Search by keywords:
Search resources by: Competency
Content Format


Not a member? Sample unlocked content here.

Topics Covered: <a href='/resources/search/?query=Sales Management'>Sales Management</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Social Selling'>Social Selling</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Social media'>Social media</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Podcast'>Podcast</a>
Talent & Recruitment
Canadian Professional Sales Association, Recruitment & Talent Series lock
Kevin W Grossman: Companies need their salespeople selling as soon as they can ramp up. This means they cannot afford any lengthy onboarding processes that take up the first few days or even weeks.

In order to stay competitive and grow the business, sales leaders must provide the tools and resources for their new hires to combine relationship-building, closing the deal, and encouraging the drive to continuously learn, that expands their knowledge and excitement for their industry. Having a focused, disciplined onboarding process can help companies succeed and retain their new salespeople.

In this CPSA Recruitment and Talent podcast episode, host Kevin W Grossman talks with David Brock about onboarding employees and how to give your new sales pro hires the tools to succeed. 

Our guest today is Dave Brock. Dave has spent his career developing high-performance organizations. He has worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix, and Keithley Instruments. He has worked with a wide variety of both Fortune 25 companies to startup companies, and has extensive experience worldwide.

Dave is the President and CEO of Partners in Excellence, a consulting and services company that helps its clients sharpen their strategies and execution in the areas of business strategy, sales strategy and performance, sales channels, marketing, strategic partnering and alliances, and globalization, leadership and change management.


Dave, thank you so much for being on The CPSA Recruitment and Talent Podcast. Before we dive into the rest of the show, tell us a little bit more about who you are and what you do today?

David Brock: Great, Kevin. Thanks so much for asking me to join the podcast. I'm flattered to participate. Just briefly, first, I'm the author "Sales Manager Survival Guide" which we'll be talking about onboarding today and a key part of that book is onboarding and maximizing sales person performance. Then second is I run an organization called Partners In EXCELLENCE. It's a boutique consulting company focused kind of on business strategy, sales, marketing and customer service excellence. There are about 15 of us scattered around the globe and we work primarily with global 500 organizations.

Kevin W Grossman: Excellent. All aspects are important when it comes to improving candidate experience and hiring the right sales people in particular and onboarding especially is where you want to get your sales team off on the right foot. Right?

David Brock: Yeah. Onboarding is absolutely critical and unfortunately, most people's onboarding process is here is your PC, here is you IDs, bathroom's down the hall to the left and I need a forecast on Tuesday. It's all the wrong thing. To be effective, we need to get sales people ramped up in understanding what to do, how to do it and what's most effective for the organization.

Kevin W Grossman: That said, what are three things that new sales people will need to succeed?

David Brock: I think we can look at it across a bunch of dimensions. Most people when they look at if they have an onboarding, what they do is they become so intensely internally focused. The onboarding is really about our products. You see people inundated with days and weeks of classes or e-learning on here's our products, here's all the feeds and speeds, here's all the wonderful thing about this stuff that we sell. That's actually the easiest part of onboarding and the least difficult part, but that's where we spend all our time. I think there are two other critical elements. One is the customer. Who are our customers? How do we want to engage them? How do we create value for them?

What do we stand for as a company and what we do for our customers? We really need to teach people about the whole customer experience and the value we create for them so that they can represent that when they're out selling. The other critical aspect which takes a huge amount of sales time is how do we get things done internally? If I'm a sales person, I know the products, I know how to sell those products, I know who the customer is, but often times the biggest challenge is how do I get the support, how do we do things internally, who do I go to to get approvals and those kinds of things. We overlook training people on that. Just a brief story on that. I was working with one of the very, very large global telecommunications companies.

In the conversation it came up that they had 72% voluntarily attrition in the first 12 months of a sales person being onboard. It's a tragic number. When I looked at the business impact on that, it was about a billion and a half dollars a year of sales that they were losing. What happened is they were hiring the right people. The people understood the products. They understood the customers. They just didn't know how to be successful in their own company. They didn't know how to get things done. This is a huge, huge, huge impact that most of us overlook.

The three things are who's the customer, how do we create value and how do we engage them, how do we get things done in our organization and what are my products and how do I engage customers in learning about and buying our products.

Kevin W Grossman: Dave, I've been in the HR recruiting industry for nearly 18 years now. Mostly on the technology side, but I can tell you that another long running and unfortunate reality too is that for most people, sales people included, and for most positions, when you're hired even if you have a great experience leading up to that gate, those pearly gates, and you go through those pearly gates, but you're then parachuted into the jungle and left on your own devices. What's interesting about that is that just what you're saying is knowing how to get work done and that's really huge in an organization. Let me ask you this, do you want to collapse ramp time as much as possible, right?

That includes actually understanding and knowing how to get work done, but understanding the customer and the products. This is all stuff because you want your sales people from day one to sell. I would want that. I know there's a lot of sales professionals and VPs of sales and sales leaders that I've talked to over the years, they really would love their people ... Even if not literally selling from day one, at least figuratively getting there. What do we do beforehand then? How do we better prepare sales people before day one? What do you recommend there?

David Brock: Well, first, I'm not sure I would agree that we want sales people from day one selling. I think a lot of that depends on your business and the complexity of the types of problems you solve. I was just prior to this interview on the phone with the EVP of sales enablement for one of the largest systems integration companies in the world. Their onboarding is really quite a long onboarding process and what they do is they actually get sales people involved in some of the delivery of projects so that they can understand things a little bit. They have a lot of sales peoples shadowing and all because they find if they send a sales person out prematurely, they actually do more damage both in the customer's situation and to their own ego's credibility and confidence.

