Sales Enablement: What is Sales Onboarding?

Apr 1, 2020 8:00:00 AM

By Cathy Cain-Blank

Whether you’re hiring salespeople as part of a growth plan or to replace employees who have left your organization, your goal is to hire people who bring relevant industry experience, natural talent, and a proven track record to the table.

But every salesperson comes with strengths and weaknesses that are unique to them. This means that each new salesperson will have a different learning curve. To ensure their long-term success, you need to have a program in place that assesses their knowledge and skills and builds on them accordingly. You need a Sales Onboarding program.

The Importance of Sales Onboarding

Here’s why an effective Sales Onboarding program is essential:

  • Poor or incomplete Sales Onboarding can result in missed sales opportunities. A CareerBuilder study revealed that incomplete Sales Onboarding can cost businesses $50,000 to $200,000 every month. Employee-oriented Sales Onboarding programs can mend these gaps and increase the productivity of sales representatives.
  • Thorough Sales Onboarding can boost customer conversion. Research shows that well-planned Sales Onboarding can increase customer conversion by up to 15%.

The Role of Sales Enablement Teams in Sales Onboarding

When new sales representatives are hired, oftentimes sales team leads and managers don’t have the time and resources to provide a stellar onboarding experience. This is where the role of a Sales Enablement team becomes crucial.

Similar to how a Sales Enablement team helps the Sales team in an organization by providing them with the strategy, content and resources to interact effectively with prospects, they also should be responsible for equipping new sales employees with the resources and tools they need to get onboarded quickly.

Your Sales Enablement team can build a Sales Onboarding program focusing on:

  • Industry Knowledge
  • Product/Service Knowledge
  • Processes
  • Skills

Keep in mind that while your initial efforts are to get new employees trained and hitting the streets, phones, networking meetings, events, online meetings, and more, there will be a need for future onboarding activities.  

Advantages of Optimizing Your Sales Onboarding Plan

Per Bridge Group, a new salesperson requires four months to fully onboard. New salespeople need to learn about their new employer’s operations and processes, including sales and marketing platforms. A recent onboarding program we developed and implemented for a client included training on Gmail and Google tools (the new salespeople only had experience with Outlook); HubSpot (CRM plus messaging and reports); LinkedIn Sales Navigator; and UpLead (sales prospecting tool).

A CareerBuilder study revealed that incomplete Sales Onboarding can cost businesses $50,000 to $200,000 every month.

Businesses often wish to reduce onboarding time and accelerate the productivity of salespeople. However, it’s unrealistic to expect sales onboarding to take only a few weeks.

Research suggests that new salespeople get overwhelmed with the onboarding resources in the first 30 days. Plus, in the absence of ongoing reinforcement, they end up forgetting 80% of the training. Therefore, businesses with excellent sales and growth have a structured sales onboarding program with regular reinforcement.

With an organized Sales Onboarding program, companies can reduce onboarding time by almost 50%. Other benefits of a well-structured Sales Onboarding plan include:

  • Top sales employee retention: According to Equifax Workforce Solutions, successful Sales Onboarding programs keep best-performing salespeople engaged during the first 30 days of the process.
  • Reduced sales employee turnover: Research shows that more than 65% of employees can stay with an organization for at least three years if they receive proper sales onboarding.
  • Satisfied managers: Effective Sales Onboarding training helps sales employees achieve their targets faster. The result — happy managers.
  • Improved employee engagement: Proper Sales Onboarding is the secret to increased employee engagement.

Many organizations undermine the effectiveness of Sales Onboarding by focusing on ad hoc onboarding. This approach is rarely successful. Teams with well-structured Sales Onboarding programs produce more than 35% better results.

What Does a Well-Structured Sales Onboarding Plan Look Like?

A thorough Sales Onboarding program comprises a two-part plan:

  • Two to four weeks of boot camp training
  • Three to nine months of ongoing activities (reinforcement)

Essential Components of a Well-Structured Sales Onboarding Plan

The sales enablement team should include the following components/topics in the Sales Onboarding program they develop for new hires:

  • Company details: The company’s mission, value proposition, vision and so on.
  • Target customer profile: Details about the company’s ideal customers and most appropriate prospects.
  • Product/service features and benefits: Background on how to position each product/service the company offers.
  • Key messaging: Once the sales representatives understand the company’s mission statement, it’s important to tell them how to deliver the same to the customers.
  • Case studies/success stories: Sales representatives should have quick access to case studies and success stories to share the experiences of existing customers with prospective customers.

Just as your team can’t be onboarded overnight, you also can’t whip up an effective Sales Onboarding program overnight. Be realistic! Dedicate time to developing your program just as you would any other endeavor.  

Want to learn more about how to develop an effective Sales Onboarding program and properly train and coach your salespeople? Contact us today!