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Talent & Recruitment
Jan 24, 2018 | Canadian Professional Sales Association lock

What's Needed to Successfully Onboard a New Salesperson in a Small Business

In the latest episode of the CPSA Recruitment and Talent podcast we'll discuss the importance of the onboarding new salespeople successfully in business today.  

We’ll consider why onboarding is where employers want to get salespeople off on the right foot and three things that will help them succeed, whether or not the onboarding paperwork should be completed before they start the job or during the first week and what are the advantages of completing early, why should you start immersing a new salesperson into the company culture before day one, and how should salespeople manage their learning time so they don’t lose site of closing the deals.

The guest is John Hirth, President at Selling Dynamics, L.L.C.

Listen to this episode of the CPSA Recruitment and Talent Podcast and discover:

* Why onboarding is where employers want to get salespeople off on the right foot and three things that will help them succeed

* Whether or not the onboarding paperwork should be completed before they start the job or during the first week and what are the advantages of completing early

* Why should you start immersing a new salesperson into the company culture before day one

* How should salespeople manage their learning time so they don’t lose sight of closing the deals

Want to hear more? Listen to the bonus insights:

* Provide 2 or 3 top tips for implementing successful onboarding

* Why should you start immersing a new salesperson into the company culture before day one?

* How should they manage their learning time so they don’t lose site of closing the deals?

Read the edited transcription:

Kevin Grossman: John, thank you so much for being on the CPSA Recruitment and Talent Podcast. Before we dive into the rest of the show, why don't you tell us briefly about who you are and what you do today.

John Hirth: Well, thank you, Kevin, and great to be here with you and your audience. My company, Selling Dynamics, was founded in 1990 focusing primarily on sales training in the beginning, but we then branched out into sales training, sales management training, we assist clients with recruiting, and also work in an area we call sales process engineering, where we really match the value clients bring to their customers. So in a nutshell, that's what we do.

Kevin Grossman: That's excellent. Well, we're gonna touch on a little bit of that, which is in the recruiting realm, and primarily, onboarding. So the first question I want to ask you, John, is, onboarding is where we want to get the sales people on the right foot, right? So what are two or three things that will help them succeed out of the gate?

John Hirth: Well, you've already mentioned one of the things, and I hesitate to make any comments without mentioning the need and importance of hiring the right people. So with that said, let's assume that they've got the right people. I think from an onboarding standpoint, the management needs to create a 90-day plan for their new hire. And that 90 days should really take them through the first 3 months of employment with no questions in their mind as to what they should be doing every day. One of the problems you have with new people is if they're not really well directed, they can get uncomfortable, and that can cause unnecessary turnover. So 90-day plan, critical.

Of course, they need to learn about the products and the markets served, but I'm always focusing my clients on teaching product and market knowledge in relation to sales process. So whatever technical information they are providing, they really should be thinking about what's the best way for those people to use that information in a sales process. So I think you try to marry technical and market knowledge with sales process. I think there need to be very clear expectations, I recommend most new hires are hired conditionally for 90 days. And within that 90 day period, I think we need to be clear of what are the things they need to do to be successful, and what are the things they can't do which would get them dismissed. So I'm a big believer in being upfront about all of that.

Additionally in a 90 day plan, I think it's very important to make part of that 90 days having the people to get out and meet customers. If they're in a business where they don't have any customers and it's all a build-from-start process, they need to be starting to make cold calls, maybe attend some industry functions, maybe some trade shows. But you gotta get them into the habit of being accurate. If they're acquiring a territory that has inclusive customers, then they've gotta go out and meet those people, or possibly set up a strategic phone call that they can begin to make right away, with no expectation of business, keeping pressure off people, but making sure that they're active in the business. So I think those are critical issues that will get people started on the right track.

Kevin Grossman: Absolutely. And we must get our sales people extremely active, because the whole point of them being on is to help grow and sustain the business, that is...

John Hirth: Absolutely. Well we're big believers in results follow activity. And the problem you'll have is that sometimes not only the sales people, but the company can fall victim of a process we call the getting ready disease. They're never gonna be ready enough. Get them out in front of people as quickly as you can.

