Today’s guest post is by Lee B. Salz, a results-driven sales management consultant and author of Hire Right, Higher Profits: The Executive’s Guide to Building a World-Class Sales Force. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 763/416-4321.
In most organizations, if a new idea is proposed that costs $25,000 to implement, blue-ribbon panels are commissioned, meetings are held, and a decision is ultimately made. After all, the company is considering a significant investment. When a company is hiring a salesperson at a salary of $25,000, however, there isn’t nearly the same level of due diligence performed, yet the cost is the same.
Companies with highly profitable sales teams don’t search for great salespeople. Their quest is to find the right salespeople with the potential to be great on their sales teams. While this distinction may seem subtle, its impact is not.
This quest begins with a 360-degree analysis of the role to determine the factors that impact performance. Once all of those factors are identified, an evaluation program is put in place to contrast candidates with those performance factors. Now, instead of looking across the desk wondering if this candidate is a "great seller,” you’re looking for synergy (or recognizing the lack thereof) between the candidate and the needs of the role.
But a role analysis is just one piece of the puzzle. Onboarding is much more than completing new-hire paperwork and getting the salesperson's office ready to go. When it comes to successful onboarding, start by identifying your objectives and expectations of your new hires. Those expectations are identified in the context of what I call KNOW-DO-USE.
1. What should new salespeople KNOW?
KNOW refers to such information as product knowledge and territory analysis.
2. What should they be able to DO?
DO refers to actions, such as conducting sales calls or delivering a corporate presentation.
3. What should they be able to USE?
USE refers to tools or systems, such as a customer relationship management or order management system.
KNOW-DO-USE provides the framework to identify the desired onboarding outcomes. With that framework, the onboarding curriculum is designed to lead the new salespeople to this finish line.
How do you know when new hires are meeting expectations? Use quizzes, a final exam, and simulations to ensure proficiency has been achieved. If a new salesperson does not meet your documented expectations, there is an opportunity to protect the company by ending the investment early.
In essence, the worst mistake a company can make is to hire salespeople. Adding head count to a sales team should be viewed as an investment made in revenue. Recognizing that this is an investment is a critical first step toward driving sales-team profitability.