Managers play a critical role in facilitating new sales representatives’ acclimation process. During CloserIQ’s recent “Building an Enterprise Sales Team” panel, three NYC sales leaders offered suggestions for how to manage and ramp up new sales reps.
Here are some of the main takeaways:
1. Meet with new sales reps regularly and provide appropriate training.
Jeremy Seltzer, VP of Worldwide Sales at Movable Ink, stated that he makes a point to meet individually with new sales reps during their first quarter. In these meetings with new sales reps, Seltzer discusses how the ramp-up period is going and what training the new representatives need. During team-wide meetings, Seltzer focuses on training.
2. Help new reps deal with disappointment productively.
A deal that falls through is a disappointing experience for any sales rep, especially one who is new to the job. Panelists recommended framing disappointments as a learning experience. And in many cases a deal that falls through cannot be attributed to a sales representative’s mistake. Adam Landsman, Head of Sales at Transfix, suggested giving new representatives a new incoming lead or another opportunity they otherwise wouldn’t have received.
Seltzer said that he likes to refocus disappointed sales representatives. He explained: “I’ll shift the conversation a little bit towards rep optimism and rep passion and how important that is for success.”
3. Introduce new reps to existing customers in a way that is respectful of customers’ time.
According to Seltzer, one of the best ways to ignite a new representative’s passion is to introduce them to existing clients who are ecstatic about the product. Not only does this help reps compile first-person stories to use in selling, but it also shows representatives themselves what the product can do. This helps them become passionate and optimistic about the product, which is essential for sales.
There are many ways to introduce new representatives to existing clients. Seltzer recommended a quick introductory email, client cocktail hours, and including new reps on biweekly calls with the client service team.
4. Offer flexible compensation plans at the beginning.
Landsman and Seltzer both recommended offering new representatives flexible compensation plans at the beginning as a helpful tactic. This takes some of the pressure off.
Seltzer explained that this is especially important when starting a new sales team. In this situation, managers don’t always know what appropriate metrics and targets are. A manager should set metrics with full knowledge that it will change.
5. Ramp up new representatives gradually, with the sales quota gradually increasing.
Panelists agreed that a three-month ramp-up period is ideal, with the sales quota increasing over time. Landsman suggested immersing new reps in training early on. Then around three or four weeks, reps can start getting on the phone to generate pipeline activity. (However, the exact timeline will differ depending on the sales cycle.)
David Greenberger, VP of Sales at Splash, suggested using a different type of quota system early on: “Your quota in the first month is how many meetings you shadowed. Then in month two, it’s how many discovery calls you have or how many meetings. In month three, it may be did you have one sale. Your quota may actually be ten sales. You move from there.”
Ramping up new reps in an enterprise sales environment can be tricky because the sales cycle is so long—perhaps nine months or more. While the length of the sales cycle should be factored into the ramping process, Seltzer said that he likes for new reps to make a sale around the two and a half month mark, even if it’s just a small deal. However, the most important part of the ramping process is to fill the pipeline so that the rep can enjoy success in their second quarter with the company.
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