August 8, 2018
Updated: January 7, 2020

Putting it into Practice: Preparing New Sales Hires for the Front Lines

Even the most skilled professionals practice and rehearse. Politicians recite speeches repeatedly before the final delivery, Broadway stage performers have rehearsals for weeks leading up to opening night; athletes run through drills and practice day in and day out for a game or match. Your sales team should be no different. Pitches, meetings and client-facing conferences require preparation on the part of every member of the group, especially the rookies. While proper onboarding goes a long way, it is difficult to determine when a new sales hire is ready for the field without giving them the opportunity to practice and improve their pitch.

Arming Sales Hires for Battle

Before your new reps see any real sales action, you should ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful. Evaluate your current onboarding materials and set goals for individual hires, as well as the whole team, to create a process that will get everyone to your desired level when the time comes to get out and sell. Once your plan is in place, deliver the materials in an easy-to-digest manner via bite-sized training, videos and gamified learning. Within reps’ first week, you should also execute a stand and deliver, where each person runs a demo or pitches a product to an actual client or prospect, allowing you to gauge where they are at in their pitch. This will help you moving forward through onboarding to create customized learning paths that fit each individual.

After a designated period of time, test reps’ comprehension with quizzes, surveys and other assessments. They should have a clear understanding of your organization’s products and services, mission, customers, and competitors. Finally, ensure they know what is expected of them and how their success will be measured over time.

Running the Drills

You can teach and test as much as you want, but you won’t have the full picture of new hires’ performance until you ultimately see them in action selling. While each rep did their initial stand and deliver early on, after running through onboarding materials their pitch should be much more polished and backed up with the knowledge they have learned. However, before diving in, there are various ways to simulate the sales conversation and get your new team members comfortable for the real thing.

The most important aspect of a salesperson’s job is their pitch, and perfecting it takes some time and practice. Help your sales reps polish their pitches with some video role-playing. Showpad Coach’s PitchIQ allows members of your sales team to record, review, and alter their pitches on their own. Watching their own development will boost their confidence for real-world situations. Fellow team members can also view and comment on each other’s progression over time.

Speaking of fellow team members, have new hires pitch to one another, as well as to more seasoned reps on your team. Schedule these sessions to legitimize them and make your team take them seriously. Collaboration allows salespeople to learn from one another and share best practices on approaches, communication styles, demo skills and more. Giving each other constructive feedback and sharing ideas will empower sellers and encourage camaraderie amongst the team. According to Hubspot, millennial salespeople put equal weight on peer input as they do the input of managers, so organizing these interactions is important in building new reps sales abilities.

Finally, you as a leader and coach should be involved in preparing new hires to sell. Watch the video pitches of each individual to gain insight into whether their message is on-brand and accurate, how they have developed throughout the ramp-up time, and what areas may still need some work. Sit down with every new hire one-on-one throughout and after onboarding to offer feedback and get a sense of their knowledge and comfort level with their pitch. Being new, they are likely to have questions, so opening the line of communication from the beginning will set them up for a positive experience at your organization. Over 60% of salespeople said they would be more likely to leave a job if their manager is a poor coach.

Your Troops are Ready

The best thing about having your new hires work on their pitch before going out on real sales calls or meetings is that you can see how they have advanced and get a better idea of when they are ready to handle those real-life clients and conversations. Teammates working together, as well as participation and encouragement on the part of sales managers and leaders, will set up a collaborative and positive atmosphere for the new hires, as well as those who have been with your company for longer.

After a period of time leveraging the practice, collaborate and coach approach, you should feel that your new hires are ready to pick up the phones and start selling for you. Don’t forget; even though your onboarded reps have become productive members of the team, the training shouldn’t stop. Continue strengthening sales reps’ skills and keep them at their best with regular, ongoing training. Showpad Coach offers software to make sales onboarding and training simple.