Sales · Training

What Are Best Practices For Training a Young Sales Team?

Louis Monoyudis Chief Operating Officer at Outer Places

August 13th, 2014

We are bringing in 3 new hires (outside of the founding team) to ramp up sales. We are looking for suggestions on the best process to train a young sales team of recent college grads. Problem is that so much of our sales process is based on experience and intuition that we are having a hard time figuring out how to best structure onboarding and training. What are best practices? Open to all suggestions!
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Peter Kazanjy Early Stage SaaS Product and Go To Market Executive

August 13th, 2014

Holy crap this is a huge topic!

I'm working on a book on Founder Sales right now, but this is just a massive, massive, massive topic. 

From a hiring perspective, you should make you're hiring intelligent, figure shit out (street smart), grinders. Do not just hire "sales bros". 

Then you should entirely systematize a solid onboarding that covers 100% business acumen topics (e.g., for Bright Blue, hotel concierge business, how shopping maps currently work, etc.), so your team can speak, script the hell out of it, and then cover in your onboarding all of your CRM, email, calendar, lead gen process.

We dedicated an entire first work with a full blown curriculum all lined out, along with what we called "pair programming" where new hires sit alongside existing staff to watch what's going on, and intense mock calls and script training. The later practice builds on the prior education materials.

It really is contingent on how systematized your sales process is more broadly.

I wish I had a hyperlink to just share with you, but I don't yet.

There are some posts on my blog about these early stage sales topics here: http://kazanjy.svbtle.com/


Wish I had more for you. Your startups sounds cool. Two sided market where you lock up the demand side via concierge-guided install, and then sell placement to local businesses. Much more compelling than Yelp's offerings ; )

Good luck!

Pete

Vijay MD Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)

August 13th, 2014

We use a mix of "snap selling" by Jill konrath and "predictable revenue" by Aaron Ross.

We just moved our pipeline over to salesforce and have changed the UI to show a bunch of "tabs" that allow us to see sales opportunities moving quickly down an inbound, outbound, and account Dev funnels.

Jeff Thomas President, Liquidity Solutions at NASDAQ Private Market

August 16th, 2014

Many people think that sales is an art, but it is definitely a science.  The goal is to build a repeatable sales process.

Miller Heiman is the standard for sales process.  Have your founding team and any new reps read:
http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Strategic-Selling-Successful/dp/044669519X#

Jim Fowler is a master of building sales machines.  Read his blog post on when and how to start hiring:
http://jimfowler.com/website/business/start-ups-101/how-to-create-a-sales-machine/


Rob G

August 16th, 2014

Agreed that Strategic Selling by Miller Heiman is the gold standard for enterprise and high $$ sales. I'm concerned it will be overkill for Louis' young team if they are pursuing sub $10k transactions where the focus needs to be on speed and efficiency and transaction volume. If he is building an  inside lead gen team who will interface closely with an"outside" team then SS training could be justified.  all speculation until we know more about the target prospects. 

Rob G

August 15th, 2014

Again, one can't effectively answer Louis' question without knowing who he wants to sell to, how he plans to sell and the economics of a typical deal.  Your prospect/customer profile and the economics of a "typical sale" drive everything in terms of hiring, training and managing a sales team.  These two points inform who you recruit, how you recruit, how you compensate them, details of your comp plan, how you train them, how you measure their performance, how you manage them and what systems are needed to maximize their effectiveness.  At the surface take 2 extremes: selling to enterprise customers with an average deal size of $500,000 with a lifetime value of $2M VS selling to SMB with an average deal size of $500 and a LV of $2,000.  If you look at just the economics:  in this example the SMB sale dictates essentially no face-to-face contact (if a "sales" team at all), almost exclusively phone/electronic contact, lower compensation, a high level of sales automation and a high level of customer/prospect self service including education, implementation and support.  this typically dictates a lower-cost sales person with specifics sales processes, training and systems that are different than that of an enterprise sales person.  The enterprise sale certainly allows for if not dictates  a high level of customer contact, face-to-face contact when possible, a consultative sales process (which requires a high level of industry expertise - the customer's industry) and a command of a strategic selling process and highly educated sales people who can build relationships and think strategically.  Enterprise sales people are a different bread.  These are dramatically different people profiles, compensation plans, sales processes and systems.  Is Louis' planning to have his sales team selling to the concierge? small boutique hotels? large hotel chains? local retailers? consumers? all the above? All very different sales cycles, personality types, comp plans, training, systems, etc.  

Bryan Harris Territory Sales Executive, API at WePay

August 15th, 2014

Here are some articles I share with new Sales folk and recent grads: 

  • https://todoist.com/blog/2013/10/goal-setting-101-5-characteristics-of-a-perfect-goal/
  • http://blog.fogcreek.com/the-very-most-basic-things-your-company-needs-to-know-about-sales-part-1-of-4/
  • http://radius.com/2013/08/08/how-to-be-a-great-salesperson/
  • http://www.fastcompany.com/3013588/dialed/8-steps-to-actually-get-good-at-phone-calls
  • http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2013/06/17/identifying-pain-in-the-first-step-in-a-sales-process-heres-how/?utm_content=awesm-publisher&utm_medium=bothsid.es-twitter&utm_campaign=&awesm=bothsid.es_t6O
  • http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2013/08/25/how-to-get-people-to-take-action-when-you-send-an-email/

Matt Zimmer Engineering Manager, Playback Data Systems

August 13th, 2014

I recommend having them shadow your existing team for a bit.  I don't have a sales background, but I do have an intuitive learning style.  For situations involving intuition, observing cases that end up in success and cases that don't end up in success is a really effective method of picking up that intuition.

Another aspect to this for you to consider, it'll also be a key criteria for whether someone is a fit on your sales team whether the person prefers to learn by observation and intuition.

Rob G

August 13th, 2014

Louis; as Peter says, this is a big topic, so strap yourself in.  first things first - i did review your FD profile, but i've not visited your website or downloaded your app.  The first place to start is to answer the following questions:  1. to who are you selling (or want to sell)?  - i.e. consumers or SMB or enterprise or ? 2). what is your approximate price point / lifetime value of a customer?  You can't begin without these basics. 

Anonymous

August 17th, 2014

Train the young college grads to put in these following 5 Point sales discipline

1. Generate leads everyday
2. Use Social Media Effectively
3. Use discipline in making and reviewing sales reports( use a good lead management system)
4. Leadership/executive Team should be in full sync on the sales cycle
5. Retrospect on failed closures and dormant leads, change strategy and build tenacity

Patrick Malone Interim President & CEO at Blairsville Union County Chamber of Commerce

August 14th, 2014

Provide a good strong baseline education program on your product/service. Then put the into the field with your founding team so that get a dose of reality. Follow that up with with an intense influencing skills workshop that is 25% education and 75% coached applications to build enough muscle memory so that they are able to call on some low level prospects for a week. Then have the founding team ride along with them for a week to coach and refine their product knowledge and influencing skills. turn then lose for 90 days followed by a 2 day ride along by a founding team member once a quarter for the remainder of the year. At this point you should have solid productive sales people.
Reference "Cracking the Code to Leadership" for influencing skills.