Don't leave new hires unsupported. Follow onboarding tips to help new sales recruits excel from day one.
“Success is a combination of effort, talent and hard work”
🗣️ Brock Lesnar
No matter how talented your new sales hire is, they won’t make money unless you spend time and effort onboarding them.
This article explains everything you need to know about onboarding to get the most out of your new sales hire.
➡️ What sales onboarding is
➡️ What sales onboarding consists of
➡️ Why you should spend time onboarding sales hires
➡️ How to sales onboard successfully
Make sure to read until the end for a free 30-60-90 day sales onboarding plan checklist. We’ll also uncover the questions you need to ask your new sales hire to track their progress at the end of each month.
What is sales onboarding?
Sales onboarding is the holistic process of transitioning your new sales hire from a candidate to a fully-fledged sales team member. It’s conducted to welcome, train, and engage new salespeople in the company.
During the sales onboarding process, sales leaders cover all the essential topics a sales newbie needs to know and understand to perform well at their job.
We can break down the sales onboarding process into four key phases…
It’s wrong to assume that the first onboarding processes start when your new sales hire crosses the threshold of your company. That’s physically entering the office or virtually saying “hello” in the corporate group chat.
In reality, the engines are revved earlier.
The moment a candidate accepts your job offer and officially joins your team as a new sales hire is the moment onboarding begins.
This is when they are at their most vulnerable, uncertain of the future. Even the smallest wrong step on your side can make them doubtful about their decision to accept the offer.
On the other hand, if you manage to handle the situation well, keeping future employees updated on the process, they’ll be more excited about joining your team.
During the pre-onboarding process, you should…
- Keep in touch with the candidate and answer any questions they have promptly
- Ask the HR team to help new sales hires complete all the necessary paperwork
- Set up their corporate accounts (Google, Slack, CRM, and the rest) and prepare everything they need to have access to on their first working day
- Send them a welcome package with all the information you expect them to have examined by their first day of work
2. Welcoming new sales hires
The second phase of the onboarding process comes on the first day of your new sales hire’s work.
Even if the welcome package is comprehensive, even if the new employee is responsible enough to have studied it religiously, there’s a chance they’ll still feel like a lost little lamb. It’s their first day; it’s natural.
As a sales leader, it’s your job to welcome the new members of your team, introduce them to their new colleagues, and show how the business operates daily.
Treat this phase as the acclimatisation period, when you get your new sales hire better acquainted with the company and its organisational culture and prepare them for the next step of the onboarding process.
Ideally, you should make your new sales hire’s first day as easy as possible without overloading them with new information.
Still, it’s best not to stretch the introduction too long and keep it restricted to several days max. It’s a balancing act.
3. Role-specific training
Once a new sales hire gets accustomed to the new working environment, it’s time for role-specific training.
Although intensive training only takes place during the first week or two of the onboarding process, regular sales training and coaching sessions should take place throughout the trial period.
Role-specific training should cover the following…
- An in-depth overview of the products your company sells
- Working with CRM
- Effective cold outreach, including cold calling and cold emailing techniques
- Lead generation
- Sales objection handling techniques
- How to run a successful demo
- Sales reporting
Moreover, you should regularly conduct employee assessments to understand which areas need more attention.
4. Transition from a new sales hire to a fully-fledged sales employee
Finally, the sales onboarding process ends with the new sales hire (hopefully) being acquainted with your company and becoming a fully-fledged sales employee.
Once the onboarding process — as well as the trial period — is complete, you should conduct a performance review to reflect on the sales hire’s work, identify areas for further development, and set goals for them in the role of a fully-fledged sales team member.
Why is it important to onboard your new sales hires?
Companies hire new salespeople to improve the team’s productivity and positively affect the business’s bottom line. Sales onboarding puts sales leaders and new sales reps on a faster track to meeting those goals.
Here are some benefits a well-planned and well-executed sales onboarding program can bring to your sales team…
✅ It builds employee engagement
Sales onboarding allows sales leaders to build rapport with their new hires and show them that their work matters. Moreover, sellers get to communicate with their team members, which later positively impacts the overall team productivity.
✅ It reduces staff turnover
When you support new employees, they feel more comfortable and are, therefore, less likely to leave.
According to stats, employees are 60% more likely to remain with a company for three years or longer when the onboarding process is standard. At the same time, companies with ineffective onboarding lose 17% of new hires in the first three months.
✅ It decreases ramp-up time
On average, it takes new sales hires around 381 days to get to the same performance level as tenured sales reps. However, when the sales leader supports a seller throughout their onboarding journey, they become more proficient quickly.
✅ It sets the new sales hire up for success
Sales onboarding gets new sales hires acquainted with the products or services you sell, arming them with high-quality sales methods and techniques to close more deals.
