In my previous post on the 3 most important pieces for building a sales machine we talked about aligning hiring, new hire training, and the sales managers first 90 days with the sales person. Getting alignment between each of the teams / processes is critical, but we didn’t have enough time to get into the tactics of how to align them. Each team could be running its own process impecably, but if they are not aligned and they don’t support each other, they can work against each other.
- Shadowing / Attendance
- Process / Consistency
This should be the starting point for every single initiative you role out on your sales team. If you can’t get buy in from your manager and reps, they will not follow you in the new direction. If the pushback from your team is strong enough, you should probably go back to the drawing board. Take the top to 1) explain the why behind the new initiative, and 2) and “what’s in it for them”.
For example, if you’re rolling out a new training program, explain why you’re changing things. Tell them that the previous training had too much content, and ultimately retention of information was low, and you think it will be more effective to focus on less. Ask them whether they thought their new hires where retaining everything. Ask them how hard it is to manage a full sales team while onboarding two new people that don’t know how to log into salesforce? It’s tough. Give them the why and the “what’s in it for me” and they will buy in.
Shadowing / Attendance
Now you can take things once step further. After giving your team the why and the “what’s in it for me”, then ask them to shadow or attend the new trainings. To get alignment between sales managers and onboarding trainers, the managers need to see how their team members are being onboarded. There’s no way for managers to reenforce the material, if they havn’t seen it first hand.
At this point, you could take it one step further. Have the sales managers teach the onboarding class so that they really internalize the material. When a new team member shows up on that managers team, there’s nothing better than the managers knowing exactly what the team member learned in onboarding training. The manager can start building on these skills right away. If the new team member is falling short, the manager can hold them accountable for the content they should have learned.
Process / Consistency
This last piece of advice could be a post on its own. Teams that have to work together will be more effective if they both have clearly defined processes. If each individual on the team is doing things in his/her own way, it’ll be impossible for the teams to collaborate.
For example, if the training team teaches new employees to keep track of follow-ups via salesforce but the sales manager teach all their new employees to use outlook, it will be confusing. Another example might be that the training might expect a new hire to get a certain amount of attention from their manager after they leave training, but managers might not think they should have to put in time with new hires. This misalignment will cause friction if the teams are incentivized to make new employees successful.
One common way to to this is to introduce SLAs or Service Level Agreements between teams. To learn more about SLAs check out this podcast / interview by Bowery Capital on Aligning Sales Teams Through SLAs.