Quick, Easy Tip to Drastically Accelerate Time to First Placement for Sales New Hires
I have to say, it is pretty amazing how quickly things have turned (for the better) in the just a few short months. I speak with customers, CEO's and senior leaders of IT staffing firms every day, and they continue to tell me "we're seeing record-breaking numbers with new job orders and fills." As a result, most staffing firms are in growth mode. Yes, growth mode! 90% of the firms I speak with have and/or are planning to add new recruiters and salespeople in Q2. This is great news!
The Manpower Group released their quarterly Employment Outlook which is one of the most respected available hiring projections. They forecast a Q1 2021 Net Employment Outlook for the US of +17% which is on par with their 2017 Net Employment Outlook and only slightly lower than their Q1 2020 Net Employment Outlook of +19%.
Another helpful employment metric, the Linkedin hiring rate, can be found in Linkedin’s January 2021 Workforce Report. It measures the number of hires amongst its membership divided by the total number of Linkedin members. Per this metric, hiring is rising and has almost returned to pre-COVID levels.
Given all the sales hiring taking place I wanted to share a quick and easy tip to drastically accelerate time to first placement for sales new hires. Specifically, young, inexperienced salespeople. The assumption is your sales new hire is focused 100% on new business development, cold outbound prospecting to new prospective customer accounts.
As you know, there are umpteen things a new hire needs to know before they’re ‘ramped-up’ and possess the same knowledge and competency level as your tenured employees. But that doesn’t mean you should try to teach them everything during sales onboarding. The objective of sales onboarding is not to teach your new hires as much as possible in the shortest time period possible. The objective of sales onboarding is to ramp up new sales hires to quota attainment as quickly as possible.
Most organizations deliver water-through-the-firehose sales onboarding and overwhelm their new hires. Ironically, the most common topics covered in a typical sales onboarding program, many of which are listed below, create confusion, stunt growth and distract sales new hires from what they’ve been hired to do; sell. They include:
- Recruiter training (cross-functional training including shadow training)
- ATS training
- CRM training
- Diversity training
- Marketing training (marketing department overview)
- Employment law training
- Technology training (not to be confused with sales tools training)
I’m not suggesting that these are not important topics. In fact, all of these topics are very important. What I am suggesting however is these topics, and any other topics that don’t lend themselves to helping new salespeople close their first deal not be included in onboarding and instead be pushed out to a later date. To be clear, none of these topics will help your new sales rep close his or her first deal.
Give Your Sales New Hires a Clear, Unambiguous Target
Trying to grow a staffing firm can be a double edged sword, if you let it. The good news is you and your team can recruit for any type of candidate and skill set the market demands. There are no boundaries! The bad news is, you can recruit for any type of candidate and any skill set the market demands. This paradox creates a sales onboarding nightmare.
Imagine if Microsoft or SAP had no sales engineers and they didn’t segment their salespeople by product or solution and instead, all salespeople sold all products. How effective do you think those salespeople would be? Imagine yourself as a sales new hire going through sales onboarding, do you think you might find yourself feeling lost and overwhelmed trying to learn how to sell every single SAP or Microsoft product? Of course you would, who wouldn’t?
Now, imagine yourself as the sales leader trying to onboard new salespeople. How would you quickly ramp-up new hires to effectively sell all of those products and meet quota? You get my point.
When IT staffing companies put a new sales hire through sales onboarding and say things like “we recruit any and all IT skill sets” and encourage their new hires to call every manager in the IT department, they’re creating the same nightmare scenario. This creates confusion, stunts growth and overwhelms the new hire with information overload (The same is true for staffing companies operating in multiple staffing verticals in which they ask their salespeople to sell all staffing lines of service).
Of course you want your salespeople to call every IT manager in the IT department and of course you can recruit for any position on the planet. But teaching and encouraging a young, inexperienced salesperson to do those things only stunts growth and extends time-to-first-placement.
There is a reason why software companies and financial services companies and medical device companies and every other industry segments their sales teams by product, vertical, niche or specialty. Without giving your sales new hires a clear and unambiguous target you will overwhelm your salespeople during onboarding and kill your brand in the process.
I'm talking about having your sales new hires only focus on a specific niche or target market. It could be certain size companies, certain industries, and/or certain types of hiring managers such Help Desk Managers, or QA Managers. Giving your sales new hire a clear target doesn’t mean you're thinking small or making your market smaller. It simply means focus. Giving your sales new hires a clear target means focusing on a specific buyer persona with a specific pain point or problem, regardless of how many types of customers you could serve or how many types of problems you can solve.
If your firm is a “generalist,” then I suggest, based on training thousands of salespeople from hundreds of IT staffing firms that you consider the following:
- Don’t encourage or try to teach your sales new hires (during onboarding) to call on every type of hiring manager (QA, App. Dev., DevOps, Cloud, HR, Networking, etc.) no matter how good your delivery team is.
- During sales onboarding, focus on teaching your sales new hires how to have a meaningful and productive conversation with just one, maybe two different types of buyer personas. For example, the first sixty days focus your sales new hires to only call on QA Managers and Help Desk Managers. You can teach your sales new hires to call on additional buyer personas over time.
The point is, keep it hyper focused because less truly is more. Your job is to put your sales new hires in the best possible position to succeed, and the best way to build their confidence is to get them quick wins. This is how you do it. Not only that, it will make your job easier because it will keep you more focused. Less to worry about!!
Finally, don’t try to pick the “best” buyer persona or "best industry" for your sales new hires to call on. Simply focus on picking a buyer persona or a industry. You can’t predict where the next “big thing” is going to be. So pick one and focus on teaching your sales reps how to consistently win selling to that target. Again, you can layer in additional buyer personas over time.
Your sales new hires will learn far more and far more quickly taking this approach. To learn additional tips and ideas for accelerating sales onboarding, check out our ebook, Blueprint for Accelerating New Hire Onboarding.