How World-Class Sales Onboarding Can Stop the Great Resignation
The pandemic caused many Americans to take a second look at work. Employees in every industry began to contemplate their overall satisfaction and what they were getting from their companies. Many decided to make a change—to a new role, a new opportunity, or a new industry.
This groundswell has led to a trend called “The Great Resignation”—historic rates of employees quitting their jobs. Over 4 million Americans have resigned in the past month. Extend this rate, and it means over 50 million people a year are changing jobs.
As a result, many businesses are hiring a record number of new sales reps—and doing it in record time.
In a recent webinar, Respond to the Great Resignation with World-Class Sales Onboarding, sales training expert Ray Makela, CEO of Sales Readiness Group, joined Allego’s Senior Product Marketing Manager, Jake Miller, to discuss steps companies can take to protect themselves against the impact of high rates of job changers.
Makela and Miller explored how companies can use a good sales onboarding experience to attract and retain sellers. Here are five takeaways from their conversation, and tips on how to stop the Great Resignation from impacting your sales team.
1. Align Onboarding Experience to Milestones
Ray Makela notes that employees leave because they don’t feel satisfied or recognized by their employer, don’t have a good relationship with their manager, or are not growing in their current role.
“When these people change jobs, they look for organizations that are good to employees,” says Makela. “Organizations, therefore, must provide good training, good onboarding, and ongoing feedback to their employees.”
That positive onboarding experience starts by defining what a seller needs to be fully productive and working backward to determine what milestones they need to achieve to reach that goal.
Having those milestones in view also means you don’t have to train every new hire on everything upfront. Instead, you develop a specific onboarding plan that gives the rep the content they need to succeed at each milestone.
For example, if the milestone is to get the first meeting, you can train on the core value proposition and personas needed to secure that appointment. Supporting information such as different personas or competitive details can be presented to the rep just in time if they need it.
“Reaching folks with training closer to when they apply it leads to greater retention and helps them achieve their milestones,” notes Miller.
2. Train for the Hybrid Sales Environment
With the renewed focus on onboarding, companies can no longer run the same bootcamp online that they ran in person and expect the same outcomes.
Makela recommends taking a blended approach, using one that delivers a combination of virtual instructor-led training (VILT) and instructor-led training (ILT). The rep can then use those skills in a real-world situation such as fieldwork or shadowing.
“Many organizations have transformed their week-long in-person boot camps into a five-week program that goes at a much slower pace,” says Miller. “Using asynchronous content, reps can then consume, learn, reflect, and apply that training at their own pace while also connecting with other sellers via social channels. This type of multimodal training improves job satisfaction and test scores and gets the employee where they need to be.”
3. Deliver Learning in the Flow of Work
Once companies understand these new training tactics, they need to think about how to break up and deliver skills and knowledge in the flow of work. Research shows that sellers are much more likely to retain information when they learn it at their moment of need.
Miller says trainers can also provide a mix of learning and reinforcement tactics that help the rep fully understand that content and when to apply it, leaning into the capabilities of their sales enablement platforms.
For example, a trainer can reinforce stand-up training with a daily quiz that presents one or two questions to each rep. Today’s sales enablement software can detect the skills each individual has mastered and what areas need improvement and coaching. Quizzes are also beneficial when it’s time to assess and certify the rep.
In addition, just-in-time training offers bite-sized, engaging pieces of learning content that can be made available to the rep just before a call or meeting. This information comes in the flow of business, where it’s needed most.
4. Create Community and Collaboration
Onboarding starts when the employee accepts the job, and companies need to act accordingly.
“The biggest onboarding challenges our clients experience is getting reps acculturated to their new organizations,” says Miller. “Knowledge sharing and peer-generated content like sales videos or videos of team members in action are great preboarding content. This content not only helps the rep learn about sales calls and demonstrations, but it creates a sense of community with others on the team.”
New salespeople can also create short, fun videos of themselves and share it on the sales enablement platform to further connect and collaborate.
5. Start Building the Manager Relationship Early
Even before the great resignation, an employee’s manager was the number one reason they would stay or go. Today it’s more important than ever for a manager to be involved throughout the onboarding process—even pre-boarding.
Fortunately, sales enablement technology makes it easy for managers to start building the relationship early and stay engaged with new hires. Reps can practice and record videos during the onboarding process and then share them with their manager. In addition, the manager can offer feedback and support in their own video and share it with the rep.
A sales enablement platform also lets sellers share agile content learned “in the moment,” extending the value of peer learning.
For example, a seller can share a clip from a recorded sales call that successfully uses new messaging and share a video of it—along with feedback—automatically. Or the seller can share where delivery of the message resonated with the customer and closed the sale.
This video content can be put into playbooks alongside the deck used in the meeting so other reps can access it when they need it.
“Sellers want to learn from other sellers, so it’s essential that new reps can tap into the knowledge—and the success—of their peers to create their own success,” Miller says.
6. Enable Continual Learning
Once your new hire has been successfully onboarded, continual learning is crucial to getting them to stay.
Managers need to adopt what Makela calls “the coaching mindset” once a rep is in the field. But, he notes, “It’s not just getting reps knowledge and skills and certification; we need to reinforce learning once the rep is out in the field. And that’s really where the manager steps in.”
Miller adds that curated content fuels just-in-time learning and helps the manager be more effective. “By taking the content we can surface at the point of need or put into a playbook or a CRM, we create a better bridge between onboarding and selling out in the field,” he says.
Conversation Intelligence is another tool that helps managers be more effective. For example, managers can use artificial intelligence (AI) to create a filter for sales calls and monitor them for specific topics, talk time, pace of speech, keywords, and more. This report allows managers to scale their coaching efforts across the team, creating more efficiencies by giving reps targeted feedback to make them successful.
Engaging and Retaining New Hires
Onboarding matters more than ever in the era of the Great Resignation. But it’s not enough to have good onboarding. Keeping employees engaged with the job also requires ongoing training, collaborative learning, and coaching from their manager.
Companies that make learning a priority are the ones that can attract—and keep—new hires.
Together, notes Miller, these efforts drive employee engagement and enable sellers to achieve the success they need to thrive at their job.
Download The State of Sales Onboarding Report for the latest insights and advice for building the best sales onboarding experience.