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
As the IT staffing industry continues to grow, services are increasingly commoditized by off shore competition and low-cost, high touch providers who focus on "skill marketing." As a result, IT staffing firms are (have been) feeling their margins being squeezed. To counter this, results based selling and the ability to sell business outcomes rather than features and benefits becomes the differentiator. IT staffing firms who figure out how to build an organization of salespeople who can differentiate themselves based on the ideas and insights they share and align pricing with the business outcomes or business results customers receive from using their service will win the day and grow profit margins. However, this transformation is not easy and it doesn't start by simply hiring experienced sales reps.
Sales training and sales onboarding is supposed to deliver the skills and knowledge that sales reps need to perform to meet and exceed sales quota. But if you’ve spent any time in sales, you know that sales training can feel more like trial-by-fire than a helpful introduction to a new company, product and/or service. Why is that? For one, buyers are educated and more informed than ever. They're also more demanding and sales reps are under pressure to quickly produce. For many sales organizations, sales cycles are getting longer, not shorter, due to the competitive landscape and the customer's complex interview, hiring and decision making processes. And to top it off, staffing companies are struggling to retain their top sales talent. This new reality means if you wish to accelerate new hire onboarding and increase overall team quota attainment, you may need to hit the "reset button" on your sales onboarding and sales training to properly prepare your salesforce. Here are three reasons why your sales training may be irrelevant.
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.
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.
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.