Is There a Gap In Your Sales Onboarding Process?

Is There a Gap In Your Sales Onboarding Process?
March 1, 2012

Buying has changed. Selling has changed. Has your sales onboarding process changed with it?

While creating onboarding materials and on-demand training is a great way to get your new sales reps up to speed in a hurry, there’s still needs to be strategy in place to ensure that your onboarding content is hitting all the right areas. 

As sales consultant Trish Bertuzzi points out in this short video, sales training can’t be all about YOU anymore (your products, your features, your messaging, etc.). These days, the majority of the buying process takes place before a prospect even speaks with a salesperson. As a result, strong onboarding programs need to put an emphasis on customer engagement to truly help new reps shuffle those prospects through the pipeline.

Last year, I was fortunate enough to talk about this very subject with Trish, who founded The Bridge Group, an inside sales consulting firm that specializes in B2B tech companies.  We shot a short video series for OpenView Labs on the common “gaps” companies should be careful not to fall into when onboarding new sales reps.

It’s a unique take from a sales mind I have a lot of respect for, so I thought I’d summarize some of the concepts here (with links to the full video clips as well).

#1. The Coaching Gap

As Trish points out, there’s a difference between “coaching” and “ghosting,” and even great sales managers can fall into the latter’s trap. Even if you have a great eye for talent, the last thing you want to do after hiring a crop of new reps is leave them alone to fend for themselves.  As Trish suggests, it’s important for sales managers to “coach in the now.”

In other words, from the very start, make sure new reps have all the resources and materials they need to ramp up quickly. But it’s not just about having a wealth of sales learning content at your fingertips. Trish notes that at the onboarding stage, it’s most critical to create content and training materials that help new reps understand the buyer, as well as the company.

What are their challenges? How are they measured? What language do they speak? On-demand video presentations are a great way to speed up your new reps’ comprehension, but first you need to have a strategy in place to make sure your onboarding content is arming them with the skills they really need.

#2. The Orientation Gap

Obviously, it’s important that new reps become comfortable and involved with your sales culture quickly. But as Trish notes, the onboarding process shouldn’t be “sales only.” Other parts of your company also play a role in the success of the sales organization. The training process should involve familiarizing new hires with those departments as well, and your learning content should reflect that.

“Get them out of that sales silo,” says Trish. The more your new reps know about pre-sales, post-sales, marketing, engineering, and so on, the more prepared they’ll be to sell effectively.

#3. The Investment Gap

“People are willing to invest in hiring people, but they’re not willing to invest in growing people,” explains Trish. She cites a study stating that many companies are willing to invest nearly 20 times more money in hiring a new rep than they are to train that person once he or she is hired.

While onboarding with internal training materials is critical, smart sales managers take their coaching efforts even further. For example, Trish recommends sharing books by top sales leaders, like SNAP Selling by Jill Konrath, or encouraging them to attend webinars and live events. (Coincidentally, Jill is the featured guest for a very cool upcoming webinar titled “Turn Your Salespeople Into Prospecting Ninjas” that’s definitely worth checking out.)

With these tips in mind, ask yourself – “Could any of these ideas help make our sales onboarding process more effective?”