So far in this series we’ve outlined some very important aspects of building a world class sales on-boarding and certification program. In this article we’re going to really get into the analysis phase by taking a look at the sales professional’s job. What is it that they do? How are they measured? How are they compensated? Figuring out how to connect the dots with respect to those things can be really intuitive and make total sense, or not. But it’s worth taking the time to do the analysis and understand how those things interact so that the training program is designed to have the desired impact. For instance, focusing equally on products and company processes might ignore the fact that new hires are specifically expected to make a lot of appointments early on. We’ll discuss how the results of our analysis impacts program design a little later. For now we’ll focus on the main things you’ll want to investigate in your analysis, which for now focuses on the sales process. After all, sales professional are paid to move opportunities through the sales process.
- Is it defined? I’ve worked with companies where they did not have a defined sales process. I mean literally, no one sat down to write out how sales people were supposed to sell. The result was that there was confusion about what should be done in some cases. But mostly there was confusion about how to get it done. Managers spent time making up their own processes rather than managing the sales people and their opportunities. So if there isn’t a sales process defined, your first step may be to meet with enough subject matter experts and sales leaders to define it for them.
- Has it been adopted? It’s one thing to have the sales process defined and quite another to have it adopted throughout the sales organization. If you have a relatively small sales team or a strong sales leader, this may not be an issue. But without sales process adoption you may end up teaching people things in the on-boarding program that are not reinforced or even used on the job. You must understand the adoption rate for key sales processes before designing the program. You may even need to do some additional work before the launch of your program to get the rest of the sales organization “on the bus”.
- Is it measured? Are sales managers measuring there sales people on elements of the sales process? Do they measure cold calls, appointments or presentations? Do they measure referrals, total pipeline value, pipeline velocity, new versus renewal sales dollars, or only bottom line new revenue? Are the measurements consistent across all of your sales teams and sales managers? Yikes, there’s a lot to find out here.
- How is it supported? What tools, processes, people and information support the sales process? What is the adoption rate of each one? This is one of those things that can be very straightforward or depressingly complex. Does sales leadership see value in all of the tools and processes or do they tell their sales people to ignore them? There may be well meaning people in the organization churning out lots of stuff to help the sales team that really doesn’t help them, or even worse, confuses them. Going through this entire process to identify, review and analyze all of this has a tendency to uncover a lot of good information and a lot of stuff that really doesn’t add value. You’ll need to do a lot of validating with your sales teams as you uncover and document what you find.
- How does the compensation plan link to it? Does all of the information you found out from the above topics align with the compensation plan? Or does it pay for different behavior? Again, this may be an area where the person responsible for sales training uncovers a misalignment within the organization. In some companies the sales compensation plans are readily available and in some they’re kept within HR and the sales management. It’s important that you know what’s in the plans because you can be sure that the newly hired sales people do.
Well, there you go.