The 3 Reasons Your IT Staffing Sales Reps Can't Pay for Their Seats
As the owner or sales director of an IT staffing firm, what matters more to you? That your new sales reps are out selling for you, closing deals as quickly as possible after you hire them, or that they have the skills they need to sell as effectively as possible?
It’s a trick question. If you want to grow your staffing firm with new business and see the investment you’ve put into sales training and new reps start paying back, you need both.
In my experience, though, where most firms go wrong with their sales training is too much attention on the first goal and almost no attention on the second. In other words, in a rush to get their new reps ramped up and on the phones, most IT staffing firms neglect to teach those reps how to actually sell.
Why is this so common in the IT staffing business?1. Business Owners Don’t Know How Best to Train
Most of the IT staffing firms I work with are small startups run by people with years of experience in the IT industry who decided to strike out on their own. They may have had personal success in sales, but don’t know how to manage or train a sales team.
This is one of the reasons the IT staffing industry is so fragmented. The majority of firms are stuck under $10 million in annual revenue. They’re relying on one sales leader to make most of their deals, with no clue how to spread that success to a larger team.2. Sales Training Either Doesn’t Exist or is Worthless
More often than not, when IT staffing firms do have them, sales training programs are cobbled together from some form of shadow training and an info dump of sell sheets, PowerPoint pitch decks, CRM documentation, and company history information.
CEOs and sales directors hope and pray that their new hires can make something out of this flood of data and turn it into something they can use to start making deals and paying for their seats.
But their prayers usually go unanswered. Here’s why:
- Shadow training doesn’t work. Shadow training assumes new reps will absorb the skills of sales veterans by simply watching and listening. The truth is, listening in on calls, a new rep rarely picks up any best practices. They witness the strengths of a particular individual — and learn nothing from their weaknesses. Also, without a baseline of established best practices, the ROI of shadow training is impossible to track.
- CEOs and sales directors are asking their reps to absorb too much data in too little time, expecting them to apply it in real sales conversations before they’re ready. Plus, the information is often not the right information. For example, in their first week on the phone, reps don’t need training on how to close a deal. They need to learn to leave voicemails that get returned.
There’s a good reason major league baseball hasn’t had a player-manager in 30 years. It’s just too hard to do both well.
Too many times, I’ve seen IT staffing firms where the person in charge of training new sales reps is also the firm’s top (or only) sales performer. In my experience, a sales manager who is both a “player” and a “coach” spends 80 percent or more of their time on their own sales. That’s not nearly enough time to develop salespeople. (The ideal sales training program should accompany a new rep through his or her first months on the job, lasting at least 90 days and as long as 12 months.)
This can happen for a number of reasons:
- Sales leaders are bringing in too much business for the firm to be pulled away for training.
- They can make more money selling than training.
- Training is hard work and sometimes frustrating. Often, owners find it easier to sell than train.
Whatever the case, sales training is too important to leave in the hands of someone who doesn’t have the time — or interest — to do it.
These Are the Problems; What Are the Solutions?
I’d like to hear from you in the comments below: Is a poor sales training program holding your IT staffing firm back from growing beyond a couple high performing sales reps? Do you think it is because of the points above or are there other factors you are facing? Let us know below.
Top Suggested Resource for Taking Action
If you recognize your company in any of the three causes I wrote about in this article, take a look at my latest eBook, “5 Ways to Drastically Overhaul Your Sales Training Program and Boost ROI.” You’ll find solutions to the three problems listed in this article, so you can get your reps to not only pay for their seats, but to start contributing to your bottom line.
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.