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Sales Onboarding: 7 Ways to Ramp New Sales Hires Lightning Fast

October 9, 2018
Chris Orlob

Chris Orlob

Sales Enablement Sales Management
Faster sales onboarding is your lowest hanging fruit for generating more revenue. Unfortunately, onboarding new salespeople can be both time- and labor-intensive. The good news here? Sales onboarding is not table stakes. It is a revenue-driving activity and should be treated as such.

What Is Sales Onboarding?

Sales onboarding is the process companies follow to bring new reps to an organization and prepare them for success by teaching them the skills they need to perform their job effectively. Companies with strong new sales representative onboarding processes can train new sales reps efficiently and effectively, driving company performance as a result.

7 Ways to Accelerate Sales Onboarding

Sales onboarding is important because the sooner your new hires ramp to quota, the more revenue you’ll have on your books. Recently, we teamed up with Sales Hacker to share 7 tips that are guaranteed to help you accelerate sales onboarding:
  1. Let reps view a full sales cycle
  2. Show reps what ‘good’ looks like
  3. Let reps learn on-demand
  4. Crowdsource training content
  5. Continually measure
  6. Let reps demo sooner
  7. Use a consistent framework
If you are hiring new sales reps, the revenue gain from onboarding to full ramp becomes exponential. PS: If you ARE hiring sales reps, here are 35 great sales interview questions to ask sales candidates. Done properly, sales onboarding can be a profit-center versus a cost-center.   The faster you ramp a new sales hire (ramp defined as ‘time to quota’), the more revenue you will have on the books.  Want to know what these tips are? Let us explain… [newsletter]

Sales Onboarding Tip #1. Let Reps View a Full Sales Cycle

The first and most impactful tip to make new hire onboarding lightning fast? Allow your new sales reps to view a full sales cycle. Many sales organizations mistakenly limit new hire onboarding and training to call shadowing. By itself, call shadowing is just a random act of sales onboarding that fails to show reps the entire sales cycle. We recommend giving reps access to an entire activity map of a sales cycle – enabling new sales reps to see all the nuances of the sales cycle – instead of just a sliver: sales onboarding tips If you show new hires the entire cycle (ideally on demand), they will have a much broader view of how the sales cycle will be executed. This will expedite time-to-ramp during sales onboarding dramatically. 

Sales Onboarding Tip #2. Show Reps What ‘Good’ Looks Like

Our second new hire onboarding tip dovetails off the tip number one… As a sales manager, you should show your reps what ‘good’ looks like at each stage of the sales cycle. This means getting scenario-specific:
  • What does a good discovery call look like?
  • What does good objective handling look like?
  • What does a good competitive response snippet sound like?
A great way to do this is to record calls, crowdsource winning calls from your sales reps, and create dedicated libraries where recordings can become useful knowledge for your reps. Ideally, these calls will answer the questions going through a new seller’s mind:
  • ‘How do I talk?’
  • ‘How do I respond to this scenario?’
  • ‘How do I address this competitor?’
  • ‘How do I negotiate?’
  • ‘What are the unique nuances of our sales cycle?’
Creating a repository of high-quality recordings lets you give new hires access to the best materials to help accelerate their ramp and new sales representative onboarding process time.

Sales Onboarding Tip #3. Let Reps Learn On Demand

Enabling new sales reps to learn on-demand is the third tip for new hire onboarding. We recommend this process as an alternative to call shadowing. Call shadowing is difficult to coordinate from a logistics standpoint, and often affords new sales reps only a few opportunities to actually shadow experienced reps. Our stats show that sales reps are typically only able to shadow 5 calls during the first four weeks. On-demand learning resources like the call recording library give new hires the ability to hear 5 calls in the first couple of days on the job. The is the entirety of what other new sales reps would hear by shadowing live calls during an entire month. sales onboarding plans The statistics show that when live call shadowing is a rep’s primary learning method, it takes the new sales rep longer to produce at full quota. This is usually due to time lost during scheduling and downtime between calls. A rep that goes through on-demand training is going to knock it out of the park compared to a rep whose training is limited to live calls. On-demand learning resources give reps the ability to review recorded calls and learn at their own pace.

