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How to Hire and Train Sales Reps | MarketSource Interview

Finding the right talent for your open sales roles can be challenging. Sciolytix CRO Nick Rini sat down with Ben Simms, VP of Commercial Client Services at MarketSource, to discuss how Sciolytix’s UPtick™ Sales Enablement software helps sales leaders make better sales hiring decisions in a competitive market and can help accelerate the onboarding of new hires, as well as improve the Selling Judgement of the existing sales team.

So what is separating the companies that seem to find the right talent from those that continue to struggle?

Rini explained that while many companies have invested heavily in getting new hires up to speed on the company and product specifics, as well as the overall industry and marketplace, many companies have found they need to make the investment in identifying “Selling DNA” before they hire. 

More and more companies are starting to use pre-hire sales assessments during the hiring process. According to Rini, approximately 38% of corporations now use sales assessments and while that number may seem low – it’s actually grown significantly and is continuing to grow.

“Having an understanding of work ethic, achievement drive, goal orientation, etc. – those are things that are very difficult to train.” 

Sales core competencies can differ depending upon the segmented sales roles within a company. For instance, the core selling behaviors for an SDR can be different from an Account Executive. So how does a sales leader know which core competencies to identify for each role, and then how to measure them to identify the right talent?

Ideally, Rini advises sales management takes a “snapshot” of the entire sales team. And don’t just include the top performers in your analysis he advises. “You want to know what good performance looks like, but you also want to know what bad performance looks like. Don’t rely on the database that the sales assessment company offers to analyze performance, instead create a database that is specific to your organization. Because then you know what good really looks like and you can hire to that.”

Another hot topic for sales management is onboarding new hires. Especially how to get new sales reps to a steady state faster and producing revenue sooner. So what is the framework to a successful onboarding process?

Training Industry magazine study found that it took 381 substantive customer interactions to develop proficiency in sales. The problem with that is the large amount of time it takes for a new sales rep to experience 381 sales conversations. A lot of companies use sales role plays as a way to get reps up to speed faster, the problem is that sales role plays is not scalable. 

There are a number of sales simulators, including UPtick™ which is like a flight simulator for salespeople. Sales simulators allow them to go through as many selling situations as they can handle in a shorter period of time, therefore getting to sales proficiency in a shorter period of time. 

“Using sales simulations is one of the ways you can get people into the field and to dollar one as quickly as possible.” – Nick Rini, CRO, Sciolytix

Rini encouraged sales management to focus on behavior change when onboarding new sales reps.

What are sales leaders not doing enough to speed up hiring? According to Rini, sales management often makes the mistake of not giving new hires the time they need to onboard successfully. Getting people into the field as quickly as possible is always the goal, however if management sends an unprepared sales rep into the field it will come back to haunt them.

Some of the best sales enablement and onboarding platforms provide sales leaders with a “scorecard” that lays out a rep’s Sales DNA, or selling strengths and weaknesses. Sales management would be smart to use the scorecard as an opportunity to help the rep build their sales skills through reinforcement and sales coaching.

Also, sales management would be smart to review their onboarding process and consider whether the organization is offering sales training, or sales development. 

“You want to leverage strengths and develop weaknesses.” 

Rini feels that while there are many definitions of Sales Intelligence, there are really four categories of attributes that should be measured:

  • Cognitive Ability: Can be vital for sales of complicated or technical products, for instance scientific wares or engineering applications. 
  • Selling Behaviors: Fundamental to the Sales DNA of an individual. Assertiveness, work ethic and everything in between. 
  • Sales Skills: This sales attribute encompasses everything from listening to negotiating and closing. 
  • Selling Judgement: Something we don’t talk about enough. Sales Skills can be taught, but Selling Judgement – when to advance a deal – is a difficult thing to teach. It is somewhat instinctual.

Rini added that a fifth sales attribute that could be considered the sales environment and product knowledge. But really Sales Intelligence is a combination of an individual’s cognitive ability, selling behavior, sales skills, and selling judgement.

Once sales management understands a rep’s Sales Intelligence, the next step is to help them build upon their selling weaknesses. For instance, if a rep lacks assertiveness – that is something that sales management can offer sales coaching on. If a rep is weak in a broader area of Sales Intelligence, like Selling Judgement, using tools like sales simulations can help a sales leader identify the exact point in sales conversations where a rep may be making errors in Selling Judgement.

“Sales simulations or even role plays will help you assess someone’s Selling Judgement because you can very quickly boil down what direction they are taking in the conversation.” 

In today’s world of smartphones and social networks, reps and customer are more distracted. Rini suggests that modern sales reps need more “doing” in their sales education and sales enablement than previous generations did. 

“You have to put sales reps in a situation where they are learning by doing.” 

The concept of applying emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality conversations to the B2B sales world is something Rini sees as holding great promise because it is a safe place for behavior change to happen and because it is sales enablement that can take place at will. The challenges are that it is not inexpensive and that you have to get past people’s hesitancy to wear the goggles. 

“What is really powerful about Virtual Reality for sales enablement that is behavior change can very easily happen. VR can put people in a sales environment that is as real as you can get – without the risk of putting them in front of a customer.”

Rini shared that companies who are using VR successfully just make the hardware and software something that new hires are assigned.

Author: Nick Rini

Nick Rini, with an extensive tenure in tech as an entrepreneur, has led three companies as CEO, and served as an advisor to several tech company CEOs. Nick’s experience includes raising venture funding, mergers and acquisitions, sales forensics consulting, sales, marketing, and sales management.


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