You might have built the best B2B product the world has ever seen. But if you don’t have an effective team selling that product on your behalf, you’re going to miss out on potential sales while giving your competitors a bigger shot at landing a contract that should have been yours.
This illustrates why it’s important to hire highly skilled sales professionals, but hiring the right people isn’t enough. You need to set them up for success too. And while it's tempting to get new hires facing customers as quickly as possible to not lose out on potential deals, an effective sales team starts with having a robust onboarding process that ensures they are able to knock it out of the park the first time they sit down with a potential customer—or, these days, meet them over Zoom.
Keep reading to learn about the four central pillars found in any successful sales onboarding program.
Onboarding 101: Set Your Team up for Success
Generally speaking, the average sales ramp up to become a fully effective sales rep can take anywhere between 3-10 months. In other words, many new sales professionals might not become fully productive selling your products for nearly a year.
In large part, this is because lots of organizations have suboptimal AE and SDR onboarding processes. In addition to not preparing them to close deals, bad onboarding programs lead to disengaged employees who are then more likely to leave the company.
That’s why it’s so important to build your sales team on top of a rock-solid onboarding program. While your mileage may vary, we’re keen on creating a university-style program with a curriculum, classes, and even teams to provide a notion of shared identity that focuses exclusively on the information each new hire needs to conduct high-impact sales conversations. Since as many as half of your reps may churn within six months, you might as well multiply your efforts and onboard several candidates at the same time.
As you begin to build your onboarding program, be patient as it evolves and you learn as you go, you’ll fine-tune it. Your program will need to be multifaceted, covering:
- Pre-Work - Engage incoming employees and capitalize on the excitement and momentum headed toward your organization with appropriate readings.
- Administrative Work - Set aside time for side-by-side execution of standard forms such as w-2s, payroll, direct deposit, and so on with each new hire to get this out of the way.
- Cultural Onboarding - Have a proactive, explicit, candid discussion of what is valued within your sales organization and what isn’t OK.
- Business/Subject-Matter Onboarding - Your sales staff will be engaged in presenting your new, less-proven solution in an evangelical and consultative fashion. They will need to be experts in the market, business drivers, and technical realities of your solution.
- Product and Presentation Onboarding - Your solution exists in the context of a larger market, and it’s critical for reps to understand the problem in the space so they can then present the solution in a persuasive, high-impact fashion.
Keep in mind that you won’t knock it out of the park overnight. By tracking AE & SDR onboarding metrics and fine-tuning them over time, you can continuously optimize your program, getting incrementally better results along the way. Not sure which ramping metrics to track? Check out our free guide.
Onboarding 102: Educate Them on Tools and Processes
Now that your new hires have learned how your company operates, are familiar with your subject matter, and know how to present it persuasively, it’s time to graduate to the next stage and bring them up to speed on the tools they’ll use every day as well as the organizational processes they’ll follow.
For most B2B businesses, this will entail training your new hires on how to use messaging services, email clients, applications such as Salesforce, and presentation software such as Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint, and sales-specific tooling like Outreach, SalesLoft, Gong, Chorus and more. You’ll also have to procure equipment and provision it for them before they show up to onboard—something a surprising amount of companies seem to overlook and that can make a huge impact on the impression of the maturity of your company. This includes things such as computers, mobile phones, office equipment, and company credit cards, among other things.
And don’t forget about swag, either. A little company swag can go a long way toward improving morale and making sure new hires start off on the right foot.
Onboarding 103: Practice Drills, Repetition, and Shadowing
We’ve all worked a job where we were forced to basically fend for ourselves on day one. Don’t treat your new hires like they’re going to learn everything in a week and become experts right away. They won’t. The more support sales leadership gives them over the first few weeks and months, the faster they’ll reach their full potential.
As they say, practice makes perfect. Research suggests it takes something like 66 days before you develop a habit, and the average sales ramp up is no exception to this rule. That being the case, you can’t underestimate the benefits drills, repetitions, and shadowing can bring to the onboarding experience. Practicing key actions ensures your reps develop muscle memory before they go live. We recommend a healthy mix of:
- Group drilling and repetitions
- Pair programming/ride-alongs
- Bluebirding, ramp, and monitoring
Onboarding 104: Encourage Ongoing Learning and Development
Let’s say you hire a rock-star salesperson and—because of your incredible onboarding program—this individual starts crushing it shortly thereafter.
As your company grows, you develop new products, and the market changes, even your most talented salespeople will need to be trained on an ongoing basis to keep pace as messaging shifts.
This is why ongoing learning and development initiatives are a critical part of your onboarding process. By investing in reviewing onboarding metrics and learning and development initiatives, you ensure that your team stays sharp, increasing the likelihood they close deals and don’t waste opportunities.
How Can You Tell if Your Onboarding Curriculum is Working? Use Sales Performance Metrics to Measure Your Results!
The easiest way to determine whether your onboarding program is yielding desired outcomes is by tracking sales performance metrics to see whether your new hires are coming into band with their peers. With the right data on hand, you can continue to iterate on your program, making it increasingly effective. Check out Atriums’ Guide to Rep Onboarding and Ramp to ensure as sales leadership you are monitoring the right onboarding metrics and sales performance metrics for new hires.
Curious how your reps are ramping? Sign up for Atrium today to see what the easiest approach to data-driven sales management looks like.
Not ready to self-demo Atrium? Schedule a call with us and we can show you what Atrium is all about. You won’t get these insights anywhere else!