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As sales professionals, our role is to influence our prospects and invite them to consider our perspective, aligned with their desired outcome. Share stories and insights where they want to learn more, have them leaning in? This should also be our goal for new sales members being onboarded. But how often is it? New sales reps are excited to join a team, but there may be some apprehension as well. This may be their first sales role. As their leader, how can we set clear expectations, show them the path forward and provide feedback along the way?
What I see too often, is there is no onboarding process. They are oriented with product specs, sit with someone on the team to listen to their calls and then low and behold it's their turn. Is this setting them up for success? building their confidence? and demonstrating our support for their continued development?
In short, No. When they sign the contract, their energy is high, and they are excited, looking forward to learning & making an impact. When they show up on day 1 to no process, no structure and no clear expectations, their once high energy is all of a sudden zapped.They second guess their decision, question the company and build a wall against the leadership team. Combine this with they are telling their friends after work, how disappointing their first week was. You as a leader have spent thousands of dollars with a recruiter, onboarding resources, and taking time out to support this person all at a loss. Also, not good for office optics. This type of neglectful behaviour erodes any type of culture you may have had and it is preventable.
So what do we do?
Create a process
Map out the timelines, (30-60-90) deliverables, and feedback loops, and spell them out so there is no confusion from anyone.
With a plan, they feel supported. Benchmark an estimate of where they should be by a certain date. This helps them see around the corner, what does the future look like with an organization like this?Start by reviewing customer case studies. Why is this important? We want our team to be problem-centric, not product-centric.Focus on the challenge/ pain point your prospect has and the impact it is having on them, their team, their department, industry etc. You are grooming them to become strategic partners. What emotions are our buyers expressing? Frustration, overwhelm? Recognize and feel the "before" stage. Now invite your team member to see the impact your solution had on your customer. What did that path to change look like and what are they now able to do as a result of your product?
This "before" and "after" invites your team to start at the current state. Look for emotions, and specific challenges a certain type of prospect is having, perhaps at a certain stage, in a certain industry. They can easily recognize patterns, cues, behaviours, and language in future prospects.
If their prospects are not yet at the awareness stage, they can educate them, and heighten their awareness of the risks that are around the corner if things remain unaddressed. The cost of inactivity.Finally, they hear from the customer the impact it had on them, what language are they using, and what can they specifically do now as a result of solving this problem. This type of training creates trusted advisors, people who can pick up on subtle nuances because they understand human behaviours, triggers and reasons why their clients changed, not product specs. How can they now build these into stories to share with their customers? Meet them where they're at, create resonance and connect on an emotional level.
Offer feedback. As you and your peers support them along the onboarding journey, how are you collecting feedback? Role play, quiz, surveys? are you building in a feedback loop?
After role playing, provide feedback and try again, are they adding the changes into the next practice? Building on this, this invites them to not be afraid to try and practice. So often we forget the practice stage and move right to performance. Our prospects should not be a practice round, as leaders this is our role.
Communicate regularly. Seek feedback as to what they are enjoying, where are still gaps and what they need more of.
Build this feedback into the onboarding plan, and ensure the employees' needs are at the core of the process, keeping in mind people learn and retain differently. We need to be agile and flexible. Once we have an understanding of the customer journey, their before and after, we move from the macro stages to the micro. Create a playbook.What scripts, tech stacks, CRM, and resources do they need at each stage to confidently move to the next stage?
Do you have a resource library with email scripts, call templates, video best practices, a target list of customers, a discover/ demo checklist etc?Most companies hand the product to their team and drill them up and down on the features and benefits of the product. With a focus on features, you commoditize your product, your buyers will see no difference between you and your competitors, and a discount becomes the differentiator. Just like our customers, our new hires are looking for an experience. Align with their excitement and enthusiasm, at the inception. Our role is to hire and retain our team. Keep them happy, and motivated and allow them to feel heard This starts with their first encounter with their new company.
How will you modify or perhaps create your onboarding process to attract and retain top talent?
For 20 years Karen has been specializing in the art and science of sales and communication her passion and experience are helping technical sales professionals become more confident and to disrupt with value.
Her dedication to developing and delivering customized sales training programs provide her audience practical, relevant tools that can be used immediately to break down the barriers in a competitive landscape and separate themselves from the noise.