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6 steps to effective sales onboarding

A well-structured and efficient onboarding program is the key to getting new recruits up to speed on their jobs. Such a program will determine the sales rep’s journey toward full productivity and is crucial for the organization’s revenue development and growth. On the other hand, poor or inefficient onboarding can result in high attrition costs and lead to the revolving door syndrome that plagues many organizations.

The importance of onboarding

Listed below are some of the key benefits of an effective onboarding program.   

  • Decrease in ramp up time

One of the goals of sales onboarding is to help sales reps reach their full productivity in the shortest time possible. As buyer journeys become more complex, and buyer expectations rise, sales reps require more support to become productive. According to one study1, companies with a formal onboarding process saw 60.7% of their reps reach full productivity within the first 6 months, and 85% of their reps reach full productivity within the first 11 months. On the other hand, companies without a formal onboarding process saw only 42.8% and 67.8% of their reps reach full productivity within the same period.

  •  Increase in productivity

Onboarding has a direct impact on the productivity of new employees. Organizations with a structured onboarding process experience 50% greater new-hire productivity2, and improving the quality of onboarding training services is seen to improve quota attainment by as much as 6.7%.3

  • Improvement in retention and recruitment

An effective onboarding program is one of the critical factors in ensuring higher employee retention. One study, for instance, found that new employees who go through a structured onboarding program are 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years.  

 Steps to effective onboarding

Implementing an effective onboarding program and driving value from the start of the process requires careful planning, strategy, and execution. Here are 6 key steps: 

  • Have a plan and share it with the new recruits

One of the persistent problems of sales onboarding is the inadequate attention given to planning in the onboarding process and a failure to communicate the same with the reps. More than half the sales reps in one study4 mention the lack of milestones to gauge a rep’s progress as the leading problem of a poor onboarding program. One solution to this is to co-create plans with the reps: 30, 60, and 90-day plans that will keep the new hires on track and ensure that they aren’t overwhelmed by all the information being delivered to them.

When onboarding programs are not properly formalized, organizations struggle to help users smoothly transition through the early, middle, and late stages of onboarding. It is only with a clear roadmap and strategy, based on user behavior and needs, that useful milestones can be evolved, against which expectations can be managed.

  • Build-in flexibility into the program

The most efficient onboarding programs are standardized to provide a high degree of repeatability that can drive efficiency gains in the process. However, there should be room for fine-tuning and optimizing the process, based on data gathered about user experience and satisfaction. Finally, even as procedures are standardized, it is essential that they contain built-in flexibility to allow for personalization, depending on the learning characteristics and the pain points of different users.

  • Use modern interactive content formats to deliver content

Given that in-person onboarding may be very limited in scope in the present situation, it is important to create content in formats that provide an immersive learning experience even when delivered remotely. 3D visualization, product walkthroughs, and the extensive use of video can help engage participants and further the cause of learning.

Build modularity into the content. Onboarding is a progressive and iterative process, not a one-time information dump. Hence, it's essential to prioritize information-delivery in stages and break down content into bite-sized, easily consumable pieces. 

  • Gamify and incentivize the process

Gamification is a powerful tool to motivate and engage reps during the onboarding process. Typically, gamification involves setting actionable goals for the participants, establishing leaderboards that list out the top performers, and offering rewards and incentives to those who outperform. Gamification makes training fun and accelerates the pace of learning.

  • Evolve and measure appropriate metrics

Evolving and tracking appropriate metrics is necessary to know which parts of the onboarding process are working and which parts aren’t. These metrics should be aimed at measuring the progress of the participants through the different stages and touchpoints of the onboarding process and not merely the final outcome.

  • Provide clear feedback channels

Visibility into the onboarding process is key to delivering greater effectiveness. If onboarding is to be a user-centric process, one-way communication during this process would effectively undermine the value gains it provides. Only when proper channels are provided for feedback and interaction can the process be optimized to reach higher levels of effectiveness. Feedback is also essential to ensure greater personalization of the process so that specific pain points of participants can be targeted and addressed.

How a modern integrated sales enablement and training platform can help in the onboarding process

An integrated sales enablement and training platform comes with many features that enhance the effectiveness of an onboarding program. Modern platforms allow role plays, live demos, and video coaching as part of the onboarding process. They enable organizations to create content in all modern interactive formats. Their AI-capabilities allow organizations to personalize the onboarding process at scale. And their robust analytics and tracking & reporting features make it easier for managers to determine the effectiveness of the various components of the onboarding program.


An effective onboarding program is a crucial driver of business success. Good onboarding will save you a lot of heartache and money, better integrate new hires, and help reach your goals faster. Instituting an effective onboarding program would require that you start with a clear plan, structure the process while building-in flexibility for personalization, deliver bite-sized content using modern, interactive formats, gamify the process for increasing engagement, and evolve and track metrics that allow you to understand what is working well within the process.

To know how can help you with sales onboarding, schedule a demo today.