Most sales leaders understand the importance of training new salespeople. It’s a no brainer. When we hire someone new we want them to be as successful as possible, as quickly as possible.
The problem we see is that after the initial onboarding, salespeople are often left to fend for themselves. Building out a formalized ongoing training program can be a pain, especially for sales leaders in fast-paced environments where more revenue-focused activities tend to take priority.
Here’s the thing, though. Research from SiriusDecisions shows that the highest turnover rates (both voluntary and involuntary) happen in years 2 and 3 for reps. To curb turnover, sales leaders need to adopt a mindset of ongoing training and development for their teams.
Here are 3 action steps to help you easily build ongoing development plans.
Build Plans That Focus on the Realities Your Reps Face
Salespeople need coaching and training on an ongoing basis in order to do their jobs well—that’s true for rookie reps and for those who have long careers in selling. Technology never sits still, and those changes result in a crowded marketplace and buyers who are more and more sophisticated each day.
If your salespeople aren’t given the real-world training they need to keep up with the pace and perform at high levels in their current sales environment, they’ll look for an organization that does offer that support.
Take Action: Poll your sales team on the challenges they regularly face in the field. Are they struggling to sell against lower-priced competition? Are they having a hard time getting a handle on social selling? Feel out their pain points and then coach to them, or arrange time for a training program.
Provide a Clearly Communicated Sales Career Path
According to the Chicago Tribune, lack of career opportunities is the No. 1 reason people say they leave an organization. If you’re hiring talented and ambitious salespeople (and hopefully you are) they will likely be interested in advancing their career to the next level—whether it’s with your company or somewhere else is up to you.
Keep salespeople from growing restless by continuously giving them new challenges and the motivation to improve themselves.
Take Action: Sit down and map out a career path for your typical newly-hired salesperson. Questions to ask yourself: can an inside rep, for instance, move to an outside role, then onto a Key Accounts role? Do those positions even require the same skillset?
Getting crystal clear about what a successful career path looks like inside of your team is an important step; however, it doesn’t stop there. Clearly communicate this plan to your new hires to get them fired up to move up in the organization.
Let Your Reps Tell You How They’d Like to Advance in the Organization
Sometimes sales leaders feel like they should just step back and let their people “do their own thing,” especially when they’re consistently hitting their targets. But regularly touching base with your people and seeing how engaged they are—as well as asking them what they want out of their future with you—can be a powerful way to build ongoing training plans.
Engaged salespeople have higher win rates. When salespeople see that their leaders are committed to their improvement, their engagement increases and they become loyal to the organization—and less likely to leave.
Take Action: Set aside time to create career-development plans with you sales reps and have them set short and long-term goals for themselves. Ask questions to gauge where they need coaching attention, such as:
“Where do you see yourself in the company next year?”
“The next step in your career here would be _____. What do you feel you need to work on before being ready for that position?”
Bonus: It Attracts New Top Sales Performers
Having an ongoing training and development plan in place helps to keep the sales talent you currently have, but it can also help to attract new top sales talent to your team.
Top performers want the opportunity to grow and develop their skills in your organization, and providing plenty of training and coaching enhances your employer value proposition.
Too many sales organizations fail to realize that the onboarding process is never truly over. The ones who do understand the importance of ongoing training and development separate themselves and make talent their competitive advantage.