Ever felt like a summer camp director with a busload of wide-eyed campers arriving any minute? Sales leaders kinda feel that way with cohorts of new hires for sales onboarding.
You want them to eat, sleep, and breathe everything about your product, organization, sales process, and necessary skills. You aim for total immersion so you can shout ta-da! and hit the launch button as quickly as possible.
Not so fast.
Yes, you want to ramp new hires ASAP (because ROI). But you also want to decrease rep turnover in the long term. You want to create high-performing reps who are engaged and supported — reps who are happy and successful and on a continuous learning track.
You get them there with sales onboarding that’s more than a couple-weeks-crash-course. You get them there with a 30-60-90-day plan for sales onboarding. (And you keep them there with a winning sales enablement strategy. Read about its five must-have elements here.)
Let’s look at each month of your 30-60-90-day plan in turn, because they have very different aims and outcomes.
Your 30-day plan
You got this. It’s a straightforward, three-part act where you 1) outline your goals, 2) deliver training, and 3) evaluate your new hires’ performance.
Let’s start with the goals, because that’s the first big thing you’ll present during the onboarding process. If you make your goals clear from the beginning, there won’t be major surprises during your onboarding, and that’s exactly what you want for reps. New hires will understand what’s expected of them, and they’ll want to know whether they’re up to par.
Here’s what your reps should learn about in the first month of their 30-60-90-day plan for sales onboarding:
- Your product and your buyers
- The early stages of the deal cycle
- How to engage in pipeline generation
Nothing surprising there, right? ‘Cept maybe the second half of #1. Let’s dig into that one.
Most sales onboarding teams spend a ton of time in deep-dive-demo mode, showing their product to their reps. Obviously that’s necessary, but there’s a trap that almost every org falls into: they inevitably focus their reps on the product’s features.
You know what they’ll do with their new-found understanding of your product? They’ll teach buyers about it in exactly the same way. And dang, if there’s anything that’s bad for closing deals, it’s focusing your buyers on features. (More on that in this post, that will forever change your view of feature dumping: Top Sales Mistakes: 7 Horrifying Blunders That Lose Deals.)
Teaching new hires about your product and its features often takes the place of equally important issues, like learning who they’ll sell to and why those folks are interested in your product. You need to cover ALL of these issues if you want a well-rounded rep who’s truly focused on their buyer.
Several strategies can help you get there during your onboarding process. They include persona training, where you get into the nitty gritty of who buys your product and why.
You should also give your reps talk tracks about the value of your product, not just its features. Those types of talk tracks are MUCH more successful than any others your reps might use. Good onboarding programs will even certify reps on using them appropriately during training calls.
And yes, for that you need to listen to your new hires’ calls, whether they’re role-playing calls or real ones in the field.
Ready to dive in whole-hog? Snatch our checklist for what you should achieve each month with your 30-60-90-day plan for sales onboarding.
Your 60-day plan
The second month of your 30-60-90-day plan for sales onboarding should take everything your new hires learned in their first month and sharpen it to a finer point. That means focusing on trickier parts of the sales process and honing deeper skill sets.
You may be thinking that complexity-free, core sales are where you want to focus. But the data says otherwise. Or more accurately, the data says “yes, and…”.
Go ahead and train a baseline for core selling. But then teach your reps a few superpower sales skills that can help them take on larger and more complex deals… because that’s where the money is.
We recommend focusing on these three skills in month two of your 30-60-90-day plan:
Like it or not, your reps will have to discuss the competition with buyers. Don’t leave them unprepared. (After a 30-60-90-day plan?! C’mon. They should be well-equipped.) Get into your reps’ heads now with the right messaging and train them to win those conversations.
Of course, you’ll need to know what softens your buyers’ worries where the competition’s concerned. And that requires data-backed insights from current and historical calls so you know what works (and what doesn’t) for competitor questions and objections. (Good thing Gong’s sales enablement software is at the ready, eh?)
Want even more on dealing with the competition? Read this.
Negotiation: Leaning on a manager in the first few negotiations is fine. Being unable to close on your own is not. Make sure your reps know how and when to discuss pricing. (Hint: NEVER over email. Learn why here.) They should know which words to use and which ones to avoid, as well as exactly what to offer to buyers and how.
Without teaching stellar negotiating skills, you create a bunch of show openers who can’t close anything. They’ll lose deals right at the last minute or drain you dry by having you close everything for them. (It’s one Bruno’s recurring nightmares, closing everyone else’s deals for them. Sure, he’s adorable enough to get the job done, but a dog’s gotta nap.)
Critical deal stages: When exactly will they need those negotiating skills? In late-stage deals. That’s when they’ll engage in activities such as pilots, free trials, C-suite calls, and complicated security reviews. Make sure your reps understand the obstacles they may face, and how to handle them, before they’re eyeball deep.
At the end of this phase in your 30-60-90-day plan for sales onboarding, everyone should feel like they have it in them to become a top performer on the team.
And not to get repetitive or anything, but you should all be able to tick off every goal and activity in that sales onboarding checklist we made for your sales onboarding plan. (What, you thought it was for us? Fair point… Gong uses it too.)
Your 90-day plan
You’re in the homestretch. By now, reps get your product and your buyers. It’s time to make sure they have full mastery of the product’s technical details. If they do, they can answer buyer questions succinctly and quickly without getting into the weeds on features (a terrible place to go with buyers).
Make sure they also (deeply) understand the ins and outs of your sales process from first contact to close, and know how to keep deals moving forward. They’ll need to know what can derail and sink deals, recognize warning signs that it’s happening, and course correct. This takes time, but at the end of your 30-60-90-day plan, they should be headed down the right path.
You’ll also want to add a dash of the real world by bringing up quota attainment. Everything you’ve done so far tees up your new hires for success in this realm. So give them ambitious-yet-achievable pipeline goals to get that first deal.
When they hit their first home run, celebrate like you mean it. A first deal is a big deal. Everyone, and we do mean everyone — their manager, their peers, their enablement team — should ring the gong when they get the deal signed. (C’mon now. We can’t be the only ones with an actual gong.)
You should also work on how they get self-sourced, qualified opportunities, because that pipeline won’t fill itself.
What happens after 90 days?
Your initial onboarding is, in fact, an introduction to how ongoing training and coaching work at your org. Although this is an intensive, 30-60-90-day plan to move new hires through sales onboarding, training should be an ongoing experience that keeps them updated with regular improvements to their skills.
New messaging and new initiatives should follow a similar path to what we’ve outlined above, where you state your goals, deliver content, and evaluate your reps. That’s part of why it’s critical that you get your sales onboarding right: It sets reps’ expectations for the rest of their time on your team.
You know what could really help you out here, at least for the sales onboarding part? Uh-huh. The sales onboarding checklist. It couldn’t be simple or more effective. Just straight-up goals and activities to include in your 30-60-90-day plan for sales onboarding.