If you are a brand working with distributor sales reps and showroom sales advisors, sales onboarding is a regular and daily job. Its importance can be gauged from the fact that a good onboarding program helps arrest churn amongst sales reps significantly. It is no wonder that a recent Cox Automotive Dealership Staffing Study found that the average churn rate at a dealership is 40% for dealership employees and 67% for sales reps. This can also prove costly for dealerships with every new hire costing them $10,000 on average. Hence, the high price of hiring new employees will continue to be a burden for dealerships.
A recent analysis from Rain Sales Training shows that it takes three months for a seller to engage with customers and nine months to be competent. So sales onboarding is a constant struggle for sales capability managers of the brands. Hence, how do you build a sales onboarding plan to reduce the time to 1st sale?
At every stage of training, the dealership should choose which of the sales reps needs onboarding immediately and consolidate their training. It also entails organizing a one or two-week sales training workshop and some e-learning modules. The onboarding workshop could consist of orientation, culture familiarization, customer service requirements, and product knowledge. The expectation from newly joined sales reps is to engage with the customers and close deals quickly. However, the ground reality is different as the new sales reps lack the insight and knowledge to engage with smart customers. Sales performance is at best spotty and retention of sales reps is a challenge.
What is Sales Onboarding?
Sales onboarding is the process of inducting, training, skilling up, and providing resources to new reps to perform well in their new role. One key measure of onboarding is the new sales rep’s time to 1st sale. The other critical metrics of the exercise are the attainment of ideal sales behaviors and the ability to engage with customers successfully.
Prior to the onboarding process, sales training leaders must be clear about the expectations from the new sellers once they complete the program. This can clearly define the skills and competencies needed to achieve the goals.
What are the steps toward sales onboarding?
Pre-Sales Camp Learning
Starting from day one, the seller needs to build the fundamental knowledge and skills before arriving at the sales camp. Consequently, building a checklist for the sales reps to tick off the boxes helps to keep track of their actions. The sales reps can now take ownership of their onboarding.
A list of pre-sales camp onboarding tasks can include:
- Self-learning: A journey of self-paced microlearning modules which can talk about the company, culture, basic product knowledge, customers, marketplace, and competitors. Notifying the sales reps to complete their modules is important. Sales enablement tools can use quick quizzes to regularly assess whether the sales reps have understood what they have learned. Personalized knowledge checks can enable sales reps to discover and utilize learning modules.
- Buddy Learning: Experienced senior sales reps can act as buddies to junior sales reps and provide feedback on the sales calls made by the latter. Seniors should encourage the freshers to discuss their problems and failings for comments and course correction.
- Regular Appraisal: Sales reps should meet their direct sales manager at regular intervals to gain specific knowledge through coaching. The manager needs to use insights from knowledge checks, completion of modules, and peer reflections to coach.
Many organizations invest in an instructor-led sales workshop which can last from a few days to a couple of weeks based on the sales or product complexity. Sales reps who have completed all their pre-sales camp onboarding checklist are eligible to get into the main sales camp. Here the new salesperson learns along with their seniors. Most sales trainers focus on the top sales priorities like building competencies that ensure the readiness of the sales reps to face buyers.
Topics for the Sales Reps Onboarding include:
- All details about customers—their markets, industries, customers, and regulations
- The needs the business solves and how to identify those needs
- Writing prospecting emails
- What is the value proposition of the company?
- Who are the key competitors?
- What is the differentiated proposition of the company?
- How does the sales rep demo?
- What is the sales playbook?
The best practices of the sales school are consistent assessments and role plays to ensure learning.
Post Sales Camp Learning
After the onboarding at the sales school, the new sales reps start to engage in preliminary sales activities. A more practical type of learning helmed by the managers follows for the newly inducted sales reps once the first course of onboarding ends. Sales reps can retain the knowledge they have received through innovative techniques. They include scenario-based exercises, video pitches, and in-person roleplays. Regular and multiple knowledge checks are important.
Many leading companies certify their sales team as “ready” for sales engagements at this stage.
On-the-Job Sales Onboarding
Sales managers involve the new sales reps in actual sales engagements in the final stages of onboarding commonly referred to as ‘On the Job Sales Onboarding’. These include:
- Tracking all sales activities which lead to a sale including prospecting calls, customer engagement, and opportunities created.
- Validation of the knowledge of products and sales processes gained.
- Personalized learning recommendations and continued ever-boarding help in keeping the sales rep knowledgeable all the time.
A strong sales onboarding program can reduce ramp time, improve results and enhance retention. For the sales rep, it is a journey starting from day one of onboarding till the day of 1st sale. Sales reps can enhance ownership of the whole onboarding exercise using checklists, skills scores, and recommended learning. Manager ownership and coaching are critical for successful on-the-job onboarding. Ensuring that both parties have data-driven insights on onboarding is important. It enables a positive coaching experience which will reduce the time it takes to onboard and make a sales rep productive.
The StreamzAI platform can help improve your sales rep’s onboarding process and make them more productive faster. If interested check out our solution here.