Every new person on your team has a mountain to climb.
If they’re new to your company, they have a steep learning curve on product, process, and culture. If they’re new to sales, they have another steep learning curve on strategy and tactics. Add in the fact they’re surrounded by people who’ve already summited those mountains, closed some sales, and earned their knowledge.
It’s daunting – and exactly the reason why you need to level the playing field by giving new hires access to the same knowledge that lives in your more experienced reps’ heads.
We’re talking tribal knowledge, the stuff that your reps “just know” or learn through experience. It’s the kind of knowledge that flies under the radar, living in the memory of your team or scattered across a million different places.
Surfacing that tribal knowledge benefits everyone on your team – but it’s especially helpful for new employees trekking up that onboarding slope.
Training for your team, by your team
Let’s think of all the ways tribal knowledge could help enable a new sales rep on your team:
They’d develop great habits from day one.
No more guesswork – they’d have all the best scripts, templates, tips and tricks (and more!) that your reps have compiled over the years, available from their first sales call.
They’d make the right call more often.
Knowing what worked and what didn’t for other reps on your team enables new recruits to make better decisions based on qualified experience.
They’d pick up the job faster.
Instead of spending time hunting down information on their own or interrupting other reps from their work, they can get hyper-relevant answers to what they’re doing right now, on-demand.
They’d stick around longer.
Pooling the knowledge from your entire team (and from outside teams) shows new reps that you’re invested in their growth and development from day one.
They’d feel like part of the team.
Openly inviting knowledge sharing shows you support open discussion and contributions to your team’s success from everyone involved.
Putting your tribal knowledge to work
Sounds great – but where do you start? It’s a little like eating an elephant; it’s a big job that needs to happen one bite at a time. So here are 4 pieces you can chunk off to make your next onboarding happen more smoothly.
1) Find a way to organize your knowledge
First, you need a place to put your team’s sales knowledge and a way to organize it. There are lots of options out there, from simple knowledge databases to full-featured knowledge sharing platforms.
To do: Do some research on options for a knowledge management solution. Whatever you choose, make sure that it:
- Provides a single point of access that connects knowledge from across your organization
- Uses a robust search to find the right information, fast
- Provides clear navigation so reps know where they’re going
- Lets your team share, comment, and rate content so the best tips rise to the top
- Is accessible from anywhere, anytime, on any device
2) Answer your most frequently asked questions
Do new reps always ask for a specific email template? Do they have trouble finding a pricing table? Do they know where the coffee filters are? Chances are, the same questions come up over and over again – and the more experienced reps on your team are getting tired of answering them.
To do: Listen for the common questions that come up during the first few days, weeks and months on the job. Sift through your Slack channels, emails, and any other place questions commonly pop up, too. Whatever you find – big or small – make a list. Then, incorporate those answers into your playbook.
3) Identify early stumbling blocks
Once reps get over that initial learning curve, everything seems to get a bit easier. That task they struggled with for weeks seems so unremarkable now that it doesn’t even occur to them to make note of it. But that’s precisely the kind of thing your next rep will stumble over.
To do: Figure out what caused the most pain by asking your team directly and checking back on meeting notes and chat records from the past. You’ll also want to ask reps how they cleared those hurdles and record their answers for others on your team. Then upload that knowledge for everyone to access.
4) Make note of today’s trouble-makers
Hurdles aren’t limited to things in the past – you want to make documentation an ongoing process, too. Let’s say a rep spent 3 hours figuring out how to address a new client objection this week. Their solution is the kind of knowledge you’ll want to capture so the next rep doesn’t end up wasting time redoing the same work.
To do: Make time during your 1:1 meetings to discuss the barriers reps are butting up against. If they’ve found a solution, encourage them to share it. If they’re still chipping away at it, help them through it – and share your own notes alongside theirs when you figure things out together.
Here’s some good news: we’ve got tons of great playbook templates you can use to build out your team’s knowledge, perfect for new hires and seasoned reps alike. If you need a little inspiration, this is a great place to start.