When you hire a salesperson, you look for a few basic qualities: confidence, assertiveness, strong communication skills, and so on. The right strengths always help new salespeople, but there’s another piece to the puzzle of success.
If you want new hires to succeed, you can’t just hire the right type of person. You need a person who puts in the right type of activity.
Why Don’t New Salespeople Work Out?
Here’s what often happens when you hire a new outside salesperson:
- You train them for a few weeks on products and services.
- They put together spreadsheets/activity logs to show what they’re doing.
- Six months later, you realize their sales numbers aren’t there.
Our first instinct is to blame the salesperson. Are they not capable of closing deals? Do they understand the product?
But their ability isn’t usually the problem. The issue is their activity level. If they don’t talk to enough prospects, they won’t have the numbers needed to make enough sales.
Salespeople have to make phone calls and meet people face to face regularly. Yet, most salespeople would rather walk into a burning furnace than make a sales call. So they find things to do that keep them busy: making logs, running reports, putting together proposals. And activity suffers.
Salespeople fight this by making tons of cold calls at once. Then they spend weeks following up on those calls by traveling to appointments and making quotes. After they finish, they start from scratch again. That way, they end up in a good quarter/bad quarter cycle.
Instead of leaving salespeople to figure out how many cold calls to make and when, sales managers should set clear expectations and hold them accountable. Work backwards through the data to see how much activity produces the desired number of sales. Then track activity in real time with CallProof. If you see a person isn’t hitting their daily numbers, the sales won’t follow.
When you work through those numbers, you’ll be able to calculate exactly how many phone calls and meetings individual salespeople need weekly, even daily, to achieve their goal. Then you can check if they’re doing that.
Without a real-time CRM, it takes about six months to see a salesperson’s activity. Only then can you determine retention. CallProof cuts that time in half by showing you activity in real time. When you use the tool that lets you inspect what you expect, you’ll see how successful they’ll be within 60 days (including two weeks of training).
The Value of Training Your Salespeople
Training aims to turn sales talent into sales productivity. And that’s done through activity. So focus your salespeople’s training more on interactions than product knowledge. First, help new sales reps understand the importance of activity. Then teach them how to ask prospects questions to find their pain point. That’s what brings success.
Back in the ‘80s, there was an IBM saleswoman who sold record numbers of mainframes. She went out and asked her prospects questions, then brought the information back to the technical people to find solutions. Realizing how astounding her sales numbers were, IBM decided to give her in-depth training on the technicality of their products. After about a year of this intense training, she returned to the field. Her numbers were thoroughly average. Never did she achieve great sales figures again. Why? Once she knew everything, she no longer asked questions.
Many companies emphasize product knowledge in training. But the best training is learning to complete the activities that lead to sales (like making phone calls and meeting face to face). That’s more important than the person knowing what they’re talking about.
How to Cut Sales Training Time in Half
Managers, you don’t have to wait six months to find out if a rep is going to be a good fit. With a solution like CallProof, you can find out in two months or less. First, train them in the science of activity level and give them clear activity goals. Then teach them how to make calls and meet with prospects. Give them just enough product knowledge to solve pain points and offer a great service to your clients.
All the while, keep your finger on the pulse of their activity to see if they’re booking the numbers. If not, you can correct or move on quickly. If they’re doing well, you can encourage them to keep doing what works.