Saturday, March 10, 2007

5 Process Steps for New Sales Hires

An important tactical item for success of a sales team that is often ignored is how to properly bring on a salesperson. The process by which a salesperson is brought on in your organization is critical to the success of that new hire and your organization. Yes, there are salespeople that can manage to get by with one piece of literature, a phone and a business card, but with some work you can help to make them and all of your other salespeople more productive. An established and repeatable process is required that introduces your new hires to the company and your customers.

There are five areas to consider when bringing a new person on; 1) company introduction (sales team introduction), 2) product training, 3) sales training (I will cover this as a future topic), 4) review of compensation plan and 5) introduction to sales territory (customers). All five of these are important to get things up and running as fast as possible. I would like to share two simple but effective ideas; one is on the introduction to the company and the other is on the introduction to the sales territory.

Sales Team Introduction

Unless you have a team that is large enough to have a dedicated resource for bringing people on board, I suggest the following as a potential way to break the ice and get someone assimilated on to your sales team. You assign a member of your team to make the introductions and get things rolling. A sales manager typically has lots of high priority items impacting their day; I have found that managers often need to schedule time in their calendar if a task requires 30 minutes or more of dedicated time. To properly bring on a new hire is way more than a 30 minute project. Someone who works for the same manager as the new hire will often have more flexibility in their schedule to help with the introduction. By assigning the responsibility the task gets done, and gives the new hire an initial point of contact on the team. This orientation assignment should be bounded (for today I would like you to work with Susan Jones to make sure she gets settled in). Do not tell the new employee to sit and review web content as their training. They will think that you are a lame manager if you do this.

One way that I have seen to accomplish the introduction is to have the new hire fill out a PowerPoint presentation template about themselves (their name, where they went to school, work experience, what countries they have visited, what languages they speak, where they worked before and what hobbies they have.) The template makes it quick, and by having the new individual prepare it makes it personal, when this document is sent to the department it cuts the ice.

To establish the pace of introduction establish and review a time line with the new hire:

  • I am going to take you to HR to get your paperwork finished,
  • Tom Saini is going to work with you today to get you settled into your new job,
  • Tom is going to go over basic product functionality,
  • Show you how you get logged into our systems,
  • How we use our CRM,
  • We have a “Getting Stared Plan” that you can review,
  • I will meet with you at 4 today for a general overview and go over your compensation plan,
  • Tomorrow morning you can start on further review and initial execution of your sales plan,
  • Any questions.

The time and effort investment at the front end pays off going forward.

Introduction to Sales Territory (Customers)

The other idea I would like to share with you is to have the sales representative who is leaving the position to prepare a “Getting Started Plan.” The salesperson who is in place knows the territory (customers) better than anyone else. Why not leverage what they know. Again a template helps organize the information. The plan should be reviewed two days before their final day, just in case some of the items need to be clarified.

Some of the information that can be included in this plan:

  • Most critical customers
  • Emerging customers
  • Key internal and external contacts
  • Deals that are going to close in 30 to 60 days
  • Issues associated with those deals
  • Planed events
  • Marketing activities
  • Pipeline summary
  • Trouble spots (existing customer and product issues)
  • Outstanding quotes to watch
  • How to quote (register, change, etc.)

Armed with a quick introduction to the team and sales environment the new salesperson is in a position to contribute quickly within the framework established by the company. The new person does not need to now go off and reinvent the wheel. It is impossible to have someone in just a day come completely up to speed, but I find that the first day, the first 30 days and then the first 90 days are critical periods of time, where new people are working at fitting in and being productive. It is incumbent on the company and management to provide an environment where new hires have the tools they need to get started, from that point on it is the responsibility the person in the sales position to be successful to use the tools to be successful in their endeavors.

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