How will training help? I need productive sales teams.
One of the very first things we all learn about salespeople is that they are born, not made. This is fundamentally true, but we have all met the person that seems to overcome regardless of the birth quotient. What do they do differently and can we make them?
Train to fit the person with the process, not the other way around
There are many ideas on how to train both sales and recruiting teams and the very concept of training is always good. Does your team fully understand your approach? Does your team know how you want your message relayed? Have you defined what success looks like? A training program designed to your specific business addressing your areas of importance should be at the top of your list. I have been a part of many programs that took a standardized approach to business and while these programs bring value, the programs that bring an entirely different level of success are:
- shaped around your business practices
- developed using the values of your organization
- determined by your team to be efficient and effective ways to drive the process
- designed to engage the team and truly create adoption
- built to drive success (ROI)
Create the plan – building a routine
Training teaches everyone to build a plan, but it is more than that. It is about building a routine. When training is over and the average salesperson or recruiter goes back to their desk, has the training become a part of their daily routine? The plan builds the best practices that need to be followed and holding people accountable to it helps them build a routine. When the team has been a part of building the plan, instead of shoved down their throats, then they will buy in and make it a routine. We have to use this opportunity to create a shift in thought.
Fundamental shifts in attitude
Looking at training objectively, are we investing time, energy and money into training in order to say that we did it or to drive success. We must evaluate the training on the front-end to determine if it drives what we want and if it is and we do the training then we must be committed to make it a part of our culture. Driving a shift in attitude is one of the top success factors of training. Training is in trouble when the average person says, “training was great and there are a few pieces that I can take from it.” This translates to I am doing things the way I think is best and will continue to do things my way. If they were that good, then training was probably not necessary and if they were not, then where will the accountability come from.
Tracking Success – Transparency
Everything worth doing is worth doing well. Let’s benchmark where we were before the effort began. What problems were we having? What deal breakers existed? What were our failures and what were our successes? How will we know if it is a success? If you know what your sales and recruiting funnel looks like from calls to connects to meetings and so on through the funnel then you can determine success. But this is the first step, make it transparent to the team. They should be able to go in at any time knowing what is expected of them and having the ability to open a report to see for themselves. Creating transparency for each and every individual is important to creating a winning atmosphere.
Identify winning characteristics for hiring
The best way to set yourself up for success is to make sure you hire well. Create a profile describing the right candidate in detail. Are they fresh out of school or seasoned pros from other firms? Are they outgoing or do they need to be solid cold callers? When interviewing, keep in mind that liking a person is the wrong reason to hire them. Did they try and lead the interview or did you have to drive the entire time? If you want to try something novel then turn the interview into a client meeting. Begin by telling them that you are willing to believe what is on their resume, that most of their references are probably going to say that they are great and finally that you want to turn the interview into a meeting. This will be a meeting to get the job because like a client meeting the hiring manager (you) has something they want (a job) and they have something to sell you (themselves). Ask them if they know consultative selling and tell them they have a second to build an agenda in their mind to get the job from you. This whole thing will throw them and yes, I have done it. You need to be somewhat forgiving because they are not going to expect it, but you will have a much better idea of whether or not they can run a meeting, build questions to uncover needs, and build a case to sell their product (them). Give them objections and see how they do at overcoming. One tip on being forgiving: if someone bombs because they were taken too much by surprise then a good salesperson will ask for another chance. Give them the extra chance, but do it over the phone for a shorter period of time like 15 minutes. It will be one of the most fun interviews you ever do and will provide you real insight. Additionally, there are many assessment tools on the market for personality assessment that lead you to determining the validity of your opinion. Try them out.
Five takeaways about sales training:
- Training should be built to drive individual success and the process
- Create a plan, but always turn it into a routine
- A fundamental shift in attitude is key
- Track success and make it transparent
- Identify the characteristics of a right fit before hiring and then stick to it
About S.J.Hemley Marketing
S.J.Hemley Marketing is a marketing and sales consulting firm focused on driving tangible results for professional services firms. With over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within staffing and recruiting organizations, we have helped to drive successful branding, sales training, lead generation activities as well as defining marketing strategy for leading firms. Brand matters, but not without ROI.