In my role as a Fractional VP of Sales, I regularly help my clients’ sales managers with the recruitment, hiring, and onboarding plan for their next great salespeople. When I ask about their onboarding process, some business owners chuckle and admit they don’t really have one. “We just kind of throw them in there!” is not an unusual response.
Interestingly, it’s these same business owners who bring me in because they have an issue with staff turnover in their sales team. There are a few that have a structured employee onboarding process. Not surprisingly, these business owners typically don’t have issues with the turnover of sales talent. Which camp do you fall in?
Why Have an Employee Onboarding Process for New Sales Hires?
During the first two weeks on the job, your new hire is assessing you and your company just as much as you are assessing the new hire. You are in a probationary period just as they are. Putting your best foot forward as a company helps them confirm that they have made a great choice by choosing to work with you. Consider their first two weeks as the ‘welcome to the family!’ phase. Set them up for a shorter and steeper learning curve so they get on track to job satisfaction and the desired levels of productivity faster.
How to Structure an Employee Onboarding Process for New Sales Hires
Plot out the first two weeks of onboarding for your new sales hires. Every working hour should be accounted for, including a clear goal for what they need to learn, what they are to be doing, and who they will be doing it with or learning from.
Setting the Stage for the Onboarding Process
Let each new hire know who they will be learning from and sitting with. Likewise, let the team member responsible for orienting the new hire know:
- How much time the new hire will spend with them
- What the new hire needs to learn
- What things they need to teach the new hire
Let the new hire know how their learning will be assessed and what things, in particular, they should focus on while working with and learning from others.
Teaching During the Onboarding Process
Every adult has a default learning style. Some people learn best by observing, others by reading, and still others by doing. All people typically learn through a combination of all three. Structure the teaching so that all three of these learning modalities are included. Include video training, working with others, and hands-on application to increase the effectiveness of your teaching. Vary the daily schedule so that your new hire gets a bit of each type of learning opportunity every day. This will reduce the chances of boredom by engaging your new hire in varied and interesting ways.
Interacting With Experienced Team Members
Each week, arrange one or two lunches with experienced team members who will play a key role in the new hire’s life at your company. Chats during mealtimes tend to cover more non-work ground than conversations throughout the business day. Purposefully setting up these interactions will ensure your new hire gets to know their teammates both as coworkers and people.
Preparing Content for Your Onboarding Process
Simply having your new hire sit in a chair beside a co-worker and observe them for half a day can be helpful but not sufficiently illustrative to prepare them to do the job themselves. If job manuals don’t exit at your company, then you will need to break their job role down into its primary components and then provide “how to” instructions so they can successfully navigate their new role. Work from macro to micro when structuring learning content. Provide screen capture videos to show how tasks are completed and how to navigate your company’s systems and tech stack.
Tracking the Effectiveness of the Employee Onboarding Process
Close the loop on your new hire’s learning by checking back to ensure that teachers taught, and the learner learned on a daily basis. Learning assessments can be in the form of written quizzes or person-to-person debriefs. These are vital for helping all parties understand if the training is effective so you can be confident that the person is in a position for success once they are to fly on their own. Ask the employee to provide feedback on how you are doing at teaching them. Getting this feedback will help you meet the needs of the new hire and improve your onboarding process for future hires.
Making the first two weeks at your company amazing for your new hires is a step in the right direction toward improving your staff retention and employee satisfaction. As with all things, there is some nuance involved with developing your onboarding plan. If you would like to discuss this further, please reach out and let me know.