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 biggest challenges senior sales leaders face is how to onboard 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 relied on more traditional, instructor-led classroom training as their primary means for training new hires.
IT staffing firms depend on their sales team to grow revenue and maintain gross profit margins. To support them in this responsibility, they invest in IT staffing sales training to ensure their people have the knowledge and skills to win. However, most organizations are far less effective at sustaining the impact of sales training then they are with delivering the training. For that reason, leaders need to develop a sales training user adoption plan to protect their training investment and ensure they see lasting results.
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As a sales leader, your primary responsibility is ensuring your salespeople possess the skills and knowledge to meet and exceed sales quota. After all, either your sales reps make their number or they don't. Providing your sales team with sales training is key to not only meeting and exceeding sales quota but retaining talent. In an effort to help guide you in calculating your sales training budget, this blog post focuses on sharing with you how market leaders allocate sales training budgets.
According the 2017 State of the Industry report from the Association for Talent Development, organizations invest on average $1,273 per employee for training, learning and development. Organizations smaller in size spend more per employee and larger organizations spend less per employee but smaller organizations have a much smaller training budget than larger organizations.
Developing, delivering and maintaining an IT staffing sales training program requires strategic planning and capital in the form of sales methodology expertise, instructional design knowledge and technology. Because your sales onboarding and sales training program plays such a key role in the growth of your organization, knowing if and when to outsource the development and/or management of your sales training to a strategic sales training partner or develop it in house is not an easy decision and shouldn't be take lightly. If you and your staffing staffing firm are debating "build vs. buy," consider these ten questions. IT Staffing Sales Training, Build or Buy (Outsource it), 10 Questions to Consider What is your sales training strategy, instructor-led classroom training or online sales training? If you decide you want to incorporate online sales training than the next question is, do you have a cloud based learning management system? If not, you can learn how to identify and select a learning management system that is right for you. Do you have a full time sales enablement manager or the ability to hire a full time sales enablement manager? Regardless of who is responsible for sales training in your organization, you will need to consider the following questions. Is there someone in your organization who possess the skill, knowledge and expertise to script word-by-word your IT sales training material? This includes scripting objection rebuttals, messaging for how to open a sales meeting, messaging for executing a cold call, messaging for pitching a candidate and creating sales training exercises such as role play scenarios? Assuming the answer to the previous question is yes, does this person also have the time to create the training materials? Is the person responsible for sales training in your organization able and willing to model the desired sales behaviors for all to follow by recording themselves in front a video camera demonstrating how they handle objections? Demonstrating their cold call message? Demonstrating their voice mail message? Demonstrating how they pitch a candidate? If not, is there another person who is? Does the person creating your sales training material truly understand who your ideal buyer personas are and what is important to them? Do they understand them well enough to teach your sales team? Does the person creating your sales training material understand how to design content that aligns with each stage of your sales and recruiting process including the buyers journey? 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 understand how to create sales training effectiveness metrics and do you have a mechanism for tracking and measuring sales training effectiveness? By answering these questions and taking these key points into consideration the answer to whether or not you should build or outsource your sales training to a strategic partner vs. build internally should become clear. And if you know you want or need to build it internally, your answers to these questions should help you pave the way for steps you need to take to build it. For additional ideas on how to optimize the effectiveness of your sales training program, download our ebook, Five Ways to Drastically Overhaul Your Sales Training Program and Boost ROI.
Many sales leaders think of sales onboarding as an additional cost that chips away at their profitability. The reality is, faster sales onboarding is your quickest and lowest hanging fruit for generating revenue. Yes, it can be time and labor intensive, but sales onboarding is a revenue generating activity just like sales prospecting and should be treated as such. Here is why. Your sales new hires are the "X Factor." The reality is you have no idea what kind of performance you're going to get from your new hires once they start. But it doesn’t have to be that way, if you know how to structure the first thirty days of sales onboarding.
