Onboarding – every company does it, but a shockingly few do it really well.
When a sales rep joins a new organization, a good portion of their success depends on how well the sales onboarding program is organized and executed. There are various ways to set up sales onboarding, but one way is a 30-60-90 day sales onboarding plan where reps set out to master specific competencies in each 30-day period (a method that SiriusDecisions advocates for). But the challenge isn’t as much about how to set up the plan – it’s about how to certify if reps have achieved sales mastery in order to move on and start selling successfully.
What this boils down to is the question of, ‘did you do it?’ versus ‘can you do it?’ Using quizzes and assessments at the end of each onboarding course can help determine if reps have learned the material, but the most effective ways to see if reps have mastered the material are through sales coaching and multiple levels of assessment.
Be sure to institute 3 key levels of assessment in your 30-60-90 day sales onboarding plan in order to test reps, in both group and individual settings.
30 Days: Mastery of Concepts
The first assessment is referred to as mastery of concepts, where reps are tested on foundational material through quizzes. For example, reps will take preliminary, fundamental courses around buyer personas, the buyer’s journey, the sales process and more.
Since this is such important, core material, it’s essential to test reps’ comprehension and make sure they’ve absorbed what they learned before they move on. Implement a multiple choice or open-ended quiz asking reps to reiterate the information and allow them to keep taking the course and quiz until they pass.
60 Days: Simulations through Role Play and Video Coaching
The next type of assessment is simulations, where reps are asked to role play or record video responses to coaching activities (or challenges) that cover more advanced material such as negotiations, pricing and competitors. For example, after learning about how to pitch against a competitor, reps should simulate how they would do that in a real selling scenario.
They can do this in two ways. The first way is an in-person role play, where they act out how they would pitch and a sales manager or sales enablement professional would assess the rep’s performance. The second way is with video coaching technology, which allows reps to record a video of themselves pitching to a buyer and submit it for feedback and review by their sales manager or sales enablement team. The benefits of these types of assessments is that it requires reps to have a deeper level of understanding of the material through their ability to demonstrate it.
90 Days: Assessing Reps in the Field
The third type of assessment happens in the field. This is the responsibility of sales managers or the sales enablement team and can be conducted in various ways. For example, you can have reps use screen recording capabilities as part of a video coaching platform, where they record their screen during a demo or sales call. Afterwards, the sales manager can view the recording and assess the rep’s performance and deliver feedback. Or the sales manager can listen in on sales calls or accompany reps to sales meetings.
Each level of assessment during onboarding is designed to test knowledge and determine reps’ level of readiness for selling situations. They also help to answer the question of ‘can you do it?’ versus ‘did you do it?’, which is often the difference between successful and unsuccessful reps.
Effective onboarding programs result in more reps that show that they CAN do it, not just that they checked the boxes of onboarding. The risk of ineffective onboarding is that inexperienced or unskilled reps can cost a company a significant amount of money in lost deals. If reps are not ready for every buyer interaction, they can potentially weaken or end relationships with buyers, instead of starting new relationships and building on them over time.
Above all, reps need to have a focus during their first 90 days of what it will take to have initial conversations with buyers. It’s impossible for reps to learn everything about the product or selling situations in their first few months, so set a goal in the 30-60-90 day sales onboarding plan around the training that will prepare them for initial conversations. Then figure out how you will support them with just-in-time and continuous learning after the first 90 days.
For more information on sales onboarding, check out The Blueprint for Better Sales Onboarding.