Hey Kelly – How Do I Train New Sales Reps to 'Step Outside' of Their Comfort Zone?
Here is this week’s question:
"As our company grows and expands our offerings, we have purchased companies that were providers to us. These would include a direct mail company and a wide-format/signage printer. While our current staff has been selling these products their salespeople have not sold ours as much (commercial print, digital printing primarily). So, the question is how to best on-board, train these new salespeople in how to look at their clients for a wide range of products to sell them versus their singular focus they have had, in the past."
This is a great question and probably applies to a lot of you out there. Not only do companies that merge experience this, but there are even established sales teams that get comfortable, and when the company tries to launch a new product or service, some of the sales reps are resistant to the change. This was especially the case during the advent of digital presses. Seasoned reps were afraid that digital would put their long established clients at risk. They didn’t understand what digital could offer. The average dollar sale was much lower than they were used to. They had to sell more to make the same money.
So here are a few things you can try to on-board the new reps and get them comfortable with all that you now have to offer:
1. Immersion—Invite them to eat, breathe and sleep the "new" products and services. They should observe jobs being written up and estimates being done. They need to understand all the elements of the job. If they don’t know paper, take them on a mill tour, or at the very least, have paper reps come in and teach them the basics about grades, coatings, etc. Have them spend time on the plant with the pressman. Select a cross section of samples and explain to them the life of the piece. What was its’ purpose? What is the story? (we’ll get more into that later)
2. The Buddy system—Assign them a buddy rep from your existing team who can help the new rep get up to speed. Have this buddy take them on sales calls and meet for weekly lunches to review progress and reflect about how things are going. Have the buddy rep talk about particular successes. Where did their biggest accounts come from? What were the biggest challenges when they were just getting started?
3. Tell them a story (or five)—Make sure they fully understand not only what you do, but why that is important to the clients. Be able to articulate how a particular sample was used, why the client chose to do the project, and maybe most importantly, WHAT THE RESULT was. Drill that until they can recite it.
4. Have them take you on a tour of the facility as if you were a customer—After about four weeks of doing the above, they should be ready to take this step. Make note of any deficiencies and re-train as needed.
5. Celebrate their successes—More than you think you need to. It is very important that they feel like they are a valuable and necessary part of the team. Catch them doing well. Keep the ego up. You know us salespeople. Egos like monsters!
So there you have it. Merge away!
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.