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Ramping new AEs on multiple products

What is the best approach to ramp new AE's when they are expected to sell multiple products?

The company I work for has a large product offering (6 products) and sells to 3 main buyer personas. AE's are expected to sell to each persona and be knowledgeable in each product.

What are some best practices for getting new AE's ramped on each persona and product quickly?

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    • 2
      Profile picture of Scott Barker
      @scott-barker
      ( 2.9k POINTS )
      2 years, 1 month ago

      This is a tough question and I feel like it’s a bit of structural problem. In my opinion, I would segment out and specialize the AE’s so they can become complete domain experts. If I was an AE here, even if I was told that I had to learn all 18 (6×3) offerings I would just learn the basics of all and go deep on three. What’s the push back on specialization? But in lieu of that, one super simple thing that I instated at a past company was bi-weekly coffee dates with the personas within your own company (ie. if you sell to Finance, have your sales team take you internal finance team out for coffee bi-weekly to get to know their challenges intimately). In my opinion, truly truly understanding you buyer’s world trumps everything (even if you’re lacking some product knowledge).

      • 1
        Profile picture of Barbara Giamanco
        @barbgiamanco
        ( 1.1k POINTS )
        2 years, 1 month ago

        I have to agree with Scott. Learn them all high level but initially pick 3 main areas of focus. And… this cannot be a one and done training. That will never work. I’ve worked for tech companies with multiple product lines. I focused on the top target persona and best 2 maybe 3 products that would get me in. Get that win and then expand. Land and expand, as I call it. I think it is pretty unrealistic to expect any rep to know all products in depth. Do you not have support folks that pre-sales tech engineers who could help here. Again, supporting Scott’s point about structure.

    • 1
      Profile picture of Alberto Colautti
      @albertocolautti
      ( 945 POINTS )
      2 years, 1 month ago

      I come from a couple of previous experiences where we were selling large solutions’ portfolios. First, I think it is a matter of understanding if you are positioning your offering as a platform or different specialised products. In general, however, I’d try to really study the personal challenges and goals of the different personas and then working backwards from those. When you have at least a rough idea of specific problems, you can then circle them back to specific solutions (and ultimately your products!). The advise by @scott-barker is very valuable and I’ve had sales training where we invited our own finance and HR people to understand their own worlds. I’d also add that this is something you learn simply speaking with prospects’ with open mind and curiosity, or even better with already acquired customers who are happy and willing to share how your company helped them!

      • 0
        Profile picture of Mary Green 🔹
        @marygreencny
        ( 7.6k POINTS )
        1 year, 11 months ago

        @albertocolautti thank you for sharing. I think starting with personas is spot on, it’s where marketers start as well.

    • 1
      Profile picture of Macky Bradley
      @mackybradley
      ( 15.9k POINTS )
      2 years, 1 month ago

      Hi @briantroxell Brian!

      I worked once for a company that offered 7 different platforms and they were all different: different technologies, different service models, different add-on products, etc.The way this company (who will remain nameless) trained you was unique. They promised 3 months of intense training. When I showed up, and asked about the training program, everyone just looked at me and laughed. Not a good feeling at all. My training program consisted of me going to the literature closet, and picking out product fliers, and learning as much as I could. Then begging to attend product demos, trainings, etc. It was a wonder I made it. Eventually excelled.
      What I did was started an Excel spread sheet and I had a main reference page, then created separate tabs for each platform. Every Time there was a product release, I would read it and re-read it, then enter that subject of the product release on that sheet.
      I put together impromptu meetings with sales reps, managers, SE’s, Support team members. Anytime I would learn a new fact or a potential setback, I would enter that subject and a brief description of what that subject was about. Soon, even Sr. Reps would be in the filed and they would call me to ask information they knew I had in my Excel” It was an extra effort on my part and it was tough.
      So i would say basically start an Excel file or some way to store and share information about the six products. Have your team do practice demos in a group/Zoom setting. If you have a Sales Engineer, maybe they can do a demo on each product that your team can use. Go through and ask them questions to see if they are absorbing knowledge. Break it down and have your team members work together and have a group become experts on 1 product, and duplicate it, that way, you can conquer this a lot faster.
      Then I would have a group meeting and don’t tell them the scenario- create a scenario for them and record it, and see how they do.
      Let them determine the proper buyer persona and determine the necessary product needed.

      Good luck, Best wishes!

