“All ABOARD!” Hearing those words instantly conjures up visions of train conductors checking their pocket watches while late arrivals to the station jump on the train. In a perfect world, each new journey would be so simple – we’re asked to come aboard, our destination is known, and few obstacles can derail our arrival. But for a salesperson joining a new company, too often the invitation to come aboard is where the certainty ends; the path to the destination (sales success) is murky and detours can be many. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. Even small to medium-sized companies can help their new salesperson travel a clear path to success – if they have laid the necessary tracks during a process called onboarding.
What IS onboarding? How can it benefit the organization and the salesperson? And how is a successful onboarding program implemented? Let’s take a closer look:
Onboarding is a Process
Some smaller businesses do little, if any onboarding. Others treat onboarding as if it is an event or a short-term orientation. At its core, however, onboarding is the process through which a new employee – in this case a new salesperson – gets “up to speed” by gaining necessary information and insights and becoming proficient with the tools and methods necessary for success in the organization.
Onboarding is not – or at least shouldn’t be – a haphazard series of missteps and lessons learned “the hard way”. In any successful organization there will emerge over time (and through the efforts of knowledgeable and talented leaders), traits and practices that have proven successful. Onboarding is taking these proven elements and systematically making them available to new staff members.
How Can Onboarding Benefit the Company and the Salesperson?
Why is onboarding so critical? After all, won’t truly talented salespeople learn by observing and doing, eventually putting their own spin on what it takes to succeed? Perhaps, but not without a lot of unnecessary detours and backtracking.
Here are just a few of the essential benefits a well-crafted onboarding process can deliver:
- Clear expectations. In other words, everyone – the salesperson, the Sales Manager, company leaders and customers – knows what is expected in terms of methodology and results. Onboarding can help eliminate misunderstandings, mistakes and embarrassing missteps.
- Greater confidence. The new salesperson who comes on board to a supportive sales team will quickly gain confidence that he or she made the right decision in joining the company. Bolstered by a wealth of shared knowledge and effective processes, that confidence will enhance chances for quicker sales success.
- Optimized performance. Clearly defined and understood sales methods are good insurance to help sales personnel operate effectively and efficiently. And by providing the proper tools, removing obstacles to success and clearly showing the way to reach that destination, the new salesperson can be expected to perform and excel.
- Less vulnerability. Because the company has shown that it can move forward with another salesperson if the need arises, the organization is less at risk. Any talented salesperson would surely be missed, but if that salesperson moved on, the loss would be less disruptive or catastrophic for the company if a good onboarding plan is in place.
- Time saved. Yes, the organization will be dedicating time upfront to orienting the new employee, but allocating that time to the onboarding process will almost certainly save the company much more time – and money – down the road.
How Can Onboarding be Developed and Implemented Successfully?
Onboarding doesn’t have to be difficult, but it should be systematic and developed before it is needed. Recognizing that any plan should be flexible based on the needs of the incoming salesperson, an effective onboarding plan should typically include:
- An agenda (sent in advance to the new hire) describing what the first day, week and month will look like
- Clearly articulated expectations for the sales role
- Essential company information and background
- Essential target market, customer and prospect information, including sales cycle and pipeline info
- Essential company sales messaging, as well as access to key company sales and marketing collateral
- An explanation of company roles and the organizational hierarchy so that the new employee knows where to turn for answers and other support
- An explanation of company systems, resources and tools, as well as what training is available
Implementing an onboarding plan should include upfront dedicated time and information followed by real-world applications of that knowledge, reinforcement and adjustments as needed.
Effectively onboarding a new salesperson is one of the most essential precursors of success for any sales organization. But few small to medium-sized companies understand the importance of this process or take the steps necessary to make it work. At Sales Xceleration, we’ve seen this happen time and again. That’s why our proven systems and processes include an actionable focus on onboarding. Our Sales Xceleration Advisors help business owners save money on unsuccessful hires while putting new salespeople more solidly on the track to sales success.
To learn more about how Sales Xceleration’s proven processes and systems can help your business and sales organization, contact an Advisor today.