The Ultimate Sales Onboarding Checklist
11 minutes read
Even if your hiring process is bringing in the right talent, you need an equally effective onboarding plan to get your new rock-star sales reps to succeed in the sales game.
Statistics show that the average ramp-up time for salespeople is between six and nine months. That’s a lot of lost revenue for your company. So how do you maximize the ROI from the investment you’re making in sales new hires?
The answer lies in establishing a perfect onboarding process. A foolproof onboarding process might take time. It might even feel like you are over-communicating. But, the payoff is salespeople who understand your business, your customer and your sales methodology– a combination that leads to bigger returns later.
So, here is an onboarding checklist for you which has proven to accelerate ramp-up time for the new sales hires:
Onboarding Checklist for Sales New Hires
Before they start
Below are some things to do before welcoming your new hires on their first day:
Pre-boarding: Conduct some pre-boarding exercises for your new hires one-week or 15 days before their first day. Have them complete all the company related forms and tax benefits forms so that you can save up some time from tedious tasks on their first day. Send them the content related to your company like PDFs, videos, etc. This makes them feel a connection with their workplace even before joining. This, in turn, solidifies their commitment, prepares them for the first day, and helps handle their nervousness.
You can also share success stories, news, and other publicly available information about your company. Also, send them stories about the employees in their department who have done some great work and created an impact. If possible share the policies and compliances of the company as well. This provides them a basic understanding of the company and its work culture.
Email and administrative preparation:
The main complaint was that managers were too busy to give new hires the support and guidance they needed.
To combat this, make sure your new rep’s email account is accessible before the first day. This allows you to send them new hire and HR information ahead of time, as well as an agenda for day one. That way, even if your day is packed, your new hire will know where to go and who to meet.
Orientation and Day One
Use the first day to teach new hires the broad strokes of the company. Take care of HR documentation, take them on an office tour, set them up with computers, and introduce them to the company at a high level. Here is a list of things to include for the orientation day:
1.Give a Broad Picture of your Industry
If your new sales reps are freshly out of college, they won’t have knowledge of the industry. So, start off by providing them an overview of the industry, in the onboarding program. Apprise them of the latest developments in the industry. Good knowledge of the industry and its trends will surely help your sales reps provide expert advice to prospective customers, thereby gaining their trust.
2. Share Mission, Values, and Goals
Knowing your company’s mission, values, and goals can go a long way in helping new sales reps quickly get into the groove. Adding a mission statement and listing the values in your employee handbook is a good thing to do. If you don’t have that, provide a printed copy to the sales reps or explain it in the orientation session.
3. Explain Sales Targets
Once you share the company’s goals, clearly explain your expectations from the new sales reps. Share your weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly targets that you expect from them.
For instance, perhaps your sales department is committed to increasing sales numbers by 20% this year. After doing the math, your team knows that it needs to close an average of 15 more deals every month. This is a tangible goal your new sales rep can help contribute to immediately.
After company goals, move on to individual milestones you expect them to reach by specific dates, whether that’s an amount of new revenue, a number of new clients, or (if you’re an SDR) a number of qualified leads passed on to your closers. Creating 30, 60, and 90-day plans will keep new hires on track and ensure they don’t get overwhelmed by all the information being delivered to them.
While setting clear expectations is essential, don’t forget to share what new recruits can expect from your organization as well. Let them know that you (or someone else on the team) are there to help them and answer their questions. This will alleviate feelings of anxiety and make sure they engage in their new position without feeling overwhelmed.
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4. Impart Basic Training on Code of Conduct and Compliance Aspects
Sales reps are the face of your organization, so it’s necessary to train them on how they should conduct themselves with prospects and customers. New sales hires should be acquainted with the basics of applicable laws and norms as they have to comply with these regulations while selling.
5. Throw Light on Products and Competitors
We all know that products are the lifeline of organizations and good knowledge of products will help sales reps perform better. Provide an overview of the products you offer in the sales orientation program. You need not delve into the features of each product, but make sure that the new salespeople have a basic understanding of your product portfolio. This sparks their interest and lays a good foundation for the product training that they are going to go through later.
6. Provide Information on Employee Benefits
Ensure that the onboarding program provides clarity on what your company offers in terms of career and growth to your sales reps. Share details about monetary benefits, such as salary, incentives, and bonuses, in the onboarding program. You should also clearly explain your policies regarding leaves, medical expenditure reimbursement, and so on.
After Day 1 – New Hire Training
Start providing professional sales training to your new reps from day 2. Here is what to cover in their training period:
Product or service training:
What will your rep be selling? Whether it’s pool supplies or software, it’s important to train them on how to administer, use, and see the value of your product or service.
