Your Guide to Creating a Sales Onboarding Program that Counts

October 3rd, 2018

Helping your team master communication in sales

It’s always an exciting time when a startup is going through a hiring push – new employees are usually a testament to growth. But how should startups approach creating a well-defined, formalized sales onboarding program at scale without sacrificing the uniqueness of their product and company culture? One that’s unforgettable? In early growth stage startups, onboarding can often become chaotic and disorganized when it comes to making decisions about procedural and technological investments into human capital management.

Especially, when considering the pressing need to deliver results instantly under high pressure, onboarding often turns into a high-touch, impersonal process on the just the basics. So how do you take your sales onboarding program and make it more than just knowing the product overview, basic on-the-job skills, and overall dos and don’ts? With these tips, you can turn your sales onboarding program into an opportunity to give your new hires a unique and personalized experience from their very first day; one that counts.

Clear communication from the start

Given the high level of uncertainty and risk in the early growth stage, it’s important to communicate sales goals and each rep’s sales KPI directly with your sales team from the onset of their onboarding. To thrive in a fast-paced environment, it’s helpful for sales reps to feel comfortable and prepared enough to succeed in order to take responsibility and ownership of the sales process and hit the ground running.

Help them get their feet wet

Regular office visits in the pre-onboarding phase can help kick-start the familiarization process before your reps officially begin their training. This can be a great opportunity to develop a cross-functional understanding of the business across sales, operations, engineering, as well as other teams. Shadowing existing reps also gives new reps an idea of how the company typically approaches potential clients by indirectly experiencing the sales lifecycle themselves.

Know who’s in charge

Since there is typically a handful of people that run the show, getting to know who’s who right from the beginning is extremely important. Create opportunities for new sales reps to work cross-functionally by helping existing projects or sitting in on discussions and team meetings. If possible, you can even let the new hires shadow the founders for a day.

Promote and provide self-learning

While there’s a myriad of information available on-demand online, your new sales reps shouldn’t spend time searching for the right material. Create a shared folder with links and resources for the new reps that sales enablement leaders can contribute content to far in advance of new hire orientation. This way, you can give your new sales reps an opportunity to understand the complexity of business plans, conduct a feasibility analysis, appraise the marketing plan, do the SWOT or even wear the strategy hat for a day.

Consume, consume, consume

Regardless of the growth stage, a startup should have all sorts of material prepared and ready for any incoming sales reps. Product manuals, sales presentations, service handbooks, blogs, website, press coverage, company policies, and procedures – even your Twitter feed – are all instrumental as the best learning sources to help your reps get started. A successful new hire orientation and Onboarding has the potential to promote self-learning and discovery that goes beyond learning about the company – the sooner a new rep stops feeling like a new hire, the more successful they’ll be while ramping up.

At the end of their onboarding process, your new sales reps should come away with knowledge and of the scope of the company useful enough to perhaps even contribute to the new hire onboarding manual themselves in the future.