Have you seen the 2003 movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey? It’s a romantic comedy in which a women’s magazine writer and a marketing executive unknowingly place bets on one another to their colleagues. Andi, the writer, tries all the tricks in the books to drive away her new love interest. Let’s apply this same method of thinking to sales enablement and discuss all the tricks for how not to lose a sales new hire in 10 days because, as we all know, turnover is quite expensive. In fact, in “Six Sales Turnover Statistics You Need to Know,” Xactly quotes that “it costs upwards of $115 thousand to replace a sales rep.” Let’s dive into how those turnover costs can be minimized.
1. Confirm system access. It’s imperative that all systems are set up prior to a new hire’s first day on the job. They’ll want to get organized right away in tools such as Outlook, the HR system, and their communication methods. The ramifications of not having system access set up properly upon beginning new hire training include frustration in not being able to get started, lost productivity, and disengagement.
2. Ensure stakeholder alignment: It’s extremely valuable to always be on the same page with executive stakeholders about the overarching goal of the new hire sales training program. For example, the goal at the end of a six-week training could be to sell $50 thousand by the end of four months. Once there is alignment on that, the goal can be clearly communicated to new hires so that all teams can work collaboratively. All the learning objectives for a course should then be viewed as milestones to help a participant reach that overarching goal.
3. Ensure manager alignment: It’s then necessary to have alignment with the new hires’ managers so that everyone agrees about the dates and times their reps are in training, what they are being trained on, how they are being measured (such as quizzes or peer-graded role plays and facilitator notes), and how they’ll receive feedback on performance, comprehension, comprehension, and engagement (such as electronic journals, emails, and so on). When manager alignment occurs, it allows the new hires’ leaders to become a part of the learning journey and hold the new hires accountable for demonstrating what they learned in the field after training ends.
4. Mandate Training: Once executive stakeholder and manager alignment is confirmed, new hire training should be considered mandatory if the goal is to reach specific revenue goals by a certain target date and with specific learning objectives along the way. This expectation should be understood with the talent acquisition team during a prehire conversation, with the sales training delivery team, and with all sales managers. The conversation should come from executive sales leadership. To help comply with this, facilitators should track tardiness and absenteeism and require new hires to have their vice president’s written approval for any absences.
5. Detail sales expectations. To provide new sales hires with a strategy to reach their revenue goal, executive sales leadership must define weekly activity expectations, such as the number of profiling and prospecting hours per week, the number of different types of meetings, and the dollar amount of revenue in their pipeline forecast in their CRM. This allows the facilitators to continuously message these activity expectations of bringing back the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) to new hires in training as to why they are learning a particular process, strategy, or concept.
6. Assign territories. For adult learners to truly change their behavior in a certain direction, they need to immediately be able to apply what they just learned. For sales new hires to be able to apply what they learn in profiling, prospecting, relationship management, and sales process, they need to be able to dial into their assigned territory or assigned account list right away, even in their first week of new hire sales training. Paylocity sales trainer Chris Ward made this connection when the organization implemented Salesforce. Ward says new hires need to, “apply their new knowledge in the moment because sales reps tend to learn and retain knowledge better when they can apply it immediately to their role.” This is so important that at my organization, we remind directors a week-and-a-half before new hire sales training starts to ensure Salesforce territories are built out so reps get off to a fast start and are set up for success.
7. Create participant guides. While in new hire sales training, it’s critical to have designers create a user-friendly participant guide that is always up to date. It’s less than ideal to have new hires trying to take notes during training. A participant guide with space to adequately take notes yet have visual images of material that doesn’t require everything to be handwritten helps keep the pace of training moving and participants engaged while stimulating the reading and writing learning style. Participant guides also help ensure that key material is reviewed accurately and are helpful documents to have handy even after training ends.
8. Build training realistically. The demise of a sales training program can occur if material that is taught is inconsistent with what actually happens in life after training ends. No one wants training to be built in a bubble, but sometimes it’s hard to know what will work. To ensure there is consistency between training and reality, it’s important to involve successful reps in new hire training through the creation of success story videos or maybe even a formal mentor program.
9. Offer performance support. Believe it or not, not all sales reps are going to be dynamite performers when they start a new role. By having additional individual performance support available during and after new-hire training from facilitators, new hires will feel supported, appreciated, and like the organization has invested in them, which can lead to greater knowledge, engagement, productivity, and performance.
10. Continue the culture of learning. An L&D department’s dream is to instill a culture of learning within an organization. This is easier said than done, but once it is accomplished, it’s the responsibility of a sales training facilitator to bring the new hires into the culture of learning from their first interaction. This can be done by reviewing the company values and having a social collaboration component during new-hire training, and having continuous learning opportunities and mediums available for sales reps throughout their entire tenure in the role once training is completed.