Onboarding Sales Reps: It’s Not as Difficult As You Think

December 15, 2014
min read time
Sam Aparicio
Sam Aparicio
Co-founder & CEO, Ring.io
Onboarding Sales Reps: It’s Not as Difficult As You Think

Succeeding as a new salesperson is no easy task. It’s always been a field with high turnover rates, and part of that is the nature of the work. Even intelligent, capable hires will sometimes decide the demands of closing deals don’t suit their personality. Too often, though, the high turnover rate for new salespeople is used as an excuse.

The truth is that the success of any new salesperson depends as much on the training they receive as it does on their personality or the skills they initially bring to the table. By designing and committing to an effective onboarding process, you’ll give your new hires the best possible chance to succeed. In the long run, that means better performance from your team, and a lower burnout rate for new team members.

Start Early

The onboarding process really begins once a hire is made, but you can set a positive tone even during the interview process. First impressions are big, and it’s good to remember that potential employees are evaluating you just as you’re evaluating them. As you go through the hiring process, make sure that you treat potential employees with the same respect you’d treat a customer. When the time comes for onboarding, a new hire that sees you “walk the walk” will be much more willing to buy into your sales philosophy.

Don’t Shortchange Training

Closing deals isn’t easy. The best salespeople embrace that challenge and run with it, but even top performers have to start somewhere. Your training program is often what makes the difference between whether a new hire never gets off the ground, or turns into one of those top performers. So, what do new hires need to learn?

Your best bet is to assume they need to learn pretty much everything. Start with the basics, like where to find resources, who to ask for help, and how to structure an effective day of work. You’ll also want to get into the fine details on your company’s sales philosophy, and cover your sales technology and any digital lead-generation tools you favor. These are powerful tools, but only if your people know how to use them.

Keep An Open Door

It’s tough to ask questions when you start out at a new job, especially in a competitive field like sales. Of course, asking questions is also one of the keys to success, so you want to encourage your employees to overcome that fear. Do that by keeping an open door, and making time for employees who come in to talk.

The best process for onboarding sales reps is one that never really ends. There’s always something new to learn in the world of sales. You don’t want to hold a new hire’s hand through the whole process, but it’s important that they have a trusted place to turn when they do need advice.

Coach and Mentor

You probably didn’t land in a team leadership position by being bad at closing deals, so share the skills that got you there. This can come in the form of a sales “playbook,” or through more hands-on coaching methods. You’ve got the knowledge, and putting it to use can really boost your team’s performance.

You can also lean on experienced team members for help with onboarding sales reps. Identify strong mentor candidates, and set them up with new employees. Sometimes hearing information from a colleague instead of a boss is all it takes to make an concept click.

Put Technology to Work

You can save a lot of time onboarding sales reps by taking advantage of technology. One valuable tactic is to make instructional videos on key topics, which team members can view at any time. You’ll save some time, while providing new hires with a valuable resource they can use to learn at their own pace. Be sure to have a centralized digital location for videos and other training materials.

Your sales technology platform is also a powerful learning tool, because it provides structure for new team members. Of course, sales tech can also be a little intimidating to the uninitiated. Diminish that intimidation factor by providing new employees extensive training on how to use your sales technology before you set them loose.

The “there are no stupid questions” rule is especially important for onboarding sales reps. There are so many small habits and techniques that go into closing deals effectively, and you want your people to be comfortable asking about all of them. With an efficient, comprehensive onboarding process, you can spend less time in the grips of the constant hiring cycle, and more time enjoying the fruits of a well-trained sales team.


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