- New sales hires are a highly valued commodity, and the imperative to get them selling immediately is understandable
- Acclimating and orienting salespeople to their new environment requires time, patience and planning
- Many organizations fail to resist the temptation to throw new hires into the sales equivalent of the deep end of the pool
Conventional wisdom, at least to some, holds that great salespeople can hit the ground running. If a seller is top-notch, he or she is basically a “put me in, coach” player: Just give me my products, pricing, playbook and territory, and let me go get ‘em. In fact, 18 percent of B2B sales organizations put their reps in front of buyers on their first day. Let’s hope this cohort is selling something not much more complex than timeshares.
While common sense dictates that a sales rep should accrue more than eight hours of employment with an organization before chatting up prospects, the opposite approach is far more common. Among high-performing organizations, sales enablement is appropriately tasked with ensuring a smooth transition from non-employee to team member, in advance of orientation and onboarding activities. Unfortunately, many employ tactics that ensure a failure to launch:
- Start boot camp at 8:30 a.m. on day one. It costs more than $200,000 to replace a good or great B2B rep and 4.3 months to hire the typical seller, so the motivation to get newbies into the field ASAP is understandable. But throwing all your products and pricing at someone before they know where the bathroom is located is counterproductive. Our most successful customers realize that one to three weeks of acclimation makes onboarding more effective by providing reps a better compass to understand their markets, buyers and offerings. Other best practices in adult learning, such as shadowing more experienced reps, should also be included. These practices are deployed by high-performing organizations 28 percent more often than other companies.
- Don’t worry about infrastructure. Starting a new job in 2018 is far more complex than when, “Here’s your desk and the Penske File” was sufficient. The technology footprint alone – passwords, user profiles, mobile access – is sizeable and just part of what most of us require before we feel comfortable, start drinking from the sales training firehose and remember everyone’s name. Smart sales managers ensure their new reps are welcomed with everything they need to acclimate for at least the first couple of days. Great ones take the further step of soliciting help from sales enablement to launch pre-boarding communications that optimize the first-day mood and ensure that reps are engaged.
- Surprise them with the unexpected. The worst thing organizations can do when hiring salespeople is to spring a surprise on the newbie – e.g. “Oh sorry, I know we said your territory would be X, but we had to change it.” Substitute “compensation” or “travel time” for “territory,” and chances are you’ve seen this sometime in your career. It’s well understood in this business that account assignments and commission plans are considered permanently variable – they need to adapt as organizations change and grow. But there’s no faster way to create a disgruntled, disengaged employee faster than to bait and switch right from the start.
Good B2B sellers know that the first impression they make on their buyers will have an enormous impact on their deal outcome. Is your organization abandoning this basic rule by biting the hand that feeds it?