So I have to be honest, I am really getting annoyed with sales teams or sales enablement and operations teams that are completely overcomplicating sales onboarding.
This is not meant to be something that is tricky and crazy sophisticated. We don't want to be cramming every single thing that a sales rep needs to know over a two or three week period.
You have to ask yourself, are you a stifler or are you an enabler? Because if you're overcomplicating and turning your program into some type of medical school of an onboarding process, you are a stifler.
I hate to be the one to be honest and tell you about it. But your role is to enable people. Give them an experience that gets them doing what they need. That's it. Don't over complicate it.
Simplifying Your Sales Onboarding Process
In two weeks a rep does not need to know how the contracting process works, or how to work with sales ops.
These are crazy things to get going. We need to simplify the onboarding process, people. I mean I'm not going rant here without suggesting that there's a simpler way. We all know there's definitely easier ways to do this.
I'm talking about implementing onboarding programs that your reps are actually going to love. Not where they're going to feel overwhelmed, and start in the first two to three weeks questioning if they made wrong decision coming to work for your company.
And let's be honest, there is a honeymoon phase that reps are judging you not only from the process of getting in the company and how you hired them, but how you onboard reps is really going to affect the decision of how long they're staying at your company.
So we need these onboard programs to be simple, fun, and effective at actually getting them to produce results faster. They do not need to be subject matter experts from the time they complete this onboarding program.
So I have a friend who’s a lifetime sales person. One time we were out, catching up over drinks and I asked him to tell me about the different onboarding experiences he’s had and what would he define as the worst one.
And it doesn't matter what the company was, but he said that it took him almost three months at this company before he was able to talk to the first customer. He went to a bootcamp for a couple of weeks. He had to shadow for months, he had to sit and watch, he had to do so many things before, heaven forbid, he could speak to an actual real person and a customer.
And he didn't ramp quickly. The truth is, he got bored. Sales people want to speak to prospects and customers. If you find salespeople who are not excited about speaking to people quickly, you've got to ask yourself if you hired the right salesperson.
The Sales Onboarding Architecture™
So what I want to do now is provide you with a quick framework that you can use right away to really simplify your onboarding, and make it an effective one as opposed to turning it into some form of surgery.
We call this the Sales Onboarding Architecture™. This sales onboarding architecture is a pyramid, where at the bottom, so the foundation of this pyramid, are milestones.
This is really having reps, from the get-go, understanding the leading and lagging indicators for what's going to drive success, and what are the milestones they need to hit early. Think of time to first activity. That could be, I personally believe, picking up the phone.
How soon can you get a rep picking up the phone with confidence that if someone picks up on the other line, they are not just reading a script, they can actually have a conversation.
They're going to mess up the first one, they should. But the question is, how badly are they going to mess up? If you can minimize how bad the first call is with an actual live customer, you're off to a great start.
The second piece here, in the middle, is the training. This is really understanding that the training you give new sales hires early has to align to the milestones we've got right here at the bottom of the pyramid. And we need to spread this out over time.
It's the classic drinking from the fire hose. You want to be giving people what they need to hit their milestones faster and more effectively. This is going over a longer period of time and all the stats show that onboarding programs spread over a longer period of time prove to be far more effective and will keep your reps longer.
Now at the top is, you have practice. And I mean this isn't just in sales, this is really in any team sport, practice makes perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect for that matter.
So what you need to be doing is having reps practicing over and over again. This can be calls, demos, discoveries. You have to get them practicing so they can nail it from the get-go.
You want them to practice the different parts of the sales process at least 50 times. So have 50 conversations, give them constructive feedback so that you can iterate and adjust. Give people the coaching they need so they can quickly get rid of bad habits.
The whole pyramid moves upward, so starting from the milestones and then moving upwards to the training, practicing and then getting people producing quickly. This here is what we call the Sales Onboarding Architecture™.
It All Starts With Milestones
There are too many sales leaders focusing on light training, shadowing and practice, and this is just not enough. You need to be mapping in actual milestones in your sales onboarding process. And a milestone is not just finding your first deal or finding your first piece of pipeline. There needs to be a focus on the quickest path to success.
So what does that mean? If it's getting on the phone quickly, fantastic, do that.
But you need to show the reps they need to achieve these different milestones to get to quota. Quota is not enough, you have to do the leading pieces, sending emails, making phone calls, having conversations, whatever they are, whatever applies to your business.
Your sales leadership needs to make this crystal clear for your reps so they start having the conversations they need to get them ramped effectively, and faster.
Sales onboarding does not to be as complicated as doing some open heart surgery. Keep it simple, don't over complicate it, but make it effective. That is what we need to be doing here.
You don't have to over complicate it as long you are aligning whatever training you have in place to the outcomes that you want to drive and the milestones that are the leading indicators to those outcomes.
You'll be in great shape, and off to a great start.
To learn how to build effective sales onboarding programs, 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.