Sales is as much a learned skill as it is an innate one. Even people with a natural predisposition for the job may need some experience and sales coaching before they can truly excel at it.
When businesses are expanding and growing, it's only natural that they bring on new hires to sell their products and services. That said, these individuals may not be successful at first. In fact, Brian Zimmerman, OpenView's managing director, suggests that new sales agents may fail as often as one-quarter of the time.
"Typically a 25 percent failure rate is to be expected," he explained to Business 2 Community. "This is typical in a high performing sales team where objectives are consistently being hit and quotas are easy to define."
"However, occasionally in expansion-stage companies quotas may be low, allowing laggards to actually be mistaken for high performers during the first few years only to become failures soon after accurate forecasting and job requirements have been established," he added.
Sales managers should understand this as they develop quotas and continue to train and coach new recruits. Ramp up expectations as salespeople continue to gain experience on the job. If they hit 0 percent of their objectives the first month, set the goal for 33 percent the next one. Then aim for 66 percent and so forth until it becomes clear the person either isn't suited for the job or can actually handle the rough-and-tumble sales environment.
That being said, the success rate of a salesperson may vary from business to business. Some businesses have much longer sales cycles, which may make a new recruit seem less successful at first glance. Other companies may be particularly aggressive in their expansionary goals, which can make accomplishments look less impressive. Various factors, such as target market, buyer personas, deal sizes, sales cycles and company product offerings, can have a huge impact on the success rate of sales representatives.
Regardless, sales coaching is one strategy businesses can take to ensure they are getting their sales agents up to speed as quickly as possible. Training initiatives can provide the insight and knowledge salespeople need to be more effective at their jobs.