onboarding new sales reps

Onboard new sales reps

Efficient and effective onboarding is the key to shaping a promising new hire into a productive member of your sales team. Yet, some sales managers fail to onboard new sales reps effectively, leaving it as a mere formality or even as an inconvenience to get through as soon as possible. Others try to overload a new hire with too much information as soon as a new face walks in the door. Neither of these approaches work and both create a poorly performing sales representative at best and cause a once optimistic recruit to develop negative feelings about your company at the worst.  There is a better way. 

Create a Plan to Onboard New Sales Reps

There is a time and a place to ‘wing it,’ but not during the onboarding of a new sales representative. Most experts agree that it can take up to 6 months for a new rep to reach full productivity, and a comprehensive training plan can help recruits reach their potential as quickly as possible. 

The Manual

A good training plan starts with a thorough and accessible manual. If your company does not have an onboarding manual, create one now. A good training manual ensures new sales reps have all the tools they need to succeed. Besides covering all the expectations of the job, your sales manual should offer example sales scripts which your top sales reps have used successfully in the past. The bulk of the manual needs to contain an easily referenced list of the most common questions and objections that potential customers have, along with practical ways to reply to these questions and concerns. 

After meeting with a new hire, present the manual and have the employee spend the first day going over it. Quiz the rep at the end of the day. The new hire should be able to respond effortlessly to your questions and concerns using the provided responses from the manual. At this point, you just want the person to be capable of parroting back the reply as written. There will be time for personalising a response in the future. Send home the new employee with an assignment to review the manual and come up with a few more questions, concerns, and replies.

Training Videos

A training manual is great but as we know everyone learns differently. By providing content in video format to onboard sales reps, new hires can learn new content visually and aurally. I recommend providing sales training videos for new hires to learn effective sales strategies your existing team are already implementing. Provide your content on a mobile ready app or website and your chances of your new sales rep watching the content goes up drastically and it’s more likely they’ll even watch the videos outside of business hours.

Some of our clients have new hires take our online sales course SOCO Academy as part of their onboarding process.

Getting to Know the Company

Even the best salesman can’t close if he does not know what he is selling. After a recruit has the manual memorised, it is time to dive in and learn what your company is all about. While this involves helping new team members gain knowledge about products or services, it also means introducing recruits to the values and culture of your company. 

Practice Makes Perfect

After introducing a sales team member to your company’s products and services, it is time for practical experience. The best way to start is to have the new employee sit in on a sales call. Before the presentation, go over the background of the client including whom you are meeting with, how you found the prospect and your expectations of the call. After the sales call, conduct a recap to get feedback on how the rep felt the call went. Discuss how he may have handled the call differently. It is important to recognise that everyone has their way of selling, so don’t insist that your approach is the only one. 

Once a new hire has sat in on a few sales calls, let them have a go with trying to close a few of your aging leads. Sit in on these sales calls and at the end of each one go over what worked and what might need some tweaking. When you think the employee is ready, provide a new lead as a test. 

Once the initial steps to onboard new sales reps are complete, your job is not. It is essential to realise the most successful sales reps are always learning, adapting, and improving the way they sell, so encourage experimenting to allow new hires to find better ways of selling. Always follow up with continuous coaching and training.

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About Tom Abbott

Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling'. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.

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