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The Secret Sauce: Determining When Your Sales Reps are Ready to Sell

Mar 24th, 2017


The average sales turnover rate is more than 16%. This means that almost one out of every five salespeople will find a new gig in 2017. Because of this harsh reality, organizations must constantly be on the lookout for sales talent just to maintain the current size of their team. Intensifying the hunt for talent even further, 67% of companies are planning to add net-new salespeople.

Even when you find the right candidate, there is still plenty of work to do before the day is done. The rep still needs to be onboarded, trained and coached. In fact, 40% of organizations report that it takes more than 10 months until reps are fully productive, according to CSO Insights. That means that every year, your sales team is operating at nearly 80% capacity strictly because of annual turnover.

With all of that turnover, how can companies ensure their new reps are prepared and ready to sell?

The four components of sales onboarding

To achieve successful sales onboarding, it’s important to determine how that success is measured. For example, here are four common goals of sales onboarding programs:

  1. Accelerate onboarding: Decrease the amount of time it takes new reps to close their first deal.
  2. Reinforce learning: Guarantee reps maintain the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed.
  3. Certify your team: Ensure training is always completed and reps receive the required certifications.
  4. Prove reps are prepared: Empower managers to identify when reps have truly mastered your message and are ready to sell.

Every organization wants to accelerate onboarding and ensure reps have the required knowledge and tools to be successful. But certifying your team and proving reps are prepared to sell takes more than training.

Related Reading: Amp Up Your Ramp-Up: Four Keys to Getting Sales Reps Onboarded and Selling Faster

The secret sauce to sales onboarding success

I asked Tamara Schenk, research director at CSO Insights, how sales leaders can gauge if reps are ready to sell.

Sales teams can use tests and exams to certify reps have consumed the required content, but it’s difficult to assess whether reps can deliver real value in the field based on these tactics. According to Schenk, “The reality check of whether a salesperson is ready to sell takes a bit more than just training.”

The secret sauce to sales onboarding? Coaching.

“Regular coaching helps new hires understand the organization’s product portfolio and how to best communicate value,” said Schenk. “A combination of coaching on leads, opportunities, skills and behaviors should take place regularly and be a top priority.”

Organizations widely recognize they don’t practice enough coaching and 77% of sales managers blame their lack of coaching on time constraints. But according to Schenk, “In an ideal world, the sales manager stays close to the new salesperson (including ride-alongs), providing guidance to better understand how to approach different situations. This experience, combined with the latest analytics from the CRM and sales enablement solutions, are the perfect ingredients for tailored coaching sessions in lead and opportunity coaching, and skills and behavior coaching.”

Ultimately, coaching is critical to reinforcing skills learned in onboarding and helping sales leaders assess whether or not reps are ready to sell. But in many cases, sales managers haven’t learned how to properly coach. “The prerequisite for sales managers is to learn how to effectively coach and align the sales process to the customer’s journey,” said Schenk. “When managers can effectively coach, quota attainment and win rates of forecast deals increase 10 and 28%, respectively.”

For more insights from Tamara Schenk about preparing managers to coach, read CSO Insights’ 2017 Sales Manager Enablement Report.

Want to learn more? Check out how Brainshark helps sales managers coach reps to mastery.