Sales Talent Failure to Launch: The 3 Most Damaging Reasons Why Your New Sales Hires Fail and Quit

If you want to destroy your competitors and develop a superior sales force, then you'd better use these tips.

When it comes to selling, it does no matter how good your product or service is. It has been demonstrated that impressive sales and profits aren't made without proper sales training.

For example, look at how many of the top companies use a solid sales training platform and look at the reflection it has on their sales reps. One thing that separates the top dogs in the sales world from the struggling sales reps is that top performers take extra time in learning the fundamentals of selling before they rocket out on to the floor and start chatting peoples ears off.

Think about this, you just hired a new potential sales champ and you now pray that everything will be all right, considering the fact that hiring sales reps can be very costly from a financial, emotional and organizational viewpoint. Now, what you might not realize is that you and your organization are also immediately put on trial.

From the very first day, "newbies" are going to evaluate if it is worthwhile to invest their energy and lives into your organization. And expect them to be quite judgmental if they don't make it to the end of the first couple of months. As the quite disturbing data below reveals, it may be easy to blame them but chances are, you need to look in the opposite direction to understand and win the challenge!

Who to blame first?   

Having evaluated, hired, and trained almost 60,000 sales reps in the last 30 years for more than 5,000 clients, I have concluded that employers are more often to blame for failures to launch new sales reps. That is the bad news. The good news is, it can be avoided… most of the time.

The failure to launch statistics are quite disturbing:

  • Turnover for the average sales team is about 34% - Bridge Group
  • Only 6% of newly hired sales reps exceed expectations while 48% will fail IKO System
  • 55% of salespeople lack basic sales skills Forbes Magazine
  • 23% of U.S. organizations lose new employees within a year, while 20% of staff turnover occurs within the first 45 days of employment - Allied HR IQ

On the other hand, as I stated above, most of the reasons for failure to onboard sales reps can actually be avoided if you realize that you and your organization can do something about it.

Facts and data to follow:

  • Hiring sales reps based on their soft skills increases the odds of success by at least 78% No-Fail Hiring 2.0
  • Organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 54% greater new
    hire productivity, along with 50% greater new hire retention - Aberdeen Group
  • Every dollar invested in sales training returned $29 in incremental revenues, while
    continuous training gives 50% higher net sales per employee The Brevet Group

Failure to Launch Reason #1:
Hiring the Wrong People in the First Place

Before deciding to hire that very promising applicant, ask yourself the following question, "Does that sales rep present the right profile for the specific job?" What major selection criteria did you use when selecting that applicant? Chances are you acted like 76% of business owners, you paid a lot of attention on hard skills, experience, product knowledge, familiarity with your industry, etc. And you didn't think to evaluate vital soft skills that make up the personality of a truly great salesperson.

To give you an idea of what crucial soft skills need to be evaluated while hiring sales reps, consider this:

  • 79% of professional buyers say it's absolutely critical or very important to interact with a salesperson who is a trusted advisor (not just a sales rep) who can add value to their business. com
  • A recent study of 20,000 applicants (evaluated by over 5,000 recruiters) revealed that only 11% of new hires fail due to lack of hard skills, whereas 89% of those who fail are lacking the appropriate soft skills for the job - Leadership IQ

What this means is that you need to evaluate sales applicants against specific soft skills that have proven to be absolutely vital for success in selling. In fact, focusing your selection based on a short list of soft skills can improve your recruitment and retention success by over 100%.

Personality-related skills such as people drive, performance mindset, passion for challenges, purpose drive, persuasion, conviction, honesty, and the ability to convey confidence can predict success, (or failure) more than any technical and experience-based qualities. At the end of the day, selling is first about making connections and building lasting relationships… isn't it?

Should you blame applicants for not demonstrating such qualities? Or could you put more attention on the right selection criteria that are proven to be at least 4 to 5 times more important? One justification I have heard many times with clients is that hiring hard-skilled sales reps makes them operational faster and requires fewer efforts and attention from Management to get them to perform. This is very far from the truth; as the stats above demonstrate.

Failure to Launch - Reason #2:
No or Poor Onboarding

OK, so you were lucky enough to hire high-potential sales reps, those who might not have the required hard skills but who definitely exhibit the right mindset on the soft side. Unfortunately, it does not guarantee that they will stay.

