7 Best Practices for Faster Sales Onboarding


Bringing on new sales staff doesn’t have to be a burden on your organization’s resources. What’s the fastest way for companies to bring new performers up to quota? We have 7 sales onboarding best practice tips for you!

1. Most organizations have new sales staff shadow existing staff. The problem with this approach is that it only allows the new hires a small glimpse of the total sales cycle. If you allow them to experience the entire cycle, ideally on demand, it will greatly enhance their comprehension.

2. New hires should understand what a good performance looks like at every stage of the sales cycle. They should listen to recordings of successful calls for such specific scenarios as discovery, objective handling, and competitive response.

3. On-demand training is usually a faster way to get new sales staff up to par than shadowing. Call shadowing isn’t always easy to set up, and affords fewer opportunities to listen to skilled sales reps in action. On-demand resources like a library of recorded calls have been consistently shown to work faster.

4. Onboarding sales reps go more smoothly when there is crowdsourced training content. That is, there should be a library of recorded sales calls showing outstanding reps doing market research, undertaking discovery, running sales processes, and the like. Having such a repository of recordings is not only highly cost-effective, it automatically updates itself.

5. There are at least 3 key metrics that should be measured to assure onboarding is going smoothly: time to quota, time to demo, and time to deal. Monitoring these indicators not only tells the organization how particular reps are performing, it helps the company track the overall success of the program. One possible approach to this process is dividing incoming reps into cohorts and comparing the relative performance of the different groups.

6. Live calls are the focal point of learning for newly minted sales reps. Organizations are often hesitant to put new personnel on the phone, which is somewhat understandable. But in reality, it is better to do this as quickly as possible. It allows them practical experience from which they can extract positive lessons.

7. Perhaps most essential to onboarding new sales reps is for the organization to have a set of consistent policies in place to standardize the work. This includes rules for opening calls, conducting discovery, issuing contracts, and the general workflow of a call. Then the performance of the new reps should be monitored for success at learning each task involved in a call, as for instance with a scorecard.

The most important consideration to keep in mind when designing a training program is that the majority of skills are learned on the job. Many organizations make the mistake of overemphasizing academic knowledge — of facts and explanations, of what is and why — over practical expertise, knowing how to do something.

Academic knowledge can be gained from books and lectures. It’s formed with declarative memory, memory of specific facts and events. Practical skills, including such activities as riding a bike, playing a musical instrument, touch-typing on a keyboard, and so forth, are learned through supervised practice. The learner repeatedly performs an activity under the supervision of a more experienced person who can answer questions and perform feedback.

A typical training program will want to instill practical skills more than academic knowledge. Usually no more than 10% of a training program should consist of books and lectures, though this will vary by organizational need. 90% of your training should consist of supervised practice.