How to Create A Sales Training Program
by Patricia Gardner, Author
Sales training programs are the backbones of the sales force. Without a thorough program, your sales team will be unprepared, confused, and unsuccessful. When a new hire goes through the pre-screening interviews, gets hired, and goes out to a celebratory dinner, the last thing they expect is to go in on the first day and sit in human resources for 8 hours. Then they are told to go over product catalogues and manufacturing information. Many new hires spend the first few weeks caught up in tasks that take the wind out of their sails at one of the most critical points in the training process. In order to maintain that enthusiasm and motivation, companies should have a formal arrangement for every new hire. Here are some tips for setting up a sales training program at your company:
- Expedite the paperwork
Instead of boring your new salesperson and wasting an entire day of work, send all of the paperwork to the new employee two weeks before they start and let them complete it at home. Many times, the spouse helps them fill it out and they have to make important decisions about medical, dental, 401K, and other benefits that they are better prepared for at home. This information is not confidential, so sending it out early only helps you both save time and energy. On their first day, they can turn in the paperwork to the HR department and then get right to work.
- Make Sales Reps prove value from their very first day
Remember that every person brings all of their background onto the jobsite. Start a contest for new hires that utilizes who they know for your company’s benefit. For example, maybe they have a cousin who works for an IT company that you have been trying to get your salespeople into. If they provide a name and the company successfully closes a deal with because of that contact, the new sales rep should be rewarded. Encourage them to step outside of their job description and seize every opportunity possible to benefit increased revenues for the company.
- Take the load off
The Sales Manager should not have to do all the day-to-day sales training and it shouldn’t all be done in a classroom. That will take the enthusiasm out of your new hire, as well. Training should be a company effort where every department shares in the load. Let the product development team teach about the products. Let the maintenance department explain the strengths and weaknesses of the product. Clarify the roles that are imperative to the success of a sales person and make them available during training the first week they are onboard.
- Rep to rep training
Let the other, more experienced sales reps share in the training. They can help the new hire train on unfamiliar software, take them out on some calls, take them to lunch with the CEO, and introduce them to key internal personnel. It is also important to go on a few key external sales calls with several different sales reps to get the sales pitch down during the first week.
- Mentoring your way to success
Personalities are unique and different, so it is critical to let your new hires choose their mentor. To ensure success for your reps, pre-approve some experienced, qualified sales reps and make sure they are up to the task. Make it clear that mentors are chosen on the basis of their skills and success. Or give them monetary rewards. Mentoring should be a positive experience for both teacher and student.
- Create a competitive atmosphere for new hires to grow in
In uncertain economic times like these, many sales reps worry about helping new hires because they make them look bad if they are very successful. To eliminate this competitive attitude, put the mentoring in the context of team competition. "My trainee will beat your trainee" is a great way to transfer knowledge from mentor to mentee. This both motivates and teaches because reps tend to begin sharing secrets they would not normally have divulged. And the company is the big winner because they are growing their sales reps quickly.
- Build tactical teams
Sales reps shouldn’t be left alone to prosper; they should have support teams. These teams are comprised of people who help them get their job done who work well together, are always helpful, and get things done quickly. For example, a realtor’s tactical team might be comprised of a title company, a mortgage company, an appraisal company, and a termite inspection company. In IT, the team may include a project manager, product development specialist, and a technical operator. Let the sales reps pick their teams to make sure that the team works well together. Now your reps are ready to start making serious sales presentations.
- Create a 90-Day Action Plan
Have your new hires put together a plan for the first 90 days after they are hired. Help them fine tune their ideas so that they meet the company’s needs, are properly prioritized, and set realistic goals. For an example of a 90-Day Action plan, visit my website listed below.
- Keeping Track
All new sales hires should learn what documents are needed to track their activities (sales calls, demonstrations, proposals), commissions, and forecasts. The first week they should start to utilize this practice. Someone should be assigned to proof read their first proposal prior to presentation to the customer. Weekly sales conferences or one-on-one meetings with their manager, is essential for the new hire to get off the ground very quickly.
About the Author:
Patricia Gardner has closed million-dollar sales deals in two sales calls, and has trained others to do it, in a career that spans 30 years. She is now President of Maximum Sales, an executive management and sales training consulting firm, and has now written a new book The Million Dollar Sales Call designed to help sales professionals unlock the five secrets of strategic sales. For more information on her services or her book, visit www.maximumsales.com.