Why Effective Sales Talent Onboarding is a Team Effort

Do you remember the first person who talked to you about the importance of teamwork? Was it a parent? A coach? A teacher? Whoever it was, it’s probably safe to assume that the same principles were shared with them at a young age. Teamwork is a common thread that weaves its way throughout our lives, strengthening the ties in our personal and professional relationships. The ability to be a team player is an attribute that will serve you well in any endeavor – including that of a sales professional within a small or large sales organization.

The very essence of teamwork implies that every person must perform and play their part in order to achieve the desired outcome. In this post, we’ll discuss the roles and best practices for three key players in the onboarding process: the sales manager, the new sales rep, and colleagues.

The Role of the Sales Manager
The role of the sales manager can be a tricky one. This individual must balance mentoring and coaching a team of sales reps while being held accountable for meeting individual and team quotas. When training responsibilities are thrown into the mix, things can get a little hectic. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Establish a Structured Approach: Just because hiring is being done quickly, it doesn’t mean new hires should be thrown to the wolves. A well thought-out onboarding process should be established and adhered to. Determine the product training, systems and CRM training, sales methodology your company utilizes, and overall industry/company intel the new reps will need to learn; gather the information that will be helpful for them to digest and deliver the information at a practical pace. This will require some upfront work on the part of the sales manager, but once it’s done, the process will be that much smoother.
  • Don’t Over-rely on Existing Sales Reps: Many sales managers are in the habit of “passing off a new hire” to shadow, or ride along with, their best or most responsible sales rep. The thing is, despite their success, your team member may have a singular way of doing things or may have developed some habits along the way that won’t be helpful for the new hire. If you’re going to rely on your team to assist in the onboarding efforts, be directive with what you want them to share and how to do so.
  • Maintain Realistic Expectations: Although you’re reasonable to expect results in such a competitive climate, it may be unrealistic to expect a new hire to meet quota right after training concludes.

The Role of the “New” Sales Rep
Much of the onboarding success of a new sales hire depends on the rep themselves. It’s important that they take responsibility for their actions and reactions to the new situation they’ve entered and the new team they’ve joined.

  • Do Your Research: One of the worst things a new hire can do is to show up unprepared on day one of a new job. With the wealth of industry and competitor information available via company websites, social media, blogs and more, there is no excuse not to be armed with general knowledge and understanding of your new company’s positioning and product offerings.
  • Seek Information and Be Open to Feedback: Remember, you’re the new kid on the block. No matter how much experience you have or how much you think you already know, your new company has expectations, processes and protocols you are not privy to. Proactively seek information and counsel from other sales reps, management, sales support – whoever you can get your hands on. People are usually willing – and eager – to share their knowledge.
  • Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself: Again, remember that you’re the new kid on the block. You aren’t necessarily expected to hit the ground at a full sprint. Set realistic goals for yourself, accomplishing small wins every day. Eventually, those small wins will result in big wins for you and your new company.

The Role of the Colleague
You’re the one that knows the ropes; you’ve been there, done that, and you likely have some very helpful tips to pass along to the newbie sales reps at your company. You may initially view them as your competition, but the sooner you realize they can be your allies, the easier your job will become.

  • Be Welcoming: We’re not suggesting you have to round up the welcome wagon, but there are subtle ways to make a new person feel more comfortable. Introduce yourself and show an interest in them as well – find out a little bit about their personal and professional background. Offer to answer any questions they may have. Or, if the group is going out to lunch, make a point to invite the new person. These small gestures will have a big impact down the line.
  • Don’t Judge Too Quickly: After being in sales for any length of time, you’ve likely learned that there are many different styles and approaches. Just because someone may look or sound different, or not appear to fit the company mold, give it time. People may surprise you.
  • Keep Your Career in Mind: All niceties aside, keep in mind that your attitude toward colleagues – especially new hires – and your ability to be a helpful team player are important indicators for upper management. Consider your desired career path and the necessary next steps; then model your behavior with these ultimate goals in mind.