Sales Onboarding: fix the hidden weakness
Personnel turnover in sales can be high, especially in retail industries. Sales leaders rarely pay the necessary attention to onboarding of new employees. The productivity gap could be enormous. Read the 6 crucial points to help you make a best-in-class onboarding program.
Most companies refer mainly to product training when thinking of new hires and effectively under-invest in onboarding programs. Thus, Ramp time which is the time it takes for a new hire to reach full productivity is longer. It can be 2 to 5 times longer compared to best practice and that can be translated in millions of costs. It is simply never surfaced and calculated. Stays hidden!
Varying professional experiences among the sales team and different national practices result in a wide range of opinions of the time sales reps should spend “being trained”. When designing an onboarding program one should take into account the usual, indeed serious, change management challenges.
Here are the 6 things to do to fix the problem.
1. Form a Cross-Departmental Onboarding Team. Onboarding should be embraced by the whole company. New employees are equally important as new customers; all departments should contribute to keeping them satisfied and on top performance. Define clear roles & responsibilities for the Team where Sales leadership, HR, Sales and Technical training, Sales operations and Marketing can contribute and share their area of expertise. Make a list of what to expect from each of them.
2. Assign a Companion (or “Buddy”). While primarily responsible for offering advice and guidance regarding the day-to-day aspects of work, the Companion may also offer encouragement and knowledge resources, as they help introduce the new employee to the company culture.
3. Be clear with the processes and the KPIs. First clarify what is the length of the onboarding process; in most of the cases it is 90-120 days. Define which part will be conducted in class, which part on-the-job and which will be the milestones to check the actual performance and apply corrective measures. Be clear of the content the new hire should master, how and when you will check that it is accomplished and the timing you expect them to reach the KPIs you have set for the sales team (ie. Sales quota, new customer acquisition, average close rate, etc.).
Document the process in the form of a playbook for both new hires and managers and include organizational reference guides (e.g., contact lists, internal/external site links and process guides).
4. Use a Learning Management System (LMS). Such systems can be a key enabler of a successful onboarding program. They are focused on online learning delivery and help deliver material to the students, administer tests and other assignments, track student progress, and manage record-keeping. Automation and mobile are increasingly becoming part of daily personal and professional life; do not miss to take advantage of them. A good site to visit to get a good introduction on the subject is: https://www.absorblms.com/
5. Assign an owner to the program. He / she will be responsible for monitoring, measuring and updating the program. Introduce a participant survey and a scorecard to allow for feedback. Make the review of the program part of the annual sales review and planning to allow for continuous improvement.
6. Personalize it. Check how it intersect with important meetings, new product launches, how accounts and/or territories should be adjusted, how they fit in the overall development of the new employee.
Where to start?
Reveal the magnitude of the potential improvement by defining the number of sales personnel hired every year. Track the historical achievement of the KPIs related to their onboarding to quantify the financial impact of onboarding. Ask your training partner to present you one Learning Management System to understand the logic and the abilities of the system. Finally choose the person to best lead this project. Start from there!