Most, if not all sales managers believe in a certain degree of sales training to keep their staff learning and motivated. But the timing of that training as well as the quality vary depending on the manager. Some believe that ‘learn while you observe’ or ‘read and absorb’ are enough to get a new rep up and running, but are they effective methods in teaching a new sales rep the ropes? How do you reduce ramp up times with new sales reps?
Why your training regime needs an experiential component.
While a small percentage of people are auditory learners the vast majority of us are either visual or tactile learners. We either need to see information presented in a way that makes sense or is pleasing (infographics) or need to practice in order to get the hang of something. Just like sports, sales is one of those areas where tactile learning wins out every time.
You don’t learn how to play soccer by watching games.
Like any sport, sales reps are prone to a million different combinations of things happening at any given time. Which means that no amount of reading or listening is ever really going to prepare a rep for handling things on the fly. The only real way to do this is to constantly practice in a simulated or real environment where it’s ok to make mistakes.
Probation periods are not that time.
Any new sales hire needs at least one month to get acquainted with their surroundings, organize their territory and get an understanding for the product they are selling. For an experienced rep falling into place at a new organization usually isn’t that hard because it’s more a matter of learning the surroundings and less about the process. For new reps, it’s a combination of both that have to be figured out simultaneously. For someone that’s never done sales, or has limited knowledge of a complex sales process like B2B how well does that ramp up usually go?
Use experiential sales training to reduce ramp-up times.
Building in or contracting out an experiential component to your sales training process is key to reducing ramp up time in new sales reps. Not only will it ensure that reps are all given an even playing field with a consistent process, but it will allow them to work out some of the kinks before practicing with real customers. In what I’ve seen, new reps that are given some sort of experiential training are more confident, process oriented and able to self assess better than those that haven’t. These qualities then permeate throughout the ramp-up process reducing ramp-up times.
By learning and practicing a process driven sales framework, new reps are cemented with the core concepts to push forward and develop their own styles. This early learning preps the rep for a career of constant improvement, polishing of old techniques, and acquiring of new ones to add to their sales toolkit.