As you’re building your sales team, it’s important to provide new hires with proper training and to continue to support them over time as they grow their sales. “Taking a systematic approach to training will position the rep to succeed, which makes your company more successful,” says David Blaise, owner of Blaise Drake & Co., an industry consultancy. Here are some training tips to give your salespeople a jump-start beyond just a list of contacts and a phone.
1. Offer industry-specific education. Giving reps that are new to the world of decorated apparel and promotional products a strong educational foundation in the industry’s workings is essential to growing your sales team. At Northbrook, IL-based Added Incentives, in-house training focuses on an array of areas, from learning about key suppliers to dealing with e-mail proofs and the process of placing an order.
Other business owners believe a broad base of product knowledge proves pivotal in winning sales. So, New Berlin, WI-based CSE (asi/155807) has reps from supplier partners meet with new hires to review their offerings and get advice. “They learn about garment fabrics and get great tips on how to sell them,” says Mark Ziskind, chief operating officer.
2. Provide sales process instruction. Whether reps are new to the industry or to sales altogether, many firms educate them about the sales processes of the imprinted products business. At Added Incentives, reps receive intensive practical training. “We go over every step of the sales process, from prospecting and pitching to client management,” says Vice President Danny Friedman. Sales situation role play training helps bring real-world scenarios to life, enabling reps to better learn and think on their feet.
Even if a new associate has industry experience, sales process training can help sharpen skills. While CSE acknowledges that each rep must use a style that suits them, the firm wants its associates to operate within the framework of a consultative selling approach that seeks to invigorate clients’ brands while inspiring those customers’ employees and/or customers.
3. Deliver real-world mentoring. When it comes time to start pounding the pavement, Friedman doesn’t send new associates onto the streets without a sales or business mentor. He’ll often accompany them on in-person presentations, serving as a safety net if they run in to trouble and observing their performance so he can afterward provide pointers for improvement. Friedman also has reps attend his meetings with prospects and clients so they can see how an experienced industry salesperson handles situations. “You can’t help but learn a few things that will be helpful,” he says.
4. Keep the learning going. The key to successful sales training is that it shouldn’t be a one-time event; reinforce sales training consistently throughout a salesperson’s employment at your company.