This is a great thought leader article for trainers. I’d say it’s a must read if you’re training multiple salespeople. I’m going to center this discussion on a question that often comes up during my coaching sessions. It’s a good question and it’s usually phrased like this:
“How much time should I spend with my new salesperson?”
Sometimes they add…
“Cause I feel like an octopus that’s being pulled in a million different directions.”
Usually, this question is asked by a sales trainer who’s feeling overwhelmed by the task of on-boarding multiple salespeople while they’re also trying to continue their own sales production and service tasks. And yes, they also often use words and phrases like, octopus, ragdoll or indentured servant to describe how they’re feeling as they attempt to hold it all together, making sure they don’t lose new salespeople in the shuffle.
If you have ever felt like this, the first thing I want you to do is to STOP spending the same amount of time with each new sales associate (because that’s a flawed training model). Instead, I’d like you to start asking a better question…
…WHY should I spend more time with this salesperson?
You may be operating under an inflexible training model, one that traps you into spending a significant AMOUNT of time with each and every new recruit. Instead of doing that, I want you to take a deep breath, do some due diligence, and ask the question…
“What is compelling me to continue to spend field or classroom time with this new associate?”
I know, I know, this sounds a little alarming—kind of like I’m saying DON’T spend time with your new associates.
But I’m not saying that at all.
In fact, I’m actually suggesting you spend MORE time with some of your new salespeople!
Think about it, if you change your on-boarding model from an inflexible one, where you schedule the same amount of time with each associate, to a selective training model, one in which you’re asking the right questions…you’ll be able to spend MORE time (and more EFFECTIVE time) with some of your BEST new salespeople!
Does this sound logical to you?
Look, if you’re a follower of our work, there’s a better than 90% chance that you’re also entrepreneurial—in business for yourself. As such, you have to adopt a certain attitude and philosophy about your time.
If you plan to win, you MUST begin to value your TIME as a very precious commodity.
Here’s the bottom line, there are 6 practices you’ll need to employ in order to shift your on-boarding protocols from an inflexible model to a winning selective training model:
Selective Training Model
- Set EXPECTATIONS up front
The very first conversation you need to have with your new salespeople should be about EXPECTATIONS. This conversation is huge and it’s very easily overlooked. I know how it is. You are swamped and you simply want to get out into the field and start training them. But if you stop to have a few key conversations with your new salespeople first, it can make everything about the training process so much easier and better. When this “expectations” dialogue happens properly, it’s a beautiful thing and it allows you great leverage. You are wise to establish the following:
- What your time together will look like during the on-boarding period given the demands of your position
- What their expectations SHOULD BE
- What your expectations ARE
- What your REQUIREMENTS are
- What they can expect (what will CHANGE), if they don’t satisfy the agreed upon commitments
It is of key importance that they understand that you can only invest in their business in direct proportion to the amount of investment they choose to make in it…and nothing more. If you have a solid conversation about the time you will calendar for them, the organizational expectations, the standards and the adjustments you’ll make if they don’t go to work, everything changes.
- Examine the CALENDAR of each new salesperson carefully
If you robotically schedule the same amount of training time with each new associate, week after week, without gaining access to and examining their calendar it’s like dumping a ton of money in something without having any knowledge of the underlying investment vehicle. None of us would ever do that, but then, why do we make the mistake of spending oodles of time with someone without demanding to see their activity calendar? Don’t do this. Make sure you cut a deal with all new associates up front that they must give you access to their calendar, or you can’t spend time with them in the field.
- Coach to the DATA (Contacts, conversation ratios, etc.)
How in the world can you coach a person effectively, fix what’s wrong and tune up areas that need work if you don’t have accurate data on their field activities and coach to that information? You CAN’T! It would be a little bit like someone calling their doctor’s office, saying they’re not feeling well, and the doctor randomly prescribing medication without examining the patient and gathering empirical data. You must know what they’re doing and relate that back to company averages and then coach and mentor to the areas that need improvement accordingly.
- Show them EXACTLY how to structure their SOLO time
This is a practice that many trainers are quite weak at. We want them to work independently (as we’re going along and spending time with them), but we don’t tell them precisely what that should look like—we don’t put the work on their desk. Take these steps and watch their activities and results improve:
- Agree on a specific batch of leads they should be working
- Identify the geography they’re to work
- Show them how their daily calendar should be structured
- INSPECT what you expect
Schedule time at the end of each day (10 minutes) to check in with your newest associates—connect with them. Make sure they’re working independently, making progress, etc. Just because you aren’t with them for a chunk of the day doesn’t mean you can’t connect with them, check in and learn about what their activities were and what those activities yielded. This brief check-in can also give them the opportunity to tell you how they are FEELING, which can be worth its weight in gold to you because now they trust you and that means you can begin to have real INFLUENCE over their career.
(BIG subject—I’m actually I’m in the process of writing a book on this topic)
- Based on their activities/results ask…what time is WARRANTED?
So, this is the big one. I don’t want you to miss this nugget. Here’s the answer…
You should be spending as much time with each new associate as is warranted by their actions, activities and investment.
You should always be asking the question:
…what are they doing that’s COMPELLING me to continue spending field or classroom time with this new associate?
This is the payoff question that will direct your actions. If the new salesperson is working hard and doing what you’re asking them to do (and having incremental results), then great, you can schedule time with them accordingly. If a new associate is not working, not doing the things they agreed to do (or not having results), then you don’t robotically continue scheduling field time with them. You dig into their calendar along with facts, data and metrics and you’ll have a different conversation with them. You don’t have to spend time with them in the field, and you really shouldn’t at that juncture…
…because there are no compelling reasons to.
The time you DON’T spend with them in the field can be repurposed with new associates that ARE working, ARE doing what you asked them to do and having results.
Finally, you can begin to train selectively instead of robotically or haphazardly.
Does this make sense?
I hope this leadership-training article was beneficial to you. If you’re a leader and want to connect with me for a 30-minute personal coaching session (no cost) simply hit me with a note, tell me what your current challenges are and we can arrange to talk on the phone.
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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on direct selling and sales leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his platform, www.joebuzzello.com and The CAP Equation©.