This is the second part of my series on learnings from the
event in San Francisco. This post looks at key takeaways from some of the top companies in Silicon Valley on their sales onboarding plans and experiences. You can find also find part 1 of this series here.
Facebook: Laine Forman, Global Programs, Learning Program Manager
Laine gave us a great overview of how sales onboarding is being revamped at Facebook and how critical it is that it’s aligned with the company’s values of “
move fast and make an impact
At a company that has
product updates, it is important to have a dynamic sales onboarding program. Facebook breaks down sales onboarding into 6 key areas:
- New hire orientation
- Global sales orientation
- Sales Bootcamp
- Role-specific Bootcamp
- eLearning and testing
- Mentoring and shadowing
A new operating framework establishes what is done on a global level and outlines what needs to be regional, to account for cultural differences and local nuances or example, although new hire orientation and global sales orientation are done at the HQ in Silicon Valley the sales boot camps are done regionally.
Another important fact that Laine highlighted is that change, especially on a global scale for a company the size of Facebook is extremely hard. Getting different stakeholders involved early on is key to make it happen.
- Awareness is important. Is everyone aware and agree on what problem needs to be solved and why your onboarding program needs to change?
- Transparency to everyone involved will move things along. Don’t just communicate changes to the onboarding program but rather bring people to the table to discuss.
- Collaboration with the right people will ensure your program succeeds. Get training facilitators and content creators in the mix, not just sales leaders, as you will need their buy-in for the program to be accepted.
- Focus on what will be most effective for the learner as you creatively think about the different elements of your onboarding.
Microsoft: Hector Rosales, Global Program Manager – Sales Onboarding
It was very interesting to learn how a behemoth like Microsoft has deployed their sales onboarding. Their approach was somewhat different from other companies in that they decided to go for a fully online experience with no classroom training. Microsoft developed their own learning platform (running on Microsoft Azure, of course) in which all sales reps have access to training programs.
Microsoft’s sales onboarding program focuses on sales, discipline and product fundamentals. They implemented an interesting framework called Manager Checkpoints that revolves around the following elements:
- Pitch Perfect
These three elements are foundational for sales managers to ensure the reps are managing their plans (territories, accounts, etc.), are pitching the solutions correctly and can drive towards closing the deals.
- Don’t overwhelm reps in their first 90 days with too much information. Microsoft has condensed information that is important for the reps to know during onboarding but doesn’t want them to get too many details that are not relevant until they have fully onboarded. This ensures reps are still knowledgeable but not lost.
- Checklists rule. Providing manager checklists can help with coaching sessions and ensures consistency and the ability to track progress.
- Structure the onboarding experience. New reps will appreciate a guided approach to what they need to learn.
- Use stories to highlight the importance of certain key elements for your sales pitch and sales situations.
- Give managers visibility into “where’s my new hire and what do I need to do” – this is easily done with the right technology (and you don’t have to build it yourself).
Autodesk: Kriss Ryan, Program Manager, Global Sales Onboarding
Kriss from Autodesk gave us a more detailed look at how to involve sales managers during onboarding. Kriss created an “advisory group” that oversees the entire process from interviews of new hires, defining sales manager processes, elements of foundational learning and onboarding delivery. The advisory group was essential to get everyone in sync about the importance of sales onboarding and the crucial role managers play.
What also stood out was Autodesk’s Sales Management Bootcamp. This is a program designed with the sales manager in mind that had three modules:
Module 1: Creating early Engagement (how managers can stay connected with new hires from interview through the first 90 days)
Module 2: New Hire Expectations & Standards (establishing early how you manage and how you will measure your reps)
Module 3: Accelerating Time to Productivity (sales accelerator and onboarding bench development)
Module 4: “In/Outboard” (new hire progression to performance management and identification of reps that won’t make it)
- Onboarding is not the same as orientation. This was a great point and some companies do make the mistake of thinking that the traditional HR orientation is the onboarding. Make sure to distinguish the two for your company.
- Have your managers attend the sales onboarding. Having gone through the experience themselves will help to not only get their buy-in and feedback, they will be better able to coach reps and connect with them through the program.
- Track, measure and communicate the success of your sales onboarding program. If improving onboarding can impact even 1% of revenue per employee, this is huge when you think about the cumulative effect to the bottom line. Find out what the right metric is for your company.
- Treat sales managers as your customers. They are the fundamental piece for a successful onboarding.
- Don’t be afraid to release “imperfection”. You can’t wait to have the perfect sales onboarding, so don’t waste time and course-correct.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE): Craig Spencer, Director, WW Sales and Partner Onboarding
HPE’s presentation was interesting as it focused on the key element that is on everyone’s mind when the talk is about sales onboarding: time to productivity.
How do you sell sales onboarding to senior management? What are the key metrics that will resonate with them?
- Use sales numbers to sell your onboarding program.
- If you don’t have sales experience, hire someone for your team that has that kind of experience or partner with someone that can provide that perspective.
- Build a successful program by thinking about what will make it successful. For example, HPE devised the following framework
- Business aligned and supported
- Targeted recruiting and pre-boarding
- Structured and comprehensive solutions
- Formal productivity targets and metrics
- End-to-end program management
Nutanix: Joan Morales, Senior Manager of Partner and Alliances Marketing, Cloudera: Phil Aaronson, Director of Global Onboarding and Readiness, Mindtickle: Mohit Garg, Co-Founder and CRO
This was a panel discussion and presentation from two hyper-growth companies (Nutanix went IPO just 4 weeks ago and Cloudera is on the IPO path) and Mindtickle. After talking about some industry stats, the discussion centered around sales competencies and onboarding for channel partners.
- Define what sales competencies are important for your reps to succeed so that you can effectively measure onboarding success
- Give reps the opportunity to go through a real-life scenario that forces them to think about all the different elements they will encounter in selling situation (pain discovery, technical questions, potential objections, etc.)
- Make onboarding a fun, engaging and competitive. Gamification technology can help drive new sales reps and channel reps to not just go through content but pay attention as well.
- Provide reps with learning paths and visual maps to tell them where they are, where they need to go and what will take to get there.
- Have your best sales reps produce the content your new hires will consume. It will feel more authentic, earn their respect, and the reps that produce the content will help spread out the word about onboarding.
There were so many great learning that is difficult to capture all of them in a simple post, I hope this nuggets of information will give you some food for thought and help you create better sales onboarding.