First, lay out some financial guidelines. What does a successful salesperson look like in your organization? When a salesperson starts off with an expansion territory, they need to know that growing their business is job one. But how much growth equates to success? If a successful salesperson should be handling $2 million and their new territory generates $500,000, make them realize that doubling the territory in three years is a good thing but not necessarily a win for the company.

Lay out growth plans for the territory including the types of accounts, the products you believe are ripe for growth and how future increases will impact their income. Be absolutely certain to explain your expectation for rapid growth within the new salesperson’s territory. Stress the fact that expansion territories are strategic investments that do not immediately add to the company’s bottom line.

While I don’t believe in micromanagement, set expectations on working hours, number of calls made, appointments and timeliness of communication. As strange as this may seem, I continually hear stories of sales managers discovering that their new salesperson has the habit of not starting the day until 9:00 because they like to drop their spouse off at work each morning. Why not nip the issue in the bud by laying out expectations the first day?

Joint calls represent not only an important selling tool, but an opportunity for the new salesperson to gain valuable job experience and product sales training. Yet many distributors allow new salespeople to go untrained in how to use this resource. I believe in establishing expectations around when to use outside resources for sales improvement. Metrics and instructions can easily be defined for joint calls with specialists, key supply partner reps and distributor management. Lay out how many calls are expected per month, who is responsible for setting up the call, what follow-up might look like and how the call will be tracked and measured.

Today there are so many ways to communicate with customers and vendors. I believe in spelling out expectations around the timely return of communications. A template might look similar to the one below:

  • Phone calls from customers – returned within four hours.
  • Emails from customers – answered in one business day.
  • Phone calls from inside support staff – returned within two hours.
  • Phone calls from key supply partners – returned within four hours.
  • Phone calls from other vendors – returned within one business day.
  • Email requests from management – returned on the requested day or an explanation provided immediately.

How do you capture customer data? If you are a distributor that uses a customer relationship management (CRM) program, the new guy should understand the information required to operate it and the timeframe for entering it into this system. This includes new customer contacts with accurate names and titles, product interests, calls and so on. To illustrate, you might list expectations this way. You should enter new contacts from all customers to the CRM record within two working days of the meeting. Failure to set measurable guidelines creates sloppy habits that are difficult to change later.

Sales managers and their new charges often find attempts to monitor their ongoing progress frustrating. When laying out an opportunity tracking system, coaching and mentoring occurs with greater efficiency and regularity. Lay out rules for opportunity tracking. This includes the size and type of uncovered potential and how it is to be recorded. An example might look like this: We record into the CRM system anyone who uses more than $5,000 of our equipment along with competitive information, technical issues and the decision maker. As before, this information should carry an expected time of entry.

Quotations are another stumbling block for many distributor organizations. A savvy sales manager takes the time to define how quotations are created. Set rules for quotation generation outlining precisely when the new salesperson handles the task and the times inside sales and specialists are involved in the process. Further, setting expectations as to how you follow up on quotations within your company is important. Our experience indicates that failure to follow up on large quotations often results in missed opportunities. Set a time and responsibility for these quotations.