It’s not every day you welcome a new sales representative into your company, so do your best to make a great impression. First of all, experiencing a great first day influences the newbie’s commitment and connectedness with the company. Then, you also spent a lot of time hiring this new employee, so it’d be a shame to underestimate their onboarding.
Companies invest in onboarding because it increases employee retention. The cost of losing an employee is extreme. Taking both the cost-per-hire and the cost-per-vacancy into consideration, it can go up to 2 times their annual salary! Well done onboarding improves productivity and performance by almost 40% - starting already with the first day.
Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee into your team and company. Depending on the position type, it can take between a few weeks up to several months. Let’s say it starts with the newbies’ first day and ends when they can work mostly independently.
Obviously, for sales representatives, it’s not (or should not be!) only about getting to know the position, company, vision, etc. A big chunk of their onboarding plan is practical sales training. Ideally, they get a chance to speak to their first potential customers and get familiar with the job’s nature.
Contrary to just watching presentations, studying the solution, and shadowing colleagues for months - we don’t strive for this setup. That’s one of the perks of being a smaller company.
Sales onboarding requires a lot of planning, especially if you plan to include your team with constantly full calendars. Onboarding should be preceded by preboarding, including some administration towards the new sales team member.
The preboarding process starts after you shake hands or sign a contract with the newbie. This period can take up to several months; some people need to finish their previous jobs, some take a sabbatical, and some might still browse the job market, even if just out of curiosity.
In all these cases, you need to be in touch with your new employee. You’ll get a chance to address their questions and start creating an emotional bond.
Admin - not exciting, we know, but maybe they’ll need a new photo for the entrance card ready on the first day? If you’re getting a new computer or phone, let them pick, etc.
Send them a “Welcome to the team” email and share the 1st Day and Sales Training Plan, so they know what’s waiting for them.
Send them an email with pictures and information (or LI Profiles) of their team, their leader, or their buddy.
Invite them out for lunch or drinks.
Let them peek in your communication channels, such as Slack.
Recommend some great educational books.
Keep the conversation going! Schedule all the steps wisely, so they spread out throughout the entire preboarding.
Simply put, do anything that will open the door to questions. Addressing questions, together with showing you’re ready for them to come and honestly care, will make a great impression and a significant difference on their 1st day.
The period between signing a contract and the 1st day gives your new hire space to “look around” and see other fantastic positions to apply for.
You don’t want that to happen, so create an emotional bond by preboarding and increase the chances they’ll actually start working for you!
Apart from all of this, schedule, plan, and organize. Become a planning freak! That’s how you maintain control.
Set up a team-focus approach. Have your whole team deliver the individual training. This will ensure the newbie has the interaction with the veterans and also acclimatize quicker to the team.
At the same time, it won’t hurt the veterans to do a mental recap of what they already know. Educating others will extend their know-how. Give the newbie access to all materials so they can always get back to it. For all activities, set clear expectations.
With all new sales representatives, immediately set “leader < > sales representative” status update meetings.
In SALESDOCk, we meet weekly. Dedicate this timeslot to catching up on what happened last week, removing possible obstacles, and setting the next steps for the following week.
It’s great to have a checklist of what needs to happen and already happened. There are many HR or Project Management tools, but if you don’t want to invest in them now, an excel sheet will do.
Clean up! Clean up the office, clean up the new sales representative’s table. Have a complete setup ready - computer, mouse, something to write with, a notebook, etc., and add some gifts, such as a box of chocolate, company merch, a “new team member” t-shirt, etc. Get them great sales books; they’ll come in handy. We recommend Proactive Selling and Selling Above and Below the Line from Skip Miller. His approaches to sales are to be adopted!
We usually start the 1st day with breakfast and chat. We introduce the newbie to their buddy, leader, and other team members they need to know.
Then we do orientation - show them where and how to make a coffee!
Then jump straight into the onboarding/sales training plan - getting to know the company, its vision, some self-study and presentation preparation, tools introduction, and finally a happy hour with the team:
As you see, the first day is not that different from any non-sales positions. Most sales-based training happens in the following days and weeks.
We admit it; we made it tense! We’ve received the feedback. But if you want to kick-start the new sales representative, that’s what you need to do. Mix up studying of what you do, your industry, clients, competitors, etc., with practical training.
Cold Calling and Cold Scripts
Cold Emailing and Email Templates
Linkedin Setup and Social Selling
These are immediately followed by the mockups and practical parts; creating templates and emailing clients, making a call script and calling clients, building a network, and posting the first post on LinkedIn.
Since the new sales representatives are still quite nervous and have questions, the buddy pays a lot of attention. To make sure they’re not losing the path, we have daily “sales standup meetings” at the end of each day. We discuss what they learned, adjust the information if needed, and set the next steps.
Leaders, managers, buddies, etc., are less busy at the end of the week and will have the time to pay attention to the new sales representative. Sadly, a significant portion of newbies experienced a lack of attention on their first day. Just ask around you.
After the newbies receive their first training, we let them practice and get used to their daily routine. Throughout the following 11 weeks, we check on their work, do mockups, roleplays, shadowing, and keep adding more training and tasks:
By week 6, there’s a lot of new information for the sales representative to absorb, so we slow down and deliver new training bi-weekly. We focus more on practicing and role-playing.
Week 8 - Objections Handling
Week 10 - “Bob and Mary” (decision maker and user-buyer) perspective training
Week 12 - Rapport building training
We ask the new sales representative to fill in a feedback form. As a young company, we experience changes constantly, and, hand in hand, we keep optimizing the onboarding process.
Right after an onboarding ends, you should have enough inputs to decide whether you made a good hire. If you’re wondering whether this person is a right fit for your sales team, the answer is most probably no. Doubts are always a bad sign. If you have them, let the person go. Your current sales team is too precious to be infected by a bad hire.
If you’re happy with the hire, set proper KPIs and a bonus structure. Now, they’re ready to leave the nest.
Our first few onboardings weren’t the smoothest. That’s only natural.
So, if you’re setting it up for the first time, prepare for a lot of iteration and optimization. What truly helps is to ask for feedback once they complete the onboarding. Mix theoretical training with a lot of practice - roleplays, shadowing, and mockups.
Don’t forget that everyone has a different learning pace and that learning actually never ends. Provide the environment to feel good and succeed.
Enjoy the fresh energy a new employee brings into the company.
You can be the best headhunter, but when you have nothing to offer to your potential salespeople, you won’t seal the deal. How do you attract and keep the best of the best? More in this chapter.READ NOW