Sales Onboarding Shouldn’t Stop After Year 1 - Or Ever

Sales Onboarding Shouldn’t Stop After Year 1 - Or Ever
April 28, 2016

Every new sales rep needs to go through onboarding to fully acclimate to his or her role, but the age-old question still goes unanswered: “When is a rep ‘ready?’ What does it mean to be ‘fully onboarded?’”

QStream VP of marketing Lisa Clark suggests the useful name “reboarding” as a reminder that some of the best training methodologies used for onboarding should carry through a sales person’s entire career.  

Introducing: Ongoing onboarding

Rather than signing off on onboarding once a rep has reached certain milestones, sales managers need to provide recurring coaching that will ensure current value propositions are delivered across the entire sales force. This should start on Day 1 of employment, and run through a rep’s entire tenure.

Continuous learning shouldn’t be a novel concept, but it’s often overlooked – whether lack of time or lack of initiative is to blame.

Before planning a “reboarding” strategy, it’s important to understand how critical it is in the first place.

First, sales reps don’t always learn everything they should during onboarding.

In fact, Sales Management Association research indicates one in three sales people lack proficiency in about a dozen key skills by the time onboarding is complete.

The best training won’t help an untalented rep, and the best rep is going to succeed regardless of their environment. Continuous learning is most critical for the middle performing reps, who make up roughly 60% of a sales team. For that large group, gaining the correct skills is the difference between moving toward A-player status or falling into performance trouble.   

Change is imminent and sales reps need to be kept up to speed.

Industry standards evolve. Customer preferences change. New products are introduced. Business models restructure.

Without “reboarding,” how can you be sure reps are effectively touching on the business’s current values? Even the most successful reps need to have consistent coaching to ensure they’re hitting on the top messages of the moment

"At the end of the day, it’s what a company does—not what its strategy says—that leads to success,” Scott Edinger, founder of Edinger Consulting Group says. “The way your prospects and many of your clients experience this is through the interaction with your sales force.” 

Related Article: The First Steps to Successful Onboarding

To ensure that those interactions drive a consistent message across a sales force, reps who’ve gone through several years of changes within a company must be up-to-speed on the same communication that newer new colleagues are learning. In the process, sales managers realize older onboarding techniques that once yielded good sales reps weren’t actually as effective as they could’ve been.

“At one company, we accelerated onboarding to the point where reps with 120 days on the job were outperforming a control group of reps with five years with the company,” says Mike Kunkle, Brainshark’s senior director of sales enablement. “Once we realized that, we rolled out many of the onboarding programs to the field, and through that ‘reboarding’ project, substantially improved sales performance across the company.”

When implementing a coaching or “reboarding” approach, consider these four things:

  1. Provide the least intrusive process to the sales rep’s day. 77% of sales managers blame lack of coaching on time constraints – they can’t afford to haul reps into a classroom several times a quarter. Instead, consider implementing sales enablement technology and sales coaching solutions that can be used for effective and fast training.
  2. Make it convenient. Considering reps are often in the field, coaching can fall to the wayside if it can’t take place where the reps are. Having coaching capabilities built right into your CRM means reps can access the materials they need, whether they’re in the office or not. 
  3. Keep it entertaining. If it isn’t enjoyable, people will be less likely to do it, and completing tasks we enjoy is motivating. One way we recommend spicing up coaching is through video.
  4. Get the data you need: To get a full understanding of your reps’ strengths and weaknesses, Clark suggests measuring what your reps do, produce and know. Use a CRM to acquire this data and look for things like proficiency scores, coaching actions, sales wins vs. forecast, discovery skills score vs. pipeline and overall proficiency score vs. win rate.

One-time learning sessions might provide reps with the information they need to perform in the moment, but through continuous learning, veteran reps will have a better chance at maintaining success throughout their career. In the end, this means happier employees, and greater ROI.

To learn more, see how Brainshark makes it easy for sales managers to coach using video and improve sales team performance.