I was listening to this Sales Management Minute from my colleague, Lee Salz, and it will really hit home with small business owners and managers. I posted this response to him on LinkedIn and thought I would share it with you because so many companies have struggled with hiring and onboarding salespeople.
Onboarding salespeople is one of the toughest things my small businesses face. They flat out don’t do it because they don’t understand what needs to be done. A few months later they are complaining that their salesperson isn’t performing. Large companies often have the luxury of hiring several salespeople at one time and sending them through two weeks of product and company training. That is a start and their manager gets them.
In companies large and small it would behoove them to have a formal onboarding process with a check list of things the salesperson needs to become proficient at in order to sell successfully for their company. Notice I said, “for their company” and that is because that salesperson may have been great for the last company but now they are at your company and it is different and they need to learn their new selling job and all the nuances.
Onboarding is only going to work if the right person was hired in the first place so I recommend taking a step back and looking at your hiring process. If you hire right, onboarding will be more successful.
In my opinion the onboarding process needs to start with learning the people and the culture of the organization and that can happen simultaneously with product training. Then shadowing a successful salesperson and in a small company that can sometimes be the business owner. Once the salesperson is ready to start selling someone needs to shadow him for a week or so to be sure things are going well, tell him what he is doing right and make corrections.
I’ll like to call the customers and prospects that he called on to see what their experience has been and get their feedback. I also like to talk to all of the people at the company that the new salesperson interacts with and get their impressions. My goal is to make this salesperson successful and avoid problems down the road. It’s easier to give feedback and make corrections in the first few months before bad habits set in.
I’m sure people reading this are thinking this is too much and takes too much time. I’ve heard many sales managers and business owners say, “I hired him because he knew how to sell, why do I need to teach him to sell? Hey,think product training is enough.” If you have a process for onboarding it actually takes very little extra time, it saves you thousands of dollars and gets your salesperson generating revenue more quickly.
Call me at 775.852.5020 to discuss your onboarding strategy and improve it.