5 Sales Onboarding Mistakes That Lead to Reps’ Early Departures

August 09, 2017 | Lauren Shepherd
5 Sales Onboarding Mistakes That Lead to Reps’ Early Departures

Sales onboarding is one of the most critical components of an effective sales readiness program. This crucial time is a primer for success at your organization – whether reps are veterans in the field or just beginning their sales careers. 

A well-structured sales onboarding program gives sales reps the confidence that they made the right decision in joining your organization – a key component of rep retention. According to Forbes Insights, the average cost of replacing a typical B2B sales rep is $115,000. This means that without a quality sales onboarding program in place, your organization could be wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

So how can sales enablement leaders make sure their onboarding programs set reps up for long-term success? Here are 5 sales onboarding mistakes to avoid that can lead to reps’ early departures.

1. Onboarding kicks off on day one

Your onboarding program should begin before your new hire even starts. Your sales team should begin ‘pre-boarding’ with videos, whitepapers, or other training documents in the days leading up to their start date. This way they are primed for onboarding activities when they officially start.

In addition, it’s a good idea to send new hires branded swag – this could be sweatshirts, notebooks, mugs – anything to make them feel a part of the team and get them excited! This is especially important for reps that will be working remotely.

2. New hires are left in the dark

When you get your driver’s license, you must log a certain number of hours on the road and pass a written test and a road test. Throughout the process, you’re aware of all the steps necessary to complete the program and get your license.

Sales onboarding should operate in the same way. Show reps a complete game plan so they can track their own progress and see the road in front of them. For example, start with product knowledge, then move on to prospecting techniques, presentation skills and so on.

3. Sales ‘boot camp’ is one big lecture

If your sales boot camp style could be classified as “death by PowerPoint,” it’s time to rethink your onboarding strategy. Sales training should be engaging; if reps are lectured for hours on end, their knowledge retention becomes limited.

Instead, have reps stand up in front of the room and simulate a full sales cycle – from prospecting, to discovery, to demo, to final presentation. This may be a bit uncomfortable for new reps, but role playing is one of the best ways for them to learn and become sales-ready.

4. Sales enablement takes a one-size-fits-all approach

Not all sales reps are created equal and their sales onboarding tracks shouldn’t be either. All reps have different levels of experience and expertise. By using an assessment-based onboarding approach, you will be able to pinpoint areas where reps need additional training.

Assessment-based onboarding involves a sales readiness path for each rep, with an assessment built for each competency, and benchmarks to establish when they should master the competency. For example, let’s say you determined that your rep should master presentation skills by the end of their first month. Your rep completes their assessment by video but you realize there are competency gaps. Because of that, you should provide your rep with specific training content to meet that immediate need. 

5. The learning process stops after formal onboarding

Even if you’ve determined that reps are fully ramped up and the formal onboarding process is complete, the sales readiness process should not stop there. Extend the game plan you created for reps in the first 6 months, to months 6-12, then 12-24 and then 24-36 with formal training and assessments.

Related: Sales Video Coaching Lessons from Facebook and Snapchat

Balance your formal coaching program with more informal learning opportunities. Put in place a video coaching model and enable your managers and other reps to transfer their skills and knowledge down to their team members to help them achieve sales mastery.

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