How to onboard your sales team like a pro

At Sales for Startups, we have met a number of companies that have been complacent about the onboarding of their new sales staff. 10 common mistakes we have encountered:

  1. “It was a bit of a lacklustre first day”
  2. “I reckon we just work out the first two weeks”
  3. “We’ve onboarded salespeople before, so we know”
  4. “I reckon we’ll get them to shadow our top salesperson”
  5. “We haven’t set any milestones for them”
  6. “We’ll see which one succeeds in their first 60 days”
  7. “After I hire this person, I won’t need to do any sales”
  8. “They have a book of contacts so they’ll work on those…”
  9. “They come from the industry, so they’ll work it out”
  10. “We don’t know if this is the right person for us, we’ll see in their probation period”

Any of these sound familiar?

A rigorous onboarding plan needs to take a rep from the first day through to the end of their probation period, typically three months. In terms of getting them used to the company, consider breaking the three months into four sections:

  • Phase 1 – Preboarding (-1 month)
  • Phase 2 – Onboarding (1-3 weeks)
  • Phase 3 – Ramping (4-8 weeks)
  • Phase 4 – Team Asset (8-12 weeks)

In these different phases, consider what areas of enablement the rep needs to get their job done. For example in Onboarding, it is value proposition, buyer persona, positioning, current clients, pipeline. In Ramping, it will include demo proficiency, customer visits, first discovery calls arranged, and in Team Asset it is going to include demo mastery, business case creation, with an eye on that first deal.

Focus on those activities that help with buyer personas or pipeline build in the first three weeks, so where to get leads from, how to add a contact into your CRM, where to find sales collateral. You don’t need to focus on how to create a proposal or where to find invoice details because this will come later.

As a final point, a number of companies like to do company introductions at the beginning and meeting all of C-level and arranging all these meetings. Consider the contrarian view, and simply focus on product training and pitching value in these first few months. Meeting your CFO, COO, etc., can wait until after the onboarding process is complete. What better way to meet a CFO as a new salesperson than having just signed their first deal?

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