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
Sales onboarding is the process in which organizations apply to integrate new sales reps into their organization and help them gain the skills, knowledge and behaviors required to perform and meet and sales quota.
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.
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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, structured sales onboarding 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.
When a new sales new hire or new recruiter joins your staffing firm, their success is primarily dependent upon on whether or not you nail the first 30 days of sales onboarding. As I have discussed in past blog posts, there are numerous sales onboarding mistakes to avoid, and there is a right way and wrong to organize your new hire onboarding training orientation.
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.
As a staffing leader responsible for leading a team of sales reps or recruiters, getting your new hires ramped up and hitting quota as quickly as possible is one of your most important responsibilities. The sooner they are able to make quota the better and easier your job becomes. Yet the reality is most IT staffing firms struggle to quickly and efficiently onboard and ramp-up their new hires. And many new hires struggle to ever hit quota while many more never even make it. The impact of this is costly according to Brad Smart, author of Topgrading for Sales, who states that the average cost of a failed ramp-up is six times the base salary for a salesperson. The reality is even more concerning with The Bridge Group reporting that the average sales rep stays in the job for only 1.4 years.
I had the opportunity to speak at Bullhorn Engage earlier this year. During my presentation I asked the audience, "how may of you wish your sales reps applied a more consultative sales approach to engaging prospects and customers? Everyone's hand in the audience went up. I thought to myself, "interesting, what is holding them back or, why aren't they teaching consultative selling skills? Heck, consultative selling is not a new phenomenon. Next, I asked people in the audience to walk me through their sales onboarding and training program as if I was a new hire. A few different people described to me their sales onboarding and sales training program. In each case I heard staffing some variation of the following: "Our new hire training and on-boarding focuses on teaching our company history and background, how long we have been in business and our service offerings. We have a three ring binder with all of our training content and we have a sales pitch deck and marketing literature that sales reps are to go over and share with their prospects. We also go over pricing and how we document in our CRM/ATS and of course we teach new hires how we recruit and screen candidates." My first thought was.....Where is the sales training? I asked the audience what sort of impact this training was having on their sales team and their results? Here is what I heard in response: "My sales reps are struggling to get call backs" "My sales reps struggling to get returned email messages" "My sales reps are struggling to get in front of hiring managers" "My sales reps are struggling to generate new opportunities" "No matter how hard they work, their activity level doesn't seem to make an impact" "We've been experiencing turnover, I think our salespeople are frustrated" No Kidding! What in the heck is going on here? The problem is staffing firms have structured their sales onboarding and employee training to focus on teaching their new hires the wrong information. Their new hires are spending days, weeks and in some cases months learning how to pitch their service offerings, how to pitch a candidate, how ATS fields and workflows, their company history and accolades and their recruiting process and candidate database. The problem is NONE of this is going to drive revenue. Do you know any hiring managers who want to be pitched to? Of course not. What Happens When Your Sales Onboarding Focuses on Your Services? What do you think has been happening to these salespeople when they make sales calls? They're getting hung up on blow off and sales objections. Their prospects are saying things like: "I'm not interested" "Send me your information" "I'm not hiring" "I'm all set" The problem for these salespeople is their sales onboarding program is actually TEACHING THEM TO GO INTO SALES PITCH MODE. I know, it sounds crazy but it's true. They're going into "pitch mode" by talking about their company service offerings and company accolades because they have absolutely nothing else to talk about. This is what they've been trained to do! To encourage consultative selling you need to refocus your sales onboarding to teach and educate your sales new hires on consultative selling skills including understanding buyer personas and following a consultative selling framework. By restructuring your sales onboarding program designed to educate your sales team on who their ideal target buyers are, how and why they buy, and how they evaluate IT staffing firms and hire IT consultants, your sales team will be in a much better position to not only apply a consultative sales approach, but they will also accelerate time to sales quota attainment. How does your sales onboarding encourage and teach consultative selling? Let's start a conversation in the comments section below.
If your staffing organization is like most then going through the first few days and weeks of your sales and recruiter on-boarding training is probably like drinking water through a firehouse. And that means your new hires walk away feeling the same as when you walk away from Thanksgiving dinner; fatigued and bloated!. The question is, what happens next?
If your new hire orientation is confined to asking your new hires to read an outdated three ring “company overview” binder followed by a few hours of “shadow training” than you might want to continue reading this article.
Here I present to you Fast Growing Inc, a multi-million dollar IT staffing firm. Joe the founder and owner wants to grow by opening several new offices. However, Sam, his VP of Sales and his team struggle to capture market share in a red-hot IT staffing market. As you will see, they're struggling to grow because their sales team is failing to use consistent and targeted messaging. Let's investigate Fast Growing, Inc in more detail.