The first step to improving your onboarding training is to look at it like a journey, not a race. There are certain phases and points that will be reached, and at those points, new training or information will need to be provided. It will be your duty to guide them through the entire process and provide them with the elements that they need to become most successful. Too often, companies bring employees on board and then present them with an overabundance of information and resources, expecting them to be able to figure out which ones will be most useful.
Your employees just walked in the door. How are they supposed to know which tools will help them become successful sales reps within your organization? It’s easy to overlook, but when you think about it, it just doesn’t make sense to leave people to their own devices if you want to make the most of the onboarding process. You have to provide them with a guiding hand that picks and chooses the best tools and information for their successful onboarding and the future of their career.
Start Early and Communicate Often
It’s easy to assume that onboarding starts on day one, but the reality is that many aspects of the new hire process can, and should, be handled before the employee’s first day. Getting as much done as possible ahead of time means that when they do start their first day, they will be able to focus more on their actual job training and less on the logistics of onboarding. The less timid and confused people are walking in the door, the better it will be for your sales team and your organization as a whole.
Put Away the Fondue Buffet
Onboarding is a veritable buffet of information, tools, and resources. The data is always flowing and the plentiful tools are handed freely to new hires like a grab bag of options, leaving them to try to determine which are going to be most effective in their training. From day one, you’re creating excess stress and an unrealistic expectation in your employees by doing this. Rather than laying out the full spread and hoping they find something useful, cultivate the onboarding solutions and tools you provide to their exact job role and training needs.
Setting clear expectations and goals not only helps an employee to succeed better, but it gives you the chance to put them on the right track with training. This ensures that they stay on target during the first months on the job and offers easy course correction before things go too far off track. If you don’t give people clear expectations and resources, they aren’t going to know how to maximize their role in your organization. Help them.
Check-in with People
Don’t just ask if people are doing okay or if training is going well. Ask your new team members if they understand what is expected of them and how they feel about the goals you have set. Find out what their own goals are, as well, and make sure that everyone knows that you value honest feedback so that you can get the truth to provide the best onboarding process for your sales team, no matter what that means. Make sure that you leave things open-ended when you’re touching base with new hires so that you give them room to start a conversation. This will lead to far more success in onboarding than if you assume everyone is checking the boxes and moving along.
Make Sure They Understand Their Role in the Eyes of the Customer
Today’s sales climate is very customer-focused and human-oriented. For sales teams to be effective, they have to understand what customers expect from the buying process. Not only is it more challenging to give people what they want when you aren’t sure what that is, but it causes reps to lose sight of their role and their goals, which can lead to burnout and discourage reps from being successful even in the early stages of the onboarding process. The customer experience and expectations should be an integral part of training for day one so that all reps are onboarded successfully and ready to take the customer on the journey that they deserve.
Employees Want Guidance, Not a Free-for-All
As much as some people work better with a greater sense of autonomy in their role, that needs to come after the successful onboarding process. In training, the greatest grievance of new hires is that they aren’t given enough direction and support along the way. By taking a hands-on approach to your onboarding training, you’ll provide people with the tools they need and the support that they deserve. Help your employees understand how they play an integral role in the organization and which elements of the onboarding process will be most important to them along the way.
Essentially, companies need to start designing the onboarding experience for their new hires the same way that they hone in on the customer experience. With deliberate planning and careful intentions, you can create a phased approach to training that takes the feeling of being overwhelmed out of the process for new employees. When they feel more secure in the training process, employees tend to have a much better sense of the sales team they’re joining and therefore will be less likely to leave.
The Bottom Line
It’s a simple concept. Onboarding is only going to be successful if you have a journey to guide people through so that they obtain the knowledge and skills that you require. Treat your onboarding experience like the customer experience to ensure that your team gets the right tools and training every step of the way. And most importantly, start treating new hires like team members from the moment that you decide that you’re going to add them to your sales team. If you wait until they get in the door, you’re already too late.