Onboarding new sales reps is green—meaning, it’s going to cost you. From the interview to the offer letter, your bottom line is taking a hit at every phase of the hiring cycle. Of course, it’s money well spent when the new blood begins bringing in business, but that never starts right away. In fact, depending on your sales cycles, you might have to wait as long as a year to start seeing a return on hire.
There’s no shortage of formulas for figuring the cost of onboarding. The price tag varies depending on the industry you’re in, where you’re located and what position you’re trying to fill. At the high end, you could be looking at up to 200% of your new hire’s salary.
Naturally, to keep costs down, you want to get the most out of your newbies as soon as possible. It helps to be mindful of the following major onboarding challenges:
- Productivity: How quickly someone can go from asking where the copy machine is to being a productive, contributing member of the team.
- Creativity: How soon after being hired a new person starts generating fresh ideas, gaining perspective, embodying expertise and amassing industry contacts.
- Willpower: How to keep new hires from quitting prematurely during their first few weeks and months when expectations are high and the learning curve is steep.
Set Clear Expectations
Lay the groundwork for new reps by being upfront about company goals and expected outcomes. Acquaint them with the sales cycle and equip them with the following:
- A roadmap of the company’s sales strategy
- Documentation of the sales process
- Expected procedures for lead and opportunity management
- All sales tools and content that will help move them through the sales cycle
Be sure as well to get your new hire’s buy-in on the development process by laying out the plan and clearly defining her or his role in it. The company and the newbie need to be in alignment regarding this process, so ask them for agreement when it comes to their role.
All the Above
Take a holistic approach to training your new hires. Get input from different departments: Sales, HR, IT and Marketing. In addition to the learning curve around product knowledge, new hires will also need to master the CRM, company workflows and the most effective ways to articulate the value propositions of your products and services.
Call for Reinforcements
You may have the greatest training tools in the “salesverse,” but you’ll still need to face the reality that not everything has staying power for your new hires, who are only going to mentally digest some of what’s served up to them. Reinforce the training. This can be accomplished in a myriad of ways:
- Recurring one-on-one coaching
- Group role playing
- Electronic training reinforcement applications such as such as Janek Xpert
Keep on Trackin’
Finally, don’t just hire someone, wait for them to get up to speed, and then declare yourself done. The work ahead involves benchmarking the successes and measuring the key metrics that over time will show areas of strength and weakness. Focus on those. Share them with your new hires and with key stakeholders. Don’t limit tracking to lagging indicators that measure the actual results, in other words, reports that show the final scores and figures of your efforts. While easy to measure, they can be difficult to interpret and improve upon. Also track leading indicators that measure the activities necessary to achieve goals and provide a better picture how effective your coaching and reinforcement efforts have been, such as “sales volume” or “lead-to-opportunity conversation rate.”
Be smart when hiring and you’ll end up with a workforce that knows what they need to do to make money for your organization, not drain it by being just another warm body.