What’s on your new hire checklist for sales reps?
You probably have some key areas covered. Product education, your sales enablement technology, shadowing and mentorship, call reviews, your sales process… the list goes on. (Sales reps need to know a lot of things, after all.)
With so much focus on selling, we tend to overlook something important: learning how to buy.
We’re not talking about memorizing buyer personas and behaviours – though that’s important to know, too. We’re talking about letting reps experience what it’s like to buy from you, from beginning to end.
They should know all the steps involved in buying and how it feels to a customer because they’ve seen their product or service being sold and they’ve been through it themselves.
Here’s why letting new reps experience the buying process from both sides of the table matters.
It shows them how you work
When you invite new hires to observe interactions between reps and customers, you give them an opportunity to critically reflect on and analyze what they think went well (and not so well), say Cory Bray and Hilmon Sorey in The Sales Enablement Playbook.
The questions will differ from company to company, but generally, you’ll want new reps to focus on things like:
- Discovery: How did we surface the client’s needs and interests?
- Objections: What concerns did the prospect raise, and how well did we handle them?
- Execution: How did the salesperson perform? How did other contributors from your company perform?
- Communication: Were emails, calls, presentations, demos, and proposals delivered at an appropriate time? Was content correct and complete?
- Transitions: How smooth were hand-offs between members of your team? How consistent was the service?
Exposing new reps to a variety of styles and levels of experience will give them a better sense of how they’d like to develop and which mistakes to avoid.
It shows them how customers feel
EQ, or emotional intelligence, describes our ability to recognize emotions – both our own and those of others – and work alongside them. Empathy is a big part of that since it means connecting our personal experiences with those of others.
In other words, “It isn’t the ability to say: ‘Yes, I can imagine how you feel.’ Instead, it is the ability to say: ‘Yes, I feel what you are feeling,’” writes Anthony Iannarino, host of The Sales Blog.
When experiencing what it’s like on the other side, encourage new reps to consider questions like:
- Do they feel like your company is listening?
- Are they frustrated with any steps in the process?
- Have you addressed all of their needs and concerns?
- Are they getting support along the way?
By letting new reps interact with the buying process from the customer point of view, it gives them experience they can share first-hand with their own clients.
Okay, but how do we make it happen?
First thing is first: map out your customer journey, from reading that blog post to setting up the product or service. This part is cross-functional, and you may have multiple entry points, but it’s just a good map to have.
Then, involve reps and train them using that map. Here’s what that might look like:
Become a buyer themselves
Allow new reps to walk through each step themselves to see, first-hand, what it means to be a customer. They don’t need to fork over the cash, but once they’ve seen the process from the other side, they’ll have a deeper understanding of the customer experience – and how things run inside your team.
Capture real-life demos
Sales enablement technology has made it easier than ever to save emails, record calls and demos, and track conversations. Use these records to your training advantage by putting together a package showing how the buying journey played out for a high-value customer, and make it available for new hires to pore over.
Role-play with your executives
If you aren’t able to use an actual customer, bring in a C-level executive or an employee that fits a buyer persona and give them a real-life buying scenario. It may not be exactly “real world” but it’ll give new hires something to analyze – and remember. If you can do this live so your new hire can shadow the seller, great! If not, record it and share internally.
In the end, you want a sales team that’s more than just sellers. They should be buyers, advocates, ambassadors, and guides. As customers demand salespeople who are on their side, your reps should be rising to meet them, on their terms.
And what better way to understand those terms?