Lessonly’s Sales Development Manager, Kyle Roach, joined our friends at AA-ISP for a webinar entitled, How Your Newest Reps Will Become Your Best Reps in Two Weeks. Kyle shared some best practices and actionable tactics for sales leaders who want to quickly place new sales reps on the path to productivity. If you missed the webinar, here are some of the highlights!
A new rep joins a sales team. They’re talented, outgoing, confident, and eager to do well. But, they have little to no experience with their new team or the company’s process, products, and services. So, how does a sales leader ensure that the new rep starts on the path to productivity on day one?
As Lessonly’s sales development manager, Kyle has experienced this scenario—frequently. He also knows it’s his responsibility to equip new reps with the knowledge they need to succeed.
“We’re really trying to focus on how to provide the knowledge and skills they need to perform the work I know they’re capable of as soon as possible.” tweet
Kyle’s team follows a simple, yet effective formula:
Learn + Practice = Perform
With this strategy, Lessonly sales reps are fully ramped—and performing admirably— in just two week’s time.
Provide the puzzle pieces of learning
Kyle notes that starting off with a learning phase is essential. New reps should begin learning knowledge and acquiring information from day one. Kyle compares a sales rep’s first few weeks to building a puzzle,
“This is when I give them the pieces of the puzzle. They need to see the pieces before they can start building and putting it together.” tweet
At Lessonly, the “puzzle pieces” include an overview of our sales engine, common objections to purchasing, and buyer personas—in addition to the company’s mission, vision, and values. Although reps won’t fully grasp all these ideas in the first few weeks—giving them a bird’s-eye view of the entire job allows them to see how all the pieces work together.
But Kyle has one caveat to this process:
“You have to find just the right amount of learning.” tweet
That’s the “Goldilocks Conundrum”: Not too big, not too small—but just right. If your reps sit through hours of training meetings or receive large binders stuffed with information, you’re giving them too much to learn. But, if training fails to include an onboarding plan or follows “a learn as you go” approach, you’re not providing enough learning. “Just right” learning is divided into chunks that are always available so reps can review information, and move it from their short-term to long-term memory.
To aid learning, Kyle asks reps to spend their first day shadowing the team’s best reps. By pairing new hires with the highest-performing reps, the likelihood that’ll they catch onto—and imitate—best practices increases. As their first week progresses, reps learn role-specific items, shadow calls, and receive marketing collateral. By the end of the week, they’re ready to take learning into their own hands. Kyle adds:
“We provide reps with a dealer’s choice opportunity. We allow each hire to choose where they would like to spend their time for additional learning and ask them to spend one to two hours each day during the second week focusing on those topics.” tweet
Opportunities for practice decrease ramp time
“We hear about practice a lot and we always talk about practice, but often times, teams skip it.” tweet
As reps move through the learning process, Kyle believes that it’s important to offer opportunities for practice—early and often. A simple place to start is with the call shadowing that new reps complete on their first day. As part of this exercise, reps complete a reflection after each call so they can intentionally consider and process what they learned. They are also asked a series of questions that require them to apply that to practice scenarios.
Reps continue call shadowing on their second day and begin practicing email pitches to different buyer personas. By day three, they practice their responses to common objections during a sales pitch and continue the shadowing and reflection process. The practice activities evolve on days four and five to include role-play scenarios and reflections on case studies. The first week concludes with a “final exam.”
“The final exam is not meant to be daunting. Instead, it’s an opportunity for sales reps to show off what they’ve learned in the week. We give them an email to craft, a cold call to role play, and other fun, cultural activities.” tweet
While some teams would end their practice opportunities after the “final exam,” Lessonly’s sales team continues to practice during their second week by role-playing cold calls. These sessions include five to ten-minute meetings with various team members to practice a call and receive coaching and feedback. Kyle notes that while some teams may be worried that requires too much effort, his team has found it invaluable.
“We hire people who want to do great work. They come in ready to go—so don’t be afraid to front-load some info and have them practice quickly. They’ll get it and they’ll love that they can interact with the team and jump into the role.” tweet
No task is too small when it’s time to perform
By the time new reps get to their fourth day of work, they’re ready to receive tasks to complete. First, reps start to build a prospect list, which is a process-heavy commitment for the team. It takes time and practice, so it’s a natural item for reps to start with. During the second week of work, reps will message prospects from the list they created and set meetings—a strategy that has seen fantastic success.
“Lessonly’s reps are performing job-specific responsibilities, like prospecting, researching, and emailing by day six. This is a 70% decrease in ‘days to first meeting.'” tweet
The key to effective performance is to tie rep’s tasks to business metrics and KPIs. These KPIs will ensure that reps stay on the path to productivity. Kyle points out that the stronger and clearer these metrics are, the more likely sales leaders can iterate quickly. If Kyle sees that performance in a certain area, such as cold calling, is lacking, he can advise the rep to go back and practice training centered around cold calling. These KPIs should evolve over time, so they may be different for every new rep:
“We always try to improve our metrics with every new hire. If a rep who started in October had a goal to set four meetings, our rep who started in November may have a goal to set five or six. It’s just one way we work to continuously improve.” tweet
Tools to drive success
The learn, practice, perform model is nothing new for high-performing teams. Best-in-class sales orgs have incorporated this foundation into their onboarding and training programs with radical success. But, in order for it to be impactful, Kyle credits two essential tactics and tools:
- Automate the process as much as possible. The Lessonly team uses our employee training software to remove the manual labor of scheduling so that training moves faster. Sales leaders create unique learning paths and empower reps to schedule their own meetings to increase interacting with coworkers.
- Democratize the learning process to include the entire team. It’s important to have a team who can teach, lead, and manage new reps. By tapping into the skills of the entire time—rather than a single trainer—shadowing, role plays, and evaluation will be more effective. On the whole, this approach helps teams build camaraderie and encourage one another to succeed.
Sales reps learn, practice, and perform with Lessonly
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