Companies that pay attention to sales onboarding enjoy 10% greater sales growth rates and 14% better sales and profit objective achievement than those that don’t.
The numbers speak for themselves.
✅ It boosts new sales hire’s productivity
If you throw your new sales hires into the (ocean of sales work) without any preliminary preparation, you can be certain that neither you nor them won’t be productive in the weeks to follow.
New sales hires cannot perform their job without knowing how things are done and will disrupt your workflow with questions.
Common, avoidable questions include…
- "How do I perform this task?"
- "How do I access that tool?"
- "Why do we do things this way?"
You can boost new hire productivity by 25% if you answer those questions in advance.
✅ It improves the company’s reputation as an employer
When a new sales hire feels welcomed and supported upon joining the company, they’ll share their positive experience with their network. This makes you a more reputable and desirable employer, able to acquire the best talent available.
10 tips to make your sales onboarding effective
You can only reap the benefits of sales onboarding if you approach the process responsibly. Your sales onboarding should be planned, high-quality, and filled with best practices.
We’ve compiled a list of the ten tips and best practices to help you onboard your new sales hires more efficiently.
Focus on adopting the team-centric approach at your company
Remember that sales are a team effort.
It takes the whole team to work together to achieve a common goal to close the deal successfully.
You should establish this dogma early in the sales onboarding process and ensure that your new sales hire feels welcomed by the rest of the team.
To do that, you need to…
- Introduce your new sales hire to other members of the sales team on their first day
- Provide your new sales hire with a space to communicate with their colleagues
- Get your sales team members involved in the onboarding process
The easiest way to get the rest of your team involved is to get them to share their expertise.
For example, if one of your team members is particularly great at generating leads on LinkedIn, rebutting price sales objections, or setting up automated email sequences, invite them to demonstrate their skills to the new employee.
Alternatively, host a short team-building session for your sales team whenever a new sales rep joins the team, where each team member would share their best sales tips.
Give your new sales hires homework to prepare for their first day of work
An effective sales rep is a sales rep that understands the value of the product they sell.
Make sure you put enough time and effort into teaching your new sales hire more about your company.
Provide them with resources that give them a headstart on their first day. Ideally, share a text doc or a presentation that covers the basics…
- Your company’s mission and vision statement
- Your company’s core values
- Your company’s history and leadership
- Your offering
- The unique selling proposition (USP) of your company and its products
Other important information to include in your “homework bundle” is a detailed description of your Ideal Customer Persona (ICP) and your buyer personas.
Encourage new sales hires to research your company further and put down a list of questions to ask their manager on the first day of work.
Conduct a demo of your product or service
Book a standard demo call slot off your calendar to meet up with your new sales hire and show them the product or service they'll be selling in action.
Conduct the demo as you normally would when selling your product to a customer. That way, new sales reps understand the value proposition of your product, how it helps to solve the lead’s problem, and which features to focus on when talking to a potential customer.
Ensure to make stops along the way to accentuate on…
- The common pain points your target audience tends to have
- The features that help to solve the problems your potential customers face
- The features that set your product apart from the competition
- The features that need to be explained to leads in more detail
- The features that can be discussed briefly and the ones that should be demonstrated in action
Once you’re done with the demonstration, encourage new sales hires to try the product out themselves by solving a task your customers use your product for.
Have them note down their experience with the product.
This helps new sales hires get hands-on experience with the product they’ll be selling, better understand the value it offers, and be able to explain its functionality to leads.
Formalise the sales onboarding process
You don’t want to scare your new sales hire off by being too strict and unfriendly.
Amicability and friendliness are great soft skills for any sales leader to have! However, you shouldn’t go overboard with trying to create a relaxed atmosphere.
Sales onboarding needs to be well-structured and formatted for success.
Make sure you outline all the important milestones in the onboarding process and the actions your new sales hire needs to take to achieve those.
To keep things organised…
- Set time-based goals for content and skills mastery
- Establish clear expectations for the new rep
- Explain how you expect the new sales rep to participate in the sales process
- Include clear checkpoints to measure progress
Include a CRM training into your sales onboarding process
Today, a CRM system is the heart of any business — that’s where all the customer data is stored, that’s where the entirety of the sales process is managed, and that’s where sales reporting happens. So, it’s imperative that your new sales hire gets acquainted with the software you use.
First, you need to explain the benefits of using CRM. Doing so will help you increase CRM adoption and encourage your new sales rep to update the CRM regularly.
Since the CRM software market continues to grow, there’s a high chance that your sales rep used a different system at their previous workplace. But even if they do have experience with the CRM your company uses, it’s still best to refresh their memory and show all the crucial CRM processes they’ll be dealing with.
