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Blog: Hiring and Training Your Future Sales Force

By Bridget McCrea

In order to keep your bench strong, Dave Mattson, CEO of Sandler Training in Owings Mills, Md., suggests a systematic approach to hiring and training the future sales force. Here are Mattson’s top tips for electrical distributors that are training and hiring younger/newer salespeople to replace current top performers, broken down into hiring tips and training advice:

Hiring Tips

  • Look within your network. Some of the best hires will be people you know, have already impressed you or that your team has already been exposed to in some fashion. Ask clients that you trust, associates that you network with often or reconnect with someone who made an impression on you.
  • Refer to LinkedIn. These days LinkedIn is a top tool for recruiting. Look to your connections on LinkedIn to see who’s performing well and engaging with other LinkedIn users in your industry.
  • Incentivize associates for leads. Consider creating (or reinstating) a program that rewards associates for leads and referrals on new hires that meet milestones (these milestones can range from sales quota milestones to rewards once the new hire reaches six months with the company).

 

Training Advice

  • Create a training playbook. To do this, companies will need to consult with these top salespeople to get them to share their approach to the job – which is easier said than done. “I see it all the time, veteran and top salespeople have a hard time putting into words how they go about being successful,” says Mattson. “They’ve doing it for such a long time, they just do it. We ask clients to take a step back and think about what attitudes, behaviors, and techniques should be replicated.”
  • Follow the SEARCH process:
    • Skills – Identify which skills your top salespeople possess and teach new associates the importance of those skills.
    • Experiences – Know the ups and downs your top salespeople experienced and what they learned from each of them. Bring those good and bad experiences to life for the new person. This way, pitfalls can be avoided and the lessons will be learned.
    • Attitude – Look at the attitudes of top salespeople and identify the common traits among them and incorporate the importance of these attitudes in the on-boarding/training process. In most cases they all should have the ability to bounce back from failures, stay focused on goals, remain positive, have a healthy self-concept, and so forth.
    • Results – Look at the numbers that top salespeople are hitting. In many cases, new hires are competitive and like to know the shoes they’re ultimately going to have to fill. But, don’t expect them to hit these numbers immediately – that will come over time with proper training. In the short term, create achievable performance metrics for new hires to reach.
    • Cognitive skills – Know which processes the top salespeople use that the new hire should employ as well.
    • Habits – Encourage the top salespeople to share their every day work habits to help create a framework and better understanding of a typical day in the position. For example, how many calls do they make? What number of calls are to current clients? How many are to new business prospects?

Editor’s note: Read the first part of this blog, How to Replace Your Best Salespeople

McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

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