6 Essential Aspects of Effective Sales Training & Onboarding
Without the right training, your sales team will not set up qualified appointments
You’ve taken the time and effort to recruit and hire three promising sales reps who you expect will deliver and drive your sales through the roof. However, in order to do this they will need the knowledge, skills and resources to ramp up quickly and successfully. This is why a consistent and structured onboarding process is critical.
But what is onboarding?
It is a comprehensive process of helping new employees understand company objectives, get acquainted with its culture, and gain the skills necessary to reach their full potential. Done well, it provides the training and resources to assimilate into their role and deliver results. Open lines of communication and performance feedback both have a part to play in bolstering employee loyalty and productivity.
When you’re onboarding your sales team, you might be tempted to put a process in place to get them up-to-speed as soon as possible. However, it is commonly acknowledged that new sales reps take anywhere between 6 and 9 months to actively start producing results. Providing them with a solid foundation over the first few months may yield a higher rate of return in the long term rather than cramming them with information over the first week or so.
Here we take you through 6 aspects of sales onboarding that must be included in your sales training and enablement program.
Every employee wants to feel positive about their role when they join. To give them a headstart, you can send them useful links, videos, and documents about the company, its history and milestones even before they begin, so they have time to prepare, get a good overview, and feel equipped to progress. You can also take them through benefits, perks and give them a feel of the team culture to encourage and motivate them. Confirming details of compensation, bonus, logistics of work (company car, work from home, office), vacation time and paid time off, schedule etc. can help the employee feel assured and relaxed in knowing that these things are taken care of. If you decide to hire a remote sales team, bonuses, work logistics and commissions will not need to be considered.
Make sure all the necessary paperwork is signed and submitted before their first day to save time and hassle spent on tedious admin. Also, introduce them to key team members who can help them with questions, resources, troubleshooting or anything else - all of this goes a long way in making them feel welcome.
About the Company
Before they head off into product and process training, give them a thorough talkthrough of the company’s background and history. Organize a series of short but informative training sessions to educate the new employee on: the organization and structure of the company, company policy and best practices, an overview of your industry and competitors, objectives and mission, culture and values.This goes a long way in aligning the employee to your company goals, and making them feel like a valued contributor to your company’s mission.
This could include answers to the following:
- - What are the company’s core products and services and why do we focus on these?
- - What is our mission and what are our values?
- - Who are our core buyer profiles (i.e. the companies that most typically buy from us and who we - can provide the most value for)?
- - Who are our core buyer personas (i.e. the key decision makers and influencers that most typically sign up for our solution)
- - Why do these buyer profiles and buyer personas buy from us?
- - Who are our competitors?
- - What are the main challenges faced when trying to sell our main offering?
- - What does the current market look like for your industry?
- - What are the current and past sales trends in your industry?
- - Which are the company territories and who is the customer base and important clients?
Solutions and Processes Training
This allows the new sales reps to get a deeper understanding of the product or service and how best to position it to their identified prospects. This is where the nitty gritties of the sales process, sales techniques, resources and tools required among other details are ironed out. At the end of this stage, your sales rep should not only know the product or service inside out, but should also master the sales processes and know what steps to follow while making a sale. This should cover the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of selling and can be imparted over a month.
Training can cover the following aspects:
- - Solution features, benefits, applications and pricing details.
- - What marketing and branding strategies have been used?
- - What methodology and sales material do we use for the awareness stage?
- - What methodology and sales material do we use for the consideration stage consideration stage?
- - What methodology and sales material do we use for the decision stage decision stage?
- - What are our success stories/case studies we can learn from?
- - What are the different stages of the sales process and timeline from?
- - What is the current method of lead generation?
- - What is our outreach strategy for phone, email and social media?
Content, Tools and Resources
This section of the training can be delivered alongside solution training. It deals with all necessary skills, technical requirements, and soft and hard skills. The question at hand is what are the key tools and resources required to optimize the productivity of your sales reps? These may include:
- - Communication training (communication style, phone, written and oral)
- - Platforms that are used for outreach - Skype, RingCentral, conference calls, CRM etc.
- - Social selling coaching
- - Training in sales CRM software, inbound and analytics
- - Templates, Q&As, scripts for handling phone calls and emails
- - Other appropriate training - e-courses, videos, documents, online modules, seminars and events.
This involves defining clear metrics against which your new sales reps will be evaluated and compensated and is an important part of the onboarding process. Conducting regular performance reviews and constructively suggesting areas for improvement and other points of concern will allow you to get a feel of how they are settling in, and is a chance to provide feedback. The frequency of these performance reviews will vary depending on the rep. You should check in with new agents on a weekly basis but for more experienced agents, biweekly or even monthly reviews will suffice. Factors or metrics to assess at these performance reviews include:
- - Calls
- - Emails
- - Research process
- - Productivity levels
- - Lead generation
- - Appointment setting
- - Customer/tech support/success assistance
This step is often overlooked by many employers, but is, in fact, a valuable way to measure the success of your sales onboarding program. You should meet with your sales rep at regular intervals so that you can get a feel for how they are settling in. This is chance to address any concerns and also to find out how well (or not) the onboarding process has worked for them. Getting direct feedback on the positives and negatives of the program will help you to make the necessary changes to improve the process. You can even use surveys, questionnaires and team building exercises to gather feedback.
Some questions you could ask:
- - Do they understand the business and their role?
- - Are they fitting in well, and do they understand the values and culture?
- - Did they find the training/coaching valuable? Is it addressing the right areas?
- - What did they appreciate about the onboarding process?
- - Was anything lacking or were there any aspects they needed more clarity on?
- - What improvements could be made?
- - Do they have any questions that need answering?
Sales Onboarding in a Nutshell
So, think carefully when planning a sales onboarding process and keep these questions in mind before you begin:
- - What practicalities should be confirmed with the rep before their first day on the job?
- - What resources will sales hires need in their first few months?
- - What company/product/service information do they need to do their job well?
- - What skills/training can be given?
- - What does the onboarding schedule look like?
- - What is the best way to measure and monitor progress?