Building A Successful Sales Onboarding Program

All aboard! You've got a growing company and growing expectations for your revenue numbers. So you want effective salespeople who are productive, fast. But if your onboarding program is too slow, too rigid -- or too, well, nonexistent -- you won’t see results for a long time.

Since onboarding is a vast topic, there is no way to cover every aspect in one article. In this column, I provide onboarding strategies that cover motivation, goals and targets. I will tackle additional tactics for successful onboarding in the future.

Get excited

Yes -- there are pain points, features and benefits, and CRM usage to cover -- but remain focused on the success that lies ahead. You’re hiring salespeople; that means you’re confident in the market. Tell the new hires about the upside of your market. Your new account executive (AE) is on a winning team -- give her the winner’s mojo.

Logistics – get oriented fast



You want your sales team to be comfortable in their new role. Introduce them to the team -- the whole team if it's a small company -- and be clear about their roles and responsibilities. Get them situated in their space with physical tools they need so they will be at ease from the start. People need a base to extend from, so let them know their home base as quickly as is practical.

Jump into expectations early. You have likely spoken about (and signed) a comp plan already. But great salespeople are driven by winning versus their goals. Let your new hire know about the expectations you have.

If it is an AE, what is the quota, deal size, and timing for full load? If it is for a sales development representative (SDR), what are the expectations for right party connects and conversations? Are you looking for appointment setting or full qualification? Communicating expectations early saves you from getting derailed later.

Personas are alive

Your new hire can waste a lot of time going off in different directions if you don’t tell her where she is going to succeed. We prefer a named account approach to keep AEs and SDRs focused on the best-fit prospects. If you have industry solutions, then be clear about where the industry begins and ends. Standard Industrial Codes (SIC codes) are your ally here, but an effective onboarding program should go further.

Help the salesperson understand exactly what it is about those companies that make them great targets. Is it simply that you have an industry solution for their market? Or is it that there is something about your product that works best for a particular company size, geography, or growth stage? When your sales team understands your market, they can better filter out noise and focus on their goals.

Once you have a target set of companies, marketing teams can provide targeted lists of the right buyers. But even the best list is only a starting point. You may have out-of-date information, or a buying decision may be spread across multiple people or teams. So the person in your list is likely just a first stop. Be sure that salespeople know the right people -- and teams -- to target, so they can flexibly approach the right targets.

Successful onboarding programs mean that reps are generating sales faster. And they are less likely to turn over, because they're motivated and engaged -- as well as successful.  



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