All right, hear me out here. I am really tired of listening to sales enablement managers, or any sales leader for that matter, talking about certifications as the be-all, end-all of sales onboarding.
I am sorry. Are certifications a part of it? Yes, they're important. But they are absolutely not the be-all, end-all of any type of sales onboarding program.
Let's talk about some of the sales onboarding metrics that matter:
Are they ramping?
Are they hitting quota?
Those are things your VP of Sales cares about when s/he is presenting in a board meeting, in front of investors or the executive teams. Your VP isn’t standing up with a slide saying, "Check out all the certifications we did, or how many quizzes were passed."
Let's face it: the sales onboarding metrics that ramping is about are quota and sales milestones. It's not about the certifications - alone.
Now, I'm not saying that certification is not important. I do believe that it's really a key part of any type of onboarding, and it's also essential if you're trying to scale onboarding activities within it.
However, it's not the only thing.
Tying Certifications To sales onboarding Metrics
Imagine being able to tie your certifications to actual real metrics in Salesforce.
If you were able to tie a certification to the ability to build a sales onboarding metric like pipeline in a larger way, or certification on how much close rates are being improved, these are the things VP's of sales want to know about. They want to be able to tie the actual program that you're building to the metrics that they're being measured on.
At the end of the day, you need to be able to prove that your programs are working. So, do you want to have the checklist that people have been certified? Absolutely. But you need to be able to answer, "So what?"
As a result of these certifications, we actually saw an improvement in X sales onboarding metric, that they're being measured on, regularly.
Now, to give an example, think about certifications in general. And let's get out of sales for a second. I, believe it or not, before being in this space, was a pre-med student. And spending a lot of time with physicians and doctors when I was pre-med, it got me thinking about how that applies here in sales, and from an onboarding perspective.
Let me ask you a question. Let's say you had to have a real significant surgery. It doesn't matter what it was. Two doctors, one only has a medical school degree, they're certified on being a surgeon. The other has their degree as well, but has done 100 surgeries successfully.
Which one would you want to operate? I think the answer is obvious.
It's no different when it comes to ramping new sales hires. We cannot say someone has been onboarded once they've checked off the certification. It has to be more so around they hit the actual sales onboarding metrics and outcomes they wanted to do.
The Effective Sales Onboarding Trifecta™
I'm going to show you a real quick framework you can walk away with on how to make your onboarding more than just the certification alone, and how to tie it to sales onboarding metrics.
It's called the Effective Sales Onboarding Trifecta™.
There are three things to understand.
The first circle, despite my rant here, is the certification, because it does have to be a part of your sales onboarding metrics. This training and anything you need to do to lead up to this certification are important.
So, whether it be how to demo a product, or how to deliver your value proposition, or handle objections. Any of those things people should be certified. But that is only the first part of this.
The second circle is the actual milestone. So, what you want to do is map this certification to an actual sales onboarding metric. So, is it building pipeline? Is it closing business? Is it hitting quota? Booking meetings? Whatever sales onboarding metric you want, have the certification you put reps through connected to an actual milestone itself.
And then the last circle is actual outcomes. So the question is, are these certifications actually impacting the sales onboarding metrics that matter? So, are you actually speeding up the time to that first deal, or first month to hitting quota? Are you actually increasing the amount of pipeline being built within a specific period?
As you can see here, it's not just about the certification alone, you want to tie it all together. The Effective Sales Onboarding Trifecta™ includes certifications for sure, but tying it to milestones and outcomes.
Over to you
Many sales enablers today make the mistake of assuming that being “sales-ready” is defined by ending with some form of certification. And a certification is absolutely important, but it's not the be-all, end-all. To prove you're sales-ready, you have to show you've made sales, and hit some of the key sales onboarding metrics.
Make sure you have any type of onboarding program aligned with the metrics that are important to sales and their leadership. And that there are actual milestones and outcomes tied to any metric, for that role. This will help make sales onboarding much more than just a certification program.
If you want to learn more about building sales onboarding programs, you can download our latest ebook here.
About David Bloom
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.