It’s the end of week two for your new sales hire when the call comes – an important prospect that the company has been nurturing for a year has just finalized their project requirements and now needs a proposal in 24 hours. It’s a highly competitive situation and being end of quarter, the rest of the team is focused on closing their own opportunities. How well will your new rep respond?
Now you’ll see just how effective your sales training program is. If your onboarding process isn’t up to snuff – you could lose the deal.
In sales, rapid onboarding is critical to a company’s success. As direct revenue producers, any delay in a salesperson’s “Time to Productivity” immediately impacts the bottom line. Unlike accountants, software developers or benefits administrators that basically come pre-trained for their job function, salespeople must acquire a great deal of company-specific knowledge before they can use their “job specific skills”. They need a deep understanding of product specifications, configuration schemes, pricing, delivery models and more before they can even pick up the phone to call a potential customer.
One of the key goals of any sales enablement program has to be speeding up Time to Productivity for the entire organization. A recent Salesforce study found that firms effective at onboarding have 10% greater sales growth rates as well as 14% better sales and profit objective achievement.
So how does a sales organization get new hires up to speed quickly? Clearly training has to play a major role. However, many companies fail to take full advantage of the sales enablement tools readily available to speed the process. Consider the following best-practice tips collected from our more successful customers:
Make it Easy to Construct a Quote
In many organizations, configuring and pricing a solution is an extremely complicated process and is often a major stumbling block to a salesperson’s success. Companies that have to devote the majority of their training time to “how to use our configurator” or “deciphering the price book” sessions are simply delaying the onboarding process. Worse, they are introducing needless delays into the daily sales process itself. Eliminate these issues with a CPQ solution equipped with guided selling tools, auto-config wizards and a pricing optimizer to ensure that even the greenest rep can create accurate, professional proposals.
Put all your Supporting Materials in One Place
Forcing new reps to hunt around for information that they hope exists somewhere is no way to speed the onboarding process. When all your sales enablement documents – data sheets, presentations, case studies, etc. – are collected and stored in a central repository, new hires can quickly do their homework on any offering. More importantly, they know exactly where to find the value added materials they need to create a more compelling proposal. You can even take this one step further and integrate document management right into your sales quoting solution and automate the entire proposal process.
Schedule Short Briefings with Multiple Knowledge Holders
Quickly exposing your new reps to as many knowldegable individuals within the organization – across many disciplines as possible – is a great way for them to gain a full view of the company, its offerings, its customers and its position in the market. By creating personal relationships between fellow employees in other departments, new hires can quickly contact those individuals if they have questions or need more assistance with a particular prospect/customer request.
Institutionalize Discounts and Approvals
Often, discounts, extended warranties, included services, special terms and other incentives are needed to win a deal. When salespeople are unsure about the policy – especially when they seem to change from deal to deal – they typically offer whatever level of discount they believe will win the business and hope it will all work out once it is signed. Over time, this is a recipe for unprofitability. Instead, implement a formal sales collaboration and approval workflow process to help salespeople propose the right solution, at the right price, from the start. But make sure it doesn’t bottleneck the proposal process or it won’t be used by any member of the sales team – new or veteran.
If you aren’t using a CPQ solution as part of your sales enablement program, you’re doing your company a disservice. In the report Configure-Price-Quote: Better, Faster Sales Deals Enabled, the Aberdeen Group found that CPQ adopters are 118% more effective at on-boarding and training new sales people because the solution captures and then provides new reps with proven methodologies, content and messaging that the company has determined to be the most effective with their customer base.
Effective onboarding is critical to the success of any company. Are you fully using sales enablement tools and all your organizational resources to speed this process? How do you accelerate Time to Productivity for your new hires? Let us know in the comments section below.