A recent survey discovered that 47% of sales reps left their jobs after only 18 months due to a bad onboarding or training process. So if you want to cut down the turnover rate, onboarding is a great place to start!
Sales onboarding is the process of equipping newly hired reps with the skills, knowledge, and resources to become successful members of your B2B sales team. It involves a comprehensive training program that covers product and industry knowledge, sales techniques, company culture, and effective communication strategies.
In a Gallup survey, 88% of participating employees think their employer does a poor job during the onboarding process. According to SellingPower, only 11% of employees think their company’s onboarding program is effective, and none said it was highly effective.
While onboarding is a critical part of training salespeople to be successful in their roles, it’s a process that is often overlooked or neglected.
In this article, you’ll learn how to create an effective sales onboarding process so your reps can get up and running and start contributing to your company’s bottom line as quickly as possible.
Why sales onboarding is essential in a fast-moving B2B marketplace
Effective sales onboarding provides new hires with a solid foundation to help them navigate the complexities of the B2B sales environment, build relationships with clients, and close deals with confidence.
A well-designed sales onboarding program can help your company:
- Increase sales revenue: New sales reps who receive comprehensive onboarding are more likely to close deals and generate revenue faster than those who do not.
- Improve employee retention: Sales reps who feel supported and adequately trained stay with companies longer. 69% of employees who have a positive onboarding experience are likely to remain with the employer for three years.
- Enhance sales team performance: A robust onboarding program helps standardize the sales process and create a more cohesive sales team. This leads to better sales performance. In a study by CSO Insights, improving sales onboarding led to a 12% increase in win rates in the first six months.
For reps, effective sales onboarding can lead to:
- Faster time to productivity: With a clear understanding of their role, your company’s products and services, and your sales process, new sales reps can start selling faster. Research from the Sales Management Association indicates that properly onboarding new sellers leads to a 23% increase in productivity in a new hire’s first 90 days.
- Increased confidence: A comprehensive onboarding program can boost the confidence of new sales reps.
- Higher job satisfaction: Sales reps who receive proper training and support tend to feel more engaged and satisfied with their jobs.
The complexities and challenges of sales onboarding
Sales onboarding is a notoriously difficult process for companies. Here are some of the biggest challenges for companies trying to onboard reps properly:
- Lack of standardization: Onboarding may vary from one sales team to another. This can lead to inconsistencies in messaging and variations in the sales process.
- Time constraints: Onboarding can be a time-consuming process that eats into the new sales rep’s selling time. Companies must balance the process of comprehensive onboarding with the need for sales reps to start generating revenue.
- Training resources: Developing comprehensive training materials can be challenging and time-consuming, especially for companies with limited resources.
- Information overload: Providing too much information during onboarding can overwhelm new sales reps, making it difficult to retain essential information.
- Limited feedback: Many companies fail to put metrics in place to evaluate onboarding success. This makes it difficult to provide feedback to reps on their performance during the ramp-up process.
- Integration with existing processes: Ensuring the sales onboarding process integrates smoothly with existing processes and workflows can be laborious.
- Remote work: Distributed and remote sales teams are more common than ever before. Because many sales teams don’t share a physical space, interaction and training opportunities during onboarding can be limited.
Building a sales onboarding program
To overcome the challenges of onboarding, companies need to adopt a strategic approach that includes:
- A clear plan
- Standardized processes
- Targeted training
- Ongoing sales coaching
- The right tech
Thinking through your sales onboarding strategy
The first step in developing a sales onboarding process is to create a comprehensive plan that aligns onboarding with your organization’s business goals.
Ask yourself, “What specific knowledge, skills, and competencies do new hires need to thrive in their roles and meet business objectives?” Then design your onboarding program to get your reps from where they are to where you want them to be.
During this strategy phase, identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to measure the success of your onboarding process. These metrics could include:
- Time to close first deal
- Sales revenue generated by new hires
- Customer satisfaction ratings
- Time to full productivity
- Sales pipeline growth
- Employee satisfaction
Before you dig into the specifics of how your sales onboarding process will work, take some time to strategize about your most important business objectives, such as:
- How will you measure your progress?
- How can you help sales reps build relationships with customers and meet their needs?
Creating onboarding content that sticks
If your new reps are going to ramp up quickly, they need the right materials from day one.
Your sales training materials should cover key knowledge areas and be engaging, informative, and easy to digest. Your sales content library might include things like:
- Product guides and battle cards
- Case studies
- Industry research reports
- Competitive intelligence
- Sales training videos
- Just-in-time (JIT) training
- Sales collateral like brochures and one-sheets
- Coaching guides and best practices for sales leaders
Sales playbooks provide new reps with a clear roadmap of the sales process and the steps they need to take to close a deal. Your sales playbook should include best practices for selling to your specific prospects, as well as information on your sales strategy, target market, customer pain points, common objections, and messaging.
Sales scripts are another powerful tool for training salespeople. Pre-written scripts for emails, phone calls, and meetings give reps a framework for communicating with potential customers. It’s important for reps to have access to materials like scripts and playbooks on the job – when they need it – not during disconnected training sessions. This is one of the ways sales enablement technology can really improve seller effectiveness during onboarding and beyond.
Get fresh insights monthly, straight to your inbox. Subscribe to the Pitcher newsletter here.
Bringing the pieces of sales onboarding together
Integrating a successful sales onboarding process involves bringing together a range of stakeholders, including HR, sales leaders, and outside experts. This collaboration ensures that the onboarding process is aligned with business goals and that all stakeholders are committed to its success.
Aligning your onboarding process with your sales cycle is also critical. The training materials and resources you provide to new hires should reflect the specific stages of the sales cycle, from initial prospecting to closing deals.
Leveraging technology for sales onboarding can be a game-changer for B2B companies. Sales enablement platforms like Pitcher can provide a centralized hub for sales training materials, sales playbooks, and customer behavior data. With access to real-time analytics and insights, new hires can track their progress and identify areas for improvement.
Additionally, these platforms can help automate some aspects of the onboarding process, freeing up time for sales leaders and new hires to focus on building relationships with customers.
AI-based guided selling can be a highly effective tool during onboarding. Guided selling provides new sales team members with real-time recommendations for effective selling approaches in different situations by analyzing customer data, market trends, and successful sales strategies. This personalized approach to sales guidance allows new hires to quickly learn the nuances of the sales process and become productive members of the sales team.
With guided selling, new hires can walk through the entire sales process step-by-step, with personalized, interactive content at their fingertips. This can help new reps gain confidence and become proficient more quickly.
Sales enablement technology also generates valuable data that can help to continually refine and improve the sales onboarding process. This data allows sales leaders and trainers to identify areas where new hires may need additional training or support.
The future of sales onboarding
If you’re looking for a sales enablement platform to help you streamline and optimize your onboarding process so you can improve the performance of your sales team, Pitcher might be a perfect fit for you.
With Pitcher, you can create and manage sales training content, develop sales playbooks and scripts and provide new hires access to training materials and guided selling tools.
To learn more about how Pitcher can help you improve your sales onboarding process, keep your reps happy and improve your bottom line, download our Increasing New Rep Sales with Effective Onboarding white paper.