Let's suppose you have inherited a group of young (six months or less) sales reps as a result of the consolidation epidemic. Or, you have to build a staff of entirely new sales reps who have no Radio experience. Your job is to get them selling immediately so that they can be profit centers for the company. Right? Slow down. Let's not put the cart before the horse. You need to provide confidence, comfort and security for your new reps if you are going to keep them in sync with your objectives. Here are three mandatory momentum builders to help turn those raw draft choices into an all-star team.
Teach them about yourself. Your people need to know you and trust you as their leader. Drop the barrier and ego that go with the title. Get them into the attitude of working "with" you, not "for" you. Take off your SM mask, get with your troops, and build excitement. Show them that you are willing to lead from the front, work with them and learn together. Bring in your baby pictures. Share some embarrassing moments of your life, family, hobbies etc. Then, show them where they fit into your goals and objectives. Once they perceive you as a real person, they will be ready to go through the brick wall.
Define expectations. This is a two-way street. Define what they can expect of you as their leader: riding on calls; number of contacts you will make with customers per day; involvement in top 50 accounts, etc. Now, define what you expect of them, from an activity and productivity basis. Be specific. New sales reps do not function well with ambiguity. Reps should be evaluated each 90 days for their first year. Set up benchmarks, and let them know where they stand.
Train them. When we compare Radio to other industries, this important process is seriously lagging behind. Some Radio companies stress the importance of training. Most don't, or it's slipshod at best. Solomon Smith Barney (SSB) takes new sales reps (team members) and commits them to a three-year training program. This three-year program allows them to sell after four months.
HERE ARE SOME AREAS FOR ON-GOING TRAINING:
Product knowledge. Without solid product knowledge, enthusiasm will dwindle. Gaining knowledge of the product they sell will make new reps feel comfortable and secure on early sales calls. As a result, they will gain confidence.
Repetition. Use repetition in your training. Put together a 13-week training course. Your new team will experience total discomfort with a new skill unless it becomes second nature. Perfect practice makes perfect performance.
Role-playing. If they can't do it in the training room, it's tough to expect them to do it on the playing field, in front of a live customer.
Riding in the field. Your senior people should be involved in a training model for the new people. Have new reps ride in the field with your top performers. This helps to establish solid relationships and build a cohesive team. With rookie sales reps, everything needs to be quantifiable so we know how far and how fast we can take them to the next level. Make sure you have another level.
Allow them to make mistakes. Recognize them for their successes on a daily basis. Laugh at a few of their screw-ups.