Hiring and training a new sales person is very expensive. From the day they start, they are instantly a negative cash flow to you until they start producing. So, the instinct for most companies is to get that person selling as fast as they can. This is logical. However, the shortcuts that companies take to get those new salespeople producing quickly are not.
Consider this – you are a fairly new golfer and want to get better, so you decide to take golf lessons. You go to a golf pro who spends a few hours over a couple days teaching you how to drive, use your fairway woods, chip, hit sand shots and flop shots, read greens, putt, etc.… You should be able to go shoot par now, right? Of course not. You need to practice, then you can shoot par, right? Again, not so fast. There is very little chance that you are going to remember everything your golf pro told you over a relatively short period of time. When you do go practice, there is nobody there to tell you whether you are doing things correctly or not. The chances of you becoming a good golfer without any further help is extremely low.
This is pretty close to how many small businesses train new salespeople that are brought on board. They have the new person spend an hour or two in each department, shadow a successful rep or two, get force fed tons of information on the products, competition and industry and then are set free to go produce. The total “onboarding or training” might last two days or two weeks. The new salesperson stands the same chance of success as the golf prodigy described above. Even if you’ve hired an experienced sales person who has decent sales skills, they most likely still have not learned your company’s approach, sales process, differentiators, internal processes, etc. Businesses do this all the time and when the rep fails and is terminated or leaves because they weren’t making money, we repeat the process all over again.
So what do you change this to avoid this trap? There are a few things:
Use this grid as your training plan and check points. Sit down with the rep at the end of each period and evaluate whether they are on track.
We see companies that use this more formal approach get sales people productive much faster and retain good sellers for a longer period of time. Companies that utilize the fire hose method either get stuck in their growth and/or they have a revolving door of reps that “didn’t work out.”