The average ramp-up time for sales teams can vary from 90 days to nine months. And whether they’re mayo or Miracle Whip folks, all sales managers can agree on one thing: those timelines are slo-mo compared to where they should be.
Here are four ways to ramp up sales productivity and turn your sales reps into the Chuck Norris(es) you know they can be:
Week 1 - Testing, 1, 2, 3: see what they know and how much work you have to do
To establish a baseline of where your employees are and how much training they actually need, use a learning management system (LMS) that allows you to easily create micro-assessments. In a very short time, you can determine just how much more schooling in your products and services your sales team needs.
These quizzes aren’t supposed to mimic the SATs. Keep them to five questions or so, and make them easy to access via mobile. Be sure to switch up the format (true/false, multiple choice, fill in the blank, you get the idea) in an attempt to ramp up retention and minimize Christmas treeing.
Week 2 - Analyze the results: bust out that red pen (or let your LMS grade the quizzes for you)
When it’s “pencils down,” be sure to analyze a variety of factors to determine how knowledgeable and engaged your team really is, including:
Adoption rate - total participation of your team (those who didn’t take the quiz will be red flags, representing your least-engaged employees)
Number of times a quiz was taken by each rep - this is a good indicator of who is engaged. Even if they get the answers wrong, at least they are trying and want to do a good job. These employees will be more receptive to any subsequent coaching that is needed.
Length of time spent to complete the quiz - another indicator of engagement, this factor demonstrates those who may not get every question right, but they are engaged enough not to give up.
Overall quiz scores - Captain Obvious would like to remind you to keep track of the highest quiz scores to help identify high performers. These guys and gals may need a little engagement boost, but their product knowledge is where it needs to be.
Percentage of correct answers for each question - if the overwhelming majority gets the same question(s) wrong, maybe the question or the answers are worded unclearly, or there could be a bigger issue at hand, like lack of product knowledge or training courses that need improvement.
If it helps to throw all of these stats in a matrix to help analyze them, feel free to do so (but leave Keanu at home). The sweet spot is high performance, high engagement. But there is hope (and help) for sales team members who just aren’t there yet. That’s what next week is all about.
Week 3 - Provide additional training: fill in the gaps while channeling your inner Bear Bryant
Create crash courses to cover knowledge gaps. Now that you know which questions your team members got wrong, you can quickly create courses that turn those wrong answers into right actions. Any misinformation should be quickly remedied through short, easy-to-understand videos and courses. You’ll want to ensure your reps rock these new courses, as spouting incorrect information can lead to trouble down the road.
Videos alone aren’t going to cut it. Try as they might, machines haven’t completely replaced us just yet. Block off some time with your reps who need a little extra coaching—those who are engaged, but just need some TLC to close the learning gap. Be sure to follow best practices for coaching, including NOT getting all helicopter parent on them if a call is headed south. Allow reps to make mistakes so they can learn from them and do leaps and bounds better the next time a similar situation arises.
Week 4 - Repeat: rock on and on and on
Now that your team has received additional training and coaching, it’s time to test their knowledge with another quiz. This time, switch up some of the questions and the format (so they won’t just remember the correct answers from last time).
Keep refining this process, revising the timing, questions and methods you use to complete these four steps until you find your organization’s sales training groove.
Have any success with this method? How do you keep your team trained in less time and with less drama? Please share in the comments below.