Interviewing over 1,000 salespeople and Sales Leaders from a variety of industries all over the globe I was surprised to learn that most organizations did not have a formal, on-boarding program in writing. Every interviewee told me that had they had a standardized on-boarding program it would have shortened their ramp time to productivity and sales leaders interviewed said it would have reduced turnover of their new hires!
If you are a salesperson reading this post and your company has a good on-boarding process…great! If not, let me help you on-board yourself!
In your first week salespeople need to ask their hiring manager the following questions:
- Is a new position or replacement position?
- If it is new, why?
- If it is a replacement, what happened to the previous person?
- What are the keys to being successful in this role?
- How mature is the territory?
- What is the potential?
- What is the sales cycle?
- What is the average order size?
- What is the close rate?
- Who are my strategic competitors?
- How do they compete?
- What is our unique value proposition (UVP)?
- What is it we do that our competition doesn’t do, can’t do or won’t do in the marketplace?
- What are the most common sales objections I will hear?
- How do I respond?
- What titles/functional areas do we sell to?
- Why do they buy?
- Why do they leave/Stop buying?
By week two I suggest you request 1-on-1 interviews with all department heads (marketing, operations, customer service, IT, finance, etc.) to learn about their departments, their people, how they are measured and what you can do to help them reach their goals.
Some other ideas/actions for Self On-boarding include:
- Shadow top performing salespeople to learn what makes them so good.
- Ask a lot of questions, take good notes.
- Establish your Individual Success Formula (visit www.boyensuniversity.com)
- Create a Compensation Planner for your first full year
- Make sure you have a hiring profile/job description for your sales position. I am talking about strategically delineated action items so the new hire will understand what meets minimum and what over- achievement looks like.
- Set realistic expectations for the first 90 days around learning and actions…not performance!
- New salespeople need professional development to be successful in a new role. That professional development includes product application knowledge, operational knowledge, company history (the good and bad), information about the competition and why your customers buy from you versus the competition.
- They need to understand how orders flow through your organization most efficiently. They need to learn the chain of command and how to get problems resolved internally.
- Establish a written, on-boarding schedule
- Minimum of 30-days
- Determine what the new salesperson needs to know to start selling and teach that first
- Give them specific sound bites versus the fire hose approach
- Teach product application knowledge…not product knowledge
- At the 60-day mark, ask your new hires for their feedback and input to improve the on-boarding process in the future
- For example, “What do you know now that you wish you would have none earlier?”
In closing we have found that engaged, accountable salespeople are always more productive and tend to stay longer. The key to creating an engaged, accountable salesperson begins with how they are on-boarded!