When you realize that only 3% of high-performing sales reps are actively in the job market (per siriusdecisions.com). You must also recognize that the battle to land talented salespeople is as fierce as ever, which means that you must improve your ability to onboard, train, and develop new sales hires from day one.

Consider the following statistics:

  • A 2018 study from the Sales Management Association (SMA) found that 62% of companies consider themselves ineffective at onboarding new sales hires - brainshark.com
  • 49% of high-performing sales reps identify the availability of onboarding as extremely important when considering a new position - siriusdecisions
  • Sales rep turnover is exceedingly expensive, with one DePaul University study reporting that it costs organizations $97,960 to replace the average sales rep. In addition, 60% of sales forces are understaffed, and turnover is too high in nearly half of them (48%) - DePaul University
  • Companies with effective sales onboarding improve quota attainment by 6.7% and reduce voluntary turnover rate - brainshark.com
  • On-the-job training is considered as the most important ingredient of success on a new job for 76% of new hires, while 56% consider having a "buddy" during the onboarding period as the most desired benefit - bamboohr.com
  • Organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50% greater new hire
    productivity - urbanbound.com

The high cost of poor sales onboarding can be avoided. Now knowing the damage that under-trained reps can do to customer relationships and business reputation, you must work at minimizing the losses during the onboarding period. How?

Here are some tips:

  • Set your new employee up for success by defining responsibilities, processes, and expectations for their job, as soon as they start. Show them your expectations in the next 3, 6 and 12 months, but more importantly, show them HOW you are going to help them get there
  • Ensure that your company/employee policy is updated and easily available. Do not just dump it on your new sales rep's lap, hoping that they will study it overnight - have someone spend some time with them to ensure they understand the details and can ask questions if needed.
  • Have an "on-the-job" training program ready, which ideally allows the new sales reps to balance theory and application. Avoid overwhelming them with too much theory for too long. Insist on the practical side of the traini
  • Review the needed administrative procedures, such as touring the facility, and setting up a workstation with your new hires and ensure that they are taken care of by everyone in the group. Friendly attitudes from every staff member can make a whole difference.
  • Be ready to allocate new hires with a "buddy," - an employee who can be available at any time to help the newbie with answering questions, helping them get around and being a stable person in the organization. The "buddy factor" has always proven to be a great support to the onboarding process - see the above stat.

Failure to launch - reason #3:
Poor Leadership

To end off, we could ask, "What is the first reason why talented, top players leave a company?" The simplest and most condensed answer probably lies in one of the largest studies undertaken by the Gallup Organization. The study surveyed over a million employees and 80,000 managers and was published in a book called "First Break All The Rules," by Marcus Buckingham, and Curt Coffman.

The findings: If you're losing good people, look to their immediate supervisor. More than anything else, the direct manager is the reason people stay and thrive in an organization. He or she is also the reason why they quit, taking their knowledge, experience, and contacts with them, often straight to the competition.

"People leave their managers, not their companies," write the authors, Marcus Buckingham, and Curt Coffman. "So much money has been thrown at the challenge of keeping good people - in the form of better pay, better perks and better training - when, in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue. *

Per a study published in Inc. magazine, when the relationship between sales reps and their direct senior works, it can create lifelong careers that are fulfilling to both parties and greatly benefits the company. When it doesn't, salespeople churn through jobs with short tenures and minimal sales results. The study suggests that top salespeople value six specific things from their Sales Managers (source: inc.com):

  1. Attention (not micro-management)
  2. Chance to make mistakes
  3. Opportunity to think for themselves
  4. Roleplay
  5. Truth
  6. Encouragement

Fortune Magazine survey some years ago found that nearly 75% of employees have suffered at the hands of tough superiors. Of all the workplace stressors, a bad boss is possibly the worst, directly impacting the emotional health and productivity of employees.

So where can the big difference be made? Simply stated, in the way you treat your people. Attitude is the most sought-after soft skill in applicants; it also appears to be a highly appreciated quality among employers. The good news is that attitude is free and you can never show too much of it!

Patrick Valtin,

CEO Hirebox

Author of the "Client Success Optimizer" Training Program.

Hirebox International offers a unique, performance-based Sales Talent Acquisition, Onboarding & Training Program. For more information, go to www.salestalent.academy.