Off on the Right Foot

By Lain Ehmann

When new reps come on board, a quick office tour and a list of prospects isn’t enough. Managers should expect to spend a significant amount of time monitoring new hires’ progress and working with them, at least for the first 12 weeks, says Mary Delaney, chief sales officer for “I’ve found it takes about that long for new hires to be independent, consistent performers,” she says. Here’s what she recommend you do with your new employees to give them the best chance of starting out on and continuing along the road to success.

  • Recognize the first three months are critical. “New reps come in with a full tank of motivation,” says Delaney. The worst thing for them is to leave at the end of the day thinking the job isn’t doable because they weren’t able to experience success. “First impressions are lasting,” she says.
  • Identify a formula for success. Work with your top performers to determine what their average statistics are in terms of appointments per call ratio, sales per appointment and so on. Then work backwards from the rep’s quota to determine how many sales, appointments, conversations and calls they’ll need to make. “Next, put hours around it with how long each activity takes,” says Delaney. “It’s a great exercise for leaders to understand the ratios you need to get the job done in 50 hours a week,” she explains. It also demonstrates to the employee that the quota is realistic and gives them a way to monitor their own progress. For example, at Delaney has determined new reps should be landing 3 appointments for every 10 conversations in the first 12 weeks on the job.
  • Track new reps’ progress. If reps are falling below the minimum ratios, “a fire alarm should go off in the manager’s head,” says Delaney. She suggests sitting down and making phone calls with the new hires, reviewing their lists of prospects and giving them targeted benefit statements and references. “It’s a great way for them to see you helping them,” she says, and you also can see where the rep’s weak spots are.
  • Fine-tune through additional coaching and training. By working alongside your new employees you can determine where they’re up to par and where they may need additional training. “You have to constantly figure out which areas need the fine-tuning and work to develop the person in that area,” Delaney says. Videotaping or recording calls is an excellent way to show them how to be more effective. After reviewing their own tapes, often they’ll self-correct, says Delaney. “Sales reps often are their own best teachers,” she says.
  • Give them a goal to aim for. Track your top salespeople’s ratios and share these with your newer reps. These success stories will show them what they can expect to achieve in the future.
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