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Improving ramp-up times is a top goal for sales leaders.

Improving ramp-up times is a top goal for sales leaders.

According to a recent 2016 Sales Enablement Survey, one of the top goals of sales leadership today is to decrease new salesperson ramp-up time to full productivity by implementing methods and processes that eliminate wasted time and assure the proper leadership engagement early on to support training and development.

Many of today’s sales managers bring on a new sales professional and then become too busy or get sidelined with other priorities... dropping the ball on the new hire’s on-boarding, orientation, and training. Overlooking the opportunity to decrease the “ramp-up” time of the new sales professional is a massive miss... does this happen to your organization?

At GDI, our research shows there are 3 critical steps to assure the best on-boarding process. These are:

1. Accurately define the sales role so the “right” people are hired and developed for the position.

2. Structure the on-boarding program to target the most important metrics that allow for early sales performance and success.

3. Require sales leadership involvement to monitor, coach, and lead the on-boarding plan and process.

As today’s sales arena becomes more competitive and complex, the “right” sales professional wants to get up-to-speed quickly to perform for the company and for their own benefit. If a company can define Top Performance sales and also develop an effective, process-oriented on-boarding and orientation program, a sales professional can be performing in the role within 60-90 days. Even in the most complex roles where high-tech equipment or solutions are required, arming a sales professional with the metrics for success, product/service support & training, internal experts and resources, and providing them with the tools and leadership to get started are advantages that should not be delayed.

In addition, require their direct manager to spend time focused on their development, support and engagement needed to move ahead. Once a solid foundation is in place, the “right” top performers will do what they do best…get out and start making introductions, learning and moving toward new business development with confidence and success.

As a side, as leadership of high performing companies are defining top performance standards, the technology, tools, and solutions to attract, select, and hire better sales professionals who FIT will decrease this ramp-up time. At GDI, we are seeing that many VP’s of Sales, Presidents, and CEOs are modifying the sales recruitment process to be more sales-leadership centric to recruit the right people who bring the skills, characteristics, motivators, and attributes needed to FIT the role.

Having Top Performance defined with a targeted process to hire the right people is #1. Having an effective on-boarding model that supports the position promotes on-going success, optimizes leadership efforts and will assure retention of your most valued asset... the sales professional.

How does your company hire Top Performers? How do they on-board and lead the team? Please leave a comment with how you are decreasing your ramp up times and what changes you have noticed.

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Using technology for transformation

In my last article, I touched on the tremendous value of utilizing your CRM data to give your customers a “voice” in order to gain insights on how they like to buy, the interaction they have with your front-line sales professionals, and even why they choose your brand over the competition. Of course, this is just the tip of the valuable data that our clients have received with our ClientMAX solution.

I would like to shift gears and focus that same technology on your sales organization. Today, the role of a field sales professional has become more complex. They must navigate technology, changing customer expectations, and even generations of buyers and decision-makers that all view the value of what they offer differently. Most sales professionals have worked hard over the years to sharpen their skills, experience, and industry expertise to evolve and be successful in a role that brings great risk, competition and difficulty. 

In the last 6 months alone, I have spoken with dozens of industry leading CEOs, VPs of Sales, and other senior leadership. The trend I am witnessing is apparent throughout the manufacturing, packaging, material handling, and even the software industry. Today’s sales professionals are responsible for large territories, a complex buying environment and have more pressure to develop new business than ever before. Many of these teams that I have been in contact with have been in their role for many years, have a wealth of knowledge and are often trapped in old habits that limit their “focus” and the time needed to generate new business. Often they will spend too much time with existing customers where there is limited growth opportunity and “not have the time” for new business development. This is, of course, a double-edged sword... “Focus on my current accounts or develop NEW customers” – BOTH actually.   

To help a sales team “see” or realize what they are doing and transform how they look at their role, top leaders are now utilizing technology to engage them in a process designed to gain their “voice,” understand how they look at their role, assess where they focus their time, and compare how they “see” their role to what the role requires. 

A quick example of Company ABC: Based on my rapport with the President of Company ABC, I was able to uncover that the team (1 new VP of Sales and 40+ field sales professionals) was struggling with new business development and the new VP of Sales wanted to better understand how he could help the team transform their efforts, increase sales, and gain valuable insights on how to coach, develop, or lead each team member. Our SalesMAX Sales Force Intelligence Survey bridged this gap, arming him with measurable data, suggestions, and recommendations to optimize team performance.  

More importantly, this program gave the sales team a “voice” to help the VP of Sales understand their needs, concerns, and how to best support their efforts... a strategic solution to transform sales team performance. You can see how this solution has been able to support other companies here.

 

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Get real value from CRM data!

One of the most talked about topics with our customers today is CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software that houses their customers’ data.  I have a background in CRM implementation and now at Growth Dynamics I am seeing the results from the view of the sales organization. The biggest challenge today’s leaders face is getting all the great data our sales team collects from customers into the CRM... not to mention getting the sales team (or even marketing) to use it for more than an expensive data storage program. 

 Most importantly, we are consistently engaged with the C-level and Vice President of Sales in large sales organizations where many, if not all, of the leadership is unsure today of the following same things: why their customers buy, what their customers are seeking in the future, and how they can retain or grow their customers’ accounts? Why is this important, because EVERY company we work with is changing how they operate, how they go to market and how they buy... changing the landscape and complexity of sales worldwide. Although you won’t hear this from the sales team, many struggle to define what their customers want and expect as they are so focused on retaining their business or managing through layers of decision makers who flow across 4 generations... all making decisions differently.

 Our company recently completed a comprehensive customer intelligence survey for a global tool cutting manufacturer we will call Company X. Their leadership in the US and Germany wanted to understand the needs of their distributor channel partners versus their end user customers. In addition, they (like so many of our customers) were struggling with a long-standing, highly technical, engineering-driven sales team that needed this information to optimize their sales efforts with their customer accounts. The company wanted to know: What is their customers’ perception of the company products, services or solutions? Do their customers understand the breadth of their line of tools and are they aware of their advanced solutions?  Do they see them as a Tier 1 supplier and if not, how could they achieve that status? This company needed a process that would provide customers with a “voice,” educate them on company products VS what they buy, and then re-engage the sales team to mine, develop and grow their business. 

 The mistake... so often companies reach out to customers with satisfaction surveys and they fail to do the one thing that is the most valuable…engage their customers, get their voice and ask questions... the customer will tell you everything you need to know about how to retain or support their account. Why? Because today’s customer have no more time than we do... the last thing they want to do is find a new vendor or supplier... negotiate pricing, start a new relationship. They simply want your company to be the best you can be for them. Engaging customers to gain their “voice”, feedback, suggestions and recommendations... then feeding that input back to the sales team arms you with information to help the sales team perform, arms you with information to drive customer needs, and allows you to hold a sales team accountable for what customers want and expect... driving sales growth which is the reason we are here!

 

 

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