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sales onboarding during recession
November 30, 2022

4 Ways to Prep Your Sales Onboarding for an Economic Downturn

sales onboarding during recession

This article originally appeared in Forbes.

Workforce reductions have been in the news in recent months, leading to feelings of uncertainty for workers everywhere. Organizations are making cuts where necessary to combat the impending recession and unstable economy. According to a 2022 PwC Pulse Survey, 50% of business leaders will reduce their overall headcount, and 44% are rescinding job offers.

While no industry or department is immune to economic headwinds, there’s one that consistently hires during times of high layoffs: sales. In any downturn, businesses still need to sell products and services, and sales reps make that happen. Ensuring incoming reps have the skills they need to sell effectively is essential—now more than ever —and it starts with onboarding.

Poor Onboarding Leads to Lower Retention

Onboarding lays the foundation for acclimating new hires to their work environment, company culture, and responsibilities. Effective onboarding equips new hires with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in their position. However, some organizations still struggle to facilitate onboarding that hits the mark with employees, resulting in low engagement and high turnover.

According to research from Allego’s The State of Sales Onboarding Report, B2B sales leaders report only 60% of sales hires will stay with a company for at least six months. These results show a disconnect during the onboarding process, causing new hires to leave almost as quickly as they come. Companies that can’t retain new hires face mounting costs of recruiting and training in addition to lost revenue from unfilled sales positions.

Hybrid Work Creates New Onboarding Challenges

The move to hybrid work has created new obstacles to effective onboarding, with 39% of sales leaders saying remote work has rendered their onboarding process obsolete, according to Allego research.

During the height of the pandemic, millions of employees began working from home. And though the world is gradually opening up, many workers want to remain fully remote or hybrid. Research from Accenture’s Future of Work Study 2021 shows that 83% of workers prefer a hybrid model and greater flexibility.

With sales teams working partially onsite and partially remote, incoming reps must be briefed on how to thrive in both work environments. Onboarding can no longer be one size fits all. Organizations must shift from a traditional onboarding approach to a modern one that suits today’s workforce.

Organizations must take this opportunity to revamp their onboarding practices and adapt them for hybrid work environments. Here are four ways companies can rethink onboarding to retain new sellers and ramp them up quickly.

1. Give Sellers a Buzz

If there’s one thing sellers have in common, it’s a competitive streak and a need for a certain amount of adrenaline. Leaderboards, flash drills, hot seats, and other tactics can get sellers’ blood flowing and spur engagement.

Veteran sellers and new hires alike can benefit from a little extra buzz in their learning, starting from their first interactions with the company. Don’t overlook a chance to add some pop to an onboarding arsenal.

2. Make Content Easily Accessible

During the onboarding process, new sales hires are inundated with an array of content—training exercises, videos, case studies, whitepapers, and use cases—to build their skills and understanding of their new organization and role. Reps need easy access to this information to get up to speed and sell effectively.

A learning library can help reps find and reference the content they received during onboarding easily, which shortens the time it takes to search for critical assets. Reps can also use this repository of information long after onboarding is complete, aiding in their continuous learning.

3. Deliver Bite-sized Content

The volume of information new hires receive during onboarding, while necessary, can be overwhelming. To make matters worse, this information tends to be lengthy, which can impair new hires’ ability to retain it. Bite-sized content allows reps to consume it easily, refer to it often, and recall it when needed.

Shorter content, such as videos that are three minutes or less, can also reduce the cognitive load of onboarding sellers. Delivering this content over time gives sellers space to absorb key learnings before they move on to the next concept.

4. Reinforce Learning

Sales enablement is an ongoing process that should not be limited to just onboarding. While accessing essential content easily and getting it in smaller chunks is important, unless that information is reinforced, reps will forget it as quickly as they learned it.

In other words, reps must “use” the knowledge they gained so they don’t “lose” it. To do this, incorporate reinforcement exercises into onboarding.

With the help of a modern sales enablement solution, reps can receive automated, daily reinforcement exercises, such as role-play scenarios, or periodic assessments to test their knowledge of key learning points. They can be quizzed on concepts and move on to the next one once they pass. If they don’t, they can continue receiving exercises on that same concept until they demonstrate mastery. As a disclosure, my company is a provider of sales enablement solutions.

Optimize Your Sales Onboarding Today

Amid layoffs across industries, sales remains a critical contributor to a company’s bottom line. Organizations that ensure their onboarding process gets new sales hires selling as effectively and quickly as possible will be the ones that thrive in a shaky economy.

Learn More:

Download The State of Sales Onboarding Report to get insights and advice for building the best sales onboarding experience.

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