How to hurry along a salesperson’s first order

Salesperson's first orderAs a highly experienced former Global VP of sales, I understand the challenges facing leaders – one of which is why it often takes so long for a new hire salesperson to win their first significant order. But why is this the case and what can be done to hurry along a new employee’s first major win?

New hire salesperson

It’s a critical issue and one that can potentially scupper any sales leader’s ability to make their targets. Until that first order is made, the manager will always question themselves about whether they’ve made the right hire. And, at the same time, the new salesperson is probably wondering whether they have chosen the right employer. Both sides – particularly hiring managers – are waiting, watching to see what happens next and whether it will all work out. After all, even if the new hire does turn out to be a top performer it is still often months before the first order is achieved.

The interview

The issue starts during the interview process where the candidate talks up their skills and prior successes and, in turn, the hiring manager promotes how compelling their solution is to customers, and how much demand there is for the product. And when it gets to day one of the new job, in the vast majority of cases the new hire is simply left ‘to get on with it’. The manager, relieved to fill the open role with someone who appeared to be good in the interview then switches their attention to other priorities or areas of the business.

If the new hire is lucky – and they’ve joined an organisation that supports their sales staff – then there will be some kind of on-boarding process, but even this is often limited to solution training and not a lot else. They’ll often feel reluctant to ask too many questions – after all – they’ve given the impression of being some kind of superstar salesperson whose success will only be a matter of time.

But what is needed to quicken the time it takes for a salesperson’s first order to come through?

Firstly, a joint commitment between the hiring manager – to educate, coach and track – and the new hire – to learn, be inquisitive and analytical – needs to be put in place. Ideally, this needs to take place in a short, intensive sales-enablement process with a laser-like focus on exactly what it takes to find the right prospective customers, a detailed profile of the typical buying personas and the real quantifiable and operational customer benefits of whatever solution it is that you’re selling. Most critically of all, it needs to hone in on the ‘triggers’ that drive customers to buy.

By putting a process like this in place it’s likely that the time from a new hire joining your firm to making their first sale will be drastically reduced, enabling you to forecast effectively and ultimately hit your targets. It’s a critical issue for almost all sales leaders, but it’s one that can be addressed with the right approach.

What other factors do you think sales leaders should consider that could shorten the time for a new hire salesperson to win their first order?

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