It’s December and many security companies have big sales plans for 2018. Lots of these plans include hiring new sales reps to help fuel growth. Getting your new sales reps up to speed quickly is a priority for all organizations. It can be hard to be patient and acknowledge the time commitment that can take.
Onboarding wasn’t even a term back when I started in the security industry. My new hire training consisted of 90 minutes in the stockroom being shown equipment and being told what it would do. Then, the expectation was that I hit the streets and make sales happen. That meant I had to learn on the go. I would have benefited from more coaching. I quickly understood that learning things on the fly was not the best way to get up to speed quickly.
When I became a sales manager, the pressure was always on to get new reps producing quickly. Most organizations and owners expected to see results within 90 days, even though most companies take six to 10 months to get a rep fully trained.
Over a seven-year period, I hired, trained and coached three Rookie-of-the-Year award winners in very large organizations within this industry. Here’s what I learned over the years to get new sales reps up to speed quickly:
1. Hire the right people
If you want to reduce your onboarding time, make sure you are putting your training energies and resources into the right people. If you hire the wrong person to begin with, you’re going to have a nearly impossible time getting them up to speed quickly. Become skilled at asking the right questions that give you actionable insights into considered candidates.
2. Teach the sales process
Too much new hire sales training time in this industry is spent on equipment and the details of the company and its services. I recommend instead spending lots of time with new hires on the sales process. No matter how basic this might seem to you, it’s wise to cover all the fundamentals of sales. After all, professional athletes begin each season with training camp to review all the basics, and you should do the same with your new hires.
Then teach the sales process used by your company. Who is your ideal customer? Where do they hang out? What can you do to gain their attention? What is the typical sales cycle? Why should someone buy from you instead of your competitor? What are the milestones and customer behaviors at each? New hires need to understand and apply your sales processes for quick results.
3. Set activity-based objectives
Most new reps have little to no control over how much they sell. Between their initial learning period, their ramp-up period and your sales cycle, it may be a while before they make sales. One thing a rep has 100 percent control over, however, is their activity. Set clearly defined, activity-based goals during their initial ramp-up period.
Then, clearly define and explain the key performance indicators you use to evaluate performance. Review them regularly with your new hire.
4. Give them the tools they need to do the job
I visited a security company this summer and met with a rep that had been hired by the firm six weeks prior to my visit. The rep still didn’t have a laptop to work with, didn’t have business cards, and hadn’t been trained to use the CRM system. And yet the owner complained the rep was off to a slow start. Wonder why?
5. Spend the time
A new sales rep is a precious investment in the growth of your company. Give this investment the attention it deserves. Make onboarding a priority. Make calls with the new rep. Spend time with them. Coach them. No matter how great the talent — or how great the coaching — some good things just take time.