Studies have shown that companies that successfully engage their sales reps have 2.5 times higher revenue than those with lower levels of sales rep engagement.
If done right, the result is lower turnover and increased productivity. The secret to success, however, requires hiring the right salespeople, onboarding them effectively and optimizing their performance throughout their tenure with the organization.
Find the Best Person for the Job
In addition to lost revenue, hiring the wrong person can be costly to an organization. Research from DePaul University estimates that the total cost of finding, replacing and training a new rep is well over $100,000. By using data-driven methods to optimize the hiring profile, sales organizations can avoid such expensive mistakes.
Getting off to the right start requires organizations to create a profile based on the characteristics of an ideal rep in terms of education, work experience, job performance, skills/knowledge and personal qualities or behavior. Combining that profile with data derived from sales technologies that track performance and real-time competences can predict success in the field – helping sales organizations to identify the best people for the job.
By correlating rep proficiency and performance data with the background and experience of top-performing reps, organizations can get a better understanding of the skill sets and background most likely to succeed in a specific environment. Such data can help organizations to quickly execute and verify hiring decisions and better recognize the ideal qualities and capabilities of future hires.
Never Stop Onboarding
It’s a well-known fact that an effective onboarding program can influence a rep’s decision to join your team, so it’s important to ensure a successful program and continuously reinforce critical skills and behaviors of the program over time.
Relying on data-driven methods to evaluate your new hires’ baseline proficiency in all the areas related to the job is a productive place to start. With this data in hand, a good onboarding program can be tailored to leverage individual strengths, while addressing critical skill and knowledge gaps during the early weeks on the job.
While some organizations view their onboarding program as “one and done,” it’s important to realize that onboarding is never really done. That’s because as you’re completing the process of getting them up to speed, their world – and their buyer’s world – remains in constant motion. Keeping reps sharp, and successful, requires a continual refresh of information and skills.
Engage Frontline Sales Managers in the Process
To be truly successful, however, top reps need the support of front-line managers and coaches to help navigate real-world situations in the field. All too often, however, reps encounter managers wholly unprepared to help them develop their skills. It’s estimated that only 6% of managers know how to coach effectively. As a result, one of the top three reasons high performers leave their jobs is because they don’t receive effective coaching.
Moreover, while most companies focus on simply coaching and mentoring the high performers, studies have shown that a focus on the “middle” performers can yield a higher return on investment. The ability to achieve even a 5% performance gain from the core 60% of middle sales performers can yield over 70% more revenue when compared with a 5% shift in the top 20%.
Given the vital connection between better sales coaching and better results, as well as the potential negative implications for rep retention and turnover, ensuring that your sales managers have the necessary skills and experience to coach with impact is essential. All too often though, time constraining managers lack the training and insights they require to be successful.
Get Mobile, and Data-Driven as Fast as You Can
If you’re considering a technology-enabled solution to assist with reinforcement, coaching insights and performance analysis, here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the highest levels of engagement. First and foremost, your reps are busy. With managers and sales people alike, time is money, so they want the least intrusive process. Also, keep it simple. Go where your reps are to reinforce the information and skills they need. That’s on their phone or maybe from within the CRM directly.
Most importantly, make your program enjoyable, relevant and worth the time of a high-performing sales rep. Never underestimate the motivation factor because it keeps engagement high. Finally, be sure to get all your questions answered, too. Ensure that the solution can deliver real-time insights on proficiency, activity, engagement and performance at the individual level, as well as trends by sales team, region, etc. that can be driven straight into the field to inform manager coaching actions.
Creating a productive and engaging environment for your reps to operate in will not only get them to stick around longer, but help you improve client interactions and achieve the results you’re after.
Today’s post is by guest author Lisa Clark. Lisa is Vice President of Marketing at Qstream. She has 20 years of experience building high-value software companies, brands and market share. Connect with Qstream on LinkedIn and Twitter.