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The successful onboarding of sales teams

Enablement professionals spend a lot of time thinking and talking about onboarding. The onboarding of sales teams is hard and demonstrates one of the significant challenges enablement professionals face today.

What information and experiences do we share?

How do we measure success? 

How long should the training run? 

“Many companies aren’t moving the needle with their sales enablement strategy because current approaches are too complicated or do not work” -The Collaborator (The Case for Revenue Enablement Over Sales Enablement)

What further complicates the onboarding process, is that sellers are generally required to begin selling activities on day one, or soon afterward. There is often little time provided for arming your sellers to be successful. This often confuses practitioners, and those around us, into believing that the right metrics for success of your onboarding program are sales-related (e.g., time to the first sale). 

A successful onboarding program does not use the misleading sales metrics but instead focuses on ensure all sellers have met the necessary level of competencies required to sell at the next level of skill.

What is the level of competency?

Enablement professionals need to work closely with their sales managers to identify what is required to be a capable seller at your business. Salespeople perform a variety of functions, and they must become capable in each to play these roles on their own. For example:

  • Basic selling skills
  • The sales methodology used at your business
  • The sales tools your company is using
  • Insights on the verticals you sell into and the personas they will be meeting
  • Product knowledge
  • Demonstration skills

The full list of skills and job functions will be much longer than the sample above.

Your exact levels of competence will vary, as will the terminology that you use, but generally flow from:

  • Newbie. No training on skills/expectations yet received.
  • Novice. Training completed but not yet certified by formal testing.
  • Knowledgeable. Has completed testing but not yet completed in-person or video-based coaching to show they can demonstrate skills, not just pass a test.
  • Certified. All training, coaching, role plays, etc. that are required to demonstrate competence is done and passed.

Defining your Program

As noted above, work with your sales managers to determine all skills and functions sellers need to be competent and gain agreement on how each level of competence will be certified and to what degree. Onboarding of sales teams is only one step in the training journey, and you will not make sellers experts during this step alone, nor is that your goal.

Break out all skills and functions

Define in as much detail as possible, enough that you can measure if sellers have gained the required skills.

An Example Onboarding Schedule

A template schedule for successful onboarding of sales teamsNote that many teams will take far longer, some shorter, than this ten-day schedule.

This schedule is an example of how you might layout your onboarding and is modeled loosely on the approaches I have seen used successfully. It is not the exact schedule or method I use as I cannot share the precise training topics.

This approach, when adjusted for your needs, will help you ensure sellers:

  • Understand critical portions of your sales motions
  • Can describe your company and your products
  • Can perform discovery
  • Can have a reasonable conversation about how your business
  • Can help a buyer meet their challenges

What follows is a very basic framework you can use for the onboarding of sales teams.

Day 1:

  • Ensure the new hire is set up for success with regards to their equipment
    • Tech – Computer, headset, desk, wired internet access, Email, and access to all software required to complete onboarding.
  • Welcome Introduction – Sales Manager and Team
    • Team building (Lunch, Introductions)
  • Company Overview – Executive Team Members
    • Founding – history
    • Vision
    • Overview of Company Organization
    • Product and Solutions Overview
  • Expectations – Sales Manager
    • Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly

Day 2:

  • Market / Industry Overview – Sales Manager
  • Sales Methodology Overview – Sales Manager/Coach/Enablement
  • Product/Solutions Overview – Sales Enablement
  • Selling Skills – Sales Manager/Mentor
  • Shadowing Sales Mentor
  • Manager Presentation: Why customers buy from us? – Sales Manager

Day 3:

  • Market / Industry Deeper Dive – Sales Manager
  • Sales Methodology Deeper Dive – Sales Manager/Coach/Enablement
  • Selling Skills – Sales Manager/Mentor
  • Shadowing Sales Mentor
  • Review Sales Tools – Sales Ops/Enablement
  • Product/Solutions Training – Sales Enablement
  • New Hire Present to Sales Manager: Why customers buy from us?

Day 4:

  • Shadowing Sales Mentor
  • Product/Solutions Training – Sales Enablement
  • Role Play – Sales Manager/Mentor
  • Organizing your day – Sales Manager/Mentor
  • New Hire Present to Sales Manager: Why customers buy from us?

Day 5:

  • Shadowing Sales Mentor
  • Product/Solutions Training – Sales Enablement
  • Role Play – Sales Manager/Mentor
  • New Hire Present to Sales Manager: Why customers buy from us?
    • Manager and Key Team Members Provide Feedback

Day 6:

  • Shadowing Sales Mentor
  • Product/Solutions Training – Sales Enablement
  • Role Play – Sales Manager/Mentor
  • New Hire Present to Sales Manager: Why customers buy from us?
    • Manager and Key Team Members Provide Feedback

Day 7:

  • How to: Prospecting – Sales Manager/Mentor
  • Shadowing Sales Mentor
  • Product/Solutions Training – Sales Enablement
  • Role Play – Sales Manager/Mentor
  • New Hire Present to Sales Manager: Why customers buy from us?
    • Manager and Key Team Members Provide Feedback
  • Pricing / Pricing Objection / BTC Editions (Sales Manager)
  • Competitive Overview (Sales Manager)

Day 8/9:

  • Shadowing Sales Mentor
  • Product/Solutions Training – Sales Enablement
  • Role Play – Sales Manager/Mentor
  • New Hire Present to Sales Manager: Why customers buy from us?
    • Manager and Key Team Members Provide Feedback

Day 10:

  • Present Deck to at least three people (Sales Manager, Sales Mentor, Sales Enablement)
    • Sales Manager must sign-off before sellers begin to sell.
  • Certify Candidate Successfully Certified (Sales Manager and Sales Enablement)

Summary

We have already said it, but it’s worth repeating: the onboarding of sales teams is hard work.  If you partner with your sales managers to define and support moving sellers to their basic levels of competencies, you will not only gain buy-in, but you will create successful outcomes for all members of your organization, yourself included.

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