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Sales - 8 min READ

How to Make Your Sales Onboarding Process Painless

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Author photo: Suzanne Scacca

Suzanne Scacca


Does your sales onboarding process feel like a chore? Or, worse, like a costly and unproductive chore?

The reason you’re hiring new sales reps is to help your company make more money; not to throw more of it away.

It’s time to stop letting the onboarding process rob you of precious minutes and manpower. It’s also time to stop letting a lackluster onboarding experience result in high sales turnover rates.

This guide is going to teach you how to avoid these common costly pitfalls and develop a painless and effective sales onboarding process.

Painless sales onboarding? Yep, that’s actually a thing.

When you hire a new employee to your sales team, it should be a joyous occasion and not something you dread. After all, they’re here to help your company make more money.

But how do you make sure the sales onboarding process doesn’t cut into the bottom line and hurt your business?

Well, you want to train sales reps so that they’re:

  • Prepared
  • Knowledgeable
  • Confident
  • Agile
  • Goal-driven
  • Tech-savvy
  • Dedicated

You want them to be successful in meeting quotas and closing deals, which means you need to set them up for success.

Eager to know how to do this—as well as how to shorten the time it takes to get new sales hires fully on board? Use these tips:

Tip #1: Develop an onboarding process around incremental milestones.

There’s a lot to learn before you can trust a sales rep to get on the floor and talk to prospects one-on-one. Just be careful to avoid these onboarding mistakes:

  1. Creating one giant sales wiki that you ask new hires to read through and memorize.
  2. Forcing new hires to sit through weeks-long intensive training, day after day.
  3. Pushing them into shadowing sales calls without any context.

Part of the reason why you’re reading this is because you want to shorten your sales onboarding process (while making it more effective).

That said, you don’t want to shorten the sales onboarding process to the point where reps are unprepared to do their job. Sure, they could learn on the spot, but it’ll cost you greatly as a result.

So, when it comes to creating a sales onboarding process that’s effective, how do you do so without stretching it out endlessly?

Instead of looking at onboarding as a process that gets sales reps trained and into the field by 90 days (or whatever your timeline is), shape your process so they accomplish training milestones incrementally.

For instance, you probably want your sales reps to master the following:

  • A thorough understanding of the company’s offering and unique selling proposition
  • How to research and identify prospects
  • Handling of qualified leads
  • A one-minute elevator pitch
  • A solo product demonstration
  • Closing a deal

Help them master each technique one by one. You’ll get them working faster this way, too, as you can offload smaller tasks like research and outreach to them while they go through the next levels of training.

With training goals well-defined and realistic dates set for each, this will also make the monitoring and review of their progress significantly easier.

Learn more about hiring and training a stellar sales team:

Tip #2: Use video.

Why do you think consumers and businesses gravitate towards video content?

It’s definitely easier to consume than lengthy written articles or guides. It also has the visual component which improves memorization.

Video can be a huge help in a few areas of sales onboarding:

Software - Imagine hiring someone, giving them a log-in to your CRM, and then telling them to get moving. Even if you provided written documentation to train them on the software, how well do you think that would go?

If you want to teach sales reps how to make essential business software work in their favor, walk them through it over video and show them how powerful it is.

Workflow - Learning about a company’s software is just the tip of the iceberg. The workflow surrounding it must be mastered as well.

You could provide written documentation that explains how leads are logged or how new sales orders are processed in the CRM. But if you want this knowledge to stick, create a complementary video tutorial that demonstrates each task.

Here is an example from Wrike that shows you how to use projects, folders and tasks:

Tests - At some point, you’re going to want to put your sales reps’ newly acquired skills to the test.

For evaluations of hands-on tasks (like task management in your CRM or conducting live product demos), set up a video session through Zoom and record it. Afterwards, watch it with the rep and walk them through what they did well and where they fell short.

Tip #3: Use audio.

Similarly, you can use audio recordings to improve the sales onboarding process.

Think about it like this:

You know that new hires have read up extensively on your company and watched your video training materials. But these guides tend to show the step-by-step process.

