It seems every few months we get asked for advice on what small business VARs and MSPs should do to provide technology sales training to newly hired staff.
If you have the luxury of a new hire coming from a similar job with a similar IT channel company, that experience is usually a blessing, although depending on that company’s culture and propensity for bad habits, that experience could easily be a curse, too.
Now when it comes to getting that comfort level out in the field, there’s really no substitute to shadowing someone in the company who’s more seasoned.
And most small business VARs and MSPs, that have a realistic budget and realistic expectations for the new hire’s timeline, will rotate the newly-hired staffer through various “departments” of the company as part of their homegrown technology sales training program.
But surely there’s got to be some silver bullet or magic checklist for this, right?
Consider the following 10 tips for training a newly hired technology sales person, especially someone with very limited experience in the IT channel. In parentheses next to each tip, you’ll find the name of the person or department who’ll typically provide that part of the technology sales training.
Explain your company’s mission, values, target market definition, and ideal client profile. (VP sales, sales manager, or CEO in really small companies)
Walk through the different parts of your company’s B2B marketing plan. Summarize currently active campaigns, as well as how your company tests and optimizes its campaigns. (marketing department)
Demonstrate that there are sufficient lead generation campaigns. Discuss how these campaigns arrive early enough in the sales process to knock out a lot of competition from consideration. In larger VARs and MSPs, with more substantial marketing and sales teams, the hand-off of marketing qualified leads from marketing to sales usually happens at this stage. (marketing department)
Step through the sales cycle, including average days in each stage. With well-qualified leads for large projects, expect at least a three- to six-month sales cycle. Point out how rookies and amateurs often give up on leads way too soon. (VP sales or sales manager)
Role play how to ask open-ended questions. Because it’s critical to uncover the pain points unique to each sales opportunity, be sure your technology sales training includes time for new hires to role play common scenarios with experienced sales staff. (VP sales or sales manager)
Show how to initiate contact with marketing qualified leads. Identity primary needs and pain points, while confirming lead qualification. (VP sales or sales manager)
Teach how to follow-up with qualified leads as if the company’s very survival depended on it. Supplement personal one-on-one contact with a limited amount of automated lead nurturing. This should include related blog posts, white papers, case studies, webinars, ROI worksheets, comparative matrices, FAQs (objection handlers), and other thought leadership content that advance leads through the sales process. (VP sales or sales manager)
Arm sales staff with social proof that your solutions are effective. Your sales staff must be prepared with testimonials and case studies, in print and video format, to bring on their sales appointments. In many cases, more experienced sales staff send these preemptive objections handlers to prospective clients prior to sales calls. (marketing department)
Practice asking for the sale. Salespeople must have the closing pitch very well committed to memory. Although some of this pitch may vary depending on the prospect's persona and pain points, your technology sales training has to include practicing at least basic sales closing techniques. (VP sales or sales manager)
Train sales staff to stay engaged long after the sale has closed. Many small business VARs and MSPs tie sales compensation to client payment history and client retention. But at the most basic level, unless you have separate staff that takes over this role post-sale, your sales staff must provide fantastic account management post-sale to turn customers into clients, and then ultimately clients for life. (VP sales or sales manager)
So while no amount of simulated classroom training can substitute for in-the-field experience, and rotating through various departments and job roles, use the above 10 technology sales training tips as a rough outline to plan your on-boarding process with new hires, especially those that have never worked before in the IT reseller channel.
What does your company cover with its new hires in its technology sales training? Please share your tips, hints, and war stories in the comments area below.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free special report on the 7 IT Sales Secrets for Attracting High-Lifetime-Value Clients.
Creative Commons Image Source: flickr learningexecutive
Topics:- B2B Sales Strategy