What is sales onboarding?

Sales onboarding encapsulates the entire process of welcoming and connecting new hires on a sales team. This starts as soon as a seller walks into the office or logs on for the first time.

The sales onboarding process, however, is more complex than a simple “hello” and introducing new hires to their teammates. Sales onboarding is multifaceted and includes a number of tasks and items that get new sellers up-to-speed and hitting performance goals as soon as reasonably possible. An effective sales onboarding program includes:

  • Industry knowledge: Popular acronyms, selling tactics, and trends may be old news to you, but they’re brand new information to a new sales rep.
  • Company and product training: Your sales reps have selling skills, but they aren’t yet familiar with the products and services your organization sells. Training new hires on these aspects of your business is especially important if your company belongs to a unique or niche market. 
  • Sales enablement content strategy: Knowing what sales enablement collateral like pitch decks, sales sheets, and case studies are at their disposal is critical to a new seller’s success. This also ensures they understand the best time to deliver different assets throughout the buyer journey.
  • Sales processes and best practices: A comprehensive understanding of what has or hasn’t worked in the past can save a new seller time and energy.
  • Skills training: Every seller has unique strengths and weaknesses. Great onboarding gauges each seller’s current skill set and delivers personalized sales training that helps strengthen their weaknesses.

Why is sales onboarding an important part of enablement?

Selling is more challenging than ever before. Deal cycles are increasingly complex and often driven by highly-informed buyers through digital channels. As a result, sellers now have to develop new skills and enable them to engage buyers in a new sales landscape. In order to quickly ramp new sales reps, your organization needs to ensure they have the right skills, knowledge, and tools to engage buyers on their terms. In order to do these things effectively, companies need to create an onboarding program that acts as a roadmap for new hires.

A successful sales enablement plan needs onboarding that educates sellers on their sales quotas, performance milestones and expectations, and the tools that will get them there. The sales onboarding process is an essential step in this plan. If you don’t take time to train, educate, and guide sellers from the get-go, they’ll fail to properly understand what the organization intends for them to achieve, along with the resources they have to help get the job done.

The benefits of sales onboarding

Sales onboarding goes far beyond providing a few playbooks and training sessions to new sellers.. A strong sales enablement onboarding program paired with collaborative company culture pays off tenfold when your seller starts connecting with prospects. In fact, effective sales onboarding has been shown to:

Increase Revenue Drive Satisfaction Lower Turnover
New sellers who have access to an effective onboarding program ramp seven weeks faster than the industry average (6-9 months). Employees who say they experienced exceptional onboarding are 2.6 times more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace. Nearly 70% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for an average of three years if they experience great onboarding.

Let’s take a close look at how these benefits come to be.

  • Improve productivity: When a seller spends less time asking questions or digging for important resources, they can reach their full potential with ease.
  • Drive satisfaction: An onboarding program is a new hire’s first experience with your organization’s learning and development culture, which is an important factor in employee satisfaction. Therefore, a hassle-free onboarding experience is often reflective of a larger, positive company culture.
  • Decrease turnover: Lower turnover rates are all about confidence in your brand and your company. An organization with a solid onboarding process may make new hires feel more secure in their position and the company as a whole.

Challenges to delivering effective onboarding

Although an effective onboarding program is critical to seller experience, some organizations still struggle to hit the mark. Some of the most common obstacles to delivering a solid onboarding program include:

  1. Access to the right sales enablement materials: Sellers need easy and ongoing access to their training and sales enablement materials. Make sure new hires know where the most pertinent information is stored, as well as additional resources that may come in handy.
  2. Lack of milestones to gauge progress: Despite the well-known benefits of goal-making, 60% of companies don’t set short-term goals for new hires. Giving performance reviews – even small ones – can reassure sellers that they are on the right track
  3. Compressed time frame: The first few months in a new role can be stressful for a new hire. Sales training plans should allow adequate time for your seller to learn the ropes instead of cramming onboarding into a few weeks. The fact is, employees who experience longer onboarding programs gain full proficiency 34% faster than those with shorter programs, so create a roadmap that extends beyond a seller’s first 30 or 60 days on the job.
  4. Inconsistent experience from rep to rep: Sometimes, even the best sales onboarding plans can have flaws. These can boil down to simple things like different methods of delivery by trainers and enablement leaders, or the time of year when a hire is brought on. 
  5. Inadequate coaching and feedback: As a sales enablement manager or leader, it’s up to you to ensure that each of your sellers receives the support they need wherever they are in their skills journey. What applies to one seller may not apply to the rest. Utilize the resources at your disposal to give feedback where it will be most effective.

Sales onboarding best practices

While companies can face a number of challenges with onboarding new sales reps, there are a ton of great tips to help the process run smoothly. 

  • Streamline the process: Keep your training materials sorted, indexed, and easy to find. The faster a new hire can get a question answered, the better.
  • Assess and measure sales readiness over time: As discussed, goal-setting is one of the strongest facets of a great training plan. Give your new hires small goals to achieve so  the bigger ones don’t seem quite so daunting.
  • Deliver engaging training: Binders full of reading material don’t make for a great  new hire sales training experience. Instead, encourage employees to interact with content, apply newly learned knowledge, and problem solve in practice exercises.
  • Encourage relationship building: Mentoring and shadowing are some of the oldest tricks in the book, and for good reason! Letting your new employees learn from more experienced sales reps grants access to hard-earned wisdom and builds the foundation of a strong professional connection.
  • Provide coaching: Your sellers are only as good as the support they receive. Offering coaching and ongoing training can push your sales numbers higher than ever.

Why you should consider using a sales enablement platform for onboarding

Despite the benefits, many organizations still don’t have a formal onboarding program. The most common reason is a lack of time. With an economy moving at a pace unheard of just a decade ago, it’s hard to carve out time to bring every new hire up to speed. 

What are sales enablement tools?

In order to overcome this obstacle, more companies are implementing an onboarding tool or sales enablement platform. These tools make  it easier to turn important knowledge into lessons, assignments, and assessments that new hires can complete over time. It also streamlines the onboarding process by automating tasks so that leaders don’t have to manually push out training content when a new seller is ready. This type of system has actually been shown to boost retention rate by as much as 16%.

If you’ve started a new job in the last few years, you might recall that a lot of the information you were given was irrelevant to your role or simply too much to remember. You’re not alone in this feeling. In fact, almost 80% of sales training is forgotten by most reps within the first few months on the job. So, how can an organization make training stick?

This is one of the many perks of  investing in sales onboarding software. A one-stop digital location for your company’s policies, procedures, and materials makes for easy onboarding and happier employees. A dedicated sales onboarding tool also tracks the progress your new sellers make during their onboarding journey with assessments and feedback assessments. 

Ramp new hires faster with Seismic

When you’re ready to upgrade your sales onboarding process, turn to Seismic. Customers like Lower ramp new sales reps 5x faster by creating onboarding at scale with Seismic’s learning and coaching software. Interested in learning more? Get a demo to find out how your organization can improve speed to competency and reach goals more quickly with Seismic.