Getting new salespeople up to speed quickly is a pivotal factor separating Best-in-Class organizations from their less productive peers. Research from The Sales Management Association reveals that these firms have 10% greater sales growth rates, and 14% better sales and profit objective achievement.
The first few months after a new rep is hired are the most critical to their retention, performance, and long-term success, so it’s important to get your sales onboarding process right.
Follow these steps when developing your onboarding strategy and propel your new sellers to maximum productivity as quickly as possible.
1. Start the Sales Enablement Process Before Day One
Part of an effective onboarding process is preparing your new sales hires to hit the ground running on their first day.
Send your new sales hires a welcome package with an outline of their first couple of days, and resources to give them a head start.
On day one, each new rep should already have a basic understanding of:
- Your company’s history and leadership
- Your offerings
- Your values and mission
- Your key differentiating points
- Any other high-level information that is publicly available and relevant
Ask reps to come to their first day of work with questions for their managers based on their research of your company.
This initial conversation establishes a strong foundation for the coaching relationship by helping the salesperson and the manager get to know each other. It also sets the stage for the culture of coaching at your organization.
2. Follow a Formal Onboarding Process
While you want salespeople to be resourceful, it’s a mistake to simply throw them into the pool and expect them to swim. A formal, milestone-based onboarding process provides the framework to give them everything they need to succeed within your sales organization, within an appropriate time frame.
A successful onboarding process:
- Sets time-based goals for content and skills mastery
- Establishes expectations for new rep participation in the process
- Guides both the representative and the manager through the process
- Includes clear checkpoints to measure progress
A best practice is to have 30, 60, and 90-day plans for onboarding with scheduled check-ins to evaluate the new rep’s progress and determine what they’re doing well, where they’re struggling, and what type of targeted coaching can be used to help them further improve.
3. Establish Expectations and Provide Training and Support
In order for the members of your sales team to be successful, they must know exactly what defines “success” in your organization. It’s critical for sales leaders to establish and communicate expectations with their sales reps early on, and enforce them on a continual basis.
If you expect your team members to meet their goals, you must also give them the knowledge and tools they need to succeed. A training program that teaches new sales hires a consistent sales process is a must.
4. Have New Reps Shadow Senior Reps
An effective onboarding experience should include some time for your new reps to shadow experienced reps on sales calls. This allows them to see your processes and systems in action.
Explain to your current team members that their participation during the sales onboarding process is important, and encourage new hires to simply observe—and save questions for their sales manager later.
Tip: Get your entire sales team involved in onboarding with a “welcome” meeting. Ask each team member to bring a story or tip based on the prompt, “What I wish I had known when I was new.” This builds instant camaraderie and exposes new reps to inspiring stories and helpful tips directly from the field.
5. Evaluate Early Performance
If you’re following a formal milestone-based onboarding process with checkpoints, you will know relatively quickly whether a new sales rep is meeting expectations.
If they’re not, intervene early and determine what else you can do to help the sales professional improve. If, after interventions, the new hire still fails to make satisfactory progress, you may need to make the hard decision to release them to the marketplace.
Holding onto an ineffective sales rep who doesn’t make satisfactory progress will only demoralize the rest of your team and cause more harm in the long run.
6. Invest in Continuous Improvement
The most successful sales teams have a mindset of continuous improvement. Once you’ve onboarded a salesperson effectively, maintain your investment in them by providing more advanced skills training, like negotiation training, or sales territory planning, for example.
Providing professional development opportunities will not only improve the performance of your salespeople, it will increase the likelihood that they stay and grow with your organization.
According to the Harvard Business Review, onboarding new sales reps is a key area of focus when looking to improve the ROI of sales training.
Be sure that you’re setting your new sales professionals up for success with a well-planned and executed onboarding strategy. To reduce ramp time and get your new hires up to speed with the rest of the team, explore IMPACT Selling®.
The Importance of a Well-Established Hiring, Onboarding, and Career Pathing Process
The thing that separates successful organizations from those that fail is the people they have on their teams. In this in-depth whitepaper, you’ll learn the secrets to creating a standardized hiring, onboarding, and career pathing process that can be used with every new member you bring onto your team.