5 Tips for Training New Salespeople
When you hire a new sales rep, the last thing you want is to end up having to fire the person after a few weeks or months. That hurts the whole company. Not only have you invested time and money in this person, but customers and other employees tend to get nervous when they see a new hire walking out the door. Yet many companies throw salespeople into a new job without enough training or encouragement.
Here are a few tips that will give your newly hired sales reps a better shot at success:
1. Set up a peer-mentoring program.
The first 90 days of a sales rep’s tenure is the highest-risk period. In these first few months, new reps will struggle with many questions from customers. Some will become discouraged. One cost-free way to help them through this phase is to assign an experienced salesperson on your team to mentor one or more new hires. Ask the veteran rep to keep an open dialogue running each day, so that the new hires have someone to come to with questions or concerns.
2. Start with easy sells.
For the first few months, focus new hires on products that are quick and easy to sell, not on the more complicated ones. Nothing builds confidence more than making a sale, and these early, quick sales will help new reps establish relationships with customers. If you don’t have easy-sell products in your line, consider adding some, even if it's just for this purpose. You’ll find that it greatly benefits your business.
3. Don't forget the nitty gritty.
Learning the ropes of a company's often-complex structure can be tough for new sales hires. And when a rep is confused about how the organization works, it’s hard for him or her to efficiently solve customer problems. For instance, at one company I worked for, customer shipping information might come from one of three different departments depending on the type of product being ordered, and new reps had trouble figuring out which department to call when customers asked for delivery dates. To solve this problem, assign someone on your team to instruct all new reps on the company’s structure and procedures.
4. Publish success stories.
New salespeople are always looking for tips on improving their close rates. You can help by emailing everyone a few sales tips and success stories from seasoned reps each week. These mini-newsletters will not only show the inexperienced hires how to get better results, but the emails will also bolster their confidence. "If she can do it," they’ll say, "so can I!"
5. Do a weekly check-in.
There’s nothing more powerful for new reps than knowing that you—the leader—care about them and want to see them succeed. A weekly five-minute phone call from you can work wonders in terms of a new hire’s morale and effort. Simply touch base: Ask how he or she is doing or whether there’s anything you can do to help.
Using these five tips will raise your sales reps’ chances of success, boost your overall retention rate, and increase sales. When you show that you care about each employee's success, you quickly outpace leaders who simply make a hire and move on.
John Treace has more than 30 years' experience as a sales executive in the medical products industry. His new book is Nuts & Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High-Velocity Sales Organization.