Congratulations! After completing a long process of finding and assessing applicants for an opening on your sales team, you’ve hired a promising new rep. You’re keen for her to get to work developing new accounts and growing your company’s revenue.
Now for the bad news. If your company is like far too many others, your shiny new hire likely won’t stick around for long. In short order, you’ll probably find yourself having to start over, sifting through hundreds of resumÃ©s and doing an exhausting round of interviews.
But it doesn’t have to turn out this way. All you have to do is avoid these five common blunders by companies that lead new sales hires to start looking for work elsewhere:
Do a Lousy Job of Onboarding
Success for a salesperson starts on her first day at your company. From understanding who all the key players are within your organization to what makes your company different, the more information and education, the better.
You should therefore walk your new sales rep around to as many people within your firm as you can to help her learn who does what—and whom she can call on while she’s out in the field selling. Of course, you have to train the newest member of your sales team about your products and services, and educate her about your sales process and value proposition. And you need to do so early and often in order to help raise her understanding to the level of a seasoned rep as quickly as possible. Along with explaining things verbally, you should provide documented information about your company, competition and sales process, and make yourself available to answer any questions she may have.
Too often, companies hire a salesperson, then cross their fingers and hope she’ll go out and sell something. Yet without proper onboarding, you’re running a major risk that she’ll quit before she begins to make much of a contribution to your revenue. Considering the cost of having to replace a sales rep, it’s vital to onboard new hires properly.
Provide Little or No Sales Support
Many owners of SMEs were their company’s primary or entire sales force when the firm launched. Their passion and knowledge for their business lent credibility in the sales process and was one of the keys to helping the company grow. But a new salesperson won’t know your business the way you do, so it’s important to give him the tools he needs to help ramp up the learning curve.
Although it takes some time to pull these together, it’s worth the investment. Providing a new hire with well-crafted marketing collateral, an optimized company website and an effective lead-generation program will help get him up to speed more quickly and make it more likely he’ll stay with your company. If you can provide a steady stream of leads to your new hire and equip him with exceptional marketing collateral, not only will he sell more but other sales reps will want to join your firm.True hunters will be even more effective if you give them sales-ready leads.
You can also offer other support, such as administrative help and a prospects database your new rep can call upon. The less time he has to spend pulling together these sorts of things himself, the more time he’ll have for selling.
Present a Poorly Defined and Articulated Value Proposition
If you were to ask at your next sales meeting what your company does, would everyone on your team be able to clearly articulate your firm’s value proposition? And would they all say the same thing? You need a clearly defined value proposition that all your reps can communicate clearly to existing clients and prospective customers.
If you don’t have that, you’re setting your new rep up for failure. Explain your company’s value proposition to her, and then check later on to ensure that she can easily rattle it off. If she can’t do this when you ask her, she certainly won’t be able to in front of a prospect.
Fail to Set Clear Performance Targets
One of the most important things you should be able to tell a new sales hire is which metrics or activities will lead to success, namely your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). If your rep meets these metrics, he should achieve or exceed quota.
However, many SMEs haven’t clearly defined their KPIs, leaving it unclear which activities you want your new rep to focus on. If that’s the case, is it any wonder if he fails to perform? The specific KPIs will vary from one business to the next, but here are some of the most common ones:
- Number of prospect calls per day
- Number of prospect conversations per day
- Number of weekly prospect meetings
- Number of product or service demos per day
- Number of weekly proposals
- Number of contracts waiting to be signed
- Number of new deals closed
Over time, you’ll be able to predict with a high level of accuracy the number of deals your salespeople will close based on activities such as those listed above. Once you’ve established your company’s KPIs, it’s easier to get a new salesperson focused on the activities that will lead to success and them staying with your company.
Neglect to Track Your New Hire’s Activities
Establishing KPIs and desired activities is an important step, but unless you then systematically track the actual activities, there’s no point. If you don’t monitor what your new hire is doing day to day, don’t be surprised if she goes off the rails and decides to look for another job.
Many SMEs lack the systems and processes to track the KPIs that drive their business. Whether you use customer relationship management software or simply track sales activity on paper, it’s essential that your reps record their activity. However, most sales managers will admit that salespeople, by nature, aren’t very good at recording selling activities.
One way to ensure that they do so is to make it a necessary part of their job. Make it clear to your new rep that if her activities aren’t logged in to your CRM system, they didn’t happen and she won’t get her commission. And hold weekly meetings with your sales team to discuss activities and results, using the opportunity to remind your reps of the importance of tracking KPIs.
If you do this, your new rep will understand that this is part of your sales culture. And that will give you the record of her activities you’ll need to ensure that she’s on track and therefore likely to stay with your company.
Matthew Cook has 17 years of sales and sales management experience, primarily in the financial services and staffing industries. He is founder of SalesForce Search Ltd., which was No. 4 on the PROFIT HOT 50 ranking of Canada’s Top New Growth Companies in 2010, and No. 19 in 2011.
More columns by Matthew Cook