First impressions are everything in sales. Sales leaders know this, especially when it comes to prospect and customer communications. Shouldn’t there be a focus on first impressions internally, too? After all, you only get one opportunity to make a first impression – whether it’s prospects, customers, partners, or team members.
Sales training for a new rep’s first month is simpler than most think. Successful sales organizations prioritize training up and down the chain of command. It’s not a one-time checklist. That takes some pressure off; what new reps need most are first principles and a solid foundation. As we’ve said before, there’s more to good training than bottom-line results.
Sales training 101 is in session.
Let’s look at nine foundational tips to organizing a new rep’s first month.
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Sales Training Tips for New Reps
1. Start Simple
Who, what, and why: day one should cover who you are, what you do, and why customers care. This is the common thread throughout your sales training, and it should be as simple as possible. Partner with other teams internally to create a narrative that can be taught and used across the company. And start teaching it on your new reps’ first day.
2. Set Clear Expectations
As a sales leader, you know exactly what success looks like for your role. During sales training for a new rep, define what success “looks like” for them too. How many bookings should they have? By when? Once these metrics are defined, all other behaviors will branch off of those, such as required activity levels.
3. Make Sure They’re Comfortable in the Systems
Remember to spend some time on the technology systems your team uses. How should they be recording information in the CRM? How will they find their leads and data? The reality of modern sales organizations is that everyone spends most of their day using technology systems. Don’t assume new reps understand how to use them or will just figure it out.
4. Focus on High-Value Activities
Spend most of your time training on the tasks and behaviors that will yield the highest results. No “majoring in the minors.” A sales rep can have all of the product knowledge in the world, but if they aren’t trained on managing their day and focusing on sales activities, that knowledge is wasted. Determine and communicate which activities are the highest value at your company. Then, you can back those high-value activities into your rep’s goals in order to optimize their time.
Applying the Pareto Principle to Sales Training 101: The Pareto Principle (aka the 80/20 Rule) is an observation that there’s usually an uneven relationship between inputs and outputs. In other words – in a business context – 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts.
5. Teach with Themed Modules
Module-based training is the easiest way to communicate complex concepts to a sales training class while keeping it on topic. Each module should be focused around a specific topic like technology systems, objection handling, competitive positioning, or KPIs for the role. Each of these should be their own module and refined over time.
6. Test Their Knowledge with Themed Modules
Once you have a module-based training program set up, consider using short quizzes to gauge knowledge retention. These will be especially important for the complex parts of their role. Like the modules are organized, make your (low-pressure) quizzes a natural endpoint for each topic. For example, once you’ve completed the objection handling module, ask your new reps to do a “rapid-fire” objection response exercise with each other.
7. Intentional Repetition
Layer in concepts over time as opposed to touching on points randomly and only once. If you’re covering product features, for example, weave those learning points into your mock sales conversations so the trainees are hearing about the specifics of the products over and over again from different angles.
Connect your company’s story and sales talking points throughout the training experience.
8. Get Feedback from Trainees
Like your company does with its customers, seek feedback from your sales trainees. Ask how prepared they feel before hitting the phones for live calls. Ask new reps who have completed training how they liked the program and what they would change. Use this feedback to improve and even involve new reps in future training sessions.
9. Create an “Incubation” Period
Consider having heavy oversight and support ready for your newly trained reps over the first few months of them being in the role. As effective as sales training can be, they are human and will forget things that were trained in their first month. You will also find scenarios pop up that didn’t make their way into the sales training manual that must be covered as a one-off. This incubation period will help to address these scenarios.
Bonus: Have fun!
Your new reps will be more receptive to the training and retain more information if you deliver it in a way that is both fun and inviting. The last thing you want is a room of crickets when you’re covering a topic. You want the class to be conversational and share as the training goes on. Offer incentive-based competitions. Bring in guest speakers. Whatever it takes to keep them engaged with each other and the company.
Engaged trainees will make stronger sales representatives, and stronger sales reps become high-performance leaders like you. Have fun and keep things light. It’s that simple.
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