There is high turnover in the sales industry. One in three sales people churn jobs every year according to the U.S. department of labour.
Diagnosing the cause of high turnover and what we can do to reduce it will be the topic of a future blog. This blog will focus on what we can do to reduce the time to value for a new sales hire in your company.
In order to maximize the new sales hire’s chances of success, you need to create and execute a formal onboarding program. The objectives of an onboarding program are:
- To ensure the new sales hire becomes a productive, successful, permanent member of your team.
- To decrease the time required for the new sales hire to make a material contribution to your team.
- To establish milestones to provide the new sales hire with real time feedback on their performance during their onboarding period.
Do not delegate this to HR. The new sales hire onboarding program must be created and driven by sales leadership.
The key components to an effective new sales hire onboarding program include:
1. Pre-Start Set Up Activities – Your Company
- You will show the new sales hire how important they are to your company by how well you prepare for their arrival. We suggest the following:
- Send reference materials for them to review prior to their start date (presentations, proposals, press releases etc.).
- Send a copy of “The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins. This is an excellent read on strategies to reduce ‘time to value’ for new employees.
- Provide the new sales hire with a copy of your formal onboarding program and calendar in advance of Day 1: This will let them know how seriously you are taking this process and give them a sense as to the level of work required for them to succeed.
- Distribute an announcement on the new sales hire to the company two weeks prior to their arrival (cc new sales hire).
- Ensure that the new sales hire’s environment is ready BEFORE their first day: Desk / laptop / mobile devices(s) / email / phone voicemail / CRM login / business cards / etc.
2. Pre-start Preparation Activities - New Sales Hire
They should arrive prepared to present (i) an introduction of themselves to their peers.
3. Day 1 Orientation
Day 1 for the new sales hire must include at a minimum:
- Meet and greet with Sales Leader and/or (CEO)
- Office introductions
- HR meeting (payroll / benefits / security passes / rules of conduct if applicable)
- Review of the sales plan or sales playbook by Sales Leader
4. Field Fast-Start Program
The new sales hire must develop knowledge in four domains to position themselves for success within 60 days of onboarding. These are:
- Company – History / Strategy / Structure / People
- Sales Organization – Sales plan / Core principles / Objectives / Sales methodology
- Industry – Target market / Competition
- Our Solutions – Value proposition / Tie to customer’s desired business outcome
The intent of the field fast-start program is to enable learning and development across these domains. Each week will be structured to provide (i) content (ii) practical exposure (iii) testing, and (iv) feedback in these categories.
A natural cadence is to provide some form of content and practical exposure in the week prior to the new sales hire presenting to the team. For example, they may receive product training on software solution 1 during week 1 and present a demo on the same at the end of week 2. Over a six-week period, the new sales hire might present on the following topics:
- Their target market
- Sales process
- Your solutions / demos
- Industry and competition
- Their territory plan
We will also need to expose the new sales hire to our prospects and customers during their onboarding program.
5. Evaluation Milestones
The new sales hire will have a weekly 1 v 1 with their Sales Leader. The expectation of a weekly presentation will provide an excellent outlet for immediate and relevant feedback during these sessions.
6. The Final Milestone
Prior to “unleashing” the new sales hire on their territory, they must create and present their quarterly sales plan to the executive or sales team. This is their strategy and tactical plan for the first full quarter in their territory after their 60 days of onboarding. This plan should include specific weekly goals and objectives for approach calls and sales funnel development. This plan will also be the reference for future one to one’s to evaluate progress.
The more effort put forth into developing and managing a formal onboarding program for your new sales hire, the less time it will take them to make a material contribution to your company.