Employing new sales reps in your company must involve an onboarding process. Simply throwing them into the deep end and believing that they should figure it out on their own can cause a disorganised environment. This in turn will affect your existing business processes and employees.
Onboarding involves teaching new sales reps (and other employees) the company culture, knowledge and skills that will enable them to more easily become productive members of the company. Onboarding can decrease mistakes, inspire confidence, increase job satisfaction and performance, and eliminate the stresses new employees may have.
There are a few factors that influence how successful new reps will be. First off, sales reps need clarity about the role they will be playing in the company. What are their duties and responsibilities? Self-efficacy (belief in one’s own ability) is another factor that will help them feel capable of fulfilling the duties and responsibilities mentioned. This trait needs to be taught over time and can be achieved by giving people control over what they do.
Fellow sales reps will play a big role in the third factor, social acceptance. If the new employee feels like they are being accepted into the company, they will be more loyal towards the company brand and be more likely to invest themselves personally, making it less likely that they will leave. Lastly, knowledge of organisational culture is also important. A new employee needs to know what the company’s values, goals, rules, norms and environment (culture) are to help them fit in better and complete work tasks in a more efficient way.
Small details can help you nail the onboarding process from the get-go. This means that planning ahead is the most important part of your onboarding. Have your HR personnel make sure that some of the following gets done on a sales rep’s first day:
- Send out an email introducing the new employee and encourage people to personally introduce themselves (only send the email to existing employees so that the welcome doesn’t feel forced).
- Fill in all paperwork; do background checks, driver’s license review and anything else that is important for filing.
- Set up the new sales rep’s computer, mobile devices and email accounts.
- Provide them with their badges, nameplates, security cards and business cards (should any of these be needed).
- Set up their phone and make sure they know how to use it. Provide others with their extension.
- Provide guides to using necessary software.
All of the above things make the rest of the onboarding process go much quicker and get the admin out of the way to start with training. There are little things that a new sales rep (or any other employee) will surely ask, so be prepared to answer these before they even have to ask:
- What should they bring for paperwork purposes?
- Where do they park?
- Where are the restrooms?
- Where can copies be made or where are the printers?
- Where can they go to eat or get lunch?
- Who is the person they can go to for any questions they might have?
Even though the above lists apply to all new employees, remember to still have a personalised approach. Think of the things that your sales reps use on a daily basis and ensure that your new sales rep has access to these. Also, each individual’s management style is different.
Try to provide some form of performance appraisal system so that the sales rep knows what is important to management and what is not. Give them an idea as to what their key objectives are so that they can work towards these instead of feeling aimless the first few days.
It may be helpful for a high-level employee to take them through the process. This will make the new employee feel valuable because someone so important took the time to address and explain the processes to them.
There are some steps that apply only to new sales reps:
- Have them shadow more established reps in the company when they cold-call or go to visit companies on site.
- Apart from the shadowing, provide them with a regular mentor that they can talk to that can lead them efficiently.
- Meet with the rep on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for the first few weeks to answer any questions they may have and review their progress. Make sure that they know what is expected of them to prepare for each meeting.
- Work alongside the rep to develop a sales plan with their own sales goals they would like to achieve every 30, 60 or 90 days. Then check to see whether they are meeting their goals. If they are not achieving these, investigate why not. This may relate back to how the onboarding process was handled.
- Provide a small training program to new sales reps in which they are given an overview of the current market, past sales trends, marketing and branding strategies, and so forth.
- Train them on each product, the features and applications as well as pricing.
- Show them company territories, customer base and your most important clients.
- Help them understand what type of buyers the company caters to and why they buy certain products.
- Help the sales rep master the company’s set sales processes and make sure they know what steps to follow when making a sale.
The steps above are only a guideline but you can always adapt these to suit your company.
Having an onboarding process will help to make your sales team more cohesive and will help to iron out any growing pains and lessen the need for expensive and time-consuming training in the future.