A little while we talked about how to structure a formal onboarding process. One of the first things we mentioned is that you need to design your formal sales process first before you can even begin thinking about onboarding. It raises the question of why and that’s what we’ll be discussing today.
- Your sales process determines everything your sales reps do.
In a sales process, you’re defining what activities are important to conduct and when to carry them out. You’re also outlining your specific methodology, philosophy, and approach to sales – all of which impact how your sales reps interact with buyers at each stage of the cycle. It also provides an approximate timeline and sets expectations for behaviors and communications.
- Onboarding is where new hires learn what it means to represent you.
Even the most tenured sales rep, one who has been an A performer for several companies and industries, won’t necessarily know when they start how to sell the way that matches with your values, target markets, and industry. The reason is because every organization – even when competing in the same exact space – will have different outlooks and ways of doing things. So it’s important that onboarding is about your sales culture and language, business situation, and a holistic view of your process as it is about the products sold.
- Product matter knowledge matters, but there is more to do.
A fairly commonplace part of onboarding is familiarizing new hires with products the company sells. This is an important aspect, but what we sometimes see is sales organizations taking the stance that onboarding = product knowledge and once that’s accomplished, it’s out of the nest the new hires go. While this strategy results in a much quicker onboarding, it also often means a much longer path to productivity.
- Aligning your onboarding and sales processes means a longer onboarding, but shorter time to full productivity.
Like the old saying goes, anything worth doing is worth taking your time. That’s especially true of onboarding. In our research conducted in collaboration with Selling Power, we found that companies that had a formal onboarding process saw a longer time to onboarding, but much shorter time to full productivity. That translates into increased revenues faster over the long term.
- Synergy in onboarding and sales processes makes accountability easier.
When you tie onboarding’s processes, objectives, and outcomes to the contours of your sales process, your new team members know what they’re measured on, how they’re expected to operate, and the cadence of your sales cycle. This makes accountability much easier for everyone – not only for sales managers and leaders keeping tabs on sales reps’ progress, but for sales reps themselves – they’ll be better able to spot on their own what areas they need to improve in and will have a stronger sense of when to seek coaching and what to be coached to. This in turn makes coaching much more effective and streamlined – managers and reps are also aligned on expectations and goals.
As you can see, there’s numerous reasons why a more carefully considered, formalized onboarding process that’s in tune with a corresponding, established sales process results in optimal outcomes. It will take more time initially – as opposed to the fast product knowledge immersion and quick meet and greet around the office, but the future balance sheet and much shorter window to full ramp-up both make the frontloading effort worth it.