Whatever extent of sales onboarding you use for new sales hires, there is one overriding goal to aim for: that the salesperson can close a deal as soon as possible. The timeline will be broadly driven by the length of the company’s or the product’s sales cycle but the principle remains the same. The emphasis here is on the timing of the close of the first deal, so the skill being tested is not so much closing, as shortening the sales sales cycle, a much more complex task.
Sales onboarding is not like any other type of onboarding. In other roles the new hire is learning to do and understand things. In a sales role, the salesperson has to make rain with minimum cloud cover. The clock starts ticking for a new sales hire the day they accept the role; they are already – well – behind schedule by day one in the new job.
Reaching a sales goal is a journey of endless setbacks and rapid recovery. Even small progress takes far more effort and many times longer than we imagined or hoped for. The “existing” pipeline turns out to be a bunch of re-cycled names. The “leads” turn out to be names of companies the boss wishes we could sell something to. And the new salesperson will need to prepare a “demo” which could take several months by the time “IT” has scheduled the work. In fact, the new salesperson has exactly enough distractions to guarantee failure. In a “civilian” role distractions are usually a source of fun. In sales they career-ending.
The clock starts ticking for a new sales hire the day they accept the role; they are already – well – behind schedule by day one in the new job.
Securing the first sale is the best learning tool
When you hire a new salesperson, no matter what their experience or background, they will have to re-climb the learning curve. It’s foolish to assume that experience is the same as knowing what to do in a new situation. That’s why sales onboarding should focus sharply on these four activities, that greatly reduce the time to the first closed deal.
- Finding and selecting Target opportunities, and trying to assess the tendency to adopt, in order to identify possible early wins.
- Developing Conversation Entry Points and early value-messaging. This is a key tool, the equivalent of a combination to open a safe.
- Reaching out to prospects, and testing messages and channels.
- Practising opening pitches off-line and testing conversation approaches on a few less valuable targets.
If the goal of onboarding is for example, to get familiar with everything, that will take forever. If the goal is to secure a first deal, soonest, that will drive the necessary effort and learning.