Effective onboarding of new employees should be a part of the overall business strategy for every company. It’s a challenging and crucial process that requires a lot of effort, thought and meticulous evaluation.
A well-designed onboarding strategy will reduce turnover and drive the right selling behavior. As a result, your sales team will be better-equipped to build long-lasting and meaningful relationships with prospects and clients.
In the second part of our two-part series on hiring and onboarding sales professionals, we’ll explore this topic from the HR and Training Department’s perspective and explain what impact they have on creating successful sales professionals.
Initiate the onboarding process before new hires walk in the door
The onboarding process should begin the minute a potential candidate visits the company’s website. It should provide ample information about your products and services, clearly identify the most attractive attributes of your organization, outline the benefits of joining your team and mention the most crucial characteristics that set you apart from the competition. In short, the career section should be insightful and educational.
Provide practical, effective and results-driven sales training
Bringing new sales people on board should be a team effort. Try to involve members of your IT department, training consultants, and marketing professionals to join efforts with your sales team and work together to assimilate new hires into your culture.
Following the general overview, ensure that each new sales person becomes familiar with the nuances of your business – the company’s short and long-term objectives, needs, policies, and concerns, as well as its unique culture and differentiation points.
HR, training, and sales departments should determine what type of training they should provide and tie the newly-acquired skills to the desired performance outcomes. Consider dividing the training process into specific segments, with each focusing on sales training, product training, or technical training.
Each new hire should know who your ideal customers are and how to approach them. Right from the start, they should learn how to address the following questions:
- What types of industries/segments/businesses should they pursue?
- What is the best way to build relationships with prospective buyers?
- How to deal with tough prospects, handle objections and take rejection in stride?
- How to articulate the value of your products and services?
- How to get the most of your CRM system?
Provide the tools and sales materials they need to do their job (i.e. questionnaires, sales sheets, analyst reports, call scripts, statistical data, product description, etc.)
Take the time to track initial results
Don’t underestimate the importance of real-world training. After letting your new reps hit the trenches for the first time, schedule follow-up sessions to analyze their initial efforts, track results, and reinforce positive behaviors.
Engage your team in interactive exercises, role playing, and other activities that will help them polish their presentation and build confidence. It is essential that you tie their newly-acquired skills to desired sales outcomes and ensure that the orientation process has direct influence on performance improvement.
Onboarding new sales hires is a crucial first step to long-term business success. It should be carefully assessed by every organization and remain high on their list of priorities. A highly-effective onboarding program should require strategic collaboration and teamwork between different departments. HR, Training, and Sales departments should work together to develop a powerful educational program for new sales hires and provide all the resources required to be successful in their new roles. In addition, effective onboarding helps companies boost their retention rate in the long-term and avoid high turnover costs. If done correctly, the onboarding program will make it easier to measure an acceleration of the ramp-up time and demonstrate a clear return on investment.