Working remote has been an interesting change for me as an inside sales leader who, for the last decade, has been running insides sales teams that sell digitally to now selling with a 100% remote sales team. I have to admit, I miss the personal interaction of being in the office with my co-workers and the mind share that happens working side by side every day. One of the biggest challenges I did not anticipate was; how do you train a new hire who is 100% remote? Like many companies out there, we had three new hires right around the time COVID-19 had forced everyone to work from home.
I had to work quickly and adjust not only for our inside sales team but also for these brand-new employees, who had committed this time in their career to XANT. Though there have been some bumps in the road, here are some of the things I have learned over the last four weeks:
Listen to Calls
Listening to live calls and past recorded calls is a must for both your senior account executives (AEs) as well as your newest AEs! New AEs need to not only know the value prop and message of the product you are asking them to sell, they also need to hear and understand the customers current state and some of the challenges your product can help solve.
Listening to calls alone will not be enough to ramp quickly. Post call sales training will allow you to dissect these calls and will help internalize correct processes. These calls will also highlight many of things they may have missed working on their own. A pro-tip is to create a basic rubric for them to score each call as they review. This will help everyone to gauge progress and understanding.
Virtual Role Play
During this work from home period, one of the activities I miss the most is live role playing with my sales team. In the past, our new employees would team up with another AE for daily role-playing sessions from discovery to demo to overcoming objections. A role play partner provides a great opportunity for reps to coach each other, as well as helps them to build camaraderie and more quickly integrate into the team culture.
Working from home should not detract from this practice. In fact, working from home is the perfect place to hone these skills as digital seller execute their discovery calls and most demos remotely. Roleplaying will also sharpen their virtual conferencing skills. Teaming up new hires with a seasoned partner really makes this type of training work and will speed up the time for a new hire to fully ramp.
When your sales team is in an office together, you can identify all of the non-verbal communication skills to quickly gauge if your new hires are sinking or swimming. Not having in person interaction requires some over communication so you don’t assume everything is running smoothly when it most likely is not.
A key part of over communication is to hold morning and evening check-ins with your new hires to map out the plan for the day, talk through any questions or challenges they may have and measure their progress. Using video for these check-ins is a great way to have a more personal connection to your team members.
I asked my team what they have missed the most about being in the office and many responded that they missed the ease of mind sharing and being able to mimic what they see working for others. To help overcome this, we use a team chat channel (Teams or Slack) where our team can post questions, successes, and challenges for the group to respond to. We also will spend time at the end of the day on a Zoom meeting, sharing successes of the day both with work and non-work-related topics. These types of regular touch points help to keep the culture of the group healthy and engaged.
The final point on this topic I would like to recommend is to make sure your new hire has a “Bat” phone when they have questions. Showing urgency to their needs and questions helps to ease frustration and can mirror the in-office experience where they can just walk up to someone and get an answer. Don’t miss this key ingredient, it is a massive difference maker. If you find they are pestering you that could mean. either you are doing a poor job of communicating or you have hired the wrong individual.
Many of the questions a new hire will have for the first 30 days are, how am I doing, what should I be working on right now, and am I going to be successful here? Metrics and benchmarks will help to answer those questions for you as well as your new employees. Every morning, have your new hire develop a plan for the day, identifying what they want to accomplish and have them be specific for you to review and sign off.
A simple plan may look something like this:
- Role play first call discovery with Mike from 9:00 – 10:00
- Review two discovery calls
- Prospect for two hours
- Enroll 20 new contacts into a cadence
- Send 20 emails
- Make 40 cold calls
At the end of the day, review with them what actually happened. Were they able to complete all of their daily tasks, if not, what stopped them and how can we adjust for tomorrow?
If you are in Sales, you want and expect to me measured. Defining the correct benchmarks and metrics will provide the necessary feedback to ensure they are on track and will ultimately ramp on time.
The keys to successfully on-boarding and training a new employee are consistent role-plays, call reviews, and training, as well as keeping an open channel of communication to replicate the in-office experience. Finally, provide a plan to help measure progress and success beyond just a revenue target so both parties can quickly gauge where weaknesses may reside and identify a solution.
Head of Emerging Enterprise Sales | XANT