Retain Your New Hires – Avoid These 4 Common Sales Onboarding Mistakes

Will your new sales hire stay or go? And if they stay, will they succeed or fail? An effective sales onboarding program should give you confidence to answer those questions.

Research shows that 63% of employees know whether they will stay at a company long-term within the first month on the job; 33% know within the first week. This initial period is a precursor to employee engagement and has a significant influence on how productive they will be in their new role.

Sales onboarding means much more than just getting your new sales hire a desk, laptop, and password to the CRM system. It is one of the four crucial steps to building a high performing sales organization.

At DoubleDigit Sales, we refer to these four steps as ROOMr:

1. Recruiting

2. Onboarding

3. Ongoing Management

4. retention

If you miss one of these steps, the rest will be much harder to achieve.

Sales onboarding is successful when a new hire achieves proficiency (not mastery) in attitude, knowledge, skills, activities and begins to achieve results. Each of these areas can be broken down into various activities specific to your business.

For example, reps may need to gain knowledge of one or several products, their markets and customers, and competitors’ strengths. Activities include reaching out to prospects, connecting to decision makers, participating in first meetings, converting prospects to opportunities, writing proposals, and finally, closing. Skills include prospecting, first meetings, presentations, communicating your company’s stories and how to negotiate and close in your business.

So, once you’ve recruited top sales talent, be sure to avoid these four common sales onboarding mistakes:

1. Don’t declare victory too early

Effective sales onboarding takes time. The program is not complete until new reps have achieved proficiency in all components of all areas.

In our most recent sales culture survey, 85% of sales organizations have sales onboarding periods of six months of less. We believe some (maybe more) of these organizations are underestimating the time required.

The time required to complete the sales onboarding plan will be determined by the tenure and experience of your new hire. Time to completion is negotiable and you can adapt the sales onboarding plan accordingly. What is not negotiable is the commitment from your new hire to participate and complete the sales onboarding program thoroughly.

Keep in mind that a new hire’s sales onboarding program isn’t truly completed until you as a manager are 100 percent confident that they can take a sale from prospect to close on their own.

2. Don’t confuse sales onboarding with training

Although sales onboarding might include taking classes, it should not be confused with training.

Each new rep should be given a very detailed list of the proficiencies that must be attained. It is the new sales rep’s responsibility to attain them and to ask for help from managers or others if obstacles get in the way.

Thorough sales onboarding is methodical and sequential. A good onboarding program sets specific quarterly goals in each major area of proficiency. Fusion Learning emphasizes skills, knowledge, and activities early in the process, then ramps up the push to reach sales goals later.

3. Don’t expect new reps to close in the first three months

Big wins can occur early in the sales onboarding process. However, be careful. Lucky breaks can be damaging; they may mislead a new rep into thinking he or she has learned everything necessary to achieve such results regularly.

As new reps are often eager, prospects rarely mistake them for sales veterans, even after a big sale. But if the lucky new rep has not learned, for example, how to prepare a winning proposal for a complex sale, it will be difficult for the new rep to replicate these results in the long term.

4. Proficiency does not mean mastery

Proficiency does not mean mastery of sales or even that the rep is now a “mature” salesperson.

For example, if your best reps sell $5 million annually, and your average veteran sells $3 million per year, the new rep may sell only $750,000 in the year to achieve proficient status. Yet this rep is fully on board when you know he or she can grow into a steady performer, even if it will take him or her another year or two to hit your sales veterans’ numbers.

Effective sales onboarding requires patience and diligence to have solid performers – or at least reps thoroughly capable of solid performance. And that makes the last steps of ROOMr, ongoing management and retention, highly feasible and much easier.

Develop a coaching approach that connects to each individual on your team

The key to maximizing individual results and driving higher engagement is by creating an individual management approach. To learn more, ask about our Managing Different People Differently training solution and stay tuned for additional best practices on sales onboarding processes.