The Onboarding Essentials

Shorter ramp time, faster uptake, slower attrition. That’s all possible by working out— and working on—the essential components for new sellers. Jess Andrews shares a framework for delivering what matters.

When it comes to sales onboarding, organisations are looking to shorten ramp time and reduce attrition for all new hires, whether they are experienced sellers, or early in their career. Even seasoned sellers need the essentials to achieve sales success in their new organisation. It’s tempting to label everything as ‘essential’, but we all know sellers are typically short on time and we want them ‘out there’, selling as quickly as possible. We need to select content carefully. 

To add to that, successful sales onboarding goes beyond imparting knowledge—it equips new hires with the tools required to follow internal and external sales processes and provides guidance on where to turn when questions arise. 

So, consider this question: what do new hires really need to know in the first week? First 30 days? First 1-3 months? These are the real essentials. 

Working Out the Essentials

Usually, it is not just the sellers we need to think about. Programmes need to attend to three key sets of needs—the needs of the new hire, the needs of their manager and the organisational needs. To build something that truly satisfies everyone, establishing and agreeing a set of well-defined competencies that are aligned to the needs and strategy of the business is a good place to start. Break those competencies into behaviours and throw in a dash of evaluation, and we’re off to the races, setting the stage for a seamless integration (if that isn’t mixing my metaphors) into the organisation. 

Working On the Essentials

Once we’ve outlined our essentials, here’s a simple but effective way to organise them: The Customer, The Product, The Process and The Team. 

The Customer

To really deliver on value-based, customer-centric selling, we must first and foremost understand the customer. Each customer or customer business is unique and will have different, or multiple personas depending on the industry, territory, or product/service. What makes our customers unique? What tools do we have to support new sellers in getting to know their customers? 

The Product

Early in the onboarding process, employees should be able to identify and articulate what the organisation sells and what sets it apart from its competitors. Sellers need to be able to communicate the value of their product or service to a range of customer personas. A fun way to practise this could be anything from a cocktail party pitch to elevator pitch, depending on the product or service. How would we explain it, as concisely as possible, to someone who has never heard of it? 

The Process

Organisations often rely on a process, a methodology or a combination of the two to drive sales success. To support these, they employ a range of tools that new salespeople need to get their heads around. Get new hires up to speed on methodologies and processes quickly. Consider designing experiential learning opportunities using the tools that support the process. 

The Team

Sales has historically been viewed as a job for the ‘lone wolf’ but this is changing in many organisations who are moving toward connected teams and a collaborative sales mindset. As such, new hires should be guided on where they add value within the wider sales team, and ideally introduced to their connected team early on. This team will be an invaluable resource.

Once we’ve organised our essentials into those four buckets, then the fun bit: making it happen. We’re helping organisations get their sales onboarding essentials into the hands and minds of their sellers, and creating robust, rigorous and effective programmes. Is yours next?