To really solidify their learnings, you want them to experience real-world calls with prospects, leads, and customers—without actually putting them in the driver’s seat.

You could have them shadow your sales all-stars, but at what point does this become too much of a distraction and hamper your team’s productivity? Plus, don’t forget about memory retention.

While new hires will certainly get to hear what a successful discovery call or a closed deal sounds like during shadowing, will they remember how their trainer pulled it off?

You’re probably recording all of your sales team’s phone calls for quality assurance purposes, right? Why not use these recordings to create a library of training “content” for new hires?

I’m sure you and your managers have recognized calls that were real winners and others that were duds. Use them to demonstrate the strategies you do and don’t want new hires to adopt.

As new hires complete the more hands-on parts of the sales onboarding process, they can use the audio library to round out their training. In addition, they’ll have a repository of content to turn to when they have questions down the line.

“I know John Smith encountered a similar question. Let me see how they handled the response and won the negotiation.”

Just keep in mind that none of this audio content will be valuable to new hires unless you’ve properly categorized and organized the content to fit into their incremental training program.

Tip #4: Use gamification.

As you evaluate your new hires’ progress through onboarding, you’ll have scheduled check-ins that allow you to provide face-to-face feedback and encouragement.

In the meantime, though, your process should include a set of tools that do the same through gamification. This keeps new hires accountable to their training while also encouraging them to get through it as quickly as (reasonably) possible.

Here’s how you can use gamification to keep new hires engaged during the process as well as feeling enthusiastic about their progress towards their goals:

One way is to provide a digital checklist at the start of the onboarding process that covers each step they’re expected to take. Every time a step is completed, more of their progress bar is filled in.

Another way to gamify the process is to add a quiz to the end of every major task or milestone. Encourage your team to complete these now as well as long after the onboarding process.

As insights from TalentLMS demonstrate, gamification is a great way to keep sales hires engaged throughout the training process:

TalentLMS also happens to be a leading learning management software that heavily employs gamification, if you’re looking for a solution to add to your operation.

Quizzes are a quick and fun way to maintain the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired. If you want to, you can also use a points system that provides rewards for how many quizzes they complete.

Socialization is another part of gamification that’s helpful in onboarding.

Encourage new hires to share their quiz scores or show off their progress on internal community boards. If you have a private company Facebook page, they can share this kind of stuff there as well. They can also bring questions about training or real-life scenarios there too.

No matter how far-reaching your company is, or how isolated sales reps may be during training, let them socialize and share wins with others early on. It’ll encourage a greater sense of team spirit and accountability later on.

Tip #5: Standardize your process with a CRM.

In addition to all the onboarding that needs to be done, you need to equip new hires with tools that encourage them to commit to your process as well as their personal success.

Namely, you want to give them CRM software (like Copper) to help them work better:

Clean, digestible sales processes in Copper

With the right software, you can:

  • Aggregate all onboarding materials and training in one place.
  • Introduce new hires to the full sales cycle so they have the full context while working on mastering smaller chunks of it.
  • Enable them to track their progress towards sales onboarding goals while you do the same.
  • Create an organized process with actionable and measurable milestones.
  • Use checklists and canned messages to enforce good practices, consistent communication with prospects, and speed up the sales process—all essentials in the Relationship Era.
  • Allow them to collaborate with others and view the sales process as a team effort instead of as a solo mission.
  • Provide a repository of sales content they can return to after onboarding is complete.
  • Track performance and continue to conduct evaluations post-onboarding.
How sales tracking looks in Copper

You never want the CRM to be seen as an obstacle in the sales cycle—it should be an accessible go-to resource for everything and everyone.

Fix your sales onboarding process and watch revenue grow.

As we mentioned earlier, if you want the sales onboarding process to be painless, you have to set up new hires for success from the very start. Train your people right and give them the tools to succeed, and you’ll find that the onboarding process won’t take very long

You may also find that your employee retention rate grows, which means less pressure on you to bring in new hires. As the sales onboarding process becomes less tedious, it’s easier to hire more sales staff, get them ramped up, and scale your business.

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