Onboarding sales talent has never been more important, given the tightness of the current labor market. Yet the most effective, proven best practices for shortening the runway to success for new hires remain largely unknown and unimplemented. Here are five keys to effective sales onboarding that we make a point of sharing with our clients.
- Preparation. Most sales leaders do not prepare any onboarding process. They just react once the person has been hired. This is the single biggest mistake, and perhaps the easiest to rectify. Allocate the (minimal) time and bandwidth necessary to set up a personalized onboarding plan before the salesperson’s first day on the job. The four best practices that follow will point you toward what you should be preparing.
- Identify and discuss the top ten behaviors this person will be responsible for executing consistently. Don’t focus on outcomes. Focus on behaviors. The top ten behaviors that salespeople execute on a consistent basis are the key to sustained success; it is imperative that each new hire understand what these behaviors are and what their impact will be on the bottom line. In most situations, these behaviors are:
- lead generation
- building relationships
- qualifying opportunities
- making presentations
- servicing customers
- account management
- territory development
- refining and executing the behavioral plan
- continuous education
- execution of the organization’s selling system
3. Set up a coaching cadence. We recommend following what we call the Rule of 20-90. That means we spend the first twenty days onboarding someone with daily one-on-one coaching to establish a consistent model of behavior, and then do weekly coaching check-ins for the 90 days following. Note that effective coaching is always a safe, one-on-one conversation focusing on how the salesperson can achieve their most important personal goals. Coaching is never conducted in a group setting.
4. Set weekly goals. The process of setting goals is one of the keys to helping the salesperson maintain a strong sense of self-worth. We recommend helping the salesperson to focus weekly on developing three new professional goals and two personal goals, and to commit to achieving these each week, as part of the coaching process referenced above.
5. Build a feedback loop for them. This means following a coaching model. There are four steps in the Sandler coaching process. Each of these steps must be executed in order, in a sequence that builds from what has gone before.
- Assess: In this initial step, the coach diagnoses the current business situation, evaluates the salesperson’s competency, benchmarks the timeline for success and establishes the specifics of the coaching relationship.
- Establish: During this step, the coach works with the salesperson to set expectations for the coaching process as well as create the goals that will be used in the measuring of success.
- Define: In the third step of the coaching process, the coach explores new behaviors. This means sharing feedback and working with the salesperson to better utilize existing skills in need of improvement. This focus on behavior modification is the result of awareness garnered from the Assess phase.
- Execute: This step involves the execution of the new behavior plan, as well as the corresponding skills.
These four steps repeat in order, indefinitely, for as long as the coaching relationship continues.
If you set aside time for planning … if you identify the most important behaviors … if you follow the 20-90 rule … if you set clear weekly goals … and if you follow a clear coaching model, there will be good outcomes. You will onboard new sales talent in a way that optimizes the odds of success in both the short and long terms.
Listen to this podcast to learn more about effectively onboarding new salespeople.