Do you mind if I start with the obligatory story? I think it’s one you might recognize. It’s the one about a busy sales manager frustrated with the under-trained newbie reps she got as “graduates” from her training department.
But this story is about me. I was the “undertrained newbie” – and the boss. I was twenty-four, and was brought in from the outside to manage a team of 15 outbound B2B Reps in tech. I’m new. My team is new, and we’re all “graduates” of the company onboarding program and all 100% clueless. (Yes, of course we turned it around and were the number one team within a quarter – cue the Rocky music here – but this isn’t that story.)
This is the story of being frustrated that you can come out of a 2 or even 4 week program and still have absolutely no idea how to do your job.
Who do I call first?
What do I say?
Why isn’t anyone calling me back?
What’s the product SKU for an IBM Thinkpad again?
Brace for it–now I’m going to hit you with some stats.
- One in five sales executives are satisfied with their Rep onboarding program (Sales Architects 2014).
- Fifty percent of reps selling today need to be retrained (or removed) (Bain / CEB 2016)
- Organizations spend an average of 3x more on rep tools than on rep development (Inside Sales.com 2016) and 25X on recruiting (Training Magazine)
- Attrition can be cut in half by a good training program (Training Magazine)
So, are you an unwitting accomplice to rep abuse? Let’s find out. Here are some top signs that your new hire training might be broken:
1. The majority of your attrition occurs in the first five months.
They like the company, don’t mind the job, but they’re not ramping up fast enough to make money and they’re frustrated. Time to pull the ripcord.
2. It takes your business development reps over 3 months or your account managers over 6 months to ramp to target.
There will always be a ramp, but a great new hire training program can cut this in half (and significantly impact your attrition, too).
3. Average call length is about 1:30.
These are voicemails, every last one of them. If your reps can’t get people on the phone, keep them on the phone, and get calls back, they need better sales training.
4. Your program is under 4 days or over 4 weeks long.
The first is an orientation, the latter is a firehose. Get them on the phones after two weeks and bring them back for the rest of it! Check out my video on “Just in time” New Hire Training.
5. Your reps have no clear plan of attack for their lead list / book / and/or day.
Ask them how they decide who to call. If they say they start at the “A’s…” then you’re missing a cohesive sales strategy – or your training department isn’t training it.
6. You aren’t training any business, customer, or industry acumen.
Forrester taught us that over 60% of buyers found their sales rep added no value to the buying process. College isn’t teaching them how, and we have to.
7. You’re using the same training as the field.
I get it, you had to use something and your org is new. But it won’t work and frankly frustrates reps to try this old-school model in their new-school world.
8. HR is teaching your reps how to sell.
85% of the best-in-class use a professional sales trainer or curriculum. When’s the last time HR sold your product?
How’d you do? Some of these might take a custom report, but trust me: you’ll be glad you had it created. Your training department needs to be your partner like marketing is your partner – no, scratch that, recruiting is your partner…wait, I can do better…payroll is your partner.
In a recent model I completed with Microsoft, we found that they could add over $50 million back into revenue by cutting new hire sales ramp time down to best-in-class – and nearly double what they could save by cutting attrition to the same. If you focus and invest here, it will quickly be like having another 1/3 of your headcount to help you hit the number.
Ready to roll up your sleeves and fix it? Check my next article: Eight Components of a Best-in-Class New Hire Onboarding Program.
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