Well, not so fast.
Having someone with the potential for success doesn’t necessarily mean they are guaranteed to be successful as a direct sales rep. In fact, much of their success depends on how well they are equipped.
So if you want your direct sales recruits to hit the ground running, make sure they have the kind of training that empowers them to get out there and start making sales!
There are three levels of direct sales training: in-house training, field training, and follow-up training. In this post, we’re going to talk about the type of training that happens in the office before you let the sales rep engage with customers.
How To Train In-House
First off, consider the pacing. On the one hand, it’s understandable to want to get this out of the way ASAP. You don’t want your new hot-shot agent to get comfortable in sales-training student mode– you want them to get comfortable out in the field, working with customers.
On the other hand, it’s really important to make sure that the new sales rep is given all of the tools they need to succeed. If you throw all the information at them so fast that they feel like they’re drinking from a fire hose, chances are they won’t retain what they need.
So with that in mind, start ASAP. (Preferably the same day as their employee on-boarding.) Then break down the training process so that they learn everything they need to function in the field in digestible chunks. This can take a day or two, or it could take a couple weeks if you’re in a complicated industry or have a lot of product to learn.
There are three main steps when it comes to preparing a direct sales rep for the field:
Step 1: Product Training
Here’s the thing… when it comes to product knowledge, it doesn’t matter how charismatic your new recruit is. It doesn’t matter whether this is their first sales job or their 10th. If they don’t know their product, they won’t be able to sell it. If they think they’re ready, but they aren’t, it can derail a new sales rep completely.
So before you get into sales training, you need to get them on product training.
Take your new hire through the products you offer, and have them analyze the catalog with an engineer’s mindset. They should know the features and benefits. They should know the limitations and specializations. All the details, and all of the competitive advantages that your products have over other comparable packages. What needs do the products meet? Can they recommend different offerings based on different needs?
If they can navigate your offerings with proficiency, they will be able to offer them to customers with proficiency.
A great way to encourage product literacy? Sell your new hire on the product! If you can get them to believe in the products they will be offering, chances are they will do an awesome job offering those same products to their customers. If they are showing enthusiasm, looking to purchase the products themselves or recommending them to others in their circles, you know that you’re on the right track.
Step 2: Sales Approach
Once your new hire is comfortable with your products and offerings, make sure you talk to them about the fundamentals of direct sales approach before you set them loose in the sales field.
This step is absolutely crucial. Really. Don’t skip it. A sales rep with enthusiasm for the products they sell can be a powerful force to be reckoned with. But nothing can stop that momentum faster than the barrage of rejections that come from a bad approach.
This isn’t a detailed training, analyzing last week’s game film and strategizing upcoming tactics. (That comes later.) Rather, this is broad strokes stuff. Making sure they know your team’s basic processes.
Every direct sales team will have a slightly different sales process, and your new hire should be comfortable with that process. Can they get their foot in the door with an ice-breaker? Can they present the product effectively? Can they ask for the sale?
Regardless of how your team’s sales process is structured, make sure that your new hire can move step-by-step through the process and keep moving to the next step. Role-play with them and make sure they know how to overcome some common objections that could keep them from advancing the process.
That process should be trained and practiced before the sales agent hits the field. That way, if they do encounter a setback in the process, they will be able to understand where they are and where they need to go. This means that they are less likely to give up, and more likely to close sales.
Step 3: Relationship Management Skills
Relationship management is a huge part of any successful sales rep’s process.
Again, this is something that will be addressed in more detail when the new hire is going through follow-up training. You don’t need to get into the specifics when training in the office. But this is important stuff that can impact their future sales, so it’s important to make sure that new hires are aware of these issues from the start of their employment.
Set the expectation that relationship management is a crucial element of the job. Talk about following up with customers. About opportunities to upsell additional products, and when that’s appropriate. About the importance of referrals, and how to ask for them.
If the new hire is aware of these things before they hit the field, they’ll be more likely to remember them when they’re presenting those products for the first time.
Assess New Hires For The Field
After you’ve gone through this training, run the new recruit through your process. Check and see if there’s any glaring holes in their knowledge. Don’t nitpick, don’t micro-manage… nobody can learn everything all at once. But if they don’t know anything about a major product offering, or if they consistently forget to ask for the sale, it may be worth running them through another day of in-house training before moving forward.
If, on the other hand, they have retained the main process and seem to have a good grasp of the product line, get them ready for some field training!
Are you looking to launch a successful direct sales team? Solcomm would love to talk more with you. We support telecom direct sales firms and set them up for consistent success in their communities. Learn about becoming a Solcomm subdealer!