Onboarding Sales Talent The Right Way: The Sales Manager’s Perspective

Effectively onboarding new salespeople can be a daunting task. Many companies tend to underestimate the importance of guidance, training, and support for their new hires, and that tends to be detrimental. Many sales professionals often don’t receive the crucial tools needed for success right away. This may end up contributing to a lack of direction and belonging many sales professionals experience, and ultimately may negatively impact performance.

You can avoid such a scenario by developing an onboarding strategy that effectively enables new employees to adjust faster. Many sales managers operate on the assumption that each new employee has the knowledge, expertise, and maturity level to hit the ground running and to bring immediate value to their organization. However, without the right strategy in place, it is difficult to tap into that, leading to disappointing outcomes.

In this post, we’ll delve into some of the components that go into an effective hiring and onboarding sales strategy.

1) Invest time and effort into training
This is probably the most obvious aspect of onboarding, but also arguably the most important one. A common training strategy often involves the shadowing of existing reps, as it allows new hires to observe and absorb without being intimidated. Choosing the right mentor(s) is crucial for this to succeed. Tenure shouldn’t be the determining factor when pairing off a rookie with a more experi­enced sales professional. What matters is the potential mentor’s approach to sales and prospecting.

In addition to regular training sessions, coaching, and job shadowing, you should teach every salesperson how to leverage technology and use it as a tool to keep track of data and accelerate the sales process. Also, you may occasionally conduct quizzes and role play to evaluate their knowledge and observe their growth.

2) Consistently evaluate training
Collaborate with human resources and your training department to assess the current procedures offered to new hires. Identify what gaps need to be filled, or if there are better ways to impart knowledge rather than the current status quo. Prioritize what areas, topics and subjects must be addressed during the process, and develop a strategy accordingly in order to continually refine and improve the training process.

3) Clearly communicate benefits and compensation
New hires should have a clear understanding of commission plans and other important benefits and compensation from the start. A well-developed and communicated compensation package will provide the right level of motivation, as well as ensuring everyone is on the same page in terms of expectations.

4) Develop realistic goals
Assess their sales territory and lay out the best course of action for each district or demographic. Every domain will come with a different set of challenges and opportunities, so it is imperative to account for that by carefully reviewing and evaluating the market potential for each territory and devise a customized approach to sales prospecting and lead generation.

5) Leading indicators need to be a focus
Often, sales managers find themselves laser-focused on outputs and results (lagging indicators), while disregarding predictive measures (leading indicators) that are vital to long-term sales success. But leading indicators are essential, because they can offer deeper insight on activities and where improvements are needed. Some examples of leading indicators include the number of calls made, number of successfully completed demos, number of submitted proposals, or follow-up encounters with prospects.

6) Give every new hire a chance to succeed
Savvy and tough sales managers should not only champion sales reps through challenges and tough times, but also have the courage to stick up for them even if there is discontent brewing regarding sales figures. When push comes to shove, they must ensure that all options have been exhausted before letting an employee go. Some sales professionals need more guidance than others through no fault of their own, but their talent needs to be cultivated a little before it really shines.

Ultimately, the onboarding process requires a great deal of patience, and understanding the sales process from different angles in order to create a holistic process that gives each of your new sales reps a chance to shine in a new environment.