A pipeline full of high-quality leads is great and all, but you can’t close them without skilled sales reps who know what they’re doing.
So when you do find a skilled rep, you want to make sure your sales onboarding process is on point; so they’re fully trained, ramped up, and ready to get out there as quickly as possible.
In fact, according to a study by CSO Insights, ramping up new hires ASAP is one of the top concerns for 45% of sales leaders.
Also according to CSO Insights, the average ramp-up time for new sales reps is over 10 months.
In this article, we’ll cover five tips you can apply to your sales onboarding process to make sure it’s as efficient as it can be, without sacrificing training quality along the way.
But first, a quick note on ramp rates and what they have to do with sales onboarding.
You might’ve heard the saying, “ramped up and ready to go” (we literally just used it in the intro).
What a lot of non-salespeople don’t know is that ramp rate isn’t just a saying. It’s actually a mathematical equation that tells you how quickly your reps reach a stage in their sales development where they’re able to hit full quota after they start their new job.
Ramp rate is super important to sales teams because training and onboarding take a toll on everyone’s time and energy: new reps, existing reps, and the trainers themselves. The faster your new hires are trained effectively enough to hit quota, the sooner the rest of your team can get back to focusing fully on hitting their own.
Learn more about hiring and training a sales team:
As a general rule of thumb, your ramp rate can be calculated by taking the average length of your sales cycle and adding 90 days. For example, if your organization has a sales cycle of six months, then you need to give your sales reps nine months in total to hit 100% of their monthly sales quota.
The problem is, a lot of organizations have sales onboarding programs that are very supportive during the first few weeks, but don’t often last long enough to nurture the rep through reaching their full potential.
If you’re unsure how to calculate your ramp rate, check out this article by Insights Squared which does a great job explaining how.
You can calculate your ramp-up rate manually or by using a tool like this one by Insights Squared.
Now without further ado, let’s jump into what makes a speedy sales onboarding process.
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1. Start sales onboarding immediately after the new rep’s accepted your job offer.
Being familiar with your work environment is always a plus.
Entering a new sales environment is nerve-wracking for a lot of new hires. One of the biggest questions many people have is: what’s the first day going to be like?
Don’t leave them guessing.
Start your sales onboarding on the right foot by instilling a sense of belonging and familiarity in the rep for their new role before they've even stepped into the office for their first shift. By helping them get that uneasiness over with before they come in, your sales rep will be able to get into their salesperson “zone” sooner.
There are a few ways to do this:
- Have a pre-boarding session. Before the employee’s first shift, schedule a call with them where you give them a walkthrough of what to expect at work (other than the obvious: sales training).
- Send them an email addressing common questions new hires tend to have. Address things you would be wondering if you were just starting a new job:
- Parking information
- Where to check in on their first day
- How scheduling works
- Where the washrooms are located
- Dress code
- Lunch/break policy
- Any other requirements/things to bring or prep for the first day
- Contact information of who to call if they have any questions
- Have their tech ready to go. A lot of companies save this for the first day or two of sales onboarding. This is, frankly, a waste of a day (or week). New hires shouldn’t have to sit around waiting for IT to come by their desk and set up their laptop for them. This should be ready for the new sales rep before they come in, along with their phone, email, and system logins.
Don't waste valuable sales onboarding time on admin work, setting up technology, or letting your new sales rep fumble around trying to make sense of their new workplace.
2. Sales onboarding should be role-specific.
Sales onboarding isn’t always a one-size-fits-all thing.
Most sales teams are divided into segments of reps with different specialties. So, it’s a good idea to take a role-based approach to your sales onboarding process to ensure each of your reps is receiving specialized training to best fit their role, so they’re ramped up effectively.
Two common examples of different sales roles are Sales Development Reps (SDRs) and Account Executives (AEs):
- SDRs: will likely be focusing on researching, identifying, and reaching out to potential customers. So, their training should have a heavy focus on prospecting, learning your company’s ideal customer profile and user personas, and using your CRM and email automation software, as well as mastering phone etiquette to make outreach as efficient as possible.
- AEs: focus more on running demos and giving presentations, as well as identifying customer pain points that may be blocking them from buying and finding solutions to these blocks. Their training then should consist of a lot of product knowledge, the tools your company uses to give demos and presentations to clients, how to report buying obstacles, and negotiation tactics.
An example of how different sales specialties work together in the sales process. (You can see why they might have different training needs.)
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3. Provide new sales reps with a sales onboarding itinerary.
In any job, setting clear expectations is important. In sales where there are defined quotas to hit, these expectations should be especially clear.
That’s why giving your new hires a structured training curriculum to refer to can be hugely helpful.
The curriculum should include your sales enablement content, an outline of everything the sales rep can expect to learn throughout their onboarding, and what their goals should be for each stage. This will give them a clear path and get them in the right headspace. They’ll also know exactly whether they’re meeting expectations (or exceeding them) and which areas need work, since they’ll have it all in writing.
You can present the curriculum to the rep on their first day and walk them through each item to make sure they understand it and have a chance to ask questions. You can also take this opportunity to walk them through how their work performance will be evaluated and when job reviews are conducted.
One good way to design this curriculum is in a 30-60-90-day format: what will employees know after one month? Two months? Three months? With this format, new hires will know precisely what to focus on during each 30-day period.
This is an excellent way to speed up sales onboarding because it reassures sales reps on their performance and instills confidence in them when they’re crushing everything in their itinerary.
4. Recognize that a lot of your new hires are going to be youngin’s.
A lot of business ignore the fact that the vast majority of their newer sales reps are millennials and Gen Z-ers and have grown up with the internet. This means older sales onboarding methods (like the 30-page information packet printed on *gasp* paper) don’t work anymore.
When designing your sales onboarding process, keep the times in mind. Sure, older generations of sales reps were quite happy with the textbook-based learning approach. But as more and more young people join the workforce, this is no longer the case as they’ve grown up interacting with digital media and other modern means of communications—and this is what they expect.
So, speak the language of the trainee.
Make sure the items on that sales onboarding itinerary are delivered via several different channels to accommodate the modern methods of learning of millennials: technology, social networking, video chat, video learning, and other digital media (key word: digital).
5. Practice makes perfect.
Ah, the classic cliché.
It hasn’t stopped holding true though. Like any other thing in life, the sales process can be mastered with repeated practice. This is true for sales reps also, as they learn at an increasingly faster rate with repeated practice.
So, make sure that your curriculum also includes a healthy amount of real-world practice scenarios.
Anything that gets your new hires practicing what they’re learning (as they’re learning it—not months later after they’ve already forgotten it) will increase sales training stickiness and rep confidence.
Speeding up your sales onboarding process shouldn’t mean sacrificing the quality of the onboarding.
Having an efficient sales onboarding process is crucial for not only your new sales reps, but the entire organization too. It may seem like a long process and a lot of effort—and it is.
But it’s an investment that will pay for itself many times over when done correctly. Put in the work now, and enjoy all the time you’ll save and accounts your reps will close later. Having a robust onboarding process in place will get them ramped up and ready to go in no time.
Don’t speed up sales onboarding by skipping steps. Speed it up by not missing any.