Setting up a good graduate training program could make a world of difference to the future of your company. Taking on fresh talent is more than just a chance to grow your company and mold the minds of young professionals; it’s also a strategic move. You could be creating the next leaders of your business – and that’s certainly not a responsibility to take lightly.
So how are you going to attract, nurture, deploy and most importantly retain the high flying sales innovators of tomorrow?
What are the business benefits of a graduate training program?
It doesn’t take a genius to realize running a graduate sales training program is great for introducing new talent into your company. The strategic benefits of bringing in graduates for your sales jobs can be extensive and essential to your business development. Possible advantages include:
- Succession planning
- Securing the future of your company
- Introducing new passion and creativity into your team
- High financial returns on investment
- Company growth
Securing the long-term future of your company is something every business, big or small, has to consider and succession planning is a strong component of this process. It may be challenging, but futureproofing your business is essential if it’s to survive its challenges and respond to ever-changing market conditions.
Experience is essential to any sales team, yet employing graduates can be an excellent counterbalance that will help strengthen your talent portfolio and prepare for logistical practicalities within your workforce. For example, if you’re particularly top heavy with experience in the form of more senior personnel, you might end up facing problems as those key members of staff approach retirement.
Jessica Perez, who specialises in graduate training programs at sales training and recruitment firm Pareto, says a great solution to succession planning is having a ready supply of fresh, talented grads you’ve tailor-made to help futureproof your company.
Another benefit of setting up your own graduate training program for sales is the financial sense it makes – investing in graduates most definitely pays off.
An experienced employee, although extremely valuable to any company, can cost you more than one of entry level calibre. In the recruitment process alone, employing one experienced member of staff - with bonuses, expensive company car and everything else their package may comprise - can equate to employing four or five graduates.
So if you’re looking to grow your company, your return on investment is immediately boosted when you choose graduates. Using your more accomplished employees to train your new talents can also be valuable to your senior members of staff, providing them with the opportunity to mentor, coach and learn new tricks of the trade from the next generation. After all, they’re sure to have a different view of the business world in terms of your industry, your organisation and your sales operation.
What KPIs should I consider when setting up a graduate training program?
Before you start looking for graduates you need to do some careful planning to get your graduate training program up and running, so defining what you want to achieve and how to measure success is key. Every company is different and has its own unique goals and objectives, yet a united vision across your organisation is essential in ensuring you attract, secure – and ultimately keep - the best graduate talent.
Consider what success looks like for you and your company, then ascertain how to measure that success by considering the value graduates can add. For example, do you need to create scalable revenue targets for the first six months, or lean more towards team-orientated goals? Maybe you place great value on volume of new business leads, or perhaps you’d like to engender more of a focus on slower relationship building and new business generation, or broader conceptual and creative ideas? If you really want to futureproof your business, flash forward three or four years - what will success look like then?
Here are some KPIs you might want to build into your graduate training program and track within a pre-defined period:
- New business leads
- New business wins
- Revenue or cold calling targets
- Employee retention rates
- Feedback from graduates and coaches (to be measured by internal questionnaires)
The first thing that will affect your KPIs and how high you set them will be the caliber of graduate you intend to accept onto your program. Having graduates who are suited to your company is essential for both employer and employee. Getting the right fit is key to great results from a graduate, their development within your company and, most importantly, their loyalty to you. But this kind of recruitment can take a significant amount of people hours and demands a highly systematic, practiced approach.
To give you an idea of the amount of resourcing such a process requires, take a look at sales recruitment company Pareto’s statistics: Pareto receives an average of 360,000 resumes a year, yet work with only 3,500 of the most talented and promising individuals. These figures indicate finding the very best applicants means narrowing your candidates down to less than 1% of all who apply – a significant undertaking by anyone’s standards.
Understanding your graduate demographic
We’ve already explored how valuable it can be to your business to set up a graduate training program, along with the positive impact it can have in the short and long term. But how can you be certain your program will attract the best talent in the first place? Will it give your recruits what they want in terms of challenges, job satisfaction and rewards – and ultimately inspire them to stay?
We’ve all heard about the millennial and how their needs, perspectives and values differ wildly from previous generations, so to get the best out of them you need to ascertain the key criteria against which they judge prospective opportunities.
The self-aware millennial values more than just their pay check. This differing mentality alone can make all the difference to whether or not they choose to accept a place on your sales training program. Jessica explains what today’s graduates really want: “Realistically you can’t expect a lot from an individual - no matter how talented they are - without the right kind of training. Millennials are telling us they value support and a company that wants to invest in their skills. Realising this and implementing that type of program will have a huge impact on loyalty.”
Practical business considerations
Once you’ve figured out what those mysterious millennials want – and what you yourself will benefit from as a business leader - you need to consider the nuts and bolts of creating a successful graduate sales training program.
Training – Training is something millennials care about: The thought of developing themselves and becoming successful is something that attracts them to a role and keeps them there for the long term. Feeling confident you can help them fulfil their potential in a competitive marketplace is key.
According to Jessica Perez, a significant number of organisations are not prepared for the commitment of properly training their graduates: “Internal training programmes are usually designed for experienced candidates, so the training on fundamentals is missing. Assuming a graduate will work well without basic training is an assumption that can cost you money.”
Often, a grad is put with a very experienced manager to train and develop them, however this may not always be the best choice. “An accomplished senior member of your team may not have the adequate time or capacity to realistically commit to training your graduates. Careful selection of your mentors, or outsourcing your training to experts, could be the solution to keeping your graduates happy and successful,” explains Jessica.
Without the proper training in place - and the right coaches to implement it - you may struggle to attract and retain graduates and to unlock the potential benefits for your business. Ascertaining how you’re going to tackle that issue - whether it be taking the time to set up an internal academy or outsourcing to the experts – is an essential tactical consideration.
Structure – The ability to stay agile and flexible when it comes to your graduates can prove very beneficial in the long run. A cross-departmental rotational structure is an excellent and attractive starting point. However, it might not always deliver the best return on investment. For example: If a graduate shows particular promise and commitment to the sales department, keep them in there. Rotate them through that department, but always review and recognize what is going to work for the individual to get the most out of them.
The business benefits of outsourcing
There’s no definitive way to tell if your graduate sales training program is going to work until you get started, but by following the steps we‘ve covered in this guide you should be on the right track to setting up and running a program that could benefit your company for years to come.
However, a graduate sales program is a significant undertaking that cannot be underestimated. The returns can be impressive, but you have to invest a great deal of thought and human resources to get the right results. Recruiting talented individuals and providing first class training will lead to stronger sales results and better staff retention. Outsourcing can save you time and money, helping guarantee the very best graduates for your program. If you’d like support on this exciting step in your journey towards enhanced business growth and success, Pareto are experts in the field and can guide you in establishing a winning graduate program, safeguarding your future business success.
Contact Pareto today to ensure you recruit the highest quality sales graduates and enjoy seeing your business reap the rewards.