You can see it. The 100-foot wave of new salespeople. It’s coming.


Your company is growing like crazy. In Q1, HR began the process of expanding your team’s head count. Maybe even doubling it. Or tripling it.


Soon enough, your sales force will reach critical mass.


If your onboarding process isn’t ready for the deluge, your reps won’t produce. And your overhead costs will sink you.


Are you prepared to ramp these people up—fast? 


Here’s what you need to do to make it happen.


3 Questions You Need to Ask, Right Now.

Your answers here may reveal critical weaknesses in your onboarding process.


1. Who Owns the Process?

Is HR in charge of your onboarding process? Is anyone at all? If HR owns the process, it likely amounts to administrative paperwork. If no one is accountable, you’re setting reps loose without the guidance they need.


2. What Does the Process Entail?

Are you merely training on products and solutions? If so, you’re not building the kinds of sales skills that promote success.


3. Is the Process Ready to Scale?

If the process is ad hoc, chaotic, or immature, lost sales opportunities will only multiply. Say you’ve just hired 30 new reps in a three-month period. If only one third are productive, your costs will spiral out of control. 


3 Things Your Onboarding Process Must Include

The ideal onboarding process is well defined, consistent, and demonstrably effective. 


1. Defined Roles and Responsibilities (RACI)

Designate a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed) onboarding team. Your RACI team members should be dedicated, not moonlighting in their spare time.


An onboarding team will ensure reps follow through on calls to action. It will also allow you to pinpoint the source of any breakdowns.


2. Knowledge Application (vs. Knowledge Acquisition)

Knowledge acquisition isn’t enough. Your reps should be doing more than just checking boxes and taking tests. They should be developing a base layer of foundational capabilities.


Key to making knowledge “sticky” is having reps apply it situationally. This often includes role playing. Reps could also help run sales calls. Afterward, evaluate their performance. Ask them to explain what could have been handled better.


3. Ongoing Evaluation

Gauging onboarding success via sales revenue won’t help you make course corrections now. You need to establish checkpoints along the way. 


“How Will We Know It’s Working?”

Here are the types of indicators you should return to, repeatedly, throughout the process.


  • Behavioral indicators—Are reps reading required materials? Updating their social media profiles? Focusing on buyer personas? How motivated are your reps to act on their own?
  • Leading indicators—Are your reps following up on leads? Are they initiating conversations that lead to meetings? Your reps should be engaging in activities that generate funnel growth.


It’s hard to overstate the importance of a solid onboarding program. Now you know what you have, and how to achieve the ideal. Equally importantly, you know how to measure your program’s effectiveness. Your future depends on the investment you make today in your new reps’ success.


SBI’s Sales Rep Onboarding Checklist tool can help you simplify the process. The checklist provides a customer focused onboarding plan. Most importantly, the checklist decreases the time-to-ramp for your new reps.  


Go ahead and download the Sales Rep Onboarding Checklist here.




Ryan Tognazzini

Works closely with B2B companies to solve strategic business problems so that they will make their number.
Learn more about Ryan Tognazzini >

Ryan joined SBI in 2010 as a Senior Consultant. Since then, he has worked extensively with emerging growth technology companies, including SaaS, enterprise software, systems integrators and OEMs. Additionally, Ryan works alongside numerous private equity investors, performing both sales and marketing due diligence and organic growth initiatives inside their portfolio companies.


Among a long list of accomplishments, he developed and implemented a sales and marketing strategy that resulted in the turnaround of a $1B IT integration clients. He executed organic growth initiatives to help a $100M software company achieve 40%+ year-over-year growth in preparation for an IPO. And he worked with a $1B enterprise software client to transform their sales and marketing go-to-market strategy for their cloud and SaaS offerings. Not surprisingly, in 2014 he was voted SBI Employee of the Year by his peers.


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