According to a report by LinkedIn, sales positions are the #1 priority by leaders in talent acquisition. That’s because the sales team often serves as the primary driving engine of the entire company. It attracts customers, promotes services, drives sales, and ultimately brings revenue to the company.
Hiring and training a sales rep is a complex job. If you get it wrong, you’ll have to pay a large amount redoing the process and hiring & training a replacement. That’s why it’s crucial to get it right the first time. In order to save you from mistakes related to onboarding and coaching a sales rep, I’ve put together a short and handy guide. Let’s get you started.
The head of the sales department must manage the sales representative
The aspiring sales manager often forgets that he is responsible for his subordinates. This responsibility includes training employees and developing their skills also using different training techniques, allowing them to make independent decisions, creating an environment that encourages them to achieve their goals.
The manager must delegate authority, that is, transfer part of the functions and responsibility for them to his subordinates. When managing sales, the head of the department must develop external contacts. It means building productive relationships with customers, suppliers, and local government representatives, paying attention to customers, keeping your word, punctuality.
The skill of managing conflicts is also essential. It primarily lies in the ability to look at the situation from different points of view. The sales manager must be considerate of his subordinates, reward them for good performance, and be critical of mediocre results. He also needs to achieve the set goals, track and introduce new methods of work, and have high intellectual abilities.
Onboarding a new sales representative
Every company should do what it does best. And if sales are not your firm's strength, then a sales strategy that involves bringing in new professional sales representatives is preferable. New sales representatives, in addition to direct sales, help close trade deals; choose the range of products produced; organize the accumulation, sorting, and storage of products in places most beneficial to consumers; can provide financial services, educate consumers to use the purchased goods effectively, thus reducing costs for producers; provide the necessary information, in particular, on the assessment by consumers of previously purchased goods.
Sales representatives are closer to the market than manufacturers and can provide them with information about changing consumer demands and competition conditions. For online activities, they can work from home or in a coworking space.
Contrary to popular belief, the most sophisticated channels for specific consumer products may be the most effective. When multiple intermediaries can effectively perform specialized functions, the costs can be lower than when one intermediary is responsible for their implementation in many regions. From the manufacturer's point of view, the longer the channel, the harder it controls its functioning.
Understand if you actually need to hire a sales rep
Before you go on searching for the perfect sales rep, I’d suggest you calculate if you even need one. Remember, sales reps aren’t wizards who can magically fly in revenue. Instead, they work on your company’s strategies and culture and promote what you have to offer.
Make sure you’ve already set up your business strategy and built as much of a structure as you can to lay the ground for your new sales rep. It’s ideal to onboard a salesperson only after you have the right information needed to feed them.
Don’t rush in your hiring process
I know: the idea of hiring a sales rep and relying on them to boost your sales is exciting. That’s where many companies try to be hasty in their hiring process and end up onboarding the wrong person. Don’t do that!
Take your time and don’t hire someone until they completely match your requirements. If you mis-hire a sales rep, it might end up costing you many times more than their base salary. That’s because, in such cases, you have to bear several costs like the cost of re-hiring a replacement, training the replacement, missed revenue due to the original hire’s underwhelming performance — and much more. Many companies outsource their payroll to a third party in order to have smoother employee management, so maybe you should check out payroll outsourcing and think about giving PEO services a try. You can find good companies everywhere, for instance, PEO Canada, PEO Singapore, or PEO China can all be smart choices.
Identify the best candidate
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to sales reps. Your perfect sales rep would be the one that aligns with your company’s motivation, culture, and past experiences. However, some definitive skills must be in every sales rep.
First of all, a sales rep has to have a reputation that puts them apart. They must be top-performers in their field. Their attitude and mindset must be collaborative and should align with teamwork. They should have a history of producing effective results in the past. They must have the urge to grow even more and boost their skills while working with you. If you want to be able to differentiate great candidates from mediocre ones, during the interview ask questions that will help identify the top talents.
How to train sales representatives
Sales representatives can study anywhere: at home, at lunchtime, or before meeting a customer. All you need is a mobile phone or tablet with Internet access. As soon as a newcomer enters the company, it is vital to create an account for him on the corporate portal and assign a selection of e-courses: rules for working in the company and retail outlets, merchandising standards, company products, and their characteristics. There are only four voluminous materials that need to be studied in three days and passed after each electronic test. Success is reflected in bonuses - only those employees who do not spare time for their development will earn more.
The main advantage of distance learning is that you can simultaneously train at least 1000 employees from different cities. Whether he passed the test or not, I can see from the reports on the corporate training portal. It stores statistics for each employee: how many materials he studied, how much time he spends on classes per day, what mistakes he made in tests, etc.
Coaching your sales rep
After you’ve handpicked your sales rep, it’s time to coach them. Make sure you have produced a concise script of your sales pitch beforehand. It doesn’t have to be a fancy sales magnet, just a rough document to give your sales team an idea of what and why they’re selling.
Coach your sales rep to identify and deal with bad customers specific to your industry. Bad customers are present in every field, but your area might have specific ones that your sales rep may not be aware of.
Help your sales rep overcome fear, especially if they’re not very experienced. Teach them to face rejection and absorb it with a happy face.
The sales team of many companies is like the main driving force. Without sales, a business could collapse to nothing in no time. Using the above-mentioned tips to hire and coach your sales rep, you can make sure you don’t fall into such pitfalls.