How To Reduce Ramp-Up Time in New Sales Hires

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.

5 Winning Characteristics of Great Sales People

You’ve read it all before great sales people are hungry, relentless, motivated and don’t take no for and answer.  Yes, this is true but what lies underneath all those things? How do you screen for those personality traits in an interview? Simple, by looking for the winning characteristics of all great sales people.

1) They Are Their Own Biggest Competitors

Great sales people aren’t just motivated by the people around them, they are motivated by themselves.  The desire to achieve self betterment is the number one self motivating factor anyone can ever ask for and it’s the one that sticks. Compare it to being motivated by other people.  Sure a natural sense of competitiveness will kick in, but will it last when the going gets tough? Isn’t it easier to make excuses when you’re stacked up against someone else? Self motivation not only takes a certain level of self assurance but also pays forward a thousand times back into an organization.  The better your sales people become individually the better they can become as a team.

2) They Are Team Players

There is no such thing as a great sales person without a great sales organization. How do you create a great sales organization? By fostering a culture in which every single person gives back to improve the performance of the sales people around them. Competitive, shark like sales environments are toxic and don’t work. Your company’s goal is to make money, not to have sales people squabbling over stolen deals and backhanded behaviour. Great sales people build the people up around them, and in turn bring more revenue to your organization. Sharing is caring, even in sales.

3) They Are Always Learning

Great sales people are not bred without a constant grind to become better than they were yesterday. They also know that mastery cannot be achieved without practice, and consistent refining of techniques. Learning is about making mistakes, learning from those mistakes and adjusting to not make the same mistake again.  If you’re sales people aren’t doing that, they aren’t learning. If they’re not learning, they’re probably not selling.

4) They Are Not Afraid of Failure

Great sales people are fearless, but does that mean they never fail? No, it means that they understand that there will always be a margin of failure, accept failure, and strive to minimize that margin as best at they can. Success cannot be achieved without making mistakes, whether big or small. However, it’s how failure is handled that will determine the winners. Great sales people must be able to embrace failure.

5) They Ask For Help

The biggest deterrent to success in sales is people getting in their own way. Great sales people recognize this deterrent and know that the chances of success are higher when you step away from yourself and ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help, but pride can be a very self limiting trait. Successful sales people don’t let pride cloud their judgement and do what they have to do in order to get the job done.

Growing a sales organization can be tough, especially for younger companies with limited sales budgets.  However, if you screen for these five traits when hiring great sales people it’s guaranteed that your turnover rate will be lower and you’ll attract high quality people that will make your organization thrive.

4 Reasons Why Follow-Up is Crucial to the Sales Process

We’ve all heard it, it’s all in the delivery, you’ve only got one shot to make a good first impression.  But what about afterwards, once that good impression is made, how do you keep the relationship going? Following up is crucial to your B2B sales process and below are 4 reasons why.

Everyone’s Busy

You’re busy, I’m busy, your boss is busy, we’re all busy.  Most of us are inundated with tons of requests on a daily basis, so to remember something that happened in a small portion of the day sometimes becomes nearly impossible. This is why it’s the responsibility of the sales rep to stay on top of the relationship. That means making it a point to maintain that relationship through timely (not annoying follow-ups).  By doing so, you remain on someones busy radar, and when it comes time to make a decision you’ll be the first that comes to mind.

Most People Are Bad At It

You’d think all sales people would be great at following up since it’s such a integral part of the process, but think again.  Most people, especially in the prospecting stage give up after the second or third attempt to follow-up when in actuality it takes an average of 5-8 attempts to get a hold of a prospect. Don’t fall into the pack, take the extra initiative and stand out from the crowd.

Follow-up With Value

There’s following-up which borderlines annoying and following up with value, you want to be on the value end. After the third attempt it may get a little tricky to follow-up with value but here’s a little trick to pace things in a way that doesn’t leave you high and dry.  Don’t give it all away up front, especially if the prospect is unresponsive. Create a trail of delicious breadcrumbs that you can spread out through every email, voicemail or DM, that way by the time you get to attempt 5 or eight you’re not out of steam.

It’s a Necessary Part of the Process

Just like constant sales learning and development, being good at the follow-up is a part of the process.  There are no excuses in a sales role for not following up, period. It’s necessary and has to be done, otherwise there would be no need for sales reps. Take advantage of CRMs, calendars, reminders, anything that will prompt you into contacting that prospect. Remember, it’s you against the competition, don’t let someone else beat you to the punch over a few minutes out of your day.

Key Elements of a Killer Cold Call

Cold calling, we’ve all done it and we all know how terrible it can be. However, there is a method to the madness that can make the cold call experience less unpleasant and more productive. These are four key elements that will make your next cold call smoother, quicker and land you more booked meetings.

1) Establish a Purpose

You are reaching out to a complete stranger.  You don’t know them and are calling unannounced, what is the purpose of this call?  The purpose of this call is to book a meeting. In that meeting you can then learn more about them, their business and, then maybe wow them with everything you have to offer. This initial call is not a selling call.  It should last 3-5 minutes max and the only outcome should be a booked meeting at a later date.

2) Be Direct

You have 3-5 minutes, don’t talk about the weather, don’t try and hit it off about sports, get to the point about why you are calling.  You are calling a stranger, which means you don’t have a relationship (that will come), so be clear with your words and state in simple terms why you are calling and what you’d like to achieve.

‘Hi I’m Heidi, did I catch you at a bad time? Great, I’m calling today to…”

3) Create Intrigue

Being a stranger works to your advantage in this situation, it means you hold the upper hand.  Don’t give it away all up front.  Create intrigue by provoking the client to ask a follow-up question about who you are and why you are calling. This will open a dialogue and turn the call into a conversation over you speaking.

‘Have you heard of Heidi Fortes Sales and Success Coaching? No problem, I work with…’

4) Be Mindful

  • You are interrupting someones workday, be mindful of that before you get on the phone.
  • Ask for the person’s time in your intro and be respectful. If it’s not a good time take it upon yourself to call that person back later.
  • Be aware of your tone of voice, conduct the call sounding confident and energetic even if you’re not.
  • Mind your manners and say please and thank you. You are speaking to a human being, not a robot, manners go a long way.
  • Use the clients name to acknowledge that you are speaking to them, not just the company behind them.