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December 20, 2018

Modern Sales Onboarding Bridges the Gap Between Training and the Field

Here are two pretty important facts about B2B sales:  You need to train your new reps to enable their success, and training isn’t over when your new reps start selling.  

If you’re looking at how you can improve your onboarding approach, you should consider what modern sales onboarding looks like.

Modern Sales Onboarding

Sales organizations always want their onboarding processes to be effective at creating productive reps, but also efficient at getting them out into the field quickly. The challenge is that traditional training methods–concentrated events packed with lengthy content and little reinforcement–are notoriously ineffective at ingraining the knowledge your reps need once they start selling.

Why? As Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve tells us, reps–or anyone else–won’t remember what they’ve learned if they don’t use it right away.  A successful onboarding program does three things effectively:

  • Spaces out learning so that information is not too concentrated to remember
  • Provides learning in manageable doses so that reps can absorb the information that has been presented
  • Includes reinforcement so that reps use their knowledge shortly after being trained

This approach is fundamental to a successful modern sales learning approach.  Let’s dive into a few more details about what we mean when we talk about modern learning:

Allego’s Sales Onboarding Philosophy

At Allego, we’ve distilled our extensive experience with modern learning into five key principles:

Content must be easy to create, access, and absorb

Whoever first said that content is king had a really good point.  And if it’s not intuitive for content creators or consumers, it might as well not exist at all. In contrast, the best sales training makes it easy to translate in-depth knowledge to content that reps can find, view, and understand when and where they want–which means simple access on virtually any device. If you start with a foundation of good, accessible content, your sphere of influence becomes much larger.

It’s continuous and bite-sized

Learning doesn’t finish when a rep finishes training.  In fact, the Center for Creative Leadership famously reported that formal learning comprises only 10% of the learning journey, so most of the learning journey takes place when reps are in the field.  To meet their needs, sales onboarding must go beyond the initial training and provide a transition to the field with content that reinforces learning, and actively involve sales management to help ease the transition from the classroom. Content must be concise because reps don’t have the time–and often, the attention–to consume much long-form content.  

It incorporates reinforcement

Almost immediately after a rep leaves training, everything he or she learns begins to fade if it’s not reinforced multiple times.  In other words, your four- or five-figure investment in training returns very little if you don’t have a strategy for reinforcement. Modern sales learning approaches incorporate virtual flash-card drills that focus on individual competency needs, support for collaborative coaching that bridges gaps of geography and time, and other modalities that keep training fresh and make reps more productive.

It’s personalized it for each rep

Each learner is different in their learning needs, the way that they learn, and the pace at which they learn.  Good sales training accommodates the unique needs of each learner, enabling them to move ahead when they’re ready without requiring them to wait–or conversely, allowing learners to complete their work without being rushed off to the next topic.  Learners also need content that is germane to their job, especially at companies where roles tend to shift and training must be adjusted on the fly.

It provides consistent, accessible informal learning

Reps are always looking for the information that will help them close deals.  In the absence of a comprehensive approach, they’ll do what it takes to find out what they need:  search the web, contact their friends, or just make it up. That’s why a modern sales learning approach must provide access to informal learning content so that reps can find what they need, and you’re able to ensure that they’re prepared with the right information for every selling situation.  SME content, examples of what good looks like, collateral, templates–even ways to bounce ideas off of peers and get feedback–should be at reps’ fingertips so that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time a need arises.

For more on how organizations use modern sales onboarding practices to drive better sales performanceclick here.


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