It takes more than a shared password to onboard a new employee. Everyone deserves to be coached, but one of the biggest challenges for companies with a remote-first culture or a dispersed workforce is communication. For remote onboarding, over-communication is crucial every step of the way, and mindsets need to shift toward a trust-based approach so that employees can be trained just as effectively and efficiently at home as they would be in the office. Even for the most diligent of new hires, however, attention spans can wane during onboarding and initial product training.
Traditionally, organizations have relied solely on formal, in-person onboarding, but this approach is challenging to implement in a modern remote workforce, where onboarding often targets a large number of employees across various geographies, in and out of traditional office spaces. This challenge is where new technology comes in, to address the automation and scalability that these large corporations are seeking. New sales tools are at a company’s disposal, and, especially for a remote workforce, a customer relationship management (CRM) system may make onboarding easier.
In sales, when new employees are hired remotely, technology is essential for reducing ramp-up time and increasing engagement, thus bolstering the opportunity to meet revenue goals. For tenured sales reps, technology serves to improve proficiency and skill-building. The continuous nature of this training also keeps sellers engaged and improves retention, ultimately leading to cost savings by reducing or removing churn and the need to hire and onboard a new seller.
There is still a need to evolve remote onboarding specifically for sellers, however. Nearly 90% of sales reps forget what they learn in traditional sales training classroom scenarios is forgotten within the first month, Gartner reports. A holistic onboarding program needs to rely on technology that makes training not just about sales but also leadership. Furthermore, as selling becomes more customer-centric, onboarding needs to loop new reps in to where the sales cycle is. With the technology stack being so crowded, however, implementations need a mixture of strategy, methodology and technology to make sure that the tools are a success.
Training Starts From the Top Down
Effective training starts with leadership. Execute effective sales training by driving it from the top down, baking it into the regular calendar and delegating to others to fill out the details. Using technology to back this methodology allows for effective top-down training while working remotely.
At the end of the day, leaders need this skill to better serve the customer, so it is the job of every team, cross-functionally, to collaborate on learning and meeting this goal. Weekly product and enablement sessions keep the conversation between leadership and sales going. Recording each session, transcribing it and adding it to an online repository ensures that team members can always refer back to the content. Transcription, in particular, allows salespeople to reuse scripts and talk tracks for conversations with prospects and customers.
Shift Training to the Customer
For sales onboarding to be more effective, it needs to shift to be focused on the outcome: the customer. Rather than only addressing sales practices and tactics, training should focus on what the product offerings and solutions can do to help a customer be more successful. Understanding the potential values behind a product offering will ultimately help sellers provide targeted value to customers and meet their unique needs.
Embedded in this type of training should be learning features and functions as well as practicing what they do to help a customer to be more successful. Here is where the whole revenue team comes into play, with the customer success, product marketing and sales teams all collaborating to provide training videos, demos and consumable product training to the customer.
Build Guiding Processes
Finally, onboarding is not a “one and done” process. Most important to successful onboarding is actually sustaining the practices throughout the customer journey. To achieve this goal, training needs to establish processes and tool sets that enable and guide sellers to focus on understanding the customer. By operationalizing strategy and methodology into the technology that sellers use every day, coaching and guided selling become continuous and take place in real time. When they add the benefits of following an established and proven sales process, organizations can train new sellers in double the time. This digital selling approach reduces the need for in-person sales training and speeds up the ramp-up time for salespeople.
One example of this customer-centric approach comes from a software company that was undergoing a sales transformation to become more of a customer-centric company. To do so, it embraced a new strategy and go-to-market model that honed in on customer outcomes in order to deliver long-term success. The goal was to help its customers optimize revenue and outcomes by providing value in every customer interaction. The sales team changed its methodological approach to opportunity management with a strategy that automated its process and methodology to guide sellers and coach the revenue team to drive the right outcomes.
Since the average frontline sales manager spends only 9% of his or her time developing direct reports, onboarding processes will improve as sales leaders spend more time coaching and developing systems that allow for continuous education. To have a successful revenue team, sales leaders at every level need to spend more time coaching individual reps and teams through the opportunity management process. These sales coaches can build skills and develop the entire team to drive consistent improvement and better outcomes. When teams go remote, effective onboarding of new sellers becomes all the more important to avoid potential communication gaps and ensure optimization of revenue and customer experience at all points in the sales journey.
With the combination of more time spent on coaching, a shift in focus to the customer, and operationalizing strategy and methodology into the technology, onboarding programs, both remote and in the office, will be able to more effectively target and train large and widespread sales forces.