BUS 340 Business Communications
On average, companies lose thirty-four percent of their sales force annually. One out of every eight jobs is a sales position; if an employee isn’t happy, it won’t take them long to find an alternative . The turnover rate for a door to door sales professional is even higher. The job is extremely difficult. Our new sales representatives develop false expectations, they lack experience, and we offer little to nothing in value during onboarding and throughout their training experience. There are several steps we can take to cut back on our employee churn. We need to hire the right people, create a quality experience through onboarding, utilize quality tools, develop and train a sales process, and develop our leaders so they can appropriately spend the necessary time with each team member. This process will not only reduce our employee turnover, but it will also improve culture and business performance.
This is the hardest but most important part of reducing employee turnover. The average company invests ten to fifteen thousand dollars on each new employee . That is an extremely large amount of money to invest in the wrong person. We can’t always get it right, but we can certainly improve our chances.
Hiring managers need to go through formal training. They should know how to read people, how to engage and create conversation, to identify deeper meaning and to learn how to spot red flags. The current training is focused on how to protect our company from lawsuits, where we discuss what is legal and not legal to ask. This is all valuable information, but it won’t help our hiring managers make wise investments in the people they select.
Interviews should be casual, and conversational. It is hard to learn who a person is when you can only ask scripted, monotonous lengthy questions. If the hiring manager has to act robotic in the questions they ask, then they will make robotic choices when it comes to making decisions. Honesty is vital in the interview process. We expect honesty from our potential candidates; it is only fair that we treat them with the same respect. We should look at the interview for what it is. It isn’t just us doing the interview; the candidate should be interviewing us as well. There are so many options out there, why would they choose our company.
We should also give each candidate a realistic job preview; it is unethical to mislead them . This isn’t a glamorous job, a lot of people are even looked down upon and often told by homeowners to get a real job. It is full of disappointment, rejection and at times unrealistic goals. You have to work in the blazing heat and the freezing cold; it takes a certain kind of person to do the job successfully. Most candidates only show interest in this position because they heard about the earning potential. It is true, you can make a lucrative amount of money, but it isn’t easy, and it takes time. Expectations need to be set that, to begin, they will work long hours and make small checks, they will have to put in the time and effort developing skills and learning about people if they want to see big money.
As described earlier, new sales representatives are a costly investment, but a necessary one for the growth of the company. It is imperative that we protect these investments, they should receive the attention they deserve. Onboarding has to be a priority . Our current process is broken. New employees don’t meet their direct supervisor until their second day, and then they are placed in front of a computer for six hours a day to complete four weeks of virtual training. Beginning their second week, new hires are thrown to the fire. They barely know our product and usually have no experience in sales, but they are required to begin knocking doors and attempting to sell for two hours a day. Their only support is an iPad and their supervisor’s direct phone number, which isn’t always answered.
Going forward, all new hires should meet their leadership and a qualified mentor on day one for lunch. It is important to build a strong relationship quickly, because all new salespeople, need strong coaches and mentors to help them navigate this new journey. Lack of support gets us right back where we are. They’re likely to hit a roadblock a look for their next opportunity . During this meeting, expectations, processes, and experiences can be discussed, but the focus should primarily be on values and who the individual is, what they aspire to be and what’s important to them.
The first two days should be shadowing their buddy or mentor. This also serves as a development opportunity for high potential frontline employees. They will be allotted only a few hours a day to participate in virtual training. This training will offer many benefits, not only is it cost effective, but it is tracked, and the new sales representative can move at their own pace. Shadowing should continue for an additional four to six hours a day for the first two weeks. Week three through four, the roles will be reversed, and the mentor will shadow the new sales representative. They will simply stand back and only offer support if it is absolutely necessary. They will also correct any misinformation to maintain the integrity of the sale. This is to protect the new hire and to ensure they feel supported and is not left to figure things out on their own.
Nightly checkout calls between the leader, mentor and new hire should occur for the first eight weeks. This call will be used to gauge the success and needs of both the mentor and the new hire representative. The leader will conduct weekly one on ones, and upper management will hold monthly feedback sessions.
A highly engaged new hire experience doesn’t come without a cost. We can start by working with The SAVO group. They have developed a tool called the Onboarding Pro. It can be customized to our need and can be integrated in with our current tools. We can create an automated learning environment that tracks task completion and performance evaluation. It also offers support and guidance when needed through its real-time feedback tool. This tool will ensure the new sales representatives are getting the support they need, exactly when they need it .
It is important that when we meet as a department, that tool need and utilization is always a topic. Who are we to tell our frontline employees what they need? No one knows what they need out there more than they do. We need to make sure they are being heard, and we are taking care of them by giving them what they ask for.
Develop and Train a Sales Process
Fifty-five percent of people making their living as a sales representative lack the knowledge and skills to be successful. This is because the average company only spends two thousand dollars a year on sales development or training. Sales training is imperative to an individual’s growth and success . We have to sharpen the axe, you can swing at a tree will a dull axe all day, but it will never fall. We have to step back and dedicate the time necessary to ensure each team member has what they need and that they are striving to grow and learn. We have to define the sales process and create a space for our team members to share best practices. Learning and development has to be a cultural shift within our sales organization. Not just for the new hires, but the tenured employees and the leaders as well.
Develop Our Leaders
Many sales leaders promote based off of their personal sales performance. A lot of them have no leadership training. When situations arise, they tend to fall back on their experience as an individual contributor. They typically find a band-aid solution and fail to identify the root cause, which creates more problems. This results in high turnover for this position as well .
Leaders need to learn and develop time management skills. Becoming a leader requires time commitment. It is no longer out about one’s self; it is about the team. Sales leaders typically commit only twenty percent of their time to helping close sales and supporting their team . The other eighty percent is used to handle administrative tasks and a lot of that time is mismanaged. By helping leaders develop their time management skills, we should see an increase in leadership involvement with their teams. This ensures more time is dedicated to developing the team members by discovering opportunities and strengths. More time for sharing best practices and pairing of low and high performers.
Leaders also need to learn how to handle hard situations and have crucial conversations; it is a big part of the role. Leadership roles require high-stress situations, deadlines and additional responsibilities that many aren’t prepared for. There is a saying about employees leaving leaders not companies. So we need to ensure our leaders are prepared to support and develop all of our frontline employees.
We can ensure all of our leaders are prepared to lead by creating a leadership boot camp. This wouldn’t be an ongoing initiative. The first 30 days of boot camp would consist of a well thought out curriculum focused on the basics of leadership. This training will develop and build upon current abilities and opportunities. There would be a big focus on time management, crucial conversations, escalated situations, communication, accountability, and culture development. This program will continue after the first 30 days utilizing a monthly book club and bi-weekly meetings to discuss best practices and lessons learned. There will also be a monthly curriculum that requires critical thinking and role-playing hypothetical scenarios.
We would also ensure each leader is assigned a mentor from upper management. This would include a bi-weekly check-in. These meetings could be done virtually or in person. These meetings would focus on what is going on in the leader’s world. Smart goals and progress will be a topic of conversation with the goal of completing and developing new goals each month.
This process will require dedicated time from leaders and mentors, which will result in having more people engaged in the development and experience of our employee’s. We want to instill a culture that focuses on hiring the right people, creating a quality onboarding experience, utilizing quality tools, developing an ongoing development curriculum and focusing on our leader’s development so they can appropriately manage and lead their teams. This will decrease our sale representatives turnover, and it will improve the employee experience overall. There is always an expense to the company when it comes to something of this magnitude, but the return on this investment will drastically cut costs and improve performance.