I’ve been talking to numerous prospects and existing customers this week about onramping salespeople.  This topic is germane to every company that employs salespeople.

The discussions I had this week have all involved a common thread – managing the trailing indicators.  Revenue, customers, pipeline, etc.  The sales managers in these discussions were discussing the performance of their new salespeople based on the aforementioned criteria.  But this data is a trailing indicator.  Think of it as trying to drive a car by only using the rear-view mirror.

Some of these companies were frustrated with the new salesperson and skeptical of their future.  Mistake.

Onramping a salesperson is difficult because the trailing indicators are not available.  Typically, the salesperson has only been there less than 3 months so the sales manager doesn’t have a historical pipeline, closed deals or new customers to measure.  In the absence of this data, many sales managers choose to let the new salesperson sink or swim.  This approach now compounds the problem.

Onramping a new salesperson requires extra attention from the sales manager.  I think many sales managers intuitively know this and therefore prefer to hire salespeople from their industry.  Their rationale is that they will not have to invest as much time onramping these industry veterans.

However, any new salesperson needs direction from the sales manager regarding the company’s value proposition, common prospect objections, accounts to target and so forth.  More importantly, the salesperson needs their manager’s frequent feedback to guide them in their efforts.  Are they calling the right companies?  Are they using the best value proposition?  How do they handle this objection?  These are all leading indicators that direct the new salesperson to success.  Withdrawing from this need leads to frustrated salespeople, doubtful sales managers and, eventually, costly turnover.

Don’t get caught in this pitfall.  Have a plan or use us for this critical step.

I’ll close with one of our customers who had some issues a couple years ago with a salesperson we found for him.  She required much initial guidance from him which was wearing him down.  We told him to hang in there and guide her – she will learn the ropes.  Well, he did that.  Yesterday, we met with him regarding another sales position and he mentioned that his salesperson was “one in a million – a true hunter.”  We also found out she just closed a large order for them that was the talk of the company.

Focus on the leading indicators and your onramping program will become a corporate asset of the highest order.

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