What should you include in your sales onboarding? Right now, imagine that you're tasked with getting your reps to quota.
How are you going to do it with all of these new reps that just started at your organization? What content are you going to use? What training is going to help these reps ramp quickly?
Every department wants a piece of a rep’s mind share. Sales ops wants to show them how to do everything. Marketing wants them to be on message. The sales leadership just wants them getting on the phone and starting to drive value. You've got finance wanting to make sure they're putting the contracts together correctly.
Everyone wants a piece of the action. But how do you filter in and out what's going to be most important for the rep at the beginning of their journey at your organization?
Making Sales Onboarding Repeatable
Imagine having a repeatable framework you can use to onboard all of your new sales hires across every single role in a consistent fashion. Where reps are getting up to speed and they're really learning the story of your organization quickly. They can start messaging the story to all of your forward facing clients and prospects. And that cover all of the different departments in the cross functional areas that are most important for reps to know at the beginning, so that they can sell better.
I remember once being at a conference, and I got chatting with a sales leader who I respect immensely.
And this leader had told me a story around a company that's onboarding was heavily focused on teaching reps all about the product. This is what our product does. These are all the bells and whistles.
The challenge when you really start focusing just on product only is the second a rep gets on a phone or is in front of a customer, what do you think they're going to start talking about? They're going to start talking about just the product. They're going to start dumping features and forget about driving value.
So part of a good onboarding program is going to be things around why the product is important, but you also don't want to start with the product only.
The Sales Onboarding Knowledge Blueprint™
So what we want to do now is actually give you a framework that will give you an idea of things that you can do early in your onboarding to ensure:
We call the framework the Sales Onboarding Knowledge Blueprint™.
The first step in tis not going to be what you think it is. It's actually not going to be product.
The first step is the market. And what you want is the rep to understand the market that they’re operating in. Who are the players in this market? What's the total addressable market? What's going on from your strategy perspective?
The second step of this is having customer knowledge. The reps need to understand the customer.
It’s amazing how many people could actually sell software without even understanding what the product does. If you understand the customer, why they've bought, the problem they had, and how your product or offering has provided a solution and value, it will make reps far more set up for success as opposed to becoming a full-fledged expert in the product.
So this includes things like personas, so who are the people you're talking to. Obviously, understanding testimonials of customers that currently use your solution and really understanding how they got there. So both the problem they had at the beginning, and then once using your solution, how that created business value.
And a big part of this, we recommended this in the past, is having call recordings. And in this way, you can hear the different language that customers use. You can have a real understanding of what the customers are actually saying and how they formulate it, because when you start using their language, when talking about their scenarios, their problems, you're going to sound that much more respectable and valuable.
The third step is product. You need to understand how to position the product based on the customer's situation. That said, again, you don't have to be a product expert, but you need to understand some highlights.
One of our favorite pieces is in a demo, as an example, it's so easy to show up and show everything that your product does. But what you really want to do is lead to the solution, not lead with your solution.
Understand the customer, their problem, and then lead to the parts of the product that solve the customer's challenge they explained to you throughout the discussions you've had prior to the demo.
Great demos are all around showing the pieces of your product that bring the customer value as opposed to showing up and walking them through a training session of how to use every single bell and whistle. Definitely don't want to do that.
And then the final step here is the actually sales knowledge. Now, these are things like what process you have, the different methodology you may be attributing to, and it doesn't have to be a single one. It could be some type of combination of methodologies. But as long as you're staying consistent with how you’re educating the reps on sales knowledge, that's not a problem at all. And then of course, any types of tools they're using to amplify efforts, be it prospecting or getting contracts done, or whatever tools you're using. Have them understand that.
But probably one of the most important parts of this section here is having them understand the buyer journey.
What are the things that a buyer is doing throughout this process such that you're really mapping to their decision making criteria and ultimately mapping it to the problem they need to solve? That would be here, that would be doing great discovery calls, doing great prospecting. You want your reps to have great business acumen. Asking great questions as part of this sales knowledge quadrant is going to be a massive contributor to having a great onboarding experience and ultimately getting reps to hitting those milestones faster.
Don’t Do A Dump And Run During Onboarding
Many sales leaders will often start with product dump or a sales process dump saying here are the things that you need to do and need to know. But this can overwhelm reps very quickly, and they'll end up creating bad habits right away, right off the bat, which is not what we want to see. When a rep knows too much about a product too early, it can almost be dangerous if they don't understand the customer, because they're going to show up only talking about the product. They'll default to a feature conversation instead of having a conversation of value. And this is something you need to emphasize very much at the beginning.
When you're building these onboarding programs, do not focus on product only:
If you want to learn more about creating 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.