When hiring sales team members, keep in mind that good Sales Reps need a good six to nine months of ramp-up time before they hit their stride and start delivering real sales. If you aren’t cognizant of this and cut bait before they have a chance to deliver, you are undermining your company’s sales efforts and wasting the time of potentially valuable sales people.
Too often, I hear from impatient C-suite execs who are expecting closed sales on day two from their new hires. Having extensive experience with training both our own sales team and the teams of others, we know what realistic guidelines look like and what you should expect from your sales people and when.
This is NOT to say that they shouldn’t be delivering! It is just to remind you that closed sales take time and legwork. For the first few months, you need to evaluate your salespeople on the activities they control and be sure they are doing that legwork.
Here are some guidelines for what to expect from your new sales reps and when:
A brand new Sales Rep should be out pounding the pavement from day one. They should be networking, both in person and virtually, making connections and finding leads.
And they should, of course, be COLD CALLING! Making calls, EVERY DAY, gathering information and setting appointments with qualified leads is expected from day one and is something that can and should be tracked. (See our post on KPI’s for more on what you should track for sales success.)
Learning about the Company
The new producer should also be making time to learn about the company, the products and/or services as well as the company culture. They need to be able to identify the target audience so they can have the RIGHT conversations with the RIGHT prospects.
They also need to understand your company’s differentiators so they can address those prospects’ concerns, reservations and pain points.
All Sales Reps should then be setting appointments with QUALIFIED leads. Depending on your industry and sales structure, they may pass this along to a closer or they should be skilled enough to close the deal themselves.
Different Industries have different timelines
In some verticals, like the insurance industry, it can take up to 2 – 3 YEARS to validate a book of business. In this case, you, as an employer, may not realize your ROI for 2 – 3 years. This can be difficult but being shortsighted or having unrealistic expectations, will only undermine your sales efforts.
Time to closing can also be impacted by the SIZE of the target company. Larger companies have more layers of management and often more conservative purchasing approaches, so this usually means that it takes longer line up all the RIGHT people and departments to close sales.
Understanding YOUR target audiences’ timeline and sequence, and addressing those factors in your strategy, can make for less frustration and smoother progress.
List Quality is KEY
No matter what industry you are in, lead generation should be happening in the first months. But cold calling results are HIGHLY dependent upon the QUALITY of your call lists. Keep this in mind if your Sales reps do not seem to be ‘producing’ quality leads.
Employers need to set realistic expectations for deliverables and good sales reps need to be diligent and consistent in their approach and delivery. Good sales results come from repetition and reinforcement.
If your sales team is not producing the results YOU need, give us a call at 908.879.2911 – we can get them up to speed and show them how to produce REAL results.