Some of the things a sales leader (or a CRM manager if your company has one) should cover during the CRM training within the sales onboarding process include:
- The structure of the CRM data
- How to create new records in the CRM
- How to update records in the CRM
- How to send email campaigns from CRM
- How to create and assign tasks in the CRM
- How to communicate with other sales reps in the CRM
- How to manage the sales pipeline in the CRM
- The metrics your sales rep needs to track in the CRM
- How to create reports in the CRM
This is the bare minimum, but the list isn’t exhaustive. Depending on the CRM you use, its functionality, and the complexity of your company’s sales processes, you might want to cover more points.
Centralise all the materials your new sales hires might need for effective work
It’s best to develop a company sales playbook that your new sales hires can refer to when they face a challenge.
Include answers to all the frequently asked questions, outline your sales strategy, share the templates your sales team uses for cold and warm outreach, and sales objection rebuttal templates.
On top of that, you should also share information about existing clients, sales in progress, past deals (both won and lost), and contact databases.
All of this information needs to be organised and centralised.
That’s where CRM comes into play. With a CRM system, you can structure your customer data in one place and easily accessible, yet protected by controlled access permissions.
For example, NetHunt CRM stores…
- Your leads’ and customers’ contact information
- Their company information
- Their stage in the sales pipeline
- The history of their communication with the business
- The channel where they entered the sales funnel
- Other information like their birthday and related records
Don’t cram all your sales onboarding into a one-day training session
Remember your first day.
How did you feel?
No matter how excited you were to start a new job, it’s likely that you were, at best, anxious and, at worst, confused about everything going on.
It’s not a great state of mind to be bombarded with lots and lots of new information.
Make sure you don’t try to cram all the phases of the onboarding process into a one-day training session. Otherwise, you risk overloading your sales hire with new information to the point where they don’t remember anything.
Instead, book a week off your new sales hire’s calendar for some intensive training earlier in the process, then regularly revisit the knowledge you share to help it stick.
Get your new sales hires to shadow your senior sales reps
If you thought that one product demo and unlimited access to the sales playbook was enough… It’s not.
Practice makes perfect.
Take your new sales hire on a field trip and show them how your business does sales in the wild. Have them follow you and observe how you do your job. Show them, first-hand, how you manage deals, send emails, follow up, qualify opportunities, prospect, and close deals.
But remember… Unless you hired an apprentice or a junior sales rep with no prior sales experience, don’t try to teach them how to sell. There are multiple ways to achieve sales success, and there’s a reason you chose your sales hire among the pool of candidates that applied for the job. You want their skills and their experience.
Instead of “teaching” your sales rep to blindly follow your instructions, encourage them to figure things out for themselves. Get them to start thinking within your company’s sales mindset.
Once you finish a certain task, hold a short discussion with the sales rep and ask them some of the following questions…
- “How do you feel the call/ demo went?”
- “Was anything unclear?”
- “How would you write this email?”
- “Do you understand why I included this CTA?”
- “What would you have done differently?”
- “What’s your take on this prospect?”
- “Will they buy it or not? Why?”
Regularly evaluate your new sales hire’s performance
Even though it’s great (and sort of mandatory) to have a plan for your sales onboarding, it shouldn’t be set in stone.
You need to regularly assess your new sales hire’s performance, see what they do well, and what needs to be improved, before adjusting your onboarding accordingly.
Set up weekly one-to-one sessions with your new sales hire, where the two of you discuss how the week went, their progress, what went well, and what they had difficulties with. If you have clear expectations and specific KPIs, it should be easy to track their performance at each given point of the sales onboarding process.
Don’t be afraid to say “goodbye” during the onboarding process
Not every sales hire works out.
Even with the best hiring practices and the most extensive sales onboarding, some people will just not be a great fit for your company. And it’s okay, you were just looking for someone different.
Don’t hold onto them for too long. If you don’t see a sales rep contributing to your sales team’s performance in a meaningful way, don’t waste anyone’s time.
Be honest and polite, and let them know it’s time to part ways.
The 30-60-90 days onboarding plan for new sales hires [+ Checklist]
The majority of new sales hires face a 3-months long probationary period.
During these three months, they get onboarded and subjected to plenty of new knowledge about the company, its offerings, and the target market it sells to.
However, the quality of the learning experience that happens on the 30th, 60th, and 90th days of the onboarding process is different. That’s why it’s logical to adopt a 30-60-90 days sales onboarding plan, each stage of which would have different objectives and outcomes.
During the first month of the onboarding process, your new sales hire should focus on learning.
During the second month of the onboarding process, they should start executing.
Finally, during the final month of the onboarding process, it’s time to look at what’s working and what’s not and iterate.
