Whenever you hire a new rep or reassign an existing salesperson, it usually takes a while to bring them up to speed. Until you (mostly)

complete this process, your new coworker is unlikely to be very productive. This is why good sales onboarding should be a priority for any business.

While the exact process varies, effective sales onboarding usually follows a certain rhythm. Understanding the key stages and how they need to be delivered is important if you want to improve the way you welcome new staff.

In this post, we’re going to walk you through every step of successful sales onboarding — from the pre-onboarding welcome package through to the cycle of continuous improvement.

What Is Sales Onboarding?

Put simply, sales onboarding is the process of introducing new team members to your sales process and company culture.

While it’s possible to introduce these concepts through ad hoc training, the stats show that creating a more in-depth, standardized onboarding framework is worth the effort.

For a start, sales reps who have a good sales onboarding experience are 60% more likely to stay in the same company for three years or more. That figure gains even more significance when you consider the value of retention; the average turnover cost for sales reps stands at $97,690.

There is good evidence to show that onboarding can massively increase the output of new recruits, as well. Some studies show that you can improve the productivity of incoming workers by 25% through effective onboarding.

benefits of Sales Onboarding

The 6 Key Steps of Effective Sales Onboarding

Clearly, it’s worth spending some time on optimizing your sales onboarding process.

1) Pre-Onboarding

When you sign a new sales rep, there’s usually a small gap between when they accept the job and actually getting started. This window is what we call the pre-onboarding stage.

Some businesses ignore this time, and only get to work once the new hire arrives in the office. What’s the point of trying to prepare someone before they have even met the sales team, right?

Well, that is not necessarily true. In fact, many very successful sales teams regard the pre-onboarding stage as super important.

If you prepare some great onboarding materials — video introductions, company documents, and so on — your new hires can be picking up knowledge before they arrive. And that means they will also feel a bit more prepared for their first day.

2) Orientation

On their first day and throughout their first week, your new sales rep is likely to feel a little lost. Orientation is all about providing some direction.

Exactly what this stage involves will rely very much on your working environment.

In the office, sales managers can show the new recruit around, and introduce the team. This phase might also include an in-person introduction to the sales workflow, and you could ask the new sellers to shadow sales leaders and more experienced reps.

For virtual teams, orientation might involve a quick group video call to break the ice, and multiple chats throughout the day. Being remote means sales managers need to make the effort to check in more frequently in these early stages.

3) Getting to Know You

Once your new employee has become a little more familiar with their surroundings, it’s a good idea to sit down and have an informal conversation with them. Getting to know your new rep is essential if you want them to feel truly comfortable and motivated.

During this phase, sales managers should be trying to find out:

  • How the new rep likes to be managed
  • What motivates them
  • How they like to be rewarded
  • What their communication style is

At the same time, sales managers can share their own motivations and communication habits. This can reduce early friction, and help the new sales hire to bed in faster.

Getting to Know new reps

4) Understand the Company, Your Customers, and the Product

So far, each of the steps we have mentioned could apply to onboarding in any department. However, sales training should put a special emphasis on helping new salespeople to understand the company, your customers, and the product.

Why? Well, your sales team has unique responsibilities in terms of representing your business.

If your staff are not aligned with your brand values, and don’t truly understand the people they are selling to, they are likely to do more harm than good. And if they don’t have good product knowledge, the chances of them making a sale are low.

In any worthwhile sales onboarding plan, these points get plenty of attention.

5) Evaluation and Continued Training

At a certain point, new reps become a full member of the team. They might be new, but you can start to expect some return on your training investment.

The evaluation and continued training phase is all about setting the scene for what comes next.

It might seem a little early, but consider conducting a mini review after three months. This is more about checking whether there are still gaps in their knowledge, rather than a rigorous analysis of performance.

As they exit the official onboarding process, you can then point them towards further training resources — a cycle that can repeat over and over again for continuous improvement.

How to Improve Your Sales Onboarding Process

The phases mentioned above provide the high-level outline for a solid onboarding strategy. However, the details are just as important.

Here are five principles that can help you to build the best sales onboarding program around!

Create Lots of Onboarding Content

We often think about onboarding in terms of human-to-human contact.

While it’s definitely important to have these interactions, there is a lot of information you can impart without dragging sales managers off the job.

