Improve the efficiency of the sales team by getting new hires productive quickly.

The time between a new salesperson’s start date and achievement of full productivity represents the opportunity cost of a company’s on-boarding process. With sales turnover at just under 40%, and 29% of these people being new hires, this topic requires time and attention. As a resource, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Review the latest talent approach in the sales strategy section under people plan phase on pages 285 – 293.


In our sales consulting work, we recently reviewed this topic with 736 new hires in 12 industries. They gave us 5 simple steps to implement in your sales training.


1. Orientation- Ensure the new hire has a world class first day. Our study showed over 2/3 of new hires expressed dissatisfaction with their first day because their Manager was too busy to give them the required attention. The disgruntled participants said their first day meetings were cut short, they ended up getting pawned off on others and left day 1 feeling disengaged.


Fix: Start new hires on Friday not Monday. Seems simple; often overlooked.


2. Guide- The new hires told us that a detailed onboarding plan that separated Doing vs. Knowing made their first 6 months more impactful.


Fix: Ensure you sequence doing and knowing activities in a fashion that lines up with how the job will unfold. Below is an online to serve as a checklist to review your onboarding framework:


  • Onboarding Activities (i.e. Doing)
    • Ensures new hire is performing the correct activities at desired rates
    • Provides an experiential foundation
  • Learning Requirements (i.e. Knowing)
    • Provides a knowledge foundation on key topics required for success
      • Use collegiate concept to divide the content.
        • 101 Foundation Understanding
        • 201 Advanced Understanding
        • 301 How to Apply
      • Results
        • Learning Requirements and Onboarding activities are integrated. Together they enable achievement of full sales productivity within the required ramp time.


How to make your number


3. Mentorship– New hires told us not having a sounding board to lean on other than their boss. Many felt that they were “passed around” by the veterans because nobody wanted to take the time to help.


Fix:  Provide new hires with a dedicated peer mentor. This is somebody who is excelling in the role that can be a guide. Everybody needs a friend other than their boss. The advantage to this is twofold:


  • Mentor— opportunity for your ‘A’ players that may be future managers to get involved in managerial activities.
  • Mentee— fast way to assimilate into the new culture and learn great habits from one of the best.


4. Structure— New hire training lacked milestones and follow up.


Fix: The participants that ramped the fastest were involved in structured training in their Onboarding Plan.  An example below


  1. Training Activity—Competitive Intelligence
  2. Objective—understand the value prop of each competitor and mitigation strategy
  3. Duration—3 days
  4. Verification—new hire will be able to list out each competitor in their territory, the value prop, strengths and weaknesses and 3 references where we have successfully defeated them


5. Simplify- The new hires that struggled to hit their ramp felt their training was complicated.


Fix: Lay out the plan in a simple format so new hires can bucket all their activities.  See below example outline of pre-ramp accountability training for you to use as a starting point:

  • Company
    • Mission, purpose, history, organization structure, policies, HR, regulatory, environmental and other related topics.
  • Offering
    • Product, service, solution, components, value proposition, design, attributes, key clients, business partners, 3rd party thought leadership, use cases, etc.
  • Competition
    • Their offerings, key clients, value propositions, partners, and positioning (how we are different, and how we beat the competitors).
  • Process
    • Corporate Processes
      • Mastering the complete set of steps from first call to contact, account planning, objection handling, role playing, etc.
    • Sales Process
      • All processes internal to sales and any cross-functional processes. This includes talent management (interviewing), sales engineering (demos), customer support, sales operations, marketing (SLA for lead follow-up, field-driven events), and sales management (QBRs, pipeline review, coaching, deal desk).
  • Systems
    • Includes but not limited to CRM, forecasting, knowledge management, and other corporate support systems.


As an additional resource, turn to a recent podcast by Dave Wirta, the Chief Revenue Officer of Greenway Health. Listen as Dave helps his peers by demonstrating how to improve the efficiency of a sales team by getting new hires productive quickly.


Call to Action


Perform a new hire audit focused on talent management best practices.


  • Have a senior sales rep spend 30 minutes with a new hire using the 5 steps above.
  • Rate each on a 1-3 scale of below, meets and exceeds.
  • The peer to peer approach has proven to create the best environment to get honest feedback.
  • Come back to your new hires and close any gaps.


Implement the suggestions into your new hire onboarding. Sales training excellence is an iterative process; do not allow your future ‘A’ players to get anything other than your best. To go deeper, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Review the latest talent approach in the sales strategy section under People Plan phase on pages 285 – 293.


How to Make Your Number in 2017


Matt Sharrers

Studies and works with the top 1% of B2B sales and marketing leaders who generate above average revenue growth for their companies.

Matt is arguably one of the industry’s most connected, and physically fit, sales leaders. He “lives in the field.” As a result, he is the foremost expert in the art of separating fact from fiction as it relates to revenue growth best practices. Because of Matt’s unique access to the best sales talent, private equity investors tend to turn to him first when they need to hire remarkable leaders to unlock trapped growth inside of their portfolio companies. Matt’s recent engagements include work commissioned by private equity leaders Permira, TPG, Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman.


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