A well-structured and efficient sales 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 sales onboarding can result in high attrition costs and lead to the revolving door syndrome that plagues many organizations.
The importance of sales onboarding
Listed below are some of the key benefits of an effective sales 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 sales 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 sales onboarding process saw only 42.8% and 67.8% of their reps reach full productivity within the same period.
Increase in productivity
Sales onboarding has a direct impact on the productivity of new employees. Organizations with a structured sales onboarding process experience 50% greater new-hire productivity2, and improving the quality of sales onboarding training services are seen to improve quota attainment by as much as 6.7%.3
Improvement in retention and recruitment
An effective sales 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 sales onboarding program are 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years.
Steps to effective sales onboarding
Implementing an effective sales onboarding program and driving value from the start of the process requires careful planning, strategy, and execution. Here are 7 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 sales 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 sales 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 sales onboarding programs are not properly formalized, organizations struggle to help users smoothly transition through the early, middle, and late stages of sales 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 sales 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 sales 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. Sales 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.
Enable experiential learning
Modern sales processes are less about formulaic pitches and more about conveying customer-specific value propositions. This means that traditional learning methods focused on content consumption and memorization are ineffective since they do not build the creative and adaptive skills of sales reps. Instead, the need of the hour is for onboarding processes that are focused on mastery and skill integration. Such skill integration can be achieved through experiential learning, or learning by doing, which is proven to increase retention rates to as much as 75% compared to the 5% to 30% of traditional learning methods such as lectures, reading, audio-visual materials, and demonstrations.5 Experiential onboarding encourages skill development because it is built around real-life scenarios and is also more visceral and memorable. Because experiential onboarding exercises are designed to provide carefully calibrated outcomes, they also provide reps with direct linkages between particular behaviors or actions and results. In the process, they form a clear bridge between theory and practice. Thus, reps are able to take lessons learned from such exercises and apply them directly to similar situations they face in actual sales conversations.
Gamify and incentivize the process
Gamification is a powerful tool to motivate and engage reps during the sales 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 sales 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 sales onboarding process and not merely the final outcome.
Provide clear feedback channels
Visibility into the sales 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 sales onboarding process
An integrated sales enablement and training platform comes with many features that enhance the effectiveness of a sales onboarding program. Modern platforms allow role plays, live demos, and video coaching as part of the sales onboarding process. They enable organizations to create content in all modern interactive formats. Their AI-capabilities allow organizations to personalize the sales 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 sales onboarding program.
An effective sales onboarding program is a crucial driver of business success. Good sales onboarding will save you a lot of heartache and money, better integrate new hires, and help reach your goals faster. Instituting an effective sales 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.
Add the experiential element to onboarding with Nytro
As a pitch intelligence platform, Nytro helps in integrating experiential learning into the onboarding process. The Nytro platform provides simple and intuitive methods for reps to record practice pitches and demos and submit them for instant insights into their performance at every stage of the onboarding process. This allows reps to practice specific parts or scenarios of each sales conversation with short, focused exercises. Nytro's AI-enabled computing allows it to analyze and assess hundreds of practice pitches simultaneously and provide immediate and unbiased feedback. This makes it possible for the experiential learning component of onboarding to be quickly scaled up to large organizational needs without depending on the limited time and resources of human managers. The platform also allows the onboarding process to be gamified by harnessing events such as pitch competitions to drive reps to higher levels of performance and peer learning. Finally, the Nytro platform can be readily integrated into existing tech stacks, particularly with an organization's LMS or sales enablement and training platform, to quickly bring in the experiential component of learning. Thus, while reps go through learning materials and assessments on the LMS, they can also plug into the Nytro pitch intelligence platform to immediately apply their knowledge and skills in a practical setting and receive immediate feedback.
To know how Nytro.ai can help you with sales onboarding, schedule a demo today.