      Macky

    • 1
      Profile picture of kengoldenberg
      @keng
      ( 830 POINTS )
      2 years, 1 month ago

      @briantroxell Brian, as you posted in the [Enablement] channel, will try to stay in the channel lane with these thoughts. Onboarding new hires is challenging enough, but having the wide product set as Freshworks does makes the ramp up even more challenging.
      Consensus by hackers here is that you need to view the challenge from the buy side personas for indicators as to a product priority learning plan by reps.
      Questions like: How do our sales plans map to our product revenue plans? This should hint at which products will lead the market demand and hence focus reps learning & competency needs. If you are fortunate enough to have a Sales Enablement team, then they will be looking for ways to accelerate this learning process and competencies. With so much noise, it becomes increasing difficult to dedicate time to learn product knowledge.
      Whatever your product ( or any competency) knowledge plan becomes, be sure to include a learning retention & reinforcement mechanism to make the learning stick. This will both sustain the learning and drive improved sales outcomes!

      • 0
        Profile picture of Mary Green 🔹
        @marygreencny
        ( 7.6k POINTS )
        2 years, 1 month ago

        It’s OK @keng if you go outside of the topic on the answer. We don’t mind.

    • 0
      Profile picture of Bobby Walter
      @bobby
      ( 610 POINTS )
      2 years ago

      Do the AE’s have support from a Sales Engineer or are they flying solo on all calls/meetings with all personas?

      Can all 6 products be sold to a company/persona?

      • 0
        Profile picture of briantroxell
        @briantroxell
        ( 480 POINTS )
        2 years ago

        AE’s do have SE support on technical discovery and demo calls.

        The products are bundled by persona. For example:
        – Customer support persona has 3 products
        – IT persona has 1 product
        – Sales persona has 2 products

      • 0
        Profile picture of Mary Green 🔹
        @marygreencny
        ( 7.6k POINTS )
        1 year, 11 months ago

        @bobby do you have thoughts on how you would proceed knowing about the support and product structure?

    • 0
      Profile picture of Mark McInnes
      @markmc
      ( 1.2k POINTS )
      2 years ago

      I agree with @scott-barker.
      Select one channel and have the AE’s own that. If not indefinitely then for a sustained period (60 – 90days) before moving to another product/ persona.
      It’s hard enough ramping sellers with individual products – the reality is you will be 6 X less effective with 6 different sets of stories etc.

    • 0
      Profile picture of Cory Peterson
      @lnglkcpx
      ( 500 POINTS )
      2 years ago

      Really interesting conversation here! I have thought about Brian’s problem a lot in my own context over the past year. We are an ecommerce site that primarily sells to b2b so product knowledge is key. Here’s the thing: we have nearly 350 skus with roughly 25 categories of products. All of these products are LED lighting so we do have consistency there.

      The closest I have gotten to a solution is have our new AEs 1) work directly with a mentor sales person who is well versed in the product offering (we literally have them sit back to back) and 2) have their homework be using our website as a manual for learning which products fit into which use cases (we have application-product fit extensively documented). Not perfect but the best we’ve been able to figure out so far.

      We are soon going to bring on another AE. It’ll be interesting to see how it all works being 100% remote…

    • 0
      Profile picture of Charles Moreton
      @cmoreton
      ( 790 POINTS )
      1 year, 8 months ago

      Brian – great topic and a popular one with my clients. I just dealt with one who had 23 products to sell. It was madness.

      Outside of the advice already given – all of which was pretty good. (Specializing reps, etc..)

      I’d look at a slightly different mindset. When you’re selling multiple products, the products don’t actually matter at first. This may sound weird but here me out.

      If you can solve a lot of challenges for your prospects that span a relatively wide array, it’s all about 2 core trainings:
      Discovery (huge topic we can dive into)
      Analyzing Client Circumstances (many people confuse this with discovery)

      Of you can get your reps to nail this, then the products they need to recommend become clearer. You’ll also learn which products lead a customer vs. the ones who are 2nd or 3rd thought. It will help you inform product marketing, positioning and ICP sentiment – 3 huge keys to building a great org.

      You also have to be careful of over training on product as reps will use this as a crutch and will lead to undersold/oversold deals.

      Perhaps a solution consultant group on your team would be beneficial – have reps know the high-mid level product depth and once, they have solidified what the customer needs, you bring in a product expert to do the deep dives. This would keep your reps strategic while providing an asset for them when you get into the weeds.

    • 1
      Profile picture of Chandan Maruthi
      @chandanmaruthi
      ( 930 POINTS )
      1 year, 7 months ago

      One of my prev companies had 6 offerings. However, all of these were related products.
      What we did is take the Sales reps through the customer journey and at what point/problem which solution helped. The story helped sales reps make sense of the different solutions and helped them tie them together in their thought process rather than thinking of them as disparate products. This also helped the sales rep properly position the products when speaking with customers

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