At global express delivery company DHL, its three-year-old college recruitment sales training program is paying off.
First, it nabbed a “Stevie Award” in the 2007 American Business Awards, presented yearly in recognition of an outstanding achievement in business. The honor was in the “Best Human Resources Team” category, and DHL was the only company recognized for its achievements in sales training. DHL was in competition with more than 2,000 entries from companies of all sizes and in virtually every industry.
In fact, this sales training program — known internally at DHL as the “College Recruitment Express Training” — hires recent college graduates and trains them to become sales professionals on a fast-track program focused on product knowledge, selling skills, customer management, and experiential learning.
Second, the company reports that this successful college sales training is not only showing 100% retention rates among college recruits, but the graduates are bringing in significantly more package revenue than participants in previous programs.
Like with many companies, DHL openly admits it struggled with retention issues. Despite its motto of choice that “customer service is back in shipping,” it was not always easy to find the right blend of workers to promote a flexible, enjoyable experience in the shipping industry for all customers.
“Three years ago, our turnover rate was a little higher than we wanted. So we took a look at the types of people we were hiring,” says Paul Read, director of sales training for DHL USA.
“You would think you just teach them the products and services and they hit the ground running. But that wasn’t always the case, so we decided to take a look at the makeup of what the candidates should have to be successful at DHL,” says Read.
The company does have an internship program, but Read explains that it’s not for sales and mostly for admin functions.
So it launched the College Recruitment Express Training program to cover DHL’s business, industry, and market. Training program graduates learn soft skills such as listening, rapport-building, as well as identifying and understanding customer needs. The company says the interactive program blends conventional learning methods with experiential activities that expose the participant to real-world customer situations.
The Sticky Similarities
Responsible for sales training for the United States, which includes almost 1,500 sales reps and managers located around the country, Read likens college recruitment to molding a colorful piece of Play-Doh. He notes the similarities in being able to make an impressionable sales team look and act a certain way.
“The college graduates don’t have prior sales — or even prior work — experience. You don’t have a benchmark to measure DHL against; you don’t really know what sales is about yet. We could mold that person,” he says.
Read recently chatted with ERE to share more insider tips on how he helped design the program and how things are faring in the program’s third year: