When it comes to onboarding new sales hires, it’s not enough just to give a new representative an orientation packet and a T-shirt. To set up your new hires for success, sales departments need to put care into the onboarding process. Typically, the onboarding process should last around 90 days.
Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to onboarding. Junior sales representatives have different onboarding needs than senior representatives. To onboard a new team member effectively, you need to be aware of these differences and plan accordingly. Here are some tips for onboarding new sales hires, both junior and senior sales reps.
How to onboard a junior sales hire
Junior sales representatives are usually young and hungry. Although they have less experience, they are eager to succeed in their roles and to grow with your company. But to do that, they need to be offered guidance in the early days.
You can help new junior representatives thrive by implementing the following tips in your sales onboarding process:
1. Explicitly outline the onboarding process for new hires.
It’s nerve-wracking to assume a new job, especially for recent college grads with limited work experience. Ease the onboarding process by letting junior representatives know what to expect. On day one, offer a detailed schedule that outlines your process. Even if some of the particulars change, an onboarding roadmap will be helpful.
2. Introduce representatives to the rest of the team, and people from allied departments.
Long-term success in sales is in large part dependent on the quality of connections among colleagues. Make sure new hires have plenty of opportunity to connect with their team in both formal and informal settings. Inviting junior representatives to a social event outside of work can do much to break the ice. And don’t limit your introductions to the sales department. If sales representatives have opportunities to get to know people from other departments, they are more likely to stay with your company.
3. Connect junior representatives with a senior mentor.
Most successful sales representatives and executives point to one or more mentors early in their career. While some junior representatives will find mentors on their own, don’t leave it to chance. Once a new representative has settled into the job, find a mentor that’s a good fit for their personality and career goals. Give new hires opportunities to shadow their mentors as well by sitting in on sales calls, demonstrations, and meetings with prospects.
4. Provide an in-depth training plan
It can be overwhelming for new reps when they see everything they need to learn. For their first 90 days, provide a detailed training plan to cover everything they’ll need to know to be successful. Tailor this plan to your team’s needs, but a few main areas to cover are essential sales skills, product and market intel, sales process, and your CRM.
5. Provide junior representatives with opportunities to learn from one another.
When setting up training modules, incorporate teamwork. Ideally, you would be onboarding more than one junior sales representative at a time. Fresh recruits will form a peer support network when given the opportunity.
6. Clarify goals in terms of sales metrics.
For a new sales representative, few things are more frustrating than being given a sales quota with no other benchmarks. At the outset, provide new representatives with information about what’s expected of them in terms of other metrics, such as average phone calls per day, demonstrations scheduled, etc. These goalposts will clarify expectations and help pinpoint strengths and weaknesses.
7. Offer opportunities for easy wins early on.
It’s easy to become discouraged in sales. To counter that problem, provide new reps with opportunities for early wins. For example, create staggered quota goals during ramp up so reps can more easily hit targets. As their training increases, so will the expectations of their performance. This will help them gain confidence for the long run.
8. Set regular follow-up meetings during the first several months.
The first 90 days are critical for a sales representative’s long-term success with a company. Meet with new reps regularly to address any problems proactively.
How to onboard a senior sales hire
Senior sales representatives face a different set of needs. They have experience, but aren’t really familiar with how your company operates. When onboarding new sales hires for senior positions, the process needs to be focused on getting them acquainted with your sales process and helping them to assume a leadership role.
Keep these tips in mind to give your new senior representative the leg up they need to succeed in your company:
1. Provide opportunities for senior hires to meet with other reps on their level and above.
To enjoy success at your company, new senior representatives need to develop their personal networks. Offer opportunities for things like lunch meetings, spread out over the first few months on the job.
2. Provide gradual, tailored training for their specific role.
Even for a senior-level sales rep, beginning a new job can be overwhelming. While they probably have all the main sales skills necessary to sell, they’ll need to become experts in your product and field. Provide a timetable for the first few weeks to get them well acquainted with everything they’ll need to know.
3. For those in a managerial role, make sure they gain a complete picture of company operations.
Successful sales managers understand how sales fits into the company’s larger strategy. For representatives with managerial responsibilities, offer them a bird’s-eye view of the company. Meetings with executives in marketing, finances, and other departments are great for this.
4. If someone is in a managerial role for the first time, offer managerial training.
Even if a senior hire has experience, they can still benefit from mentorship. This is especially true for representatives who are assuming new responsibilities. Try to connect them with an executive or someone who has already done the role.
5. Identify key metrics that will be used to measure performance and explain how your department calculates them.
Every sales department is a little bit different in terms of which KPIs are most valued and how the metrics are calculated. Don’t assume that new hires understand this just because they have sales experience. To set new reps up for success, you should gradually ramp up expectations over the first one to three months on the job.
6. Ask new managers to send regular progress reports.
To help new managers improve their skills, have them send you regular progress reports. This should include daily or weekly reflections on what they’re learning and how things are going, not simply sales KPIs. This will help you tailor their onboarding process to their needs, and it will help them internalize all that they’re learning.
By following these best practices for onboarding new sales hires, your new reps will appreciate your efforts and have a better chance to thrive at your company.