A model for high-performing organizations

The cost of poorly onboarding a sales professional is nearly $200,000. As we deal with the fallout of the great resignation and seek to fill our rosters, it is important to ensure a solid onboarding process is in place.

When a sales professional fails to succeed, there are typically a few culprits — the role is the wrong fit, the role was misrepresented in the hiring process, there is a lack of commitment from the sales professional or from leadership, there is poor sales training, or there are poor sales structures.

There are two other scenarios I commonly see.

  • Leaving sales professionals with complete autonomy over their sales planning strategy and activities out of the gate, even with experienced professionals.
  • Not allowing enough time for a professional to become truly productive.

For reference, a Sales Management Association study found that it can take up to a year for a new sales professional to reach optimal productivity.

Making a connection

To create a successful sales onboarding model and sales training, it helps to connect onboarding to the other elements of high-performing organizations.

  • Team Structure. The overall structure of the sales organization, accounting for all roles and leadership reporting
  • Role design. Each role within the team is defined with specific characteristics, strategic and tactical expectations, and measures of success. This is the basis of hiring and assessing your sales talent.
  • Hiring strategy. Your go-to market strategy that includes marketing of the position, candidate assessment, interviewing, compensation planning and final offers.
  • Onboarding Strategy. Your overall approach for ensuring a successful entry into the organization that can extend to the first six to 12 months.
  • Leadership coaching and accountability. Your approach to sales leadership’s role in sales coaching, guiding and maintaining accountability to measures of success for your new hire, as well as a cultivating a growth culture.

A sales onboarding model

This model assumes a one-year ramp to true productivity and client ownership. Below are the themes you will want to design for, along with your timing and metrics.

  • Selling competencies. The key selling competencies they will need to ultimately demonstrate, as outlined by the role.
  • Solution, industry and customer competencies. Your company-specific knowledge they will need to master. Common examples are the understanding of key sales situations or mastery of a customer demo.
  • Coaching and shadowing. I can attest to the power of shadowing. Early in my career, I spent time with two very successful sellers who not only modeled success, they impacted my love of the career as a whole. Regular coaching cadence with the direct sales leader, and then shadowing opportunities, whether in-person or virtual, are a critical component.
  • Measures of success. This includes defining what success will look like at each quarter and then over the full picture of the first year. Your leading indicators are important, because at this point in time, there are no lagging indicators (for example, quota attainment). An agreed-to set of meaningful sales activities and progress are excellent places to begin. You’ll also gauge early on how committed your sales professional is to the process and working through obstacles. ●

Amy Franko is CEO and LinkedIn Top Sales Voice with Amy Franko Associates

Amy Franko

CEO and LinkedIn Top Sales Voice
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