There’s a broad misconception in the world of sales that we’re about to tackle:
“Sales professionals don’t need or want consistent sales training—they want to learn the process and create the appropriate messaging on their own.”
All too often, sales professionals are hired to lead prospects through complex, enterprise sales cycles with little to no company or product onboarding. However, when those professionals don’t attain their quotas within the first or even second quarter, fire alarms start to go off, and sales leaders don’t understand why they aren’t hitting the ground running.
The reason for providing sales professionals little to no resources or training opportunities is usually due to one of two scenarios (or in some cases, both):
- Sales leaders are convinced that sales professionals don’t want or don’t need in-depth training and want to be “left on their own”
- The company simply hasn’t developed a sales process or methodology in which to use as a basis for sales training
According to CSO Insights, 50% of sales professionals consistently hit their quotas and because of that, only 80% of revenue targets are achieved. When sales professionals don’t attain their quotas, sales leadership usually begins to assume that the team member isn’t a good fit—even though they are professionals who understand the complexities of relationship building and solution selling. After all, they were probably brought on board because of the past success they had in their previous sales roles. This downward spiral of bringing on new sales professionals, providing them with ad hoc tools and sales process, and then expecting them to attain or even exceed quota within their first or even their second quarter is a foolish approach—but one that’s become all too common.
In this article, we’ll explore why the “one and done” onboarding approach doesn’t cut it, but more importantly, we’ll share 4 resources that you must provide new sales professionals in order for them (and your sales numbers) to succeed.
One and Done Employee Onboarding Doesn’t Cut It
The first 2 weeks of a sales professional’s employment usually consists of employee onboarding. If the training is like most, then the new hires probably sat in back-to-back meetings reviewing HR documents, company policies, PTO plans, company history, and with any luck, product overviews. Regardless of how thorough that initial training may have been, their first days and weeks at the company are a blur. Sure, they may have received a binder with product information for them to review, but how relevant is that to the sales team’s methodology and process? More often than not, marketers receive more product and messaging training than the sales professionals who are actively positioning the solution out in the field.
4 Resources Sales Professionals Need For Faster Ramp Up
Most sales leaders expect their new sales hires to pick up the phone, schedule demos, meet with prospective customers, and move opportunities through the pipe. And yes, they typically expect some deal closes within the first couple of months. After all, most enterprise sales professionals have the benefit of having “warm leads” passed to them, so what’s so hard about closing deals with prospects who are already interested in the solution?
Without proper training and resources—regardless of how tenured the sales professional may be—it will take time to ramp up. Without a deep product understanding, objection handling training, and a belief in the company’s values and mission, then it’s difficult if not impossible to convey those messages to prospects while handling difficult discovery and contract discussions. It’s not fair to assume that sales professionals should have the same level of product acumen as sales leadership when they’ve had far less hands-on training. In order to mitigate the lack of training issue and to simultaneously ramp up sales professionals faster than ever, try implementing these 4 resources into continual training opportunities:
1. A Thorough Understanding of the Company’s Core Values and Mission
Before a sales professional can effectively get behind a product or solution, they must understand the company’s core values and mission. What does the company care most about? What are some of the initiatives the company is involved in? What was the reason the founding team created the product or solution in the first place? While these company facts might not make it into every prospect conversation, a sales professional must understand why the product was first created so they can articulate where the company is going and what it believes in—without reading the core values verbatim off the website.
2. Up-to-date (and Ongoing) Product and Feature Language
While this may seem obvious, it’s shocking how little product training most companies and sales leaders provide to their team members. Rather than send a one-off sales-wide email with a list of sentence long updates, set aside time to review product messaging and feature language in every Monday morning sales meeting and hold special training sessions monthly where team members can get their hands dirty in the product. This type of safe environment allows them to ask questions and make the same mistakes that their prospects might make. How can a sales professional position a solution correctly without understanding it intimately themselves, first?
3. Objection Handling Training and Role Playing
There’s nothing more paralyzing for a sales professional than to be asked a challenging question without proper guidance or tools to help them respond appropriately. Improper objection handling training (or lack of training at all) is one of the fastest ways to catapult sales professionals off-script during their discovery or prospect calls and into a downward spiral of tactical nonsense. It’s a best practice for companies to develop a roster of common objections, along with some stats or guidance on how to respond. Even better, savvy sales leaders help their team members integrate the most applicable objections into the sales process so they can address them head on, without waiting for the prospect to bring them up.
4. The Sales Organization’s Sales Methodology
Each sales team has their own methodology and process for how sales conversations should progress. From asking certain questions during the first discovery call to sharing certain customer stories and detailing success anecdotes to move opportunities along the pipe to negotiating contracts, sales methodology is a fundamental component to sales success. It should be engrained in the sales professional on a weekly (if not daily) basis. An agile sales process makes it possible for team members—along with their leaders—to learn from the success and failure of every individual on the team and iterate constantly to create a rock solid methodology that sets everyone up for success.
While some sales leaders may believe otherwise, sales professionals actually want to be trained and have a desire to continue learning and improving. After all, they can’t be successful in their roles and attain their quota and compensation targets if they don’t have the tools they need. Next time your company brings on the next round of new sales hires, be sure to re-think the training and resources they receive—both during their initial onboarding and throughout their future with your company.
Ready to Learn More?
For more information on best practices of great sales leaders, check out the Costello resources below. If you’d like to see Costello in action, request a personalized demo of our agile deal management platform.