You might be investing time, money, and resources into recruiting top sales talent, but if you don’t have an effective sales onboarding program in place you’re throwing away your investment.
It’s not hard to recognize a sales organization that’s fallen victim to a failing onboarding process. Sales fluctuate with every positional change, new hires struggle to adapt in their roles, and the company becomes over-reliant on its veteran salespeople to produce (thus relinquishing control to them). The cumulative result is an imbalance that can stunt an entire company’s growth.
In this video series recorded with OpenView, inside sales expert Trish Bertuzzi, President and Chief Strategist of The Bridge Group Inc., explains that bridging the gaps that cause onboarding-related issues requires a company to look at its sales training processes, both during and after a new hire. Solely relying on your ability to find top sales talent alone not only squanders your recruiting dollars, it creates a bottleneck within the sales department, where even amply qualified salespeople struggle to reach their quotas and meet basic expectations.
Read on for tips on ensuring your sales onboarding process is a success, and that your new star talent develops into productive sales mainstays for years to come.
1) The Context Gap
For expansion stage organizations, hiring elite sales talent is only half of the battle.
“Traditionally, sales organizations have invested a lot of time, effort, energy, and money in hiring the best players,” says Bertuzzi. “They want ‘A players’. They agonize about their hiring process. Then they bring them on board and they have a terrible onboarding process.”
Too many companies continue to spend a large portion of their sales budget on hiring top sales talent only to neglect the onboarding process once the new hires arrive. In this short video, Bertuzzi explains why having a plan in place to properly train new hires is critical to building a quality inside sales team.
2) The Investment Gap
Companies that have incorporated sales training into their onboarding regiment have taken a step in the right direction. But in all likelihood, most of these programs will never meet their potential because they’re underfunded and undervalued. Bertuzzi reveals that companies will spend $20,000 on average to find standout sales talent. Once they’ve made the hire, however, the amount of money they invest to onboard and train them drops significantly.
“People are willing to invest in hiring people, but they’re not interested in growing [people’s skills],” says Bertuzzi.
Sales training is paramount for new salespeople. Yet in many cases, it’s lacking. By taking the time to invest in sales training, you can improve your sales process and employee development.
3) The Orientation Gap
Most companies do new sales rep orientations the wrong way. They send new hires head-first into the workplace and let them ping-pong around for a while until they’re seeing stars. That’s the immersion approach, explains Bertuzzi, and it’s practiced at far too many companies worldwide.
A far more effective option is the interdepartmental introduction. It allows you to give new salespeople a much more in-depth look at the company. Not only that, but they will likely learn a lot from an operational standpoint. All of this will culminate in an improved understanding of the company and a fine-tuned sales process.
4) The Planning Gap
The onboarding process in sales presents a unique set of challenges for companies to address. Gaps and inefficiencies exist throughout the process. Bertuzzi has firsthand experience addressing many of these types of issues and offers some advice on overcoming planning-related problems.
“You have every sales rep you hire create a territory plan,” she explains. “It’s [about] taking the information you’ve provided them with and turning it into a selling plan that they can follow and you can measure.…We also think that you should have them create an individual development plan. People get stale. You have to help them learn.”
Bertuzzi advises sales managers to make sure that the sales territory they allot to new hires allows for plenty of opportunity to make an impression, while simultaneously teaching them about the company’s sales process.
5) The Coaching Gap
Sales coaching is critical for new sales hires. The training and coaching that salespeople receive during their first days on the job will create a foundation for their future work. Bertuzzi says that coaches need to be consistent in their approach during this formative period to avoid sales process misalignment. To overcome this coaching gap, Bertuzzi explains that the coaching should begin at the very start of the onboarding process.
Trish Bertuzzi, President and Chief Strategist at The Bridge Group, Inc., is an inside sales thinker, writer, and builder. Over the last two decades, Trish has promoted Inside Sales as a community, profession, and engine for revenue growth. In the process, The Bridge Group has worked with over 190 B2B technology clients to build, expand, and optimize their inside sales efforts. Follow Trish on Twitter at @bridgegroupinc.
Editor’s note: This article has been adapted from a previously recorded video series.