The success or failure of an onboarding program for newly inducted sales reps is largely the result of how involved the sales managers are in managing the process.

Take Stock of Your Onboarding Program

Essentially, sales onboarding is defined by activities like inducting, training, upskilling and providing resources to new hires to perform well as fast as possible. A key metric sales managers can use to assess sales rep performance as a result of onboarding is the new sales rep’s time to first sale. The other critical measures of the exercise are achieving ideal sales behaviors and being able to especially engage with smart customers successfully.

The use of the aforementioned key performance indicators (KPIs) must be communicated by sales managers to new team members before the onboarding program begins. The expectations from the new sellers once they complete the program is to be made clear. This entails defining the skills and competencies needed to achieve the determined goals.

At every stage of the onboarding process, sales managers should spot which sales reps need additional onboarding immediately and crank up their training. The duration of the training for learning depends on the complexities of the products and services offered by a company. It also entails factoring the individual capacity of the sales rep in assimilating information and performing. A comprehensive onboarding program needs to touch upon orientation, culture familiarization, customer service requirements and product knowledge.

Potential Topics To Address When Onboarding Sales Reps:

  • Client demographics, including their markets, industries, customers and regulations.
  • The needs the business solves and how to identify them.
  • Writing prospecting emails.
  • The company’s value proposition.
  • The company’s key competitors.
  • How the company’s proposition differentiates from its competitors.
  • How the sales rep demos the company’s products.
  • The sales “playbook” (i.e., agreed-upon best practices).

What Happens When Onboarding Is Not Given Its Due?

Sales managers must be cognizant of the reality that onboarding new sales reps is an ongoing job. Newly joined sales reps are often expected to engage with customers skillfully and close deals quickly. Sales managers having such lofty expectations have to bite the dust, as most new hires don’t have the requisite knowledge and skills. If onboarding is carried out diligently, its impact is powerful enough to lower turnover rates amongst sales reps significantly. Otherwise, the sales reps’ output is spotty at best and their retention at risk.

It isn’t surprising that a recent Cox Automotive staffing study came out with worrying insights. The study found that the average turnover rate at a dealership is 40% for all dealership employees and 67% for sales reps. This is a huge blow for dealerships with every new employee costing them $10,000 on an average. New employees are hired after detailed evaluation and molded for the job with costly training. If they leave suddenly, it can be troublesome for dealerships as a result of no return on investment (ROI) from the onboarding exercise. Facts from a recent analysis conducted by Rain Sales Training also are worrisome if onboarding failure happens, keeping in mind the monetary investment and time plus effort involved. Because, as per the analysis, on an average it takes three months of training for a sales rep to engage with customers and nine months to be competent. Therefore, for sales managers using incompetent methods and resources to conduct onboarding, the struggle is constant.

Tactics That Sales Managers Can Employ To Speed Up Sales Rep Performance During Onboarding

Involved sales managers will take the sales rep onboarding program hands-on if they want results that matter fast. Sales managers can take a two-pronged approach to onboarding, that is: indulge in industry standard onboarding efforts and give extra support to sales reps to turn them into experts in their role. This process is marked by mutual collaboration, communication of goals, positive team culture and equipping the team with needed resources.

In order to set the above objectives in motion, sales managers should focus on building out the following qualities and processes:

  • An eye for talent.
  • 100% involvement in sales training.
  • Ability to strategize and communicate.
  • Using the SMART framework to set goals.
  • Build trust with team members.
  • Be flexible in methods of training.
  • Analyze results and track metrics.
  • Give detailed feedback.
  • Recognition and reward culture to appreciate performers.
  • Set up effective communication.
  • Vision for future opportunities and market trends.
  • Excellent soft skills.
  • Good time management.

It is to be understood that what gets measured gets done. Hence, only if the performance of sales reps is evaluated, can one know the performance of sales managers too. Sales managers should track sales reps’ KPIs in order to generate quantitative insights of their performance. This is needed for course correction and improvement.

The insights can be drawn from data on:

  • Top performing sales reps.
  • Quota attainment.
  • Conversion rates per sales rep.
  • Pipeline generated.
  • Average time to productivity (ramp-up time).
  • Training time.
  • Knowledge retention.
  • Certifications completed.
  • Best-selling products.
  • Most effective sales strategies.

Thus, a fast track system can be created by sales managers to manage the sales reps’ performance during and post-onboarding. It can be done easily with technology-powered sales enablement and readiness tools which display reports on the dashboard.

Sales reps can learn self-paced microlearning modules on digital devices or mobiles on the go. These modules talk about the company, culture, basic product knowledge, customers, marketplace and competitors. Notifications to sales reps to complete the course in modules are also enabled. Sales enablement tools provision quick quizzes to regularly evaluate if the sales reps have understood what they have learned. Retaining the knowledge they have acquired is done through innovative techniques like video pitches and in-person role-play.

A Final Word

Sales managers and sales reps must both be on same page when it comes to the intent to sell a company’s products and services. Both parties would do well to have data-driven insights on their performance during onboarding. This will accelerate learning, which should ideally culminate in faster selling.

Proper onboarding with the tech advantage can make a big difference for a company’s sales reps and customers. Sales reps who are at ease, sure of themselves and have clarity in their roles, are more likely to stay for the long haul.

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