It’s a challenging time to be recruiting, interviewing and onboarding new employees. Sales enablement managers and trainers face a new world of remote teams, but they must continue to build their sales force. A high-performing sales engine is critical for many businesses.
The shift to remote work has exposed the weaknesses of many organizations that relied on outdated processes to onboard new hires. Whether you’re hiring reps or shifting current ones into new roles, reducing the time it takes to ramp up their productivity is crucial.
Traditional sales onboarding methods rarely produce business results or move the needle on key metrics. Upgrading to a modern approach is an exciting opportunity for today’s sales enablement and training professionals to transform onboarding into an organizational capability that drives growth.
Well-architected onboarding programs speed up time to productivity for new reps, improve production levels during ramp-up compared to previous benchmarks, and reduce learning and development (L&D) expenses by empowering teams to train and learn remotely.
Building a virtual onboarding program when you’ve relied on an in-person approach may feel impossible, but there are five key elements of modern onboarding programs that your organization can use to ramp up remote sales teams:
1. Learning Is Easy to Create and Access
The objective for any sales onboarding program is to help new reps become productive as quickly as possible. Identifying the skills necessary for early success is key. New hires need to learn many things quickly: products and services, buyer personas, sales processes, sales methodology, pricing, competitors, industry outlook and more. Your onboarding content needs to cover these critical topics and communicate them in a way that’s easy to access.
Modern onboarding relies on three technologies that make content creation and access easier:
- Mobile devices make it easy for organizations to meet reps where they live and work.
- Reps absorb video content more easily than text or PowerPoint.
- Collaboration tools close the loop as reps and managers create and share video content from their mobile device throughout the sales organization.
Takeaway: Determine which skills matter most for your sales reps, and build sales onboarding and training content based on them. Tap into top producers, and leverage known best practices.
2. Learning Is Reinforced
How can you make sure new hires retain information when studies show it often disappears over time? Ensure they use it so they don’t lose it. Modern onboarding technology uses machine learning to push automated reinforcement exercises to each rep’s mobile device, using spaced repetition for maximal retention. Another form of reinforcement is ongoing skills coaching and sales practice. Design your onboarding program to leverage these key performance drivers.
Takeaway: Reinforce learning with ongoing exercises, spaced repetition, periodic assessments, practice and role-play scenarios with feedback loops.
3. Learning Is Ongoing and Informal
Today, many organizations devote most (if not all) of their onboarding resources to structured, formal learning, despite the fact that the majority of learning happens informally. Learning is more effective when it’s self-directed — when the rep finds information when he or she needs it and uses it immediately. Hard-won best practices shared by peers and trusted experts accounts for the rest of many reps’ learning.
Instead of relying solely on centrally-produced just-in-time content and performance support assets, modern learning solutions enable organizations to capture informal learning. The best approaches “democratize” the process by making it easier for subject matter experts (SMEs), managers, senior leaders or peers to create learning content on the go.
Takeaway: Encourage seasoned reps to record strategies, updates and competitive intelligence on video while it’s fresh in their mind. Gather these insights, and provide easy access to new hires later as they need them.
A New Era of Onboarding for Remote Teams
Even when you and your sales force is working remotely, there are ways to keep your onboarding on track. By incorporating these five core elements into your approach, you’ll deliver the best experience for your new hires, help them succeed throughout their sales careers and drive better results for your organization.