This is why we highly recommend creating lots of onboarding content. This could be video introductions, screen sharing tutorials, brand guidelines, and fact sheets.

For online teams, setting up a wiki or internal knowledge base can be an effective way to inform new members about the sales department before they even join the team. You can even set up FAQs for new team members.

Creating training materials like these takes time, of course. But that upfront investment means you can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend on each new hire.

Create Lots of Onboarding Content

Try the 30-60-90 Framework

Many of the most successful sales organizations utilize the 30-60-90 approach to sales onboarding.

This framework splits the onboarding stage into three distinct modules, each containing certain points that need to be completed.

Each module lasts 30 days; the name of the framework refers to the end point of each phase. The purpose of this approach is to ensure that your new employee gets up to speed as quickly as possible, and nothing is missed out along the way.

In the first 30 days, you introduce:

  • Company values, culture, and goals
  • Buyer personas / your ideal customer profile
  • Product key features and differentiation
  • An outline of your sales cycle

You should also give them access to your CRM, and get them to begin filling their own pipeline.

After a new rep has spent 30 days working in your team, you can introduce the following in the next 30 days:

  • Role play training for sales calls and other customer interactions
  • Shadowing of more experienced team members
  • Start daily outreach

You should also start to look at options for longer-term professional development.

In the final phase, ending at 90 days, you can set up the following tasks and activities:

  • Have reps start making live calls with prospects they have found
  • Have a mentor listen in on those calls
  • Help them to optimize their pipeline
  • Get reps fully on board with sales enablement

Of course, you can add your own variations here — but the examples mentioned above for each stage provide a good idea of the speed of progress you should be seeking to achieve.

Set Clear Goals and Expectations for New Hires

Whether or not you decide to follow the 30-60-90 framework, it’s a good idea to set goals or expectations for your new hires.

Of course, you don’t want to pile on the pressure here. It’s more about giving your new reps a clear timeline, and some sense of direction. Even if they can’t be hunting down new customers, they can still be progressing quickly towards that endpoint.

Some companies use gamification to enhance the process. When sales reps complete certain parts of their training program, they earn a badge or a big chunk of XP points. It’s a great way to keep people motivated throughout weeks of onboarding.

Set Clear Goals and Expectations for New Hires

Whichever way you choose to break it down, try to split the process into milestones and small tasks.

Assign Mentors

Shadowing is a very important part of sales onboarding. You can explain your style of messaging all you want, but there’s nothing like seeing the theory in action.

However, shadowing is only temporary. Before long, new reps will have to fend for themselves. To make the transition a little easier, it’s a good idea to assign a mentor to your onboarding employees.

Mentorship programs are proven to improve employee engagement, and team morale. They also help new hires to get established faster, thanks to advice from the more senior member of the partnership.

Of course, you will need some mentors to run such a program. So, think about how you can incentivize your experienced reps if they take on the role. For instance, you could highlight the opportunity to display leadership skills — which could be considered next time you’re thinking about promotions.

To cut down on the time commitment involved with mentorship, you might want to build a framework. This simple task sheet will remove the planning aspect, so mentors can focus on providing face-to-face advice.

Streamline Your Workflow

One change you can make that will help both new reps and existing team members is streamlining your workflow.

New employees can actually help you here. Ask them if there’s any part of your process that seems particularly confusing or time consuming. Whatever they identify can become your focus.

In some cases, you may be able to use automation to reduce admin. In other cases, swapping to a different tool can reduce the amount of time spent on specific tasks.

Take prospect research as an example. A new rep might get frustrated trying to find accurate contact details and company information. By switching to a tool like Datanyze, you can replace half an hour of searching with a single click.

Datanyze Chrome extension can find key data for anyone on LinkedIn or any company web page

Not only will this help new staff with getting started, but your overall productivity should improve as a result.

Datanyze: Help All Your Reps to Get Things Done

Whether you have an entire floor of sales staff or only a small team, upgrading your research with Datanyze can make a huge difference.

Our free Chrome extension can find key data for anyone on LinkedIn or any company web page. Our database covers over 120 million professionals, with accurate information from GDPR- and CCPA-compliant sources.

Once you search for a prospect, their information is automatically added to your team dashboard. You can then export all the data to your favorite CRM.

Sounds good? Sign up today to get a free 90-day trial!