Even if your hiring process is bringing in the right talent, you can’t expect your new rock-star sales reps to succeed without an equally effective onboarding plan.
Generally speaking, employee onboarding is the process of training new team members and integrating them into your organization.
Onboarding sales representatives can include typical best practices like having them review your employee handbook and attend orientation meetings, but it should also incorporate training and engagement elements to better acclimate new sellers to their surroundings and responsibilities.
Investing in onboarding sales reps offers numerous benefits in the long run in both employee and customer satisfaction. Taking the time to teach your sales reps this information leads to:
A proper onboarding process should accomplish four main objectives:
Making a recent hire feel comfortable in their new position requires more than simply handing them a parking pass and pointing out the location of the restrooms. They need to understand your company’s mission, what’s expected of them, and what kind of support they can expect from the company.
An essential part of welcoming any new employee is familiarizing them with the company and products, but this is especially critical for sales reps. Salespeople are on the front lines of explaining your company’s products and services to potential customers, and they need to be well-acquainted with those products and how they should be positioning them.
A recent Gallup poll of U.S. employees shows that disengaged team members are more likely to seek employment elsewhere. The onboarding process is the perfect place to bolster employee engagement and help new sales reps establish relationships with other staff.
As we just mentioned, engaged employees are much more likely to stay with your company long enough to pay for themselves. A successful onboarding process greatly increases your organization’s chances of retaining its top talent.
What’s the best way to optimize the sales onboarding process? Here are some expert-approved tips for onboarding new sales reps. Implement these strategies and you’ll see new hire engagement, productivity, and retention rise in your sales department.
The first step to any employment opportunity may begin long before you find the perfect applicant. Your application is the first impression potential employees get of your processes, and it ultimately determines the type of people who will apply for your open positions.
Every part of your pre-employment operation should be well-defined and easy to navigate, including the:
Once you have new additions to your sales team, it’s time to teach them the ropes. Though they probably have a basic understanding of your company by now, this is your time to go into detail, ensuring they have all the background information they need to become an informed sales rep. Within the first few weeks of their employment, make sure you:
When your sales reps near the end of their orientation and sales training, you have the perfect opportunity to evaluate your onboarding process and how people react to it. It’s also a chance for you to see how much your reps have learned and whether they’re ready to start work at full speed yet. Throughout onboarding, you should:
Effective sales onboarding requires planning and preparation. Here are seven helpful tips that can help you create the best sales onboarding process for your new hires:
The first thing you need to understand about onboarding new sales reps is that it isn’t a one-day event; it’s a process that can last six months to a year. (Really.)
With that in mind, you need to define and standardize an onboarding process that’s designed for the long term. What specific actions does each new hire need to complete in the first week? Which training courses do they need to complete in the first month? What should they hope to accomplish within the first quarter?
Whatever process your organization creates, here are a few things to prioritize when a new team member starts:
In short, identify specific events every new sales rep can be taken through for the best results, then make them the standard for all hires.
A new sales rep can’t be expected to retain 100% of the knowledge that they’re presented with during onboarding. It always helps to have some resources and reference guides that they can use to refresh their memory on the fly.
Before a new rep comes on board, it’s helpful to build resources with FAQs about the company and the role. Good sources for this information include seasoned sales reps on your team, other team members, common sales objections prospects provide, and answers to questions customers have asked in the past.
Developing these documents will save your new reps from lots of wasted trial-and-error during their initial period on the job.
In order for new hires to be successful, they have to know what’s expected of them. The onboarding process is the best setting to deliver these essential details and get new employees acclimated to their work environment.
Start with your organization’s overarching mission. What are the corporate goals that the entire team is working towards and how will the new sales rep help achieve them? The better they understand this, the better equipped they’ll be to have a positive impact on the company sooner.
After company goals, move on to setting realistic individual milestones you expect them to reach by specific dates, whether that’s an amount of new revenue or a number of new clients. Creating 30, 60, and 90-day plans will keep new hires on track and ensure they don’t get overwhelmed by all the information being delivered to them.
Setting clear expectations is essential, but don’t forget to share what new recruits can expect from your organization as well. Let them know who is there to help them and answer their questions. This will alleviate feelings of anxiety and make sure they engage in their new position without feeling overwhelmed.
You’ve worked hard to hire highly skilled people, and your newest sales rep has a history of success and valuable experience. But that doesn’t mean you can simply throw them into the deep end on their first day and hope they start making sales.
New sales reps, no matter how talented or experienced, need to receive proper, personalized training when they’re first hired. They need to learn how your company’s products work, the sales process your team follows, who the major players in the industry are, etc.
Taking the time to have thorough conversations about the most important issues early in the onboarding process will produce better long-term results. Consider how complex your products are and adjust your type of training to help reps understand them better.
Allowing new hires to shadow veteran salespeople as they interact with customers, give demos, and close deals is a great idea. Pairing them with specific mentors within the sales department is an even better one.
This process must be handled with care, though. Your top sellers might not have the time or the patience to mentor new recruits, and matching a new hire with the wrong mentor can actually have negative effects. Look for experienced sales reps who have the necessary skills and insights, but also a natural ability and desire to teach and develop new hires.
After you’ve identified a suitable mentor for your new rep, involve them in the onboarding process as soon as possible. The earlier they can begin building relationships with your new sales reps and training them on the inner workings of your company’s sales processes, the better.
For new reps, the mentorship process should include not just watching experienced sellers, but also having those mentors present when they’re ready to set off on their own.
You may also want to have your new sales reps shadow team members in other customer-facing departments, like customer service. This experience gives reps valuable insights into many of the issues and challenges that crop up with customers after the sale is made, which can help them sell with more savvy.
Properly onboarding new sales reps is a process that will need to be optimized over time. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll adopt the perfect approach right out of the gate. That’s okay, as long as you’re willing to continually analyze your sales onboarding efforts and optimize them for greater future success.
Ask yourself questions like:
You should also look at the impact on leading metrics that your new hires are having, from sales calls booked to deals closed. And don’t be afraid to ask your new sales reps for their feedback on how the onboarding process is going. This will provide you with valuable information and make your employees feel valued and more engaged.
Finally, invest in tools that will support your sales reps wherever they are in their career. Automating certain tasks with tools like customer relationship management (CRM) software can take some of the pressure off your new hires, allowing them to focus on getting to know your products and actually selling.
For example, Nutshell’s sales automation features allow you to create automated tasks and reminders to provide constant guidance on your company’s sales process and the exact actions that a rep needs to take on a daily basis. Having step-by-step directions like this makes it easy for new hires to get up to speed.
There you have it—what onboarding is, why it’s important, and how to do it successfully. Implement these tips and your company will be much more successful when onboarding sales reps. Good luck!
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