There aren’t too many instances when a new sales hire produces sales immediately upon joining a new company. I wish this weren’t the case, but with the exception of short sales cycles and call centers, most new sales people need time to learn how to sell a new offering and to start building and converting a pipeline of new business. But results aren’t guaranteed.
Many years ago, as a young sales manager, I hired a rep and provided them with an annual sales quota, and then foolishly failed to assign the rep any shorter term goals such as a 90 day target. I had no real way of evaluating the progress of the new rep, and was under a lot of pressure to deliver sales results myself. As a result, I simply transferred that pressure to the rep by constantly asking them why we weren’t seeing results a few weeks into their time with us. I wanted to be patient, but I hadn’t thought through how long it would take to develop a pipeline and realistic forecast. I created a ton of needless stress for the rep and myself.
One of my mentors at the time took me aside and suggested that I cool my jets. “Give the new rep time to develop” he said. “Pressure is not a bad thing, but it has to be the right kind of pressure and if you keep busting his chops, he won’t be in the right frame of mind to deliver what you want.” Very important words indeed.
Things would have been easier had I had the forethought to map out how long it would take the rep to make sales after making the first calls or had I planned out the first 90 days in terms of exposure to our products, sales training, customer visits, calls, and check ins with me. I did not do these things but as luck would have it the rep was experienced enough to figure some things out on their own and produce sales in time, but I was not in control.
Hope is not a good strategy and it is always better to be in control of your sales force. Therefore, the moral of this story is to have a plan for on-boarding a new rep that is just as comprehensive as the plan you have a plan for managing existing reps. Map out the first 90 days (at least) with a new sales rep in day by day detail, determine the right level of support over the course of this timeframe, provide this support and know you are doing everything you can to make a new rep successful so that you can patiently let the right results unfold.
To your success!
Image courtesy of digitalart | freedigitalphotos.net
Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.
He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.
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