A couple of months ago, we expanded our sales team and welcomed another SDR – Hi, Mike!
Although Mike is a super cool guy who learned the ropes quickly and smoothly, our senior sales reps still had to prepare an onboarding plan in order for the entire process to be successful.
The thing is that even if you’re hiring an experienced sales rep who has had a fair share of deals under their belt, you need to have an onboarding procedure in place. No matter how talented or skilled your new hire is, you can’t expect them to jump aboard just like that.
It’s crucial to help them adjust to your company culture, as well as new surroundings and responsibilities, and shape them into champion SDRs.
You should count on the fact that you’ll be spending more money on every new rep until they become fully productive and start generating profit. And that usually happens in six months’ time.
The Importance of Proper Employee Onboarding
Companies that train and onboard their sales reps experience a 10% greater growth in sales and reach 14% more sales and profit goals.
We’ve already talked about customer onboarding as an essential process for preventing churn and improving loyalty.
Similarly, employee onboarding will result in having high-performing sales reps who are well-integrated into the team.
Three main goals of a successful onboarding process are to acclimatize, engage, and retain new employees.
Research studies have shown that apart from an increase in sales and profit, onboarding will:
- Increase retention. In other words, your sales reps will stay longer with your company if you onboard them. This is good for your company because you’ll have a well-coordinated team invested in the success of your business. Besides that, hiring a new employee is an expensive and lengthy process, which is why it’s much more cost-effective to reduce turnover and retain your sales reps.
- Boost productivity. There are numerous questions, challenges, and dilemmas every new sales hire faces when they start a new job. And all this prevents them from reaching their full potential and productivity. With proper and onboarding and training, your new SDR will have all their questions answered so that they’re prepared to take on all the responsibilities and tasks ahead of them.
1. Have a Formal and Standardized Onboarding Plan in Place
First of all, it’s essential to understand that onboarding is a process and that a day of training won’t do the trick. Expect it to last anywhere between six months and an entire year.
So, be patient.
Now that we’ve established that onboarding takes time, it’s obvious that you can simply randomly approach it. You need to implement a consistent and standardized methodology.
Start by creating a time-line of important events and split the process into different milestones, to define your expectations regarding what should be achieved within a certain time frame.
To be more precise, list everything that your new hire is supposed to do during the first week, specify all the training courses they should complete during the first month, and determine what they should achieve in the first quarter.
Create a checklist of activities tied to a time frame, and schedule these activities before day 1, meaning that your new SDR has everything ready the moment they arrive.
It’s best to send your rookie sales rep a welcome email in advance, and outline everything that they will be working on in the first couple of days. Also, include details such as your company’s history, your offerings, products, or solutions, your values and mission, and your unique selling point and key differentiators.
Your company culture should be an important part of your onboarding process. Here are some tips on how to incorporate this segment into your new rep’s orientation:
- Make sure that your communication conveys your company culture
- Include other team members in the communication from the very beginning, as it will be much easier and less stressful for your new hire during their first day at work if they’re familiar with everybody.
- Provide your new SDR with all the relevant compliance information and materials in advance. This will give them enough time to study your employee handbook, brand guidelines, and go through your benefits package.
- Focus on scheduling regular meetings with a new employee, especially during the first three months. This will allow them to ask all the questions they have, while you’ll be able to track how their onboarding process is coming along.
2. Set Clear Goals and Provide Support
One of the main reasons why new hires are disappointed on their first day is their managers being too busy to offer them much-needed support and guidance.
Setting clear goals will help your new hires understand what is expected from them – define these goals in an actionable manner so that they point inexperienced SDRs in the right direction.
For example, one of your initial conversations should include your company’s goals, and that might be increasing the average purchase value by 20% within the next six months. After doing the math, and translating this into numbers, your sales team will try to boost the number of upsells, cross-sells, and product/service-bundles because this is a tangible goal.
While managers always talk about success, many of them fail to define what that means in their organization – don’t be like them. Communicate your expectations clearly and provide constant feedback. Your new sales reps need to know what they’re doing right and what they need to polish.
When you move to individual goals, it’s important to make sure that they’re realistic. You don’t want newbies to feel frustrated because they couldn’t hit an overly-ambitious quota.
Also, you or somebody else on the sales team should always be available to answer their questions and assist them in their sales activities.
3. Train Them to Use Different Tools
Every organization relies on a certain set of tools, meaning that you can’t expect your new sales rep to know how to use the ones that you do.
One of the most important things to go over with them is using a CRM tool. This should include a detailed and practical explanation and hands-on of how to add new contacts, set reminders, and log communication.
It’s a good idea to get them to take a CRM certification exam, as that way, you’ll be sure that will make the most of this indispensable sales tool.
4. Leverage Shadowing
The best way of breaking in your new sales reps is to have them shadow you.
In other words, they should follow you around while you’re performing everyday sales tasks, talking to prospects, solving issues, doing demos, sending emails, qualifying leads, or cold calling potential customers.
Don’t be patronizing and don’t teach them to sell the way you do. Instead of that, ask them to draw their own conclusions and practice to do things their way. As you know, there are numerous different ways to sell, and you should help your new sales reps to find out what their strongest points are and focus on them.
Bear in mind that your methods might not work for them. Besides, they should build their own sales mindset and learn how to handle different situations independently. You don’t want copycats, but a team of creative salespeople who are capable of finding their path.
A useful exercise might be having them sit on a demo with you and giving their opinion about how it went and what they would have done differently.
5. Conduct In-Depth Product or Service Training
Your new sales reps have to know your product or service inside out!
And we’re not talking about the usual basic stuff – features, functionalities, and benefits, as that goes without saying.
What your onboarding should achieve is a high level of expertise regarding your offerings, so that your sales reps can overcome objections and talk their prospects into making a purchase.
However, gaining confidence in this respect also comes with experience, meaning that it takes some time and hundreds of conversations with prospects and customers to reach that level. In other words, there’s no need to pressure your new reps into learning everything there is right away.
The best way to start is by providing them with a strong foundation and instructing them to learn as much as they can along the way.
Some of the most important aspects of this training are:
- Showing your sales rep how to use your product or service. Do it just like you would do if they were a customer. This perspective will help them both understand how it works, as well as what they should focus on when presenting it to their prospects.
- Educating them about the short and long-term benefits of your product or service, that is, how it will improve every individual customer’s life.
- Covering relevant areas related to your product or service. Your sales reps should be well-informed and knowledgeable regarding their prospects’ pain points, needs, and preferences. In other words, if you’re offering chatbots for the insurance industry, your sales reps should understand the insurance sector and its challenges and use proper jargon or industry-specific terms.
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