Effective Remote On-boarding for Sales Teams – this is how

Why it’s important to have an On-boarding plan?

Sales people are fueled by success. The faster you can help your sales person close the first deal, the faster they will get better and more motivated. This success will translate very quickly into faster ROI and overall better business results. Your Onboarding plan should pave the way for success and provide the new sales rep with all the required tools, know how and best practices to sell successfully and become a valuable team member.

Create a mutual Commitment for Success

The level of the On-boarding plan will have a direct link to the level of commitment and success rate your new team member will have. The successful completion of the plan is the first task your new sales rep will be required to do after joining your organization. As you know, first impression means everything. Remember, in the case of an Onboarding plan, first impression is also a two-way street.

Make sure your Sales Onboarding plan works

The worst thing to do, is to set up your new sales rep for failure. Make sure your onboarding procedure is well designed, updated to tackle recent challenges and executed to create success. Any Onboarding plan requires ‘fine tuning’ over time to respond to changes in the market, in products and services as well as the organization itself. Make sure the plan reflects what’s needed now, and provides solid guidance for the new sales rep to succeed.

Going through the material is not enough. To make sure it works, you need to double check good comprehension of the methods, processes and general background provided. The best way to validate learning comprehension is with testing.
Note, that testing doesn’t have to be an old fashion questionnaire. There are many learning solutions available in the market to create amazing digital courses and quizzes.

One of my favorites is Thinkific which allows to create different types of multimedia learning materials and engaging quizzes. It’s a great place to start as you can start free and upgrade your plan only when your really need too.

What should your On-boarding plan include

There is no perfect recipe for success here. Each company is unique and needs to bring in that uniqueness into the plan. It will require some trial period and multiple feedbacks to find out what works best, however the list below can be a great starting point for the design of your own Custom Onboarding plan.

1. Company overview, product information, terminologies and Eco System – this part must result in a fun and inspirational experience. One that is packed with your company vision and values. It needs to position your company and products in the right spot of the world. The world your new sales rep now starts to live in. This is where you are building the “company personality” corner stones in the mind of the new sales rep you are developing.

Please don’t make it another company presentation and a bunch of product sheets. Tell the story, lay down your vision with both ethos and pathos. Make it about something bigger so your new employee can find a personal mission in it. Include some news and analysis about the vertical, key players and recent trends, but make it interesting and innovative.  Make your new sales rep proud of the team they just joined and the product they are about to sell.

2. Sale process & Best Practices – This part is actually your sales playbook. In this part the new rep should learn how to operate and live as a sales rep in your company. For example, it’s time to start getting to know your Sales Funnel management rules. Get an idea of how to manage the daily/weekly/monthly routine and how to update your systems. This is the time to learn best practices to conduct calls and meetings with customers, how to answer FAQ’s and how to communicate over digital platforms per the company protocols.

This is also the place to introduce the new rep with your sales toolbox. It’s the time for presentations, brochures, templates or any other assistive sales tools the rep can use. Please make sure they have more than they can use. Each rep need to find their own special voice and method.

It’s also essential to avoid making this part too technical. Your new team member will treat it like it’s written. If it’s a dry manual or check list with a bunch of instructions, the new rep will get bored very quickly.

Try to refine this part to the essence and explain why and how each tool contributes to the sale. A great way to spice things up here and allow the new rep some personal expression, is by providing customer cases for simulation, interactive quiz’s. With customer cases we really recommend conducting a recorded video meeting role play to be followed by encouraging feedback.

Engaging with additional employees in roleplay or case simulations can be very time consuming as well. L&D systems enable maximum supervisor control and enhanced employee experience with minimal involvement of additional team members. It will also allow improvement of the process over time based on concrete data.

3. CRM & data collection training – This part of the Onboarding should include your CRM operation method along with data collection strategy & tactics. If you are using tools like Pipedrive with Walkme integration, there is no need to duplicate the effort since walkme provides a customized in app guidance on Pipedrive. Personally I find these tools helpful in making the training more hands-on and interesting.

When discussing the data collection part, it’s important to emphasize again how collecting this information will assist the rep’s success and improve performance in the long term. Remember, while Rep’s may come and go, the company’s digital assets should retain the knowledge and activities to allow smooth account transitions and further uses in the future.

4. Shadowing senior reps – A great way to make sure your new sales person makes some new friends and gains confidence is to pair them up for limited exposures with senior colleagues. Learning from the field. Be Careful though, Shadowing the wrong colleague may lead to bad results. Make sure you are pairing up the new rep with a senior rep who is successfully following the company’s’ values, best practices and has the ability to inspire.

Pairing a new rep with a senior rep who has good sales results but tends to voice criticism on how the company operates and sometimes lack the values the organization nurtures will most likely have a bad influence. Make sure an onboarding rep is only paired with senior reps that received some prior training and are actually happy to mentor and be shadowed.

In the digital space it’s very easy and new rep can join customer meetings or calls, however you do need to properly introduce them. It’s also best to dedicate another small part in the meeting to let them express knowledge or provide helpful service.

Both the company and the rep’s mentor need to work together to create a sense of value and success from the early stages.

Integrate patience into the recipe

Salespeople are ambitious and typically have a lot of drive and enthusiasm. They want to see success coming and feel it. They also want it fast. You need to help them be patient – for the purpose of learning, but you also want to keep that fire burning. The way to do that, is by integrating “success points” into your onboarding plan. Points that will help them feel successful and on the right track, while learning step by step with patience.

Even better, use those “success points” to kill the boredom of just reading material.
Try to work some gamification into the process, use certificates, and some healthy contest. Enerjoy from Israel can give you some great ideas.

How long the Onboarding should take

Onboarding protects the company from sending an inexperienced rep into a customer conversation, which may end up poorly. It also protects the new rep from being too proud or scared to ask questions and make normal mistakes which are part of any training process. As long as the Rep is under the “Onboarding grace period”, they will most likely feel more comfortable to ask, repeat practices and absorb fine tuning where it’s needed.

My recommendation is to define a few extra weeks of “Onboarding practical exposure” after the official learning part of the Onboarding plan was completed. During those weeks, there will be some feedback talks and monitoring, while in fact the new rep is already working independently. This extra time will help build the rep’s confidence and make sure no repeating mistakes are happening in customer conversations.

On those first few weeks of practical work, you can send some advanced material for deeper learning or product updates, but make sure it’s not overwhelming.

Some advanced L&D solutions allows to push “learning bites” that can be sent to the relevant employee at the relevant time. This feature is great for short dives into specific subjects sales reps need to know. Especially in long sales cycle sales, the work is situational, and some situations repeat themselves in certain times along the process.

Providing the right learning point at the right time has a great value.
Today we are building customized sales training content for our global accounts, and integrate learning content into their Pipedrive sale stages. This integration allows reps to learn in bites without leaving Pipedrive. A focused and energizing solution sales reps really like.

If you made it this far, both you and your new rep deserve to celebrate!

Any good sales leader knows that success needs to be celebrated. Once your rep’s onboarding was successfully completed – make sure they feel like a part of the gang with a special welcome and some celebration they haven’t experienced with the company yet. There are many ways to strengthen the team, make employees feel special, part of something bigger and pump them with motivation for the next day. Onboarding graduation celebration is definitely one of them.

Besides, we are all looking for another good ZOOM party these days. (Written during the Corona Pandemic and will be relevant for the times to come).

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