7 tips for how you can onboard new sales people faster and make them more productive

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The 2016 CSO Insights study found that 60.7% of the study participants reported a ramp-up time of seven months or more. Combined with the fact that the average turnover per year is 16,5%, it can be highly valuable to ensure that your new sales people is fully productive more quickly. 

This article presents 7 tips on how to onboard new sales people faster and make them more productive. In my experience, these 7 areas can often be improved:

  1. Share knowledge from colleagues
  2. Share customer stories
  3. Provide learning in at least these 5 areas
  4. See training as ongoing
  5. Allow for autonomy
  6. Make training part of the daily work 
  7. Build an interactive sales playbook

1. Share knowledge from colleagues

A great source of learning is knowledge from colleagues. A good source for this knowledge is all the content that these sales people have created like: 

  • Presentations
  • Proposals
  • ROI calculations
  • Contracts

The problem is that it is often hard to find the most relevant and best content. It is either not shared, or hides in deep levels of sub folders. So you can either instruct your sales team to copy the most relevant examples to a shared space. Or you can use an automated solution like SalesValue. 

SalesValue automates the knowledge sharing. This is done by scanning both personal file shares like OneDrive and Google Drive and corporate file shares like Sharepoint and Google Team Drive. Using machine learning and algorithms SalesValue adds relevant context. It could be product, customer, file type, file format, language. SalesValue also ranks the content based on several factors.

This way SalesValue will automatically inspire your sales person with the most relevant and highest rated examples from his colleagues.  

2. Share customer stories

One of my most powerful sales tools is to tell stories from other customers. I explain how other customers have solved specific challenges by using my solutions. This builds trust.

This is not the stories you find in the public reference stories. It is the internal stories and examples from how your solutions have solve specific problems for a given customer. It is stories in a format like: 

  • Customer situation
  • Customer problem or challenge
  • How did your product solve the problem or challenge
  • Who from the customer was involved and what was the process
  • What value did this bring to the customer

Below is an example of a story from a SalesValue customer:

A marketing director knew his team spend a lot of time producing content. However the sales team did not use it. He considered how to change this situation.

He then implemented SalesValue. SalesValue showed him which content was actually used by both the sales team and the customers, through the statics, insights and ratings.

The marketing director also used the Sales Playbook to identify where in the sales process they missed additional content. By using the automatic knowledge sharing feature he could identify that the sales team had already created some great content, e.g. presentations, solution descriptions, ROI calculations and customer stories. He found the highest ranked content, and asked his team to anonymize and improve it, so it could be included in the interactive sales playbook. 

We recommend that you collect this type of story. This will significantly reduce the time needed to bring the new sales persons up to full productivity and it will increase his success rate. 

SalesValue customer story feature makes it easy to collect these customer stories and share them with the team at the right time and in the relevant context. It is very fast and easy to ask for and submit a real life story in SalesValue, compared to the time it takes to create a public reference story. 

SaleValue also makes it easy to identify the relevant contact persons for a story, like account manager, technical sales person and consultant, if you want to learn more.

3. Provide learning in at least these 5 areas

To be effective as a sales person today you need skills in many different areas. The figure below illustrates some of the areas that we find is very important for a sales person to be successful: 

  

We recommend that your onboarding program includes access to training and knowledge in these areas. Both in form of traditional training classes, peer training and individual training through reading and videos.

SalesValue automatically identifies relevant content for each area, and makes it easy to manage the content independently of where it is stored. SalesValue also present the content in relevant context, e.g. by product, customer and opportunity.

4. See training as ongoing

The amount of knowledge and skills required, as described above means that training is an ongoing effort. Onboarding should not only be a 1 or 2 week program. You will not be able to cover all of the knowledge required in a short program. Likewise your sales persons will not be able to digest and turn it into productive knowledge in a short timeframe. 

We recommend that you view your onboarding training as an ongoing effort.

SalesValue offers a great way to make training ongoing. Sales people can easily find relevant training content, customer stories, competitive info, customer history and knowledge from colleagues in relevant context, e.g. by product, customer and opportunity.  

5. Allow for autonomy and gain motivation

Each sales person is different and will bring different experience from education and previous jobs. Thus the training requirements will always differ for each new hire. 

Science shows that employees are motivated by autonomy. Read more about How to keep your sales team motivated in this blog post. 

You can use this in your onboarding program, by allowing the employee to have autonomy over their training plan and needs. The right balance between autonomy over time, task, technology and team, and following a training process will keep the employee motivated. You should still track skills and progress for your new hire, so you can follows up on that he gets the needed skills.

We recommend a few tricks to make it easy to create and to allow for autonomy: 

  • Divide your training into small pieces to make it easy to take in bites
  • Use simple tools like presentations, documents and video clips, e.g. webinar recordings
  • Use a sales enablement solution like SalesValue to make it easy to find training material
  • Make it easy to identify who is expert in what
  • Allocate time for coaching by colleagues and manager

6. Make training part of the daily work

As mentioned in point 4, training is an ongoing effort. Additionally, training is most effective when it is directly linked to specific activities that you need to perform. If a sales person has a customer meeting in relation an opportunity, it will be very useful for her to find training material that is directly linked to that opportunity, which could include: 

  • Product specific training
  • Training related to opportunity stage
  • Training related to customer industry 

We recommend that you make it easy for your sales people to search for and find content by product, opportunity stage, industry. You can do this by organizing the content in folders or tagging it.

SalesValue will automatically tag the content for you, by use of machine learning and algorithms. SalesValue will also find the most relevant content for the given context. SalesValue’s CRM integration provides recommended training and content on a specific opportunity, account or meeting.   

7. Build an integrated Sales Playbook

A Sales Playbook is defined by Hubspot like this: 

A sales playbook is a document outlining your sales process; buyer personas; call scripts and agendas; sample emails; discovery, qualification, demo, and negotiation questions; proposal guidelines; and/or competitive intelligence guidelines.

We recommend that you break down this old large sales playbook book into pieces. We then recommend that you link the content to your sales process, as described in this blog post: Tips for Sales Enablement in a Startup. This way the playbook can become interactive. This will significantly increase the value of the sales playbook.  

You can now create an interactive Sales Playbook in SalesValue by linking content and training to opportunity stages and activities.

SalesValue’s automatic knowledge sharing makes it easy to create the Sales Playbook, by using existing content in your file shares.

SalesValue also allows you to integrated the Sales Playbook into the daily work, by presenting the highest rated content in the context of the sales activities, e.g.

  • Follow up on a customer
  • Follow up on a opportunity
  • Preparing for a customer meeting
  • Lead generation

Need more help?

We hope you found the article relevant and inspiring. If you want more help check out the following resources:

 

 

 

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