OK, so you painted as bleak a picture of the job as possible in order to cull the meek and feint-hearted from your roster of new sales talent. A veritable wasteland of perpetually postponed meetings and day after day of fruitless cold calls. Prospects that literally suck the life force out of your very being with inane questions, impossible scenarios and agonizing price negotiations only to have the project scrapped by the actual decision maker. But there is not much you can do during initial training sales training that will truly prepare newbies for the cold harsh reality of outside sales. The new hires listen indulgently but are positive that you are exaggerating to make a point. These anecdotes are regarded as folk tales akin to your grandfather’s anachronisms that invariably begin with “In my day”, and end with, “5 miles, snow up to my waist, up-hill, both ways!” To their credit, new sales talent comes in intent on setting the world on fire and showing you how the new generation does it. But all too soon the prospect of walking in a blizzard, up-hill, for five miles doesn’t sound so bad compared to the reality of embarking on a new sales career. 3 things a sales manager can do to help new hires survive in the cold
- Create a secure environment in the nest. It’s tough outside. Make the home office environment a safe haven. Celebrate the small victories with public kudos. Announce to the staff when a meeting is secured, a quote is delivered or an order is signed. This is not only good for morale but also introduces an element of competition. Healthy competition is an important motivational element for both new and seasoned reps alike.
- Kick them out of the nest. Get them out of their comfort zone. The best way to prepare for that is by role-playing. The use of role play among the staff in many ways creates a tougher environment than they may face outside. Tough questions and critiques from peers are usually more stress inducing than actual client meetings. That being said, inside training will only get you so far. Once you are confident that your new sales rep understands your organization’s products and services, kick them from the nest. The sooner they get outside, the sooner you both will know if the job is a good fit.
- Pair them with a senior account manager. Talk is cheap. The best way for new hires to get a flavor of what the job is really like is to pair them with a senior rep. Your seasoned reps will appreciate a resource for bird-dogging new clients and your new hires will see first-hand how to interact with clients in various scenarios without abandoning them out in the cold.
The fact of the matter is, closers are made not born. The first few months of training are vital to the success rate and longevity of new sales professionals. Providing a consistent training platform is a key factor in that regard. Next up – Train and Trust or Who’s Working for Who anyway?
-Joe Ryder, Sales Director