In the years since I launched Menemsha Group I have met and spoken with hundreds of IT staffing leaders including owners, COO's, CFO's and Sales VP's. They tell me repeatedly over and over that their number one challenge to growing their business is figuring out how to provide effective sales training for their new hires. They go on to tell me that they need to accelerate sales ramp up time and improve employee retention. Many have shared with me "Dan, if we hire 10 new sales reps or recruiters, we're happy if two or three of them are with us twelve months later." In response, I ask "what have you done to create metrics to track your sales onboarding effectiveness?" To do this day, I've only met a handful of staffing leaders who had an answer to this question. If your objective is to reduce sales turnover and accelerate the time it takes for a new sales rep or recruiter to meet quota then you will need to understand how to create metrics that track sales onboarding effectiveness. In this blog I do just that. I'm going to share with you how to create metrics that track sales onboarding effectiveness. The first step to creating metrics that track sales onboarding effectiveness is to define the specific skills and behaviors you want your salespeople to exhibit. The second step is to establishing a mechanism for quantifying and measuring skill adoption. Why Staffing Firms Must Create Metrics that Track Sales Onboarding Effectiveness Without metrics that track sales onboarding effectiveness, sales managers and leaders have no idea which training modules and content are having an impact and which skills and knowledge your salespeople are lacking. Without the data you have no means for improving your sales onboarding and sales training program. This is one of the reasons why so many IT staffing firms struggle with high sales turnover and struggle to scale. How to Create Metrics that Track Sales Onboarding Effectiveness To figure out what metrics to track to measure sales onboarding effectiveness you'll need to ask yourself some questions to assess your current sales training and sales onboarding program. Currently, how do your sales new hires consume and experience your existing sales training? Are you deploying online sales training or instructor-led classroom training? Are your sales new hires reading Word, PowerPoint or PDF documents? Are your sales new hires watching sales training videos? What sales training activities are they participating in? What exactly is the content that your sales new hires are consuming? What sales skills are your teaching specifically? What knowledge are your teaching specifically? As you assess your sales onboarding program including your content you will first need to identify the specific skills and behaviors that you want and expect your salespeople to demonstrate and execute. Identifying the desired sales skills and behaviors that your sales team is to execute provides the foundation for establishing clear and consistent standards on how you want and expect things to get done. Without completing this step you will not be able to track and quantify the effectiveness of your sales onboarding. Without clearly defined skills or behaviors you have no way to create skill competency exams which are essential to measuring and quantifying sales onboarding effectiveness. This is a time consuming process on behalf of the sales leader in which he or she must really think through the skills and behaviors that are required to "win" across each stage of the sales process and each customer touch point. This is one of the reasons why many IT staffing firms choose to outsource over building their sales training program.
Frequently I get asked by customers and industry colleagues, "Dan, what are the trends you're seeing in the marketplace?" "Dan, what are some of the best practices you see high growth IT staffing firms adopting? "What are the common characteristics shared across high performing sales teams?" While I wouldn't say there is one specific characteristic or best practice, there is however a growing trend. The trend I'm seeing with many of the most progressive staffing CEO's including the fastest growing IT staffing companies is they're adopting sales enablement as a formal business practice. While this has been a common business practice in other industries for several years, only the truly committed, the early adopters, seem to be incorporating sales enablement as a formal business practice in the staffing industry. As I wrote in a previous blog, there seems to be much confusion over what sales enablement is and why it matters. Forrester Research defines sales enablement as:
If you work in the sales profession than chances are you’ve heard the term sales enablement. While it has been a hot topic, there seems to be a bit of confusion around what exactly it is and whether or not it's a short term trend or a practice that truly delivers results and is here to stay long term. With that in mind, my intention of this post is to share with you sales enablement, the what and why it matters.
The time lapse between your sales new hire's start date and the date in which they track to meet or exceed sales quota represents your opportunity cost to onboard a new sales rep. A shorter ramp up time means reduced risk in missing your sales quota. With the cost of a failed new hire ramp up at six times the base salary (Topgrading for Sales), it is imperative that your sales new hires ramp up to productivity as quickly as possible.