Recruiting new sales people is a delicate process. It’s a long journey for both the decision makers and candidates alike but it doesn’t really end with the selection process. Your new starter’s first impressions and initial experience of the company have a huge impact on both parties’ perceptions of the other and the early days will characterise opinions that are sometimes hard to shake.
Now you’ve got them this far, you want them up-to-speed and bought in to your company, your processes and of course your proposition. Most importantly you want them capable of independently monetising their time (leaving you free to steer your new recruit to target with as little hand-holding as possible.)
The on-boarding process can be ‘make-or-break’ for the longevity and performance of your new employee (not to mention your ROI). Get it right from the off and you will benefit from a happy high performer; get it wrong and find yourself stuck with a disenchanted burden on your budget.
Here are my top 10 tips on how to breed a flag-waving, money-making high-achiever who’s in it for the long-haul.
1. Invite them to your office before day one
Even if it’s just for a few hours, let them mill about the office and get them talking to people, taking in the atmosphere. This will get them engaged and looking forward to starting with you so they come in on day one with a positive outlook.
2. Provide any training materials well in advance of day one
Your sales trainer has probably served their time in the field; they know all the tricks of the trade and their valuable time is likely not best served reading through material with a new starter. It’s a long and tedious way to absorb complex information and the classroom environment can be detrimental to their ability to digest all the need-to-know information. The solution - give it to them early on so they can prepare in their own time. When they walk in on day one, they will have a much better understanding of your business and processes; feeling plugged in and ready to go. When they do meet their sales trainer they can iron out any areas of complexity before moving onto the more ineffable things that aren’t as easily communicated in print.
3. Explain your processes
Make sure they are aware of your processes by including them in the material you have sent out to them. This includes the semantics of how to communicate with other staff and any fixed weekly, monthly or quarterly meetings so they can think and plan their activity around them. Also, put together a glossary of in-house language. If your new starter is in a meeting on day one understanding <10% of what’s being said they could feel lost and intimidated.
4. Don’t throw them in the deep end
Nothing will affect the confidence of a new salesperson like not having the tools or knowledge to do a deal from start to finish. You hired them because they were smashing their targets at their previous job, where they had years of understanding. There, they were high on life and brimming with pride in their numbers. Now, they’re trading under a new banner with a daunting ZERO on the whiteboard and are propping up the sales league right at the bottom. Give them the tools early on so they can succeed.
5. Have them shadow a pro
‘Your call is being recorded for training and quality purposes’ those seasoned hunters amongst us will hear this calling switch boards all day but remember, this is a resource that you should be collecting for training. The quickest root to understanding is, of course, shadowing. By giving your new starter the opportunity to see a goal scored from the touch line they will be empowered, enthused and confident. Most importantly they will have learnt more than they ever could in a classroom. Now they can start performing by emulation while the find their own groove.
6. Sell your product to them...and make sure they buy it
This is a no-brainer - get a role play set up and sell them your offering. If they won’t buy it they can’t sell it. They will think of their own objections to buying within the role play and thus deduce what to expect from clients. It’s an efficient way to bring them up to speed with how to handle objections as well as learn the features and benefits.
This works really well if you are having a mass intake but equally well with a single new starter. Some sales roles are quite solitary and having your existing workforce gel with your new starter on a night out or lunch helps them form a bond that ensures productive co-operation moving forward.
8. Listen to their feedback – every day
The on-boarding process is an organic one and having the flexibility to change it, depending on learning styles, is imperative. There is ‘no one size fits all’ solution, so being asked for feedback is empowering and makes your new starter feel like they are adding value to the process. There are numerous free tests on the internet to deduce learning styles. Use these to shape and tailor your new starters learning programme to their taste.
9. Feedback on feedback
We live in the feedback age where everybody wants to know how they are doing and where they can improve. It makes perfect sense to keep your ear to the ground, to engage employees and clients alike by asking them what they think. What do you do with that input though? If you have decided to implement a suggestion made by an employee, then give them company wide credit (once proven successful). This is basic Pavlovian conditioning for the workforce. If you want an open an honest feedback culture in your business, then make sure asking for feedback not just appreciated but rewarded with positive reinforcement.
10. Make it quick
If your new hire is worth their salt, they should have arrived having read the material, researched potential leads, they should know their competition, be raring to go and willing to impress. If you’ve hired the right person they want to make a positive impact quickly, make a name for themselves and earn some money for the both of you. With this in mind, don’t let the training drag on for too long. Sales people do go off the boil from time to time and number one reason is that they have been away from the front line for too long.
Do you have a creative on-boarding process? Or maybe you’ve had a shocking introduction to a company… Let’s hear about it!
By Steven Griffin, Talent Consultant at Finlay James who provide global, world class IT sales recruitment solutions - including software sales recruitment, IT services sales recruitment, ICT sales recruitment and digital sales recruitment.