It’s every sales leader’s struggle. Your open headcount is eroding your ability to make the number. Getting quality candidates through the interview process has been slow going. You finally source a crop of A-players. HR is done with the new-hire training. Now you need them in the field producing… and fast.
So how do you get your new reps to produce quicker? In some organizations, reps can take up to a year to fully ramp. That’s way too long. In this blog, I will cover five ways to accelerate the onboarding of new talent. For access to best practices for onboarding new reps, download our workbook and turn to pages 285 – 293 of the PDF to review the People Plan phase.
Before we jump into the five steps, let’s review the goals of a successful onboarding process.
- Minimize Ramp Time. The #1 goal of onboarding is to get new reps to goal more quickly.
- Repeat Success. Each time you onboard new hires, look for gaps in the process. Iterate where necessary.
- Attract A-Players. Top reps want to be part of great teams. A great onboarding program will make your firm more attractive to quality candidates.
- Set new hire expectations. A thorough onboarding program will clearly define expectations for new reps. A clear road map leads to quicker results.
The five steps to successfully onboarding new talent:
1. Define Success Metric
This may seem obvious, but the first step is defining what good looks like. Most sales managers do not identify the key metric for onboarding success. The key metric is Ramp Time to Full Productivity.
Ramp Time to Full Productivity: The time it takes for a new employee to retire quota at a rate that exceeds 100% of their goal (usually measured in months).
Once defined, it can be tracked. If it’s tracked, it can be improved.
2. Focus on the Right Activities
Most onboarding programs focus on a mixture of internal processes and product training. All necessary, but on their own, incomplete. A sales manager should define a set of onboarding activities that drive the right selling behavior. These activities provide an experiential foundation for the role.
Why are the activities important?
- Demonstrate the new hire has learned and retained the necessary skills and knowledge
- Impart skills from real‐life situations
- Ensure that the onboarding process is not a passive exercise that can be shirked
- Provide a checklist for managers to confirm new hires are performing during ramp time
3. Learning Requirements
The best in class onboarding programs combine activities with learning requirements. These provide a knowledge foundation necessary for success. It ensures your new hire acquires the correct role knowledge.
It’s important to develop a framework that is conducive to learning. Best practice is to follow the collegiate system of 101, 201, 301, and 401. Each learning module builds on the previous and grows with complexity. You should work with HR and/or your sales training department to produce the necessary materials. But it’s your role to provide input into essential content. Here are 7 categories to get you started:
- Internal Systems and Admin
- Product Knowledge
- Marketing / Demand Generation Campaigns / Lead Management
- Buyer Personas & Buying Process Maps
- Customer Engagement Process (Prospecting & Opportunity Management)
- Competition / Differentiation
- Technology and Tools
4. Mentoring Program
The best sales managers set up a Fast‐Start Mentoring Program. Basically, you pair up your new hire with a tenured, successful rep. Your new hire shadows him/her for 3 months. Nothing beats learning through direct observation. The mentor then serves as a sounding board for the remaining ramp period. Usually, the mentor is someone you are grooming for sales leadership.
5. Hold Yourself Accountable
The best sales managers hold themselves accountable for new hire ramp performance. It’s a matter of pride, but also productivity. Your number is tied to your team’s number. Focusing on new hire success will impact your number. It’s worth the investment. Here are three ways to invest yourself:
- Proactively track new hire Ramp Time
- Contribute in onboarding Activities
- Participate in Learning Requirements (example: give training course)
Are you struggling to get your new hires productive? Get focused on successful onboarding. Don’t pawn it off on HR or Sales Training. You own it; you drive it. If you need more help developing your onboarding program, simply email Jeff.Grice@salesbenchmarkindex.com and ask Jeff to send you the First 30-Day Onboarding Plan and schedule a 30-minute call with me to review.