5 Classic Mistakes in New Hire Sales Training

October 8, 2013 at 7:00 AM

New hire sales training is failing. The ramp time for new hires (those with less than 1 year of tenure), is trending down 12% last year. The ramp time for full sales productivity measures the time it takes for a new sales person to reach 100% of the monthly sales goal.

Current Ramp Time to Full Productivity Metrics

  • 7.3% in < 3 months
  • 50.7%  in 3-6 months
  • 18.8% in 7-12 months
  • 23.2% in 12+ months

The time between a new salesperson’s start date and achievement of full productivity represents the opportunity cost of a company’s on-boarding process. With sales turnover at just under 40%, and 29% of these people being new hires, the statistics prove it.

In our sales consulting work, we recently reviewed this topic with 736 new hires in 12 industries.

They gave us 5 simple steps to implement in your sales training

Orientation- Ensure the new hire has a world class first day. Our study showed over 2/3 of new hires expressed dissatisfaction with their first day because their Manager was too busy to give them the required attention. The disgruntled participants said their first day meetings were cut short, they ended up getting pawned off on others and left day 1 feeling disengaged.

Fix: Start new hires on Friday not Monday. Seems simple; often overlooked.

Guide- The new hires told us that a detailed onboarding plan that separated Doing vs. Knowing made their first 6 months more impactful.

Fix: Ensure you sequence doing and knowing activities in a fashion that lines up with how the job will unfold.

sales training frameworkMentorship- New hires told us not having a sounding board to lean on other than their boss. Many felt that they were “passed around” by the veterans because nobody wanted to take the time to help.

Fix:  Provide new hires with a dedicated peer mentor. This is somebody who is excelling in the role that can be a guide. Everybody needs a friend other than their boss. The advantage to this is two fold:

  • Mentor— opportunity for your ‘A’ players that may be future managers to get involved in managerial activities.
  • Mentee— fast way to assimilate into the new culture and learn great habits from one of the best.

StructureNew hire training lacked milestones and follow up.

Fix: The participants that ramped the fastest were involved in structured training in their Onboarding Plan.  An example below

  1. Training Activity—Competitive  Intelligence
  2. Objective—understand the value prop of each competitor and mitigation strategy
  3. Duration—3 days
  4. Verification—new hire will be able to list out each competitor in their territory, the value prop, strengths and weaknesses and 3 references where we have successfully defeated them

Simplify- The new hires that struggled to hit their ramp felt their training was complicated.

Fix: Lay out the plan in a simple format so new hires can bucket all of their activities

sales training ramp up activities

Call to Action

Perform a new hire audit focused on talent management best practices.

  • Have a senior sales rep spend 30 minutes with a new hire using the 5 steps above.
  • Rate each on a 1-3 scale of below, meets and exceeds.
  • The peer to peer approach has proven to create the best environment to get honest feedback.
  • Come back to your new hires and close any gaps
  • Implement the suggestions into your new hire onboarding

You can also download this Case Study to see how one of our clients solved their onboarding issues.

Sales training excellence is an iterative process; do not allow your future ‘A’ players to get anything other than your best.

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Topics: Talent Management, Sales Training

Posted by Matt Sharrers

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