Categories Articles, Sales and Marketing

Three months after going on a hiring spree and doubling the size of your inside sales team, the sales metrics suggests that your bookings remain stagnant. Why aren’t these new sales reps delivering and closing the deals that you expected them to?

Probably because you and your sales manager did not onboard them correctly. It’s not an uncommon issue – in fact, most sales organizations are regularly making mistakes when onboarding their new sales reps.

In talking to various industry experts, we have unearthed the 5 most common mistakes sales managers make when onboarding their new reps. Stop making these mistakes now!

Not setting clear sales metrics-based goals

How can the sales rep know if they’re heading in the right direction if they aren’t sure of their goals or what they are measured against? It is critical to set very specific goals at all levels of the skills training or onboarding process. More importantly, each of these goals should be metrics-based, and the new reps should have full access to all their relevant sales performance metrics.

For example, let’s say a big part of their immediate job responsibility is to get on the phones and make as many dials to outbound prospects as they can. Speed and organization are critical skills here. To this end, set a specific goal – say, 60 dials a day by the end of their first month here, before bumping that number up to 70 dials – and then show your new reps how to track their own sales activity metrics. Keep an eye on reps who are demonstrating early difficulties in hitting those numbers; they might need additional coaching right away.

No interactive training

The training or onboarding process for most new hires involves being given a printed copy of the sales playbook or a handful of sales books to read. Written materials are not the most effective onboarding training aids. Rather, sales managers should be recording existing calls and then breaking them down together with their new reps. Talk about specific things that were done well and point out where improvements can be made, and be sure to ask your new hires for the answers, instead of just providing them yourself. Role-play sessions are also great interactive training tools that have the added benefit of breaking the ice and bringing your new team together.

New hires are tasked with learning independently

New sales reps will learn better if they are paired with a “learning buddy” to share experiences with or turn to with questions. This “learning buddy” can either be a fellow new rep or a more experienced rep; there are advantages to each. When paired with a new rep, they will both be empathetic to what they are going through together and, being down in the trenches, can find unique ways of supporting each other. Meanwhile, the veteran rep will likely be a better source of answers to specific questions about the selling process. Whichever you choose, make sure that no rep goes through the onboarding process on their own.

Infrequent follow-up meetings to measure progress

Just because the sales playbook has been covered from front to back doesn’t mean the training process has been completed and that the new rep is now fully onboarded. Follow-up meetings should be immediately scheduled, with relatively frequent intervals between each meeting. During this learning period, your new hires will likely be overwhelmed with a deluge of new information, making regular follow-up meetings even more critical. Without regular reinforcement, they might quickly forget what they were just taught. Furthermore, without frequent monitoring of their progress, they could be struggling to get onboarded, unbeknownst to you.

Setting unrealistic expectations

Just as expectation-setting is a critical component when selling to a prospect, it is just as important when onboarding new reps. Drinking from a firehose and undergoing trial by fire is a sure way to ensure that your new reps are burnt out before they even make it on board. Don’t make the mistake of setting unrealistic expectations. It’s ok to have aggressive goals for your new hires – just make sure they are attainable and that you have provided all the job aids and training necessary for them to reach these new goals. Talk to some of your experienced reps to measure what a realistic goal looks like compared to an unrealistic one.

 

Now that you know what mistakes to avoid making, your onboarding process should be more effective and your new reps should begin paying dividends. What other common onboarding mistakes have you seen? Share them below!

 

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Showing 2 comments
  • Trish Bertuzzi

    In MHO the #1 impediment to effective onboarding is the fact that we hire them then hook them up to a hose of product information and measure them on metrics that are activity based and have nothing to do with moving the needle forward in a meaningful way. The first two weeks of any onboarding program should be buyer focused only: who are they, what does their business look like, what are their challenges, how are they measured, how are they addressing the problem now… you get it.

    The rush to productivity without context is what is shooting us in the foot. Thanks for listening!

  • Gareth Goh

    And thank YOU for your great opinions as always, Trish! It is critical to think for sales reps to think like a buyer, and the best time to implement that mindset permanently is at the start of an onboarding program.

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