Posted August 2, 2023

New salespeople by the numbers – how to get your new B2B reps performing up to speed without spending a fortune

Navigating the world of B2B sales can be a costly and challenging endeavor, particularly for knowledge-based distributors. Using Iowa vernacular, people with technical and sales acumen are as scarce as hen’s teeth.

Frank Hurtte contact info

From the perspective of most knowledge-based distributors, hiring an employee from a competitor often does not yield the positive results they anticipate. A net result is a lot of new salespeople entering our industry. Distributors have discovered a need to hire and develop their own salespeople from scratch.

Training for a new salesperson is lacking

There are plenty of sales courses on the market, but none of them are designed specifically for our kind of selling. While there are selling courses that include the word “distributor” in the title, most of these focus on distribution in general instead of the brand of selling used by knowledge-based distributors.

When a sales manager is fortunate enough to find something that might apply to our business model, the content is geared toward experienced sellers. New sellers launching their careers have unique needs, requiring more specific training.

Consider how the following essential building blocks are explained, discussed, and taught:

  1. Learning about the thousands of products sold through their organization.
  2. Understanding the nuances of applying these product technologies.
  3. Organizing the data gathered from customers, vendors, and others required to be effective.
  4. How to put notetaking to work in your sales activities.
  5. Setting up appointments with new customers and newly discovered contacts at existing customers.
  6. How and what to say during the first customer meeting.
  7. Positioning first calls so that customers will welcome subsequent calls.
  8. Understanding what a Knowledge-based distributor salesperson needs to know about their customers.
  9. Building customer trust by setting realistic expectations and managing commitments.
  10. Involving others within their company by building relationships and sharing information.
  11. Interacting with supply-partner sales teams to multiply sales efforts.
  12. Involving sales managers in your work in a way that accelerates results.

Now let’s look at the numbers.

As we delve into the numbers, the true cost of hiring, training, and retaining a B2B salesperson becomes evident. The figures speak volumes, with investments exceeding hundreds of thousands before any meaningful profits are generated.

– $232,211. Marketsource, a “sales acceleration company focused on delivering better outcomes for many of the world’s most iconic brands,” shared a rather complete breakdown of the true cost of B2B salespeople in 2020. They provide information that covers the cost of benefits, software licenses, recruitment, and even employee retention plans. I believe the article should be required reading.

– $150,000. A few years ago, I read and re-quoted some interesting research by industry consultant Brent Grover who discovered the typical distributor invests over $150,000 before a salesperson generates profit for the company. I found the number eye-opening then and wrote an article urging distributors to invest time in creating a real onboarding plan for new sellers.


– $115,000. I also discovered some research from a company providing training that indicated the cost of replacing a sales rep was $115,000 back in 2017. I suspect that number is significantly higher today. Further, their information was tied to general B2B sellers including salespeople who were probably shifting from one commodity-type product to another. The technical nature of the Knowledge-based distributor’s business would include higher salaries, longer search times, and greater overhead costs.(

Accelerating the learning curve reduces the new salesperson startup cost.

My experience with hundreds of knowledge-based distributors indicates it takes the average new seller nearly two years to develop meaningful customer relationships, understand products, learn the right habits, and generally get their “sea legs” as a salesperson. With this in mind, it is no wonder that it takes three years for them to reach the point of creating a profit contribution for their company.

A reasonably bright person with the right motivation will eventually learn how to do the job via the school of hard knocks. Being armed with the right tools can accelerate the learning process to just a few months. This shortened timeline can lead to significant cost savings.

– $42.50. Great news for sales managers with new salespeople! “The New Sales Guy Project” offers a tried-and-tested approach to help rookies successfully launch their territory. This project is the outcome of four years of research and personal discussions with more than 200 sales professionals, highlighting the obstacles they faced during their initial year in sales. For less than fifty bucks, this may be the least expensive thing you do to help your bottom line this year!

The New Sales Guy Project – Now on Amazon

Knowledge-based distribution has always needed a steady flow of new salespeople to survive. At the same time, the complexity of the skillset required of these new salespeople has grown at an exponential rate. New sellers struggle during their first year. Frustration sets in and many exceptionally talented individuals drop out of the industry. Sales managers complain as they lay out massive sums of money waiting for their sales numbers to grow.

This book is based on three basic premises: First, selling has changed and the industry has not adapted to the changes. Second, most sales managers learned how to sell in a different customer environment and now struggle to properly assist their rookies.

Finally, nearly all sales books are designed for transactional selling and the selling model for knowledge-based distributors is notably different.

Frank Hurtte, an expert in distributor sales, provides a straightforward and actionableFrank Hurtte blueprint for launching a career in sales. Some individuals who are not familiar with our selling approach may believe this book does not cover anything about selling. Those who understand it will discover a clear roadmap to unlocking opportunities, asking the right questions, building trust, and beginning a rewarding life in a world where customers and friends are one and the same.

If you are looking for sample closes, or various methods for force-fitting unwanted stuff into your customers’ budgets, this book is not for you. On the other hand, if you are just joining the ranks of sales professionals in an environment where your solutions help customers be more productive, join the author, Frank Hurtte, as he leads you through the early steps of the process.