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August 16, 2018

The Top 5 Sales Onboarding Blunders — And How to Avoid Them

In a world where sales training professionals possess unlimited resources and total control over hiring, onboarding becomes a relic of the past.

In this world, whenever an organization needs new reps, training and enablement professionals simply scan the globe to recruit veteran superstars with photographic memories. With the right incentive packages – and 30 minutes to digest every scrap of information about the company and its products – new hires are ready to blaze paths to glory.

In the real world, of course, sales onboarding is not so easy. And at many companies, adequately prepping new hires for the job is delayed (or even sabotaged) by one or more of these 5 common blunders:

  1. Improvised sales onboarding

One of the biggest mistakes is failing to plan for the process. Instead, HR professionals, sales trainers and managers simply “wing it.” Information packets are thrown together and tossed at new recruits. People from various departments file in and out of a classroom, administering day after day of “death by PowerPoint” until employees’ heads explode from the information overload.

The obvious (and only) solution is for different departments to develop, coordinate and deliver a formal pre-boarding and sales onboarding program – one that: (A) introduces employees to the company, including its policies but especially to its culture and people in order to drive that critical early engagement that often makes or breaks successful sales onboarding; and (B) provides job-related training that enables the new reps for sales success.  Leave the “improv” to your local comedy troupe.

  1.  Poor logistics

If the various departments do not properly coordinate their efforts, logistics can derail the learning process. For example, if pre-boarding activities aren’t synced with those of sales onboarding, you may have HR personnel repeatedly plucking employees from presentations and role-playing sessions to fill out paperwork or tour the facilities. At a minimum, this will lengthen your sales onboarding time.

  1. Too much, too fast

Trying to deliver a month’s worth of learning in a few days is like trying to fill a sieve. The contents leak out as fast as you fill it. Unfortunately, “cramming” is standard operating procedure at many organizations.

This is where modern learning tools come to the rescue. These tools allow employees to learn on their own time and to access relevant information whenever it’s needed, no matter where they are. In addition, these platforms reinforce training via spaced repetition so that employees don’t forget most of what they learn.

  1. No checkpoints

Too many sales onboarding programs lack checkpoints – periodic assessments of employees’ progress to determine how well they’re doing. Unless you implement these checkpoints, new reps will move from one learning experience to another without any guidelines – without anyone knowing whether they’re learning and retaining the information and ramping up according to schedule.

At a minimum, you need to track the performance of new employees relative to key dates. You want to be able to say, “From the date this new rep began her onboarding, she has attended X hours of classroom training, participated in Y hours of video role-playing exercises, and passed Z number of tests. I anticipate that she’ll be certified in A, B and C products by [date], and will be ‘sales ready’ by [date].

  1. Instant sales onboarding

“Okay newbie, you’ve been issued a laptop and a cubicle, and you have the latest software. Your sales onboarding is complete. Go get ‘em, Tiger! If you rely on this sort of “instant sales onboarding” – i.e., no sales onboarding – good luck! Let’s hope the new recruits are all veteran superstars with photographic memories.

These five common blunders are avoidable if you approach sales onboarding strategically and use modern learning tools to execute.  For a deeper dive into strategic sales onboarding program design with tactical recommendations for getting started today, download the Essential Guide to Modern Sales Onboarding.

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