sales. Win-rate percentage gets to the heart and soul of your sales process, your sales training and onboarding program, and the effectiveness of your reps. When this number increases, you know your reps are improving.
How to Make It Stick
These five points are all well and good, but you’re wondering, “If I overhaul my sales training program and my sales process itself, how can I be sure my team will stick with it? They don’t like change.”
In my eBook, I talk about “change management,” that is, driving change to your training program — and sustaining it. Follow the link to get your free copy and read all about it.In the meantime, if you’re struggling to move your IT staffing firm past the startup phase and you have questions, or you have tips for others on how to improve their training programs, let’s talk about it in the comments section.
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.