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New Year and New Opportunities to Provide Better Sales Onboarding

Posted in:  Sales and Marketing Management, Sales Training, Coaching, and Onboarding

Think back to the times you’ve gone through a new employee onboarding program (NEO) – chances are you got a pretty good feeling for how much the organisation invests in its employees just from those first few days. Sales onboarding is no different. 49% of high-performing sales reps identify the availability of onboarding as “very to extremely important” when considering a new position, according to SiriusDecisions.

Sales onboarding not only matters to top sales talent, but to sales and executive leadership as well. Sales and executive leaders are responsible for ensuring that the company is hitting its quota targets; therefore, they need to ensure that they are preparing enough quota-carrying reps to be out in the field at any given time. Unfortunately, on average, new sales hires spend 10 weeks in training and development and only become productive after 11.2 months, according to Sales Management Association.

As a leader, how can you make the most of every chance to improve the sales productivity of your reps? Here are five important opportunities to keep top-of-mind.

  1. New Employee Onboarding: Usually one of the first components of onboarding, the general new employee onboarding process can help set your new sales reps off on the right foot. Ensure your NEO program includes more than completing W-4s, NDAs, and insurance paperwork. Add in sessions showcasing company leaders that can speak to the vision and mission of the organisation, and ensure that the critical role that sales plays in the success of the company is made clear.
  2. Sales Onboarding: Require that there be a dedicated track for sales onboarding as part of your NEO. Sales reps require very specific onboarding to better understand the company’s value proposition, target buying personas, product lines, sales methodology, and pricing. Furthermore, sales onboarding – unlike NEO – should not be seen as a one-and-done task, but rather a process that must evolve any time one of the areas above changes.
  3. Sales Kick Off: No matter when your rep starts, you are guaranteed face time with that rep come sales kickoff (SKO). SKO is often one of the best times to share a structured approach to applying new learnings. Does your organisation have new products releasing this year? Competitive updates? New sales processes? If so, these are optimal times to make sure you provide the continuous training your reps need to properly sell new or additive features out in the field. Start to look ahead to how you can reach your reps with the continuous training they need throughout the year to be successful.
  4. Sales Coaching: Review and refresh your 30/60/90-day onboarding plan to ensure that your reps are well-prepared before they enter the field. Ask your reps, especially the new hires, if they feel they have adequate training and coaching. Those responsible for creating content and training may think it’s all covered, but sales reps may feel an entirely different way – and you need to know if that’s the case. Above all else, ensure your reps have an easy way to quickly receive real-time coaching from their front-line sales managers or peers once they are out in the field.
  5. Moment-of-Impact Training: Once your reps have begun selling, do they have the training and tools to know what and how to engage with a prospect or customer? Conduct an audit of your sales content. Do your reps know how to deliver each piece? If not, this is the year to put together a plan to pair content with the proper training and ensure these pieces get served up together in the right context prior to a sales engagement. Reps want to know the resources available to them, how to find them, and when to use them, as they apply to any given sales situation. Guided selling is key to seller sanity. Validate with your sales reps the various components of a particular deal and use this to modularise your sales playbook based on the relevant information needed for a given sales scenario.

At the end of the year, all of the sales enablement efforts in the world are for nothing if you don’t have solid analytics to shed light on performance and provide key learnings. Can you and your sales reps say with definitive notation what sales content moved deals through the pipeline? Can you say which email or pitch was most successful in engaging a prospect or moving an Opportunity from Qualified to Closed? Now is the time to ensure you eliminate the system silos that are keeping you from answering analytical questions with confidence and providing the onboarding that helps reps to be their best in 2019.