Investing in new sales hires is an expensive undertaking. According to Forrester, the cost of supporting a single sales rep is $135,000 – and that's assuming the rep becomes fully productive.
That's why innovative sales leaders are charging sales-operations and sales-enablement teams to come up with integrated, systematic ways to decrease the time it takes to get sales reps fully productive.
For example, Qvidian recently worked with a rapidly growing, high-tech company as it geared up for an IPO and hired 100 new sales reps. Because this company needed to maintain an aggressive growth strategy, its leaders knew they could not afford to simply let sales reps sink or swim. Here are the three steps they took to set sales reps up for success.
1) Streamline use and storage of tools and resources.
Don't let marketing materials collect in an out-of-date sales portal. Retire old content, organize according to possible selling situations, and clarify when these materials should be used.
A Qvidian survey found that sales reps waste more than 50 percent of their time every day just trying to access the tools and content needed to do their jobs. Look at all the tools and resources reps need in the context of what they have to accomplish. How many platforms do they need to access? Where is all the content (forms, collateral, selling documents, etc.) they need? Where is the customer and prospect data? Ensure that all information is in the same place or within a few clicks. Otherwise, don't be surprised when valuable time is wasted.
2) Provide information to new sales reps only as it is needed.
New sales reps are at the mercy of the organization as it informs them of what they need to do and when they need to do it. It is unrealistic to provide sales reps with a list of things to do and the portals and systems that house the information and then expect them to connect the dots. This is often overwhelming and counterproductive, as they will not retain all the information. By strategically serving up information, tools, and coaching to sales reps just when they need it, you reduce the chance that they will forget information (since it will be applied right away), and this increases their success in utilizing it.
Businesses should consider making the sales process digestible by scaling information according to specific markets or areas of focus for a sales rep at any given time. Further, make it clear where they can get more information should a new selling situation arise. This allows sales reps to be agile no matter what comes their way.
3) Reinforce best practices by implementing daily checks and balances.
Sales reps, especially new ones, need to understand what's working and what's not with a customer. Too many "lone wolves" pull tricks of all kinds to get deals in at the last minute and prevent sales leaders from gaining visibility into new business pipelines. Make a habit of reinforcing best practices and processes for sales reps in each and every selling situation, and share that knowledge with others when something is done correctly. This can be integrated into a salesperson's day by emphasizing the value that knowledge sharing can have on performance.
With an accurate record of a sales rep's strategy, operations and enablement teams can then analyze what worked and what didn't. Further, streamline strategic planning rather than conduct it during a weekly or monthly meeting. These habits will quickly provide a company with a system of checks and balances for day-to-day activities.