Among the changes brought about by working remotely, an organization’s process of onboarding remote sales pros must be updated. Just as sales professionals had to revise and refine their selling skills to include virtual, sales managers need to revamp their onboarding to make sure remote salespeople receive the support they need. Gone are the days of spiral-bound employee handbooks with packets of countless HR forms. Of course, most of this process is now done online, but managers should remember it’s one thing for an employee to access this information at their work desk, surrounded by helpful co-workers, managers, even HR specialists, but it can be another thing entirely when they work remotely. Here are a few tips to help sales managers onboard new remote sales pros:
An effective way managers can streamline the onboarding process for remote reps is the use of video content, both recorded and via live conference. Never underestimate the value of a trusted virtual guide and friendly voice to help remote reps navigate the tedious business of onboarding. The use of interactive tools, such as giving a virtual thumbs up, is as welcome a modern update as click-to-sign features. Also, as with sales training, spaced delivery of information helps remote reps retain the essentials they need to learn. Consider shorter onboarding sessions throughout the first few workdays or weeks instead of one very long meeting. Add the sessions to your new hire’s calendar before they first gain access to their inbox. In addition, an indexed online new-hire handbook, including FAQs, can be used as a cheat sheet of who to contact with questions to save time and avoid frustration.
Make It Personal
Another way to speed onboarding and help new remote sales pros feel like part of the team is scheduling facetime with coworkers. Of course, this includes the sales team. During an online meet and greet, leave time for each team member to share personal details. This is a great way for remote sales reps to start remembering who’s who, especially with larger teams. In addition, informal facetime with managers can help new remote reps feel valued and wanted. Don’t forget to include office staff, such as HR personal, receptionists, and client services. As all sales professionals know, these people can be the most helpful for day-to-day questions. Also, consider assigning a mentor and make sure remote sales reps know when you are available. Remember, remote sales reps will lack the opportunity to stop by your office with a question or catch you in the breakroom brewing coffee.
Another important way to onboard remote sales reps is setting definite expectations. In addition to work hours, meet times, and check ins, accounting for time-zone differences, be sure to set and explain productivity expectations, performance standards, administrative compliance, and the need for ongoing professional development. These are often important aspects of onboarding that are best handled in video chats. Remember, reps will have questions about these expectations, and it’s essential they be handled with tact, avoiding misunderstandings that could arise from phone calls, email, or reading about them in a handbook. Of course, once these are set, it can be helpful to provide a textual reference a remote rep can refer back to as needed.
Finally, sales managers should always remember that onboarding is a process. It’s ineffective to overwhelm new hires with too much onboarding at once as this can quickly result in additional stress and pressure for someone who may be new to their role. Be sure to schedule onboarding reminders and follow ups with some level of frequency. Quick meetings or calls can help reps retain information as they get acclimated to your organization’s specific processes and culture. Also, be sensitive to how your organization differs from the policies and practices of others. Sales reps are often creatures of habit, who developed their skills and achieved success within a specific environment. Change is not always easy and can take time.
In the rush to get new employees up to speed, it can be easy to forget how intimidating onboarding can be. Along with learning new names and faces, the sheer volume of onboarding information can easily overwhelm remote salespeople, who will often feel alone and isolated on top of the usual new-hire jitters and nerves. To ensure easy onboarding, give remote reps the time needed for a smooth transition into their new roles. A pleasant onboarding experience goes a long way to helping remote reps feel like valued members of your team, which will increase retention and ensure their success as remote salespeople.