Sales Onboarding Tip #4: Crowdsource Training Content

Giving new sellers a repository of call recordings is an incredibly effective way to get them up to speed. Almost everything a new seller needs to learn during their new hire onboarding process can be found in frontline sales conversations:
  • Buyer and Market Knowledge
  • How to Handle Buyer Objections
  • How to Demo
  • How to Do Discovery
  • How to Run a Sales Process
When we say ‘crowdsource your training content’ – we mean record your superstar salespeople, capture what they do in specific scenarios, and use that as your new hire onboarding and training content. Record web conferencing meetings with Zoom or use Gong to record your calls in Outreach’s sales engagement platform to automatically create this content. Then, set up a training and onboarding program with your new sales reps and go through the recordings. The most obvious benefit is that your new hires will get to hear how your best salespeople handle critical scenarios throughout the sales process. A less obvious benefit is that you’ll devote less time and resources to building out training content, a labor intensive process. A third benefit: creating a call recording repository keeps training content fresh and up-to-date automatically. Let your ramped sales reps provide their best examples for new sales reps and create a culture of sharing strong examples in the process.

Sales Onboarding Tip #5: Continually Measure

The rule is: You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Sales onboarding is no exception. We recommend measuring several ramp metrics to assess the strength of your onboarding program:
  • Time to Full Quota (Or [X Percent] of Quota)
  • Time to First Deal
  • Time to First Demo
Worth noting: the shorter and more predictable your sales cycle, the more relevant these ramp metrics will be to your organization.  You also need to continually revisit ramp metrics to make sure they are making sense for your sales organization.  Besides measuring and refining your sales onboarding process, I also recommend dividing new hires into clear cohorts for easy comparison. You might consider thinking about each new hire onboarding program as its own campaign. I know of several high-performing sales organizations who have formulated an onboarding process that includes: 
  • Documenting everything new sellers go through during onboarding.
  • Creating a campaign for each onboarding class in Salesforce.
  • Comparing each onboarding class against one another.
Regardless of whether you go to these lengths, I urge you to take stock of your sales onboarding metrics and look to consistently improve them over time.

Sales Onboarding Tip #6: Let Reps Demo Sooner

Too many sales organizations are gun-shy about letting their new sales reps get a first demo under their belt. The long-term gain of giving new sales reps early at-bats far outweighs the short-term pain of initial mistakes. sales onboarding tips Sales reps are going to struggle no matter how long you wait before letting them demo live. But you might as well get it out of the way versus delaying the inevitable and slowing down new hire onboarding time in the process. This provides sales reps the opportunity to coach them from their own calls with specific examples. You can start by creating a practice environment – so to speak. The important thing is to get your new sales reps “at bats.” With rare exceptions – namely, where you have a really small market – you will benefit more from letting sales reps get demo at-bats early and often in their tenure. Live calls are where the most important learning happens.

Sales Onboarding Tip #7: Use a Consistent Framework

To help your new sales reps cross the chasm from new hire to a veteran sales rep consistently hitting quota, consistency needs to be in place. Consistent framework addresses the gap between onboarding and post-onboarding. It is also is the missing piece you need for scalability. To consistently onboard new sales reps at scale, your onboarding process should be standardized. This includes:
  • How you open calls
  • How you send a contract
  • How you conduct discovery
  • How you marshall a sales process from start to close
All of this starts with creating a standardized onboarding program, with checkpoints along the way for reps. Begin by creating call scorecards for different calls on your sales process: prospecting calls, discovery calls, and demos. Then, make sure reps are hitting high-level checkpoints for the various stages of your sales process. Doing so will enable you to continuously evaluate and coach your sales reps after their initial training. Even ramped reps can benefit from structured evaluation.

Watch the Sales Onboarding Webinar

Our sales onboarding webinar shows you how to get new sales reps to hit quota faster. You’ll learn:
  • How to get new salespeople to crush demos, discovery calls, and objections right out of boot camp.
  • A crazy-simple way to drastically decrease time-to-first-deal.
  • How to “A/B” test your onboarding groups for constant improvement.
  • Why “call shadowing” is the worst onboarding strategy (and what to do instead).
Ready to optimize your sales onboarding process? We thought so.

Click here to watch the full sales onboarding webinar.

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