There is a belief in the corporate sales world that to hire sales staff who are capable of “hitting the ground running” is a good idea. I’d like to suggest that it’s bad for your business. Having staff who, the moment they turn up or really soon thereafter, are out there doing their thing without you and without any clear directions, training or preparation is actually detrimental. Why is this? Well consider this, staff that are capable of ‘hitting the ground running’, without pre-existing product knowledge are also usually capable of creating or choosing outcome.
es that are not in your company’s best interest, because it ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ and they have the confidence to act alone.
To have the courage to perform alone in an environment where you don’t have all the facts and you don’t have all the answers and you haven’t rehearsed or seen in action the practicalities and details of various alternatives, means that you’re going to go with what seems like a good idea on the day. The sales rep who is capable of picking up the phone, ‘having a go’ and has good energy for prospecting and creating new opportunities, needs to be well armed before they start.
If you’ve managed to hire such a person, that person is precious and rare, and there are very few of them in the world as a percentage. If you have one, you need to prepare them. They need to have the entire product knowledge ready at their disposal. So, spend a month or two, or depending upon the technical complexity of your product, 3 to 4 months, training that person, teaching that person, having them sit quietly on the corner of another person’s sales call learning; what sort of answers to give, what sort of questions that they will need to ask, and sorts of answers that other reps who do know the product and who have had correct industry experience in your products, will come up with. Don’t leave your company’s sales success resting on what the new person with enthusiasm and energy, bravery and courage is capable of thinking up on the spot.
Sales people who are capable of going out and prospecting, winging it and improvising, are great for new business roles. They are the sort that every company wants and I encourage you to use the Sales Inventory Profile (SIP) recruitment process to locate yourself some of those people. But I don’t encourage you to set them free without product knowledge and practise because the ramifications of that is that they will make way more mistakes as they will engage in way more opportunities than the other sorts of reps who need more help and haven’t started without the training. Sales staff that can’t possibly start without preparation will do very little for you in the first 6 months, but they will do it correctly and precisely later on.
The net effect might be marginally better for the new business style person in terms of closed business, but the bloodshed, for both your clients and for them, could be huge. If these are prospects and not existing clients, you might never know what the ramifications for the prospects were and by the time anybody else thinks to call on them, if you’re lucky, it would be well and truly forgotten.
The greatest damage to your firm is the effect on your new sales person, as they are much scarcer than prospects in most industries.
The consequences for your sales person who is being demoralised and defeated and denied success regularly at the beginning of their career with you, could be huge in terms of their energy to persist and stay in your business. If you lose this person you haven’t just lost 2 or 5 or even 20 sales in the early stages, but have lost 5 years of on-target sales.
Your new person isn’t going to say “Well, I am an awful sales person and therefore, I should stop selling.” They are going to say “This product is useless” or “My manager is useless.” Or even worse “My company is useless.” They will be saying to this to themselves to make themselves feel better and to everyone who will listen. Not only might they give up early on and find themselves a new job, and you have lost somebody really good, but they will project that negative energy during their sales calls before they leave you and long after when talking to others about their old job.
There is a period between when they are all enthusiastic, they are willing to do the job, they are happy to go out, make new clients and they have no fear…all before that point of dissolution and defeat. So, you need to catch them while they are still fresh and enthusiastic and keen, and teach them well. Teach them about your product, teach them about your industry, teach them the subtleties of closing your sale so that they make only a few mistakes, close a lot of business for you, and feel fabulous about themselves.
So if you think you’re up for having new business reps who really can sell, who really can prospect, who really can hustle, I’d like to encourage you to contact me, Maya Saric at Corporate Coach (0407 005 290) and use the Sales Inventory Profile (SIP) system to recruit some of those people for your team.
For more articles on sales staff and training: Why your receptionist may be your next sales star…