If I had a nickel for every time an executive said to me – “Great news – we just hired our superstar! He’s going to be fantastic!” Then, about 3 months later the same executive sings a completely different tune. “Oh man, he’s gone … he was terrible! He couldn’t sell anything!” – I would be a gazillionaire.
Apparently, there is an affliction that causes new hire salespeople to change from superstar to excuse-maker in a short period of time. The affliction has a ninety-day incubation period before becoming noticed by management. The main cause for this allowance of continuous bleeding of funds, leads and confidence are the belief that this person really is a superstar!
Assuming that the hiring decision was made based on the match between your ideal salesperson profile and the candidate, what you have in front of you is a salesperson with potential. However, there is only one way for that potential to become reality – for the sales person to achieve her true potential for the company. That way is through sales person on-boarding. In essence, when you add a sales person to your team, the hard work isn’t over, but rather, it’s just beginning for both you and your new sales person.
What Is On-boarding? Taking a step back, let’s define the term “on-boarding.” Many see on-boarding through the narrow lens of new hire paperwork and orientation. It is mistakenly defined on the bases on what they need to learn. Sure, this is a key part of on-boarding, but it is not the overall plan that ensures success. The true definition of on-boarding is more comprehensive. It includes the development plan for the sales person which prepares him to sell effectively for the company.
When you add a sales person to your team, this individual arrives on your doorstep with a portfolio of skills. The required onboarding experience is one designed to quickly help the new seller use those skills in your sales environment – empowering them to perform at optimal levels.
Is “onboarding” a corporate luxury? Not if you consider the economic impact of adding sellers to your team. For starters, highly successful companies never hire sales people. At least, that’s not
how they perceive the decision to add headcount to the sales team. Those companies see the decision to add headcount to the sales team as an investment in revenue. Onboarding is seen as a corporate initiative to both protect that investment and ensure a high return on it.
According to a 2011 CSO Insights survey (CSOInsights.com), approximately 60% of respondents said that it took over seven months for a new seller to produce at the same level as a tenured one. A quarter of that 60% said that it took over a year to achieve that production level. Note that this doesn’t mean that the sales person is profitable to the company at those milestones, but rather just the new sales person produced in a one-month period at the same level as a tenured one.
Let's look at the 5 best on-boarding tips
1) What exactly do you need them to know? One of the biggest issues I see is the idea that we need to teach all of the features and benefits of our products or service in the on-boarding process. You don’t!!
2) Layout the pure necessities to get them going quickly. We remember only a small part of what we hear. Let your salesperson engage and do a deep dive with what’s important.
3) Set up sections of time example-weekly, and one particular issue you want them to learn. Give them everything they need BUT also allow them to do the research they need to do. Talking to others, looking up the competition, etc. Them at the end of the timeframe, (the week etc) have them present to you their findings AND most importantly how they will use this information in selling.
4) Ask them to write this down therefore creating a reference an book of information for them to use that had been created by them. This allows them to truly use the book for reference sine they created it!
5) Test each of the learned processes until they are ready to move into sales with the proper information they have ultimately taught themselves with your direction. if at any time they do not complete a task on time, or done in a superior way, remember this is their honeymoon period, it doesn’t get any better than this. You are looking for the effort, not just the information.
Do not assume a ‘great personality’ or ‘years of experience’ will make this person a great salesperson. What matters is the effort they put in early on. The honeymoon period is a test. Do not waste a lot of time energy, money and training into someone who isn’t putting in 110% right up front because they won’t later. On-boarding is the most important part of the first 90 days probation. Do not take it lightly.