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May 17, 2019

Shorten Time to First Sale with Peer-to-Peer Training

What do “old school” onboarding programs have in common with a reality-TV show?

In reality shows, contestants are often dropped into a new environment to see how long they’ll survive.

After traditional onboarding, newly hired sales reps are metaphorically dropped into the competitive wilderness to see if they can survive selling products they don’t know very well.  The results are often as you’d expect: low success and high turnover.

The Outcomes of Sales Onboarding

“It’s like suddenly getting pushed into the deep end of the pool,” said Joe Baker, Sales Development and Training Manager of medical tech firm Becton Dickinson, during a recent sales webinar, “Settling the Score: Old School vs New School Training in Life Sciences.” In terms of outcomes, this means that many new hires aren’t making their first sale as fast as they could.

To supplement and reinforce the content delivered during formal classroom training, many organizations rely on front line sales managers to coach new hires. In theory, this is a potent antidote to the forgetting curve and a great way to develop reps’ selling skills.

In practice, the results vary wildly. “When there’s a lot of turnover at the manager level, or you have managers who aren’t great at skills development and follow-up because they’re focused on hitting their numbers, outcomes can be all over the board,” said Baker.

Peer to Peer Training

To ensure that new reps are well-prepped and confident, Baker recommends that sales organizations employ peer-to-peer training and share best practices via mobile video.

Through peer-to-peer videos, reps see and hear what ‘good’ looks like. This enables them to emulate winning pitches and messaging until they’ve mastered them.

Instead of classroom training–which can fade from memory quickly–, they learn by doing, helping them internalize information at an intuitive level. Instead of practicing in front of customers (never a good idea), they can record their pitches on video, review and rehearse them multiple times, and finally submit their best performances to their managers for in-video feedback.

The Impact of  Effective Sales Onboarding on Time to First Sale

“We had 10 new hires last year, and in advance of the class, we worked with Marketing to tailor messaging that we put on Allego for reinforcement teaching,” said Baker. “The new hires were going to be selling one of our most strategic product platforms, but also one of the more difficult ones to sell.”

“We really drilled them, and they really practiced … and for the first time in my history with Becton Dickinson, every one of those new hires was able to close that particular platform. We saw a significant decrease in time to first sale.” Baker emphasized the positive impacts of effective sales onboarding and peer to peer sales training on reps: “Your reps are going to have much more confidence, and they’re going to be more driven. They’re going to see the success others are having, and that success will feed their success. When you’re doing best-practice sharing peer to peer, we’ve seen a tremendous domino effect.”

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