Friday, February 19, 2010

The First 90 days

The first few years of a person’s life have a huge impact on their future. Many of our values, instinctive behaviors, and responses to our environment begin to develop before we are six years old. For example, under pressure, some people “freeze” while others get “hot under the collar.” This dates back to when we were infants and kicked off our blankets in the night. We began to get cold and fearful. Others had experiences where their mothers tucked in the blankets and we were unable to kick them off, resulting in us becoming hot and scared. We have no cognitive skills, so our panic is embedded into our body responses. We’ve all seen others behave in what appears to be “childish” behaviors when they are under pressure.

The first 90 days of a person’s employment with a company is equivalent to their first few years as an infant. Under pressure, we revert back into these early responses to outside stimuli. Surprisingly, most organizations “ease” people into new positions. They give people material to study; send them to seminars, company orientations, and visitations of various departments in the organization. This all seems constructive, but with what result?

When a person receives only classroom training during the first few days of their “life” with the organization they eventually reach a point of stress and revert back to this early behavior. We hear feedback like, “I wish my manager would spend more time with me,” or “We need more training around here,” or “How do they expect me to sell this new line with no training?”
To avoid this trap, ask yourself, “What behaviors do we want people to demonstrate when sales are down or we are under pressure?”

As a manager, I developed a training system that produced spectacular results even years later. We want salespeople to prospect for new business when their pipeline shrinks. Therefore, I had new salespeople calling 200 potential clients in their first few days with the company. Of coursed they were unable to sell our products and services at that point, so we had them promote a low-cost preview session. They learned to call a high volume of prospective customers in a short period of time. They asked for money, albeit small amounts. In essence, they began their careers calling potential customers and selling them something from day one. They learned the value of massive action. Several things happened. One salesperson quit before the end of their first week. We uncovered a hiring mistake in less than seven days – a valuable lesson, inexpensively learned.

The remaining salespeople became very good at using the telephone. They also began their “life” with us developing skills that would serve them well when hard-times hit in the future. Months later, these salespeople were producing sales, even in slow periods. They instinctively picked up the phone when the pipeline was light with prospective customers.

Suggested action: Review your on-barding process. Is it designed to entrench behaviors people will require when times are tough or the pipeline is almost empty? If not, well you know what to do.


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We are teaching Sales Advantage February 24 and 25th.

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