You know the saying: by failing to prepare, we prepare to fail.
It’s why we make agendas for meetings, budgets for expenditures and playbooks for sales reps. And, as it turns out, we need to do the same thing for onboarding.
Planning and onboarding go hand-in-hand. In a world where the average sales rep takes about six to nine months to ramp up to full productivity, and the average salesperson tenure sits at 1.5 years, having a well-defined schedule for new hires can get them up to speed faster – and keep them engaged at your company for longer.
How much longer? Well, a study from Click Boarding shows that 69 percent of employees would stick with their company for at least three years if they experienced great onboarding. That first week is especially crucial. It’s your chance to make a first impression as a whole team. It’s an introduction to your culture. It’s the foundation upon which that entire experience is built.
Here’s the good news: the secret sauce isn’t hard to make. All HR and benefits information aside, here’s our recipe for onboarding success during that essential first week.
Start with shadowing:
Nothing answers the question “What will I be doing here?” faster and more effectively than seeing it in action, from sitting in on calls and demos to watching a pro navigate your sales enablement systems.
Assign a project:
Projects aren’t just for schoolkids. They’re a great way to learn, too. Ask your new hires to create a dummy account in your CRM. Assign a task that incorporates the product or service you sell. Role-play a sales call or a demo. This is a great chance for them to explore your products, systems and culture in a fun and engaging way.
Make organization-wide introductions
Of course you’re already planning to introduce your new hire to your team. That’s a no-brainer. But what about the rest of the company? That first week is a great time to set up coffee or lunch meetings with folks from marketing, IT, operations and more to help reps get a better idea of your culture and how sales fits into the business as a whole. Plus, you never know where a good connection will take them.
Pre-answer common questions:
Your new hire probably has 100 questions. And you’ve probably answered each one 100 times before. Rather than stepping away from your work to answer the basics or asking another team member to do the same, put these questions and answers into a knowledge sharing platform where your reps can self-serve in real-time as questions come up.
Use the buddy system:
An onboarding buddy is someone in your who already knows your company culture and can help your new hire find their way around, make important connections and check in to see how things are going. To get the most out of the buddy system, make it a two-buddy system: one from within your team who can answer job-specific questions and one from outside who can broaden their network.
No two reps are the same… and no two roles on your team are, either. A cookie-cutter approach to onboarding won’t cut it, and neither will a firehose of information. Take only what’s relevant and just-in-time for the role, and give them the bites they need when they need them. Everything should be findable in your playbook, too.
Ask for feedback:
Are your new hires happy with their onboarding experience? What worked best for them, and what could you improve? Show you’re listening to their concerns and supportive of their success.
True onboarding starts before day one
That said, don’t forget about the work that comes in before week one even begins. Nothing leaves a worse taste in a new hire’s mouth than walking into a new office and finding their laptop isn’t ready or their tools aren’t set up.
The same goes for your company knowledge. Wouldn’t it be great if that new rep had all the best sales tips, product info, prospecting guides, templates and sales processes right off the bat? That’s where the modern playbook comes in. Not only does it keep everything in one spot, but it also gives new and seasoned reps alike that boost they need to get their job done fast and effectively.
Remember: when you prepare your new hires to succeed, you prepare yourself to succeed, too.