Sales Reps Onboarding Process: Structure
Nervous, challenging, anxious, exciting, and super fun. The emotions during a recruitment process are many, both as a manager and as a candidate. Once the signatures are finally on the employment contract, the onboarding process can begin.
At this point, new hires have mentally begun to prepare themselves for the start. Many candidates even begin to mentally detach from their current job. As a hiring manager, it’s your job to continue building the candidates’ engagement leading up to the start.
Leading up to the start?
Yes, it’s your responsibility to give new hires the best conditions possible, and your work begins instantaneously. Not on the first day of employment.
Over the coming weeks, we will be writing about onboarding, its elements, statistics, and our own view on how you can set a foundation. Both in terms of structure and thoughts for future hires.
The onboarding phases:
- Understand, Do, Deliver
You will get far in your onboarding work by having a solid structure in place. When planning your onboarding, one of the first things to consider is the length of the onboarding process. How long it will take depends on the company. But you can still aim to have a plan in place for the first 6–12 months. Not 2 days, not 3 weeks, and not 2 months.
This is a common area to miscalculate and where mistakes are easily made. You try to squeeze in too much information in too short a time period.
Another common mistake is to think about onboarding but to deprioritize it for more urgent and short-term matters. Unfortunately, this leads to hiring managers pushing off their onboarding plans until a few days before the new hire is going to start. Which ultimately leads to sloppy and thoughtless plans that are set up to fail.
Invest your time now
By laying the groundwork initially, you will not only save time but also money. Even when other things are demanding your attention, you need to invest in your onboarding plan now. Here’s why:
If we put it in terms of cost versus revenue and make a quick math example, I’m sure you’ll understand what we mean.
Let’s say you hire a sales rep and that this sales rep also comes with a total cost of 5500€/month. You begin getting sales of 20’000€ from their fifth month after an unstructured onboarding.
With statistics from Learningbank, you’ll learn an onboarding program will shorten your time-to-performance by 60%. This means your properly onboarded sales hire will have the same costs of 5500€/month but will begin delivering their 20’000€ in sales by their third month instead.
In total, you will have 27’500€ in costs and 20’000€ in revenue.
In total, you will have 16’500€ in costs and 20’000€ in revenue.
Even though this example is simplified, it does properly communicate the value of a structured and well-planned onboarding. Instead of expecting the sales rep to succeed, it’s your job to give them the right tools and help them succeed.
Identify where to begin your onboarding
A good starting point when building your onboarding process is to clarify what the new hire is expected to do. What is their core job, and their core responsibilities? When you have identified them. Your next step is to begin thinking backward. If your sales rep needs to generate 10’000€ in sales each month. To achieve this, they need to meet with several companies. When having those meetings, they need to understand many things about that specific company.
Often, an onboarding process begins with a general presentation about the company and its history. This presentation is by no means unimportant, but the question you must ask yourself: “Is all this information important right here and now?”.
Here are a few examples of simple questions to help you identify the central parts of your new hire’s core job:
What is the sales rep here to do?
What is your sales rep selling?
How is your sales rep going to sell?
Who are they selling to?
Identifying what’s most important and who is going to own that area internally will improve your onboarding process immensely. The clearer you as a hiring manager are towards your colleagues, the better.
The onboarding phases
When we recruit and onboard new sales reps for our clients, we often work with a 6-month onboarding period. There are multiple reasons as to why this period should be shorter or longer, but 6 months is a good place to start. To help our clients align their focus during this period, we use 3 different themes during 3 different time periods. They are called “Understanding, Doing, Delivering”.
First Month: Understanding
Month 2–3: Doing
Month 4–6: Delivering
If you let these 3 themes reflect your expectations, but also the activities of your new sales rep. You will simplify the process and create less stress for your new hire. These themes are not to be confused with not having practical elements. But neither are you expected to understand everything needed to make deals.
Expectations and metrics during onboarding
Goals and metrics are a big area in and of themselves, and it’s not something we will discuss in detail. What’s important is to highlight that goals are meant to be reasonable and not impossible to reach. For a new hire to reach and overachieve is something else. But having to work towards stretch goals that seem impossible and take extraordinary efforts every day, can have a demoralizing effect.
Early on, talking about short- and long-term goals and expectations is important. It’s equally important to have key metrics in a sales role from the beginning. Our recommendation is to tailor the goals and metrics to align with each onboarding theme. Make sure you increase their metrics gradually during the new hires’ onboarding period until they have the same expectations as other sales reps in your company.
Another recommendation we make to our clients is to set metrics for pure learning activities. For example, you could set goals for:
- Videos to watch during their first week
- Number of joint visits with experienced sales reps
- How many new prospects to find
- Interviewing X amount of colleagues
We want to highlight the importance of having a plan for your sales reps’ first period on the job. You also need to speak about goals, expectations, and metrics early. When talking about goals, expectations, and metrics, you also want to ensure you tailor the numbers to fit your new hire. In the end, everyone involved will benefit from a successful and quick onboarding period. Give yourself the right conditions to do so.
Stay tuned for next week’s post about preboarding!