If selling was easy, companies would pay high school kids minimum wage to do it instead of investing millions in hiring, training, process development, and incentives like lucrative compensation plans.
Selling, particularly in today’s information-rich, buyer-centric environment, is hard for even the most seasoned sales reps. For reps new to the industry or the organization, the task of selling becomes even more difficult.
The bar is set high, and the learning curve is steep. You can’t really expect success right away but people do. I think that’s why so many sales reps quit so early in the game (or get fired). Lack of immediate success in making quota is incredibly disheartening.
It is tricky to say exactly how long it should take for a new sales representative to be selling with the company and closing enough deals to be making quota.
It depends on quite a few variables including whether the sales person is coming into a lead-rich environment or if they’ll be responsible for generating their own leads. In a lead-rich environment, the time frame for success could be mere weeks. Sales reps responsible for their own leads could have a ramp-up period of several months.
But, leads aren’t the only issue, and it’s important that you know what to expect from your team so that you can:
I’ve had the pleasure of directly hiring and promoting amazing sales reps across different geographies and industries, as well as coaching sales executives on how to successfully do the same. While no one can pinpoint exactly when a salesperson will be up and running at full speed and meeting sales goals, there is a way to roughly set your expectations.
There are six factors in total that determine the time to success, 3 on your side and 3 on the salesperson’s side.
Let's start with you. Consider:
All of these work together. If you have a six-month sales cycle, a three-month learning curve, and it takes 3 months to transition from their old world to your business, that translates to 12 months of pipeline building before you can reasonably expect your new salesperson to start closing business.
On the salesperson side, consider:
Wouldn’t it be great to know those things before you hired them? Can you imagine the frustration it would prevent? The money you’d save? A good hiring strategy will allow you to select the right salespeople from the start, experience far less turnover, fewer delays in growing revenue, and stronger sales teams.
If you’re interested, give us a call. We have access to the most predictive, accurate, and customizable candidate assessments in the world and can help you on your journey to smarter hiring.
Bottom line? Know what to expect and when to expect it from new sales reps.
Every company tries its best to recruit, interview, and vet salespeople before hiring them. But way too many weak salespeople still get through the hiring process, end up on the payroll, and do not produce.
As Seinfeld would say, “What’s the deal with that?”
A full roster of salespeople is the goal for many business owners and sales managers, but it can be a dangerous one. The sense of urgency to hire more salespeople often leads to rushed decision making and a changing or lessening of the criteria for hiring -- a “good enough” mentality if you will. Sales leaders start out saying they want “strong” salespeople, and they settle on having just “more” salespeople. There’s a huge difference between the two realities.
Hiring bad salespeople is unbelievably expensive and frustrating (you can find out just how expensive here). Bad salespeople tank the productivity of others and waste the time of the truly strong members of your team with repeated attempts at training them to perform better. The reality is that bad hires often cannot be taught to produce. Sales just isn’t a fit for everybody.
That’s why we are so adamant about using proven assessment tools to properly screen candidates, like the Sales Candidate Assessment by Objective Management Group. This tool eliminates 96% of the mistakes made when hiring salespeople (and sales managers, too), mistakes like getting fooled by applicants’ charming personalities, perfect track records, or exaggerated resumes.
Our clients are often surprised by the small number of candidates that actually come back from the assessment process qualified for the job. As a percentage, it’s often very low, especially if the job is difficult or the client had many custom requirements that weren’t made clear to the candidate before applying. Other reasons for a low return are:
Above all, exhibit patience in the hiring process. Attracting and assessing the right candidates takes time, but it’s worth every second. Don’t rush it!
We are all familiar with the traditional interview process. An ad is put online and the manager receives a bunch of resumes. Some people look good on paper. The manager gets them in for an interview. The applicant does well. But frankly, those interviews may represent the best sales job that person has ever done. After they are hired, the manager discovers he or she can’t sell a Hershey’s bar to a three year old. This situation is all too common.
I had the pleasure of spending two days with 100 Top Producers from a very unique company this week. I delivered one day of Sales Management training, and one day of Advanced Sales training.
The organization is Creative Financial Staffing, www.cfstaffing.com/about_cfs/overview/, an accounting and financial placement firm.
Annually CFS brings their top producers together for 3 days of learning and sharing of ideas.
I was fascinated by how deadly serious they are about maintaining and advancing their competitive advantage. They are a financially rock solid company, and for the majority of their 20 years, have experienced significant growth. Here is a short list of the observable characteristics that make them unique:
Sales management expert Duane Cashin has lead award-winning sales organizations and trained sales teams for companies of all sizes. He’s earned membership in Presidents Club and Circle of Excellence, successfully built and sold his own multi-million-dollar business, and enjoys sharing his passion for sales.