6 Tips for Developing New Salespeople
Guest Post by Jay Worth
You might have the best service in your market. Let’s face it, you probably do. Your attention to detail and years of experience are probably light years ahead of your competitors. But without a good sales team, you might never convince people that you’re the best. Here are six key things you need to know about training new salespeople.
DO hire workers with people skills.
It’s hard to teach people skills. Many studies show that a person’s emotional intelligence can improve over time.
However, it’s a lot easier to train industry knowledge than to condition good people skills. That means if you have a tech that’s killing it in field sales or a customer service rep that’s crushing cancel saves, you might have a budding salesperson on your hands. It’ll be a lot easier to train a new CSR or lawn tech than hiring a good salesperson. Approach them about a new role in sales, and gauge their level of interest.
Also, look for soft skills when you interview. Some of my favorite questions to ask a potential new hire are, “What do you do outside of work? What are your hobbies and passions?” These questions gave me insight into their emotional intelligence. Are they involved in group activities, like sports leagues, coaching, engaged in a house of worship, etc.? If so, they’ve probably got a decently high emotional intelligence.
DO give them field experience.
I remember a ride-along with a Pest Control manager. We spent our days on a worksite with a pruning and removal crew. Pushing an aerator around lawns all day is a vivid memory of mine. Why? That experience gave me insight into the process of what happened after I sold a job.
Allowing salespeople to shadow crews and techs gives them perspective and will enable them to see the bigger picture. Much more so than formal training could do. By experiencing what crews go through, they’ll improve their communication skills with field personnel and sell more effectively.
Source: Peninsular Pest Control
I remember how much I HATED it when I got halfway through lawn aeration. I realized there was an unmarked irrigation system and an underground dog fence on the property. Another time I discovered the slope was too steep for our aeration equipment, and we couldn’t service the lawn. I vowed never to pass those same issues along to field personnel again after experiencing them myself.
Get your salespeople out of the office and in the field, even if only for a couple of days. It’ll make them better and explaining things to clients, and it’ll improve the cooperation between sales and production staff.
DO prioritize networking opportunities.
In my career, I went from being the only inside salesperson to supervising a sales team and leading marketing.
After transitioning from purely sales to marketing, I realized part of my job was to promote the brand to the public. I began attending neighborhood events we sponsored, signed up for mixers through our local chamber of commerce, and participated in company community service days.
I was amazed at how many opportunities were generated just by attending local events and networking. People would come up, ask questions, and I could qualify leads on the spot. Networking allowed me to connect with people and make genuine, lasting relationships.
When you network, you end up taking that lead and passing it to your sales team. You become a “middleman.”. If you have solid salespeople, help and encourage them to network. They know people you don’t. They’ll “click” with people you never would, and they’ll become an extension of your marketing functions.
Create guidelines for how you want salespeople to interact with the public. Communicate those guidelines clearly and turn your team loose. You’ll be glad you did!
DON’T insist on industry experience.
There’s a sizable lawn care company in the region where I live with multiple branches offering lawn care, tree & shrub care, and pest control. They’re a significant operation. They prefer to hire techs without prior lawn care experience. Why? Because they get to train them exactly the way they want!
The same is true for your sales team. If you get someone with zero sales experience, you aren’t inheriting “bad habits” or faulty lessons they learned somewhere else. You get to mold and shape them into a salesperson that fits your company culture and vision.
Hiring someone sans Green Industry or sales experience might be a huge asset. You get to train them “the right way” from the very beginning of their sales career.
DON’T be intimated if they outperform you.
Here’s the thing about salespeople: we’re pretty competitive by nature. That’s a great thing. You want that. You just need to channel that competitiveness in the right direction. Let me share a story from personal experience.
When I was the only inside sales team member of a multi-million dollar lawn and landscape company, I sold way more than they ever expected me to, $250,000 more. Initially, I reported to our marketing and sales director and eventually took his job when he left.
The same company had hired a guy I had previously worked with at another lawn care company. There weren’t any additional sales roles when we got hired, so he began as a lawn care tech. When I got promoted, I appointed him to my old position as the inside sales associate.
I trained him myself. I had done the job, so I knew what skills he needed to be successful. I joked that he’d never be able to outsell me. We worked hard and had fun doing it. That year, he sold $300k. That’s 20% more than my best year ever.
The result? A team of one is now a team of four with two admins that support inside and outside sales.
The moral of the story? Don’t be threatened by your subordinate’s success. I did my best to set him up for success. That company now has a very effective inside sales team that makes over a million in revenue each year.
Check your ego. Help your new salesperson be better than you are, and you’ll have to work less in the long run.
DO show them how to advance their career.
A common misconception is that salespeople are purely motivated by money. Don’t get me wrong; we want to get paid. But people often think that’s the salesperson’s primary driver, their main motivation. It’s not.
Ambition is the main driver. Salespeople like to set goals for themselves and achieve them. One of those goals is often advancement in the company where they work.
Set out a clear path for your salespeople. Show them how they can advance from being a sales team member to a supervisor and then into management. From there, they have a path to VP, CEO, COO, something to keep them progressing.
And – this is critical – honor your word. When your salesperson hits prearranged targets to advance in your company, you must promote them. Going back on your word kills ambition.
The moment your high-performing salespeople feel they’ve hit the ceiling in their career trajectory, they’ll start looking for other places to work. That’s why I always ask, “What do you do outside of work?” in the interview process. Find out what motivates them. Find out what they’re inspired to do.
About the Author
Jay Worth has experience in sales, both in an inside sales role and in sales management. Currently, Jay works at ydop, a digital marketing agency that helps small and medium sized home service businesses increase their online presence and visibility.