I came upon a terrific blog post a while back written by Martice Nicks. That post followed an earlier one Martice wrote. They both discuss a very important and always relevant question: Should I hire experienced or inexperienced sales reps?
Without stealing all of Martice's thunder, I want to hit you hard with something from his post I found compelling:
The new hire with no sales experience has to develop the following knowledge and/or skills in order to become productive and effective:
- the industry
- the products
- competitors and their products
- value proposition(s)
- sales terminology
- sales process
- buying process
- sales methodology
- setting appointments
- opening the initial meeting with prospect
- evaluating the prospect's situation
- asking high impact business questions
- the decision-making process
- who has power and influence
- what's the sense of urgency
- prioritizing the objectives
- putting together the solution
- constructing the presentation
- presentation and demonstration skills
- handling objections
- preparing the proposal
- preparing the contract
- following up to build satisfaction
- obtaining referrals
- managing the pipeline
- managing their opportunities
- managing the territory
- managing existing accounts
- organizing their day
- sales metrics and what they mean
- using sales tools
- navigating your companies internal departments and systems
- completing administrative requirements
Here's my take. For successful B2B, non-commodity selling (where we aren't selling railcars full of common chemicals or hundreds of tons of soybeans, for example) experience rules. Sure, I can recount examples of VPs of sales pulling engineers from their jobs in manufacturing and putting them on quota. But I can give you many more examples of when that approach failed miserably-miserable being defined as the engineer failing in his new selling job, angering some customers, letting the competition win some deals they shouldn't have won, and the engineer finally quitting in embarrassment and frustration.
We're all faced with tough competition and often, even tougher buyers. Do you want to roll the dice and cross your fingers on the potential success of on-the-job training with someone who is two years out of college or someone else who decided they want to sell because they think salespeople make lots of money and don't work all that hard?
The days of a company training a salesperson for six to twelve months before letting them call on a customer alone are gone. Forever. Unless you have an established, formal program for getting inexperienced salespeople to the point where they are productive in a timeframe that doesn't impact your ability to meet or exceed your bookings or revenue targets, please let me know. Seriously.
I've been involved with too many companies that lost deals, important customers, market leadership, and plenty of money because management hired salespeople that couldn't get the job done. I'm determined to put an end to that.
I'm weighing in on Martice's side on this one.
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