Let’s take a closer look at the different stages of the 30-60-90 days onboarding plan and talk about what needs to be done to get it done.
The first 30 days
Start building rapport with your new sales hire…
- Welcome them to the team
- Share the company culture
Tell your new sales hire everything there is to know about your company.
Your mission and vision, your core values, your strategic goals, and your target audience are all essential…
- Familiarise your new sales hire with the details of your company through marketing materials, case studies, your mission statement, and the company goals and objectives for the upcoming reporting period
- Introduce your new sales hire to the key stakeholders at your company, get them acquainted with the team
Provide your new sales hire with a solid understanding of the product they’ll be selling…
- Conduct a demo of the product(s) your company offers
- Showcase the star features of your product
- Pinpoint the factors that differentiate your product from the competition
- Share the most common use cases for your product
- Give your new sales hire an opportunity to test your product
Explain the target audience for your product. Cover, in detail, who they’ll be selling to…
- Describe your buyer personas
- Identify the pain points your customers tend to have
- Share customer stories from different industries
Make sure your new sales hire understands your sales cycle…
- Outline and detail each phase of the sales cycle
Get your new sales hire on board with the tech stack your sales team uses…
- Give your new sales rep access to the company CRM
- Teach them how to perform different tasks in the CRM
- Set up other software that you use for sales
Start filling your sales hire’s sales pipeline with leads; set sales goals and targets…
- Get your new sales rep create a list of prospects (determine a specific number of prospects needed)
- Approve the list of prospects they come up with
- Get them to plan a general approach to outreach
By the end of the first 30 days of the sales onboarding process, ask your new sales hire the following questions to test understanding and reflect on the work that has been completed…
💬 Have you met the colleagues you’ll be working with?
💬 Do you have a good understanding of the company’s goal and mission?
💬 Do you understand the company’s unique selling proposition?
💬 Do you know which audience we target with our product?
💬 Do you understand the company’s Ideal Customer Profile?
💬 Are you familiar with the product’s use cases?
💬 Do you know how to work in the CRM?
The first 60 days
Make sure you share as much sales-specific knowledge as possible…
- Show all the different lead generation channels
- Explain how to write effective cold emails and make cold calls
- Explain how to conduct sales discovery calls
- Share sales negotiation techniques
- Show how to follow up on leads
Regularly practice with your new sales hires...
- Get them to conduct demo calls
- Get them to write templates for cold outreach
- Have them practice cold calling
- Have them learn the most common sales objections and rebuttal techniques
Get your new sales hire to shadow you at work...
- Schedule calls with leads and customers and add your new sales hire as a passive listener
- Get them to ask questions and analyse your work
Continue supporting your new sales rep in building their sales pipeline and filling it with leads...
- Have them reach the prospects they’ve identified in the first 30 days
- Get them to add more prospects to the list
By the end of the first 60 days of the sales onboarding process, ask your new sales hire the following questions to test understanding and reflect on the work that has been completed...
💬 Have you shadowed your teammates at 10 calls?
💬 Do you understand the sales cycle?
💬 Have you practised your customer interactions with colleagues/the sales leader?
💬 Have you started developing relationships with the leads in the sales pipeline?
💬 Have you written 50 cold emails?
💬 Have you learnt how to personalise your outreach?
The first 90 days
Have your sales rep start conducting live sales calls and demos…
- Get them to conduct a call with a lead they’ve established a connection with
Practice reverse shadowing to identify your sales rep’s strengths and weaknesses…
- Attend a sales call conducted by your sales rep
- Observe your sales rep write sales emails
- Ask questions to understand why a sales rep has used a specific sales technique
Focus on improving the quality of the sales rep’s sales pipeline…
- Increase the number of leads in the pipeline by using the whole set of lead generation channels
- Get them to focus on converting the biggest leads in the pipeline
Encourage your sales rep to produce their own sales enablements…
- Get them to successfully convert a lead into a customer
- Turn it into a case study
By the end of the first 90 days of the sales onboarding process, ask your new sales hire the following questions to test understanding and reflect on the work that has been completed…
💬 Do you know what you need to be successful?
💬 What have you learned during the sales onboarding process?
💬 What are your strengths and weaknesses?
💬 What are the areas where you need improvement?
💬 Which improvements have you made to increase your productivity?
The ability to successfully onboard new sales hires is one of the key skills a sales manager should have.
With this article and checklist, you got one step closer to building an effective sales team that drives results.
If you want to get some practical knowledge of how to onboard new sales reps (all while managing the rest of your sales team), we recommend levelling up your managerial skills with one of the sales training programs for sales managers.
➡️ Check out our list of the best sales training programs for sales managers to attend in 2022 and beyond!
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