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How to make remote onboarding work

Onboarding can be tricky enough without having to do it remotely. Here’s how you can avoid the pitfalls and give your new reps an excellent onboarding experience.




When you start at a new company, you go through its onboarding process. But why is this? It’s not because your company want you to be an expert straight away – it’s to fuel you to be productive in your first month and to help you grasp the fundamentals of how you sell your product or service. 


However, so many companies make mistakes during onboarding that lead to reps not having the necessary skills to start selling straight away. In some cases, onboarding is so weak that reps leave the company! Now many of us work from home, onboarding has to be done remotely, which throws up another whole set of problems. 


In this article, we’re going to look at how companies can make remote onboarding work, for themselves and their new reps. Let’s go.

How not to do onboarding


Sales Benchmark Index pinpointed five mistakes companies make with onboarding:

  • A lacklustre first day 
  • The lack of a detailed plan for onboarding
  • Not enough support or mentorship
  • A poor structure to the onboarding process, with no milestones set
  • Too complicated – trying to teach too much too soon


These problems exist when you do onboarding in person, but when you try to do it remotely, it becomes even more challenging. Remote working puts up barriers that make it harder to communicate; it makes it harder to foster team morale and make new starters feel included; it also makes it harder to build trust.

Here are three ways you can overcome these obstacles:

1 - Digitise your onboarding process

Whatever onboarding you used to give your new starters in-person, make it happen digitally. Make the appropriate documents, such as handbooks, playbooks and plans, available for your new reps. Have a plan for delivering the in-person training that you used to offer - this could take place over Zoom, or you could record any training sessions that don’t require interactivity. (Good news. This is a timesaver for the future. When it’s done, it’s done forever!)

What’s important is that you give your new employees everything they need (including software, passwords etc.) on day one. This makes them feel included and valued. It also means that they can get started with their onboarding.

You should also give them other points of contact outside of their line manager—schedule time to properly introduce them to the rest of the team.

2 – Manage expectations and overcommunicate

When you’re onboarding new salespeople, especially SDRs fresh out of university, you don’t know what they don’t know. You want to get them comfortable with the basics, such as the tech and the sales process, before you move them on to more complex concepts. 

Make it clear early on what you expect from your new starters - their functions and deliverables. Tell them about team meetings, when they take place and how they work. Show them how the team works together.

Over-communication is essential, especially in a remote environment. When you are onboarding brand new salespeople, assume they don’t know what you’re talking about until they prove to you that they do. Be detailed in your instructions and encourage them to be detailed with you.

3 – Focus on sales skills, not your product

I see too many companies skip through the fundamentals of selling during their onboarding process, preferring to go straight to talking about the product. This is not the way to develop a top-performing salesperson. Focusing on the product will only lead to your reps having feature-based conversations.

Instead, concentrate on building their bedrock sales skills. Talk about how to execute cadences, how to compose a persuasive email or the structure of a successful cold call. Give your new starters the tools to ask the right questions and overcome objections, rather than talk about what your product does. 

Not onboarding is not an option


When you follow these steps, you can make your remote onboarding even more effective than your in-person onboarding processes. 

If you don’t have the bandwidth to run a remote onboarding process like this, consider bringing in an external resource to do it for you.