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Onboarding for success

Organisations lose time and money while they wait for their SDRs to get up to speed. Here’s how you can get them there quicker.

Recently, I was in the US, working with a tech company to onboard their new SDR reps. I’ve also spent a fair amount of time this year presenting at conferences around the world on how to ramp up new starters faster and more effectively, using a bootcamp structure. I wanted to share my thoughts on onboarding, because getting it right can have a significant impact on your revenue. I think many companies are missing an opportunity here.

Companies are losing time and money

According to GlassDoor research, on average, companies spend 52 days recruiting sales reps. That’s time that sales leaders spend interviewing candidates and dealing with recruiters, when they could be improving the performance of their team. There are also the costs of advertising the role and recruitment agency fees. There’s also a price for having an open role in the sales team, where no revenue can be generated until it is filled.

Once a company recruits a rep, it takes time to get them up to full productivity. On average, a company loses anything between 1% and 2.5% of its revenue during the time it takes for a rep to ramp up, according to a study from Mellon Financial Corp. So, it makes sense that the quicker they can build their capability, the better.

It seems clear that bringing new reps into a sales team takes longer than it should. It also leads to a bigger than necessary loss of revenue. Also, onboarding appears to be insufficient for the needs of sales reps. 46% of reps reported that their companies are not providing them with the training they need to be successful.

So, how can we improve onboarding to make it faster, more efficient and more effective?

A more efficient sales training program

At SalesWorks, we have a 4-step system for designing the optimal onboarding program.

When you run ABSD, you leverage your SDRs to execute a coordinated cadence, running multi-touch points across multiple buyer personas.

1 – Self-assessment

To design an onboarding and sales training program that works for your organisation, start by thinking about three things:

  • Where your team is now
  • Where you want it to be
  • How you are going to bridge that gap?

Assess your current reality. How long does it take for a new rep to reach full productivity at the moment? During that time, how much revenue are you missing out on? What would be the ideal, achievable figures?

2 - Impact training

Impact training is where you give your new reps the skills you believe they need to be a success in your organisation.

You need to think about sales skills and knowledge of product, but perhaps the most vital part is knowledge of the sales process. In a company that lacks proper sales training around this, each person on the team will execute their parts of the sales process differently. Standardisation is key.

Your impact training needs to be quick-hitting, bootcamp style training. It can be led by a virtual or live instructor. It needs to:

  • Give your new reps baseline knowledge
  • Set expectations and build foundations
  • Be motivational
  • Communicate best practices and processes
  • Build consensus around goals and processes

Finally on this, impact training doesn’t replace your 30-60-90 onboarding program. Be agile with your format. It can be the perfect environment to close your top performer, specialise in issues specific to new reps, consolidate and test.

3 – Reinforcement

You can’t expect new reps to learn something for the first time, then go and do it right every time. To create success from impact training, reinforcement is essential. You cannot overstate its importance.

Reinforcement shouldn’t be just telling them things you’ve already told them, however. Use it as a way to build on the baseline knowledge they already have. Think about how to take their application of strategy and tactics to the next level. Push your reps outside their comfort zones to try something different.

Live coaching is the most effective way to achieve this.

4 – Accountability

This is the stage where you move application to ownership and mastery. It’s an ongoing process with no end date. Sales managers, trainers and peers can play a role in this part of the training process with live coaching and training. However, ultimately, the responsibility lies with the rep themselves. How good do they want to be?

Evaluate and adapt

Your onboarding process should be something you monitor with a view to finding improvements. Use the data in your CRM to evaluate your success. How quickly are your new starters getting to full productivity? What are the skills that separate them from your top performers? There are always ways you can tweak your onboarding process to find marginal gains.

Finally, as you build your onboarding and enablement plan, ask yourself if it creates long-term change in the behaviour of your salespeople. Does this lead to positive results? This is the sign that you are on the right track.