Congratulations! You just hired a new sales rep… or maybe a couple of them. Maybe they’re even the first ones you’ve ever hired. And you’re anxious to get them trained and “on the street!”
So, what’s your sales training agenda look like? Like most firms, you’ll focus on all of the different services they will be selling… making sure they know exactly what you do. That’s a good start, but you’re missing a lot. Make sure to include these critical topics as you’re putting your training agenda together…
- Tell them about the start of the company… share with them how you got to where you are today… help them feel like they’re part of something very special.
- Meet everyone. Walk them around and introduce them to everyone at the firm. Not only will this make them feel welcome and part of the team… it’s good for the other employees, too – they need to understand that sales is also important to the firm.
- Project flow. Make sure your reps understand exactly what happens to a client’s project after they sell it. Show them how a project flows through your organization, who touches it and at what stage.
- Have your reps shadow those with whom they will work directly, especially the PMs. Let the reps listen in on calls, see what a day-in-the-life for your PMs is like and let the PMs answer questions about their work with clients.
If your new reps have come from outside of the Market Research industry, make sure to give them a basic understanding of how it works. For example…
- Share with them all of the different kinds of players in the MR industry (agencies/consultants, buyers, fieldwork firms, data collection, tech providers, etc.) and how and when they can come together.
- Provide them with a list of industry resources – associations, publications, websites, etc. – then challenge them to visit the resources and expand their knowledge.
Assuming your new reps have the requisite selling skills, drill down to the next layer…
- Define their target market(s) – who you want them selling to… by industry, by type and size of company and by title/function of contact.
- Within those target markets, your reps need to understand the problems and challenges their contacts face every day… and how your products & services help to address them.
- What firms are your reps likely to hear about when talking with clients and prospects? And if you can’t identify specific competitors, at least talk with them about the kinds of firms they’ll run up against.
- Make sure your reps can deliver a GREAT capabilities presentation… in-person and remotely. To make sure they’re really good at this – have them present to you.
Don’t just teach your reps what you sell… teach them to talk about what you do in ways that really connect with clients and prospects. For example:
- Don’t just teach them about the ‘features’ of your firm and your services… make sure they understand and can articulate the ‘benefits,’ as well.
- Make sure your reps can answer the WIIFM question – “What’s in it for me?” Remember, your clients and prospects don’t really care about what you can do, they care about what you can do for them.
- Make sure your reps are comfortable with whatever CRM/tracking/reporting system you’re using… and that they understand the “business rules” for using it.
- Review the kind of support they get from Marketing… and the kind of feedback marketing wants from them.
After the initial sales training is over, don’t stop there… keep it going to make sure your reps stay at the top of their game.
- After about a month, bring them back for a day of refresher training… it’s amazing to see what a month in the field or on the phone does to their perspective.
- Over time, as you launch new products or services, make sure to dedicate some training time on them to your reps; and make sure to integrate some of the elements above, like the features/benefits and how marketing will support these new products.
- Assuming you have some sort of weekly sales meeting – and you should – block off 10-15 minutes every time for the training-tip-of-the-week.
- In addition to the training you provide, consider sending your reps to outside ‘selling skills training.’ No matter how good they are… there’s always room for improvement.
Your sales reps are the representation and embodiment of your company, your brand and you (as the owner) in the marketplace. When it comes to sales training… better to get it right, then to get it fast. The time and effort you invest will pay huge dividends!