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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

August 24, 2009 • Issue 09:08:02

An operational look at improving sales force training

By Deana Sellens
Take Charge Business Consulting LLC

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in The Acquiring Mind, issue 10, July 17, 2009; reprinted with permission. 2009 Take Charge Business Consulting LLC. All rights reserved.

Many operations departments do not understand the struggles of sales. It is difficult to be a "behind the scenes" employee in this sales-driven industry. Yet, the most successful ISOs' operations staff take an active role in training new sales reps.

Nothing is worse than finally getting a new, enthusiastic sales guy on board, and three deals later, you never hear from him again. This is especially apt to happen with salespeople who are coming from other industries. Merchant processing is a very difficult field to understand.

Sales training typically entails delivering a startup kit that contains examples of various forms and policies. This is not a bad business practice. Sales starter kits are necessary, but training should not end there. Once the new office is on board and the sales training is complete, the sales department should step aside and turn the operational training over to operations.

Too often we hear clamoring about how salespeople do not understand operations. We tend to blame them for this lack of understanding, but if we do not invest in their training, we have no room to complain.

It is important that operations personnel always consider how it would be if they were out on the street meeting with potential clients and offering products they were counting on someone else to deliver. If sales reps lose customers due to back-end issues or miscommunication, they also run the risk of reputational damage. A salesperson's reputation and paycheck are both on the line. But operations is not a sales rep's forte.

Try this

If your operations people do not help in the sales training process, ask yourself the following:

  • How many of your new sales offices send in less than 10 deals and then vanish?
  • Of these deals, how many of them were held up?
  • How many were pended because of something missing or wrong?
  • How many fell into the risk area almost immediately?

Now try something new: Beta test having operations assist in sales training on 10 new groups. Have your operations trainer do an introduction call and boarding 101 training. Make sure the trainer gets any applications from new sales offices, and assign an underwriter to new sales recruits. This person should go through the applications and look for training issues.

As issues are identified, go back through the process with the sales office. If you need to call a merchant, do it with the new sales office on the phone so reps can hear the approaches you are using.

You should see more sales representatives writing with you longer, as well as increased camaraderie between your sales and operations areas. If not, you can always discontinue the program. end of article

Deana Sellens specializes in operations, risk, compliance and project management consulting. She is a Partner in Take Charge Business Consulting LLC, as well as the current President of the International Association for Financial Crimes Investigators, Gulf Coast Chapter. Deana has a unique customer service oriented attitude toward risk and a proven track record in reducing bankruptcy and fraud losses. Contact her at dsellens@tcbconsultingonline.com.

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