Kevin Grossman: Absolutely. So, John, I'm gonna jump now and talk about that pesky paperwork, right? Because part of onboarding, of getting a new hire "onboard," quote unquote, is to not only get them hit the ground running as we just talked about, but also there's gotta be paperwork that's gotta be filled out, right? During the first week.

John Hirth: Correct, correct.

Kevin Grossman: So what are the advantages of completing that paperwork, even before day one? What should we be doing with, especially without sales people, with them when it comes to the processing side?

John Hirth: Well, I think part of this is gonna be situation dependent. You may have some people that are currently employed, and they're wrapping up employment. So it just may not be feasible to get that paperwork done until they get to the new position. Certainly if you've got people who aren't employed, don't have other outside pressures, if they can come with that information already fulfilled, that's a time saver. But I think I would probably be inclined to build that into the 90 day plan, probably that first week, maybe a day or a half day devoted exclusively for getting that work out of the way. Insurance programs that they might have to select, 401k plans if they have one of those and how that will be distributed. So I think it's a little bit situationally dependent, obviously upfront is the best. Otherwise, make it part of the 90 day plan.

Kevin Grossman: So, John, I'm gonna ask you a question about immersing in the culture, because it's one thing to do the paperwork, it's one thing to get them a 90 day in place, but what about in regards that the other team members, because especially with midsize to larger organizations, there's gonna be more of a team approach to sales, probably more so than smaller organizations. And that all of course is dependent on industry and the type of business, etc. So just briefly, how do you help encourage companies to get sticky culture in place with their new sales people?

John Hirth: Well, I think the cultural fit has to be part of the recruiting process. We always talk about when you're looking at a candidate, can they do the job? Will they do the job? And will they fit in? So hopefully we're selecting people within reason, that we have a general sense that they would match our culture. Then I think, depending upon the company and depending what their culture is, they should probably be out traveling with a couple of the sales people. If there's ever a time where they might be using internal technology resources, technology people, engineers, they might wanna spend some time with those people.

Each company has a unique culture, but I think hopefully we can identify a reasonable fit upfront. And then I think you wanna try to make them feel part of the team, things as simple as maybe having a lunch with the manager and one of the other sales people. But you wanna make them feel comfortable, and you wanna make them feel supported, that will help eliminate some of the false starts, and sadly some of the early either terminations or quitting, that sometimes can happen when people don't feel comfortable.

Kevin Grossman: Absolutely. And probably with your most aggressive closers as well, that's a different animal all together, right? And there's a...

John Hirth: Yes.

Kevin Grossman: impatience, right?

John Hirth: Yes.

Kevin Grossman: When it comes to the...that are really good at the sales role, and they don't wanna be sitting around, particularly if they're remote employees as well.

John Hirth: Well, you know, I think that's a good point, Kevin. And I think that in my business, we regularly employ the behavior analysis, typically known as disc profile. But it helps you identify if you have someone that needs a lot of attention, or someone that doesn't need a lot of attention. And so sometimes, learning to coach those people through the use of an assessment tool is money well spent.

Kevin Grossman: Absolutely. So, John, for all of us anytime we start anything new, hopefully at least most of us, we kind of have this hunger to learn, right? To understand what it is we're doing for the organization, to learn not only industry knowledge and the granular knowledge of what the company needs to do day-to-day to survive, but just to learn, even outside information that's gonna help us at the end of the day, potentially do our jobs better, right? So this continuous learning that is important to all of us, but especially sales people.

So how do you recommend that sales people and their managers actually manage their learning time, before day one, after day one, first 90 days, and beyond? So they don't lose sight of closing the deal, either.

John Hirth: A very important part of the business. Well, I think that...and I referenced this earlier, that getting ready disease. And here again, I think a personality assessment will help to identify those that are more likely to be a victim of that. I think you've gotta get out, you've gotta get good technology knowledge, you always have to be a student of your business. But as we both agreed earlier, Kevin, I need to get sales people out in front of customers. Get them out in front of prospects. And I think that if they suddenly bump into someone that is a great opportunity, and they don't know how to handle it, I'm sure there's probably someone at the company that can help them. So I think, yes, you gotta have that balance, and you gotta be always learning about your business, but we have to impress upon them the most important thing is they get paid to get in front of customers.

Kevin Grossman: Yep, absolutely.

John Hirth: And that's a critical component of the business that they have to be aware of.

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