I was sitting in a Quarterly Business Review recently with a Fortune 100 software company and a sales leader said something that I am sure most of us have thought, “The only way we can be successful is to sell like we have sold this stuff before – except no of you have sold this stuff before.” In the same meeting the sales leader apologized for not getting out Win Stories to the team because he has been too busy helping new sellers close business for the quarter. Ironic but typical.
So – the Chicken or Egg argument is how does a new seller become successful without experience if sales experience is needed for success? I think you can answer that question three ways:
- Create a Bench of sales people that have experience selling your product / solution and promote from this candidate pool. I have seen companies create a career path for business development reps or SMB reps to be promoted to front-line earners. Payscale has a good career path outlined for BDR’s. If your company can afford to delineate roles in the sale process or segment territories based on size then this is a preferred method
- Hire from your competitors. This will most certainly shorten the learning curve but these candidates do not come cheap. Another risk is that you may be doing your competition a favor by hiring their under-performers. Think about why good reps leave in the first place. There is also the potential to hire someone with too much experience that will take your money while looking for a more prestigious line of work.
- Give access to Experience. A recent SAP study found that 45% of buyers want a tailored experience when dealing with a sales person. This includes relevant use-cases of how similar companies have deployed your services and found tangible success. Every closed deal in your CRM could potentially house this information and should be re-purposed as a Win Vault from which new sellers can pull relevant Win Stories.
If you think about all the little pieces of sales experience lying around in your CRM, website, or congratulatory emails about big wins – there is a lot of sales enablement going unused. Getting this data into one place so that new sellers can have access to it will help get your new sellers acting like they have sold this stuff before.