Make them go through extensive product training and inbound marketing training. At the end of their training cycle, they should be able to talk about the product and all its features, instantly and confidently. Also, conduct an assessment at the end where reps get to show off their understanding of the product and managers get to gauge their progress.
Teach your reps how to use your CRM, and include hands-on, project-based training (like how to enter new contacts, set reminders, and log communication). When appropriate, have them take a CRM certification exam. Most CRMs offer them, and it’s a great way to ensure that new reps understand how to use this important software.
Have your new reps listen to call reviews of your most experienced reps and also of the reps who haven’t been part of the team that long. This allows new hires to learn from a variety of experience levels and gives them access to different types of critique.
Sales process training:
Explain the main stages of your sales process and conversion rate benchmarks (i.e., on average, 10% of emails convert to connect calls, 20% of connect calls convert to discover calls, etc.) This tells your new reps where to prioritize efforts and what kind of numbers they’ll be held to.
Training on handling prospects:
Explain in detail how your company handles prospects. Share common channels, number of touchpoints, and best practices. Outline how much research reps should conduct and which details they should look for.
Walkthrough the buyer personas:
Describe your ideal customers in this session. If you’re a B2B company, teach your salespeople what a best-fit company looks like and which contacts they should be trying to make at that company. If you’re B2C, describe the types of consumers they should be targeting. You should also lay out the foundation for how your organization assesses and communicates with decision-makers.
Provide competitive analysis:
Provide an overview of your main competitors. Then share a competitive analysis that highlights exactly what makes you different. Be honest about where your product/service falls short of the competition and where it outperforms the rest of the market.
Get your top Reps to do demo training:
In this session, have all your new hires give a demo to your top sales reps. This will be like a role-play between your top sellers and your new hires. Ask your top sellers to reviews the new hire’s demos, connect calls, close conversations and give their feedback. This gives the new hires an opportunity to interact with your existing employees and learn from them.
Also, make sure that this training includes common objections that arise during your sales process. Let the new hires respond to those objections before supplying them with ready-made scripts.
A good rule of thumb: Ask your senior sellers to provide positive feedback first, then move to areas for improvement. Foster this rule in your sales organization to create a team that embraces constructive criticism instead of being afraid or resentful of it.
Learning to use team or company technology (i.e., phones, video platforms, etc.) can be a tough and undocumented process. Train your new hires to use your technology resources, and have them showcase their skills during a demo with you. If they can troubleshoot basic issues – like asking prospects to mute their microphones if an echo arises during a presentation – then they’re one step closer to being ready for a live call.
Training on objection handling and negotiation:
Even experienced reps need to know how your company approaches the negotiation phase. What are your parameters for discounts and sales? What kind of judgment calls can your reps make regarding discounts? And what is the etiquette for discussing these topics with prospects?
Customer Onboarding Training (if applicable):
Will your reps be in charge of onboarding new clients? Share best practices and responsibilities that accompany this role. If there’s a handoff to a renewal manager or a customer experience rep, make sure they understand the process of it and how to communicate with the other party as well.
Role/Verticle/Territory specific training:
Make sure each new hire receives relevant supplementary training for role-specific duties. If you’re onboarding a BDR, provide further training on how to qualify prospects by asking the right questions. And, train your reps on specific verticals or territories they’ll be targeting (i.e., when prospecting in the pacific northwest, phone calls convert at a higher rate than emails.)
Leadership and Management Training (if applicable):
Everyone should move through basic sales training to understand the goals, values, and customers your sales organization prioritizes. But if you’re bringing in a manager or executive, further training on leadership and management skills may be required to set them up for success.
Provide training certification:
At the end of their sales training, hold a certification exam. Conduct a theoretical exam to gauge the theoretical knowledge levels of the reps. And, for the practical exam, have your reps role-play an exploratory call, demo, negotiation, and closing call. This allows you to gauge whether a rep is ready to start representing your company in front of prospective clients.
Set a threshold score for this exam. The new hires who manage to meet this score qualify to hit the sales floor. Notify the results to the managers who can then decide if further training is necessary.
Set clear expectations and goals:
Once the new reps hit the floor, set 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals for achieving quota. Calculate their ramp rate based on the average number of months it takes a new salesperson to hit 100% (or close to) of quota. Make this more accurate by segmenting average ramp period by the rep’s experience – for example, it might take the typical veteran salesperson four months to ramp, while a freshly-minted college grad requires nine months.
Establish a new hire mentor:
After the new hires hit the floor, support them by assigning mentors who are senior to them. Mentees can bounce questions, comments, and new hire growing pains off their mentors. This mentorship provides new hires with perspective, guidance, and advice from someone outside their management team.
Published on Mon Sep 2 2019