Tenured sales reps are the lifeblood of a sales team. Much like the star players on a major league team, these reps have a track record of consistently bringing in revenue.
Major league baseball teams hire performance trainers and coaches. (like the Dana Cavalea, the former Yankees Strength and Conditioning Coach, whom we got to interview last week on the Selling From the Heart Podcast!) Why do they do this? They want their star players to maintain their edge and improve.
While all major league teams invest in their star players, many sales organizations fail to invest in their tenured reps.
Most sales training centers around basic skills like prospecting and objection handling. Sure, these fundamental skills should always be exercised and developed, tenured reps need to go deeper.
How many times have we heard VP’s of sales say, “I don’t want to invest in someone if I don’t know if they’ll stick around?” Whatever you think the answer to that question should be, I have a second question for you:
“What about the reps that have stuck around? How are you investing in them?”
You need to invest in your tenured reps to help them become excellent at their craft. How should you invest?
B2B sales professionals that have business acumen are able to build strong bridges between the challenges prospects face and the products you sell. We spend a lot of time training new reps on products but we forget to train experienced reps on business.
I’ve always said, “You’re an empty shirt in the solutions business until you identify a business problem.” As we develop the business acumen of our tenured sales reps, they are able to drive better conversations, ask better questions, and see more potential solutions. This boosts competitive advantage and profit.
One of the best ways to develop business acumen is to train reps in the business issues faced by vertical markets. I’m proud of the research and training our Convergo team is doing to educate reps in the business issues vertical markets face. This is empowering reps to prospect more effectively and drive better conversations when they get in front of the prospect.
As reps develop business acumen, they are able to better articulate their value proposition. As we train tenured reps in the Value Alignment Workshop, the lights begin to come on as they realize the true business impact of their recommendations.
For more ideas on how to develop business acumen, check out this recent article: Where’s The Beef? A Challenge To Sales and Marketing Professionals.
Perhaps the biggest asset tenured reps have is their network of relationships. However, since most sales training focuses on prospecting for new business, many sales teams have neglected to equip tenured reps to extract value from their networks.
Hang out for more than a few minutes with my good friend and podcast co-host, Larry Levine and you’ll hear the quote, “Your network is your net worth!” This is very true of tenured reps.
Sadly, many tenured reps only see a fraction of the value of their network. In addition to basic sales training around prospecting, tenured reps need to develop their relational selling skills. By learning how to nurture relationships with multiple people in each account, reps are able to tap into larger social networks. Consistent account management skills with thank you cards, regular follow up and quarterly business reviews set the stage to be able to tap the network to ask for referrals into target accounts.
What’s The Payoff?
Is it worth investing in your tenured reps? Let’s do the math. What if your tenured reps:
- Increased revenue by 20% this year due to good relational sales skills?
- Boosted win rates by 20% by being able to clearly articulate value?
- Nudged up their gross profit by 20% by improving their business acumen?
- Improved client retention by 20% with regular follow up and QBR’s?
Now, contrast that number by what it would cost you if one of your tenured reps left to go work for a company that invested in their salespeople.