As we have previously discussed a strong sales onboarding program is key to the future success when hiring new reps. However it shouldn’t just stop there. It can also be beneficial to implement a sales mentoring program after your sales onboarding program has completed. This will ensure that the sales reps successfully transition from the onboarding phase to the fully baked independent employee phase. Today we talk about what that means, how to make it a success, and why it’s an important step in the process.
What we’re going to cover:
“It’s more than just saying, ‘hey we’re building a sales mentoring program’. It’s making sure that the sales team knows this is going to happen, the importance of it, and what the end goals are. Communicating to them how this is going to work is just as critical as implementing it, because you need their support.”
“You want each department to know that you’re building this mentoring program, right? This happens a lot especially with sales. For example, you implement something and then a new sales rep will be talking to someone in another area of the company and mention something about the mentoring program and the response is “Oh I had no idea”. Unacceptable. I think it’s important for all the departments to know the investment you’re making not only in your onboarding program but to building out a mentoring program to help sales reps transition into your company properly.”
“It’s a transition period. When you get into the true coaching and the meat of the coaching the focus is pretty much deal specific. And I say deal specific because we’ve identified the areas they need help, we’re working with them and deals, and we’re stressing these areas and helping and coaching in the areas that we’ve identified. So, it’s a little bit different than onboarding. That’s why it’s important to have that sales mentor help with the transition period.”
“The communication is the support that you’re going to need. Everyone needs to support the sales mentoring program. Why? Because that feedback is important. Because they can get a positive view of what you bring to the table. You want them to feel good that they’re involved in something that’s meaningful.”
“Like everything else we’ve done and talked about from onboarding, to hiring, to building programs you have to understand your goals. You need to know what the expectations are. What outcome are we looking for?”
“So, the goal really is the outcome, what am I looking for here, what’s my expectation, and I’m going to break it down into two parts:”
“One is the mentor, what to expect from the mentor. What’s their role in this, what’s the description for them, their responsibilities, their procedures, their expectations? What do we want the mentor to do? We need to vet that out because not everyone can be a sales mentor. A mentor comes with a heavy burden. They have to be successful but they also have to have the skill to teach and they have to have the desire to want to do this.”
“The other side of that is the sales rep, what’s the expectation of the sales rep with the mentor? What’s the role and responsibility and outcome you’re looking for with the rep? And make sure to put that all-in writing. This is how we expect you to interact with the mentor, this is how it’s supposed to be, this is your responsibility, your role in this relationship.”
“(For sales mentors) There could be a point in their career they want to manage and this is a great step in that direction. There’s none of the burden or the responsibility of numbers and outcomes and quotas. It’s the teaching aspect of management. Quite frankly it’s the most important part of management. You want to get good managers in place? Make them mentors, teach them how to be mentors. “
“‘Well I’m new with the company what do you mean it’s career development?’ It’s going to help you transition into our company, into our culture a lot faster than you would on your own. Your opportunity to realize accelerated growth and higher revenue, higher sales, in a shorter amount of time is important to your career development here. We want to see you progress and this is the first step in that process of progression.”
“They have a guide that helps them, they have access to the sales onboarding program, they know what they’re doing any given day of the week, and they have their specific time that they’re assigned to work with the sales rep. The mentor playbook is a guide on teaching, a guide on helping the sales reps, a guide that matches the onboarding training, so they have something in front of them they can see the progression.”
Sales Rep Playbook.
“The sales rep playbook just goes right into the sales onboarding playbook, it explains the roles and responsibilities and their part as the sales mentor and what the expectations are, go back to the expectations you want to explain it but you want to have it in the playbook, you want them to know how to do this.”
“The assessing is just the mentors role in this, and it’s in the playbook, right? But the role here is to figure out how they are progressing beyond just the onboarding and what they’re getting from it. Do they have the skill sets? Are they matching what we want them to match at this point in their career? Are they missing pieces? What needs to be filled in? Their role is to observe the behavior, listen to the questions, and provide the next steps in the process.”
“When I talk about feedback I’m talking about feedback in multiple ways. First the sales mentor to the rep, the sales mentor to the manager. Honest assessment, honest feedback to the manager on how the reps progressing. And you’ve explained it to them in the beginning that the mentors are going to be providing feedback the manager and feedback to you on how they’re progressing.”
“Sales reps need to provide feedback as well. Maybe it’s a great positive experience or maybe it’s not, but we want to know. That’s what we’re aiming for here. We want that feedback too. We want them to know that it’s an open door, there’s an opportunity there to provide good information.”
“That feedback is critical to what’s going to come in the coaching phase as they begin to come out of onboarding and in to coaching. And critical to any changes or adjustments that are going to be made in the sales onboarding process, right? If they’re just not getting something, then you might want to make an adjustment. We want them to follow the playbook, we want them to follow the roles and responsibilities but we have to make adjustments if we need to.”
Continue beyond onboarding.
“Sales mentoring doesn’t go on forever. It is not a substitute for training, it’s not a substitute for coaching, it is part of the onboarding process that might continue slightly beyond the onboarding process. It’s a transitional period, right? But it’s not an ongoing thing forever. The goal is to train them, get them up and running as quickly as possible and move them into the coaching phase while they’re producing revenue for you.”
“Okay we want to know whether this has been a success or failure. And we provide feedback on that, we make adjustments for that next time. This is a formal process, it’s part of the program, and at the end of that we sit down and we discuss the successes. Quite frankly we discuss the failures as well.”
“So, what have you done at the end of this and what have you done in the beginning, the middle and the end? You’ve set the stage for future coaching. There’s not enough coaching going on out there, everyone thinks that “well if I hit my numbers my boss leaves me alone” and I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Why would you want that”? Would you accept that anywhere else in your life? You wouldn’t accept that from anyone else so don’t accept it here.”
“It’s a lot easier to start that process when you hire somebody, bring them into the onboarding, walk them through the training, and the development, begin the coaching as a manager, and bring in the mentor, it’s a natural progression to ongoing coaching and development for that rep beyond the sales onboarding. Then they get a real taste of it in the onboarding program and through the mentor program, so it’s a natural progression to move into it after they’ve coming through that process and what they’re going to find is not only do they ramp up faster because you put them into an onboarding program and they have a lot higher success rate, but you have people that will get better and better as the years go on and you will close more deals.”
Keep Filling The Funnel
We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover. You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at email@example.com. And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.