How do you improve your sales onboarding programs over time?
Picture this: you're in complete scale-up mode right now. You’re growing like crazy, and you can’t hire fast enough. It’s a good problem to have.
Now imagine your VP of sales walks into the office and says, "Hey, I know our ramp time is currently X number of months. I need you to cut that in half."
Just like that.
Where would you even start? How would you even know where to start? What would you change about your sales onboarding programs to meet the challenge? What areas of your sales onboarding program would you need to start to tweak? How do you measure that?
A good place to start is testing your programs.
So, imagine having a framework that you can use to actually test and iterate your sales onboarding programs to figure out what's working, what's not, and what to do about it to ultimately ramp new people more efficiently.
By testing your sales onboarding programs, you can drive the metric everyone wants to talk about, which is what this VP asked, reducing ramp time.
There's a great customer of ours that I have the honor of working with. They’re always onboarding a ton of people. What they decided to do is actually start doing some A/B testing, where they were running multiple programs simultaneously of different cohorts, to try to figure out what was working, what was not, or what was working better within programs, such that they could ultimately come up with the magic sales onboarding programs that drive the results they want.
So what I want to do is walk you through a framework to give you a good sense of what you can do today to start figuring out how exactly to iterate onboarding programs to make them much more effective.
We call this framework, the Sales Onboarding Optimization Loop™.
Here's how it works.
The first step is your launch point, and this is where you just want to launch your first onboarding programs. It could be what you have now, or it could be a variation of what you're doing with a cohort of people that are currently being onboarded. The whole point of this is to benchmark your onboarding data.
The second thing you want to do is measure your onboarding programs. So, what milestones and what metrics were you tracking within that program? We've given you some other content on how to do that. Then, what type of training was happening within that program, and tracking that as well.
The third step is the feedback piece, which is just getting feedback from managers on how it's working. How are they seeing and measuring the reps that are in your onboarding programs? Are they actually progressing towards the milestones and these outcomes that you actually want them to drive?
The fourth piece is the optimization part. This is going back to the program and looking at the “time to” metrics. So, if you've got benchmarks of hitting one metric, and then you run a second program, this is the part where you optimize it. You're reducing a bit of the time to whatever outcome you're trying to achieve.
Then, the final section links back to the launch and relaunch, because now that you've optimized your onboarding programs based on feedback and the metrics you've been tracking, you can revisit the initial program you launched and take it through the exact same loop.
So, those are things you can start doing right away to actually be measuring and iterating on the current onboarding programs you have.
As sales enablers, as sales leaders, we're always talking about how sales teams need repetition and practice to get better at their job. Frankly, you can apply that to anything, a musician, an athlete a public speaker.
Practice makes perfect, and it's not different when you're building onboarding programs. Don't just build a program, set it, and forget it. How are you going to get better if you do things that way?
What you need to do is run your onboarding programs, then run some more, then compare them with clear, meaningful metrics that link back to dollar value. A/B test them, such that you can shave off the right areas and make the improvements you need to make that program ultimately perform at its highest capacity.
If your VP of Sales walks into the office and says, "Hey, we're scaling. We've got to cut onboarding in half." Where do we go from here?
Just get going. Don't overthink it. Start it. Launch your first few onboarding programs.
The next piece of that is measure the key benchmarks that you have. From there, get feedback from both managers and the sales reps on how onboarding is feeling. See how the metrics are actually being driven, and then optimize it. Then drive it all through the same process, over and over again.
Make sure you, as enablers, are applying the same practice and vigor to building your onboarding programs, same as how reps and leaders are practicing their craft of selling.
By following our framework of the Sales Onboarding Optimization Loop™ , you'll start seeing fast improvements in your onboarding, and all of your VPs will be loving you for how quickly people are getting up to speed.
If you want to learn more about building effective sales onboarding programs, you can download our latest ebook here.
David Bloom is the CEO & Founder of LevelJump, a sales onboarding and enablement solution built on the Salesforce platform. Prior to founding LevelJump David built and sold a corporate training company and held a variety of sales and marketing leadership roles at Fortune 500 life sciences and technology companies including Salesforce.com, GSK and Pfizer.