What we want to do is we want to get the sales people out and productive as quickly as possible and as appropriate for our business. If we're in retail sales, we can get them out on the sales floor day one starting to produce business, but if we're in a complex business, we may not want to have them sell. Going back to that, how do they prepare before they even start the job? We see lots of companies of our kinds doing some really interesting things in sending people learning packages or maybe e-delivering those kinds of things, learning packages, some basic fundamentals about the company, about the customer set, about their role and responsibilities and things like that.

Because you're eager and want to get started, so generally people are very receptive to learning those things. Most of the stuff though is very, very general. It's to get people and most of what we see people trying to do is get people acclimated to the culture of the company and what they're trying to do and less specific around here are the customers who you're going to call on, here are the products you're going to sell, be prepared to start producing one order a week or 10 phone calls a day or whatever that is. It's more general leading them up and then the very specific stuff starts on day one. One of the most effective things that we see sometimes maybe the week before you start or even in that very first week is shadowing a top performer.

It has a huge multiplier effect. One is if I shadow a top performer, the competitive nature of sales people is going to say, "Oh, gee. I'm going to emulate some of that person's behavior because that person is one of the top performers and maybe I'm even going to try and learn how to be better than that person." That's one piece. The other piece is the development opportunity for that top performer. If you have that mentoring relationship or that shadowing relationship, you start developing that person potentially to step into leadership roles and also it has a huge compounding effect. We can teach people all sorts of things, but when you get out in the real world and start getting your teeth kicked in, there's a huge learning process.

If we do that shadowing thing very early on, we can press that real world learning experience a huge amount.

Kevin W Grossman: That's a really good point. That and the job shadowing, the mentoring early on and also you want to have a hunger for wanting to continuously learn and expanding that sales professional knowledge and excitement for the company, for the industry that they're selling in, for the customers that they're going to be targeting. How do you recommend your new sales team? How should they be managing their learning time and how do you implement learning mixed in with the onsite visits and the mentoring and the job shadowing? What balance do you recommend there?

David Brock: A hunger for learning, a hunger for continuous improvement maybe you might categorize this around an attribute around curiosity is critical for success in any profession, but particular critical success for success in sales. If you don't have that hunger or don't have that curiosity, you'll quickly become a dinosaur. This is mandatory for success for everybody in our organization. There's a lot that we as leaders and in our organization have a responsibility for in terms of helping develop those people whether it's training them, whether it's coaching them.

One of the most critical things is not the formal learning experience as we take them through, but the coaching that is situation and timing specific to help this particular individual develop new skills, develop new capabilities to improve on what they're doing so that that ongoing coaching from day one which is the responsibility of front line managers and then managers all the way up the food chain. There's that corporate responsibility, but there's a personal responsibility that says, "If I'm going to play at the top of my profession, if I'm going to be a top performer, I have to take personal responsibility for continuing to learn and develop."

While they're kind of tired cliches, if you look at any top performing athlete or any top performing musician or artist or somebody like that is they aren't being dragged into training sessions. They're pushing it. They're going through and saying, "This is what I need to do. I need to practice. I need to learn. I need to continue to improve," and unless they take personal responsibility for doing that, again they'll become dinosaurs. As individuals what we need to do is we need to map out our own learning journeys and whether that's in the evenings, in the mornings, on the weekends, it's how am I going to learn, what books am I going to read, what meetings am I going to go to, who am I going to associate with maybe in establishing personal mentors, and things like that.

How am I going to learn and develop so I can always be at the top of my game. I recommend if you aren't following favorite bloggers, if you aren't looking at contrary and opinions, don't read a lot of sales books. Read some sales books, but look at books outside of that, outside of sales. Look at marketing. Look at some business. Look at some contemporary nonfiction on critical issues and so on and so forth. Broaden your perspective about how you think, how you view the world and then take that and say, "How do I apply that to my job and my career?"

Kevin W Grossman: I completely agree with all of that. Let's get the pesky paperwork out of the way before day one. You learning the customers, the organization itself and then the sales tools that you're going to use and that's the last question I actually want to talk to you about, Dave, is without making this a product endorsement per say, but technology is very, very critical to sales people's successes well today. Right? What are the technologies and platforms that we need to have today for prospecting, pipelining, customer relationship management, you name it.

David Brock: I think before that, we need ... As leaders we need to instill certain kind of principles, disciplines and processes of how we sell, how we engage customers, how we create value, how we do work. Then layer on that as tools that support and reinforce that and so as tools that support and reinforce that, critical things like CRM systems, critical marketing automation tools, some tools that enable you to do some research whether it's research on individuals, things like LinkedIn, whether it's research on companies or corporations so that I can be more intelligent, whether it's something like a Google message that you get everyday that tells you the state of the industry.

I have a whole bunch of Google searches where I can get daily reports on companies, individuals or industries that I want to track, that keep me current. There are tools like that. As managers we have to look at those tools being supported across multiple platforms because increasingly we live in a mobile world. If I can't access and leverage those tools on my phone or on my tablet, they aren't going to be very useful for me or timely to me.

Kevin W Grossman: Excellent. Dave, thank you so much again for being on The CPSA Podcast. Lastly, why don't you tell us all where we can find more information about the book that you referenced, your organization and your sales insights?

David Brock: Super. Well, thanks for asking. "Sales Managers Survival Guide," it's a top seller on Amazon so just search for "Sales Managers Survival Guide" at Amazon. You can also get some free samples, some free chapters and some other free deliverables by going to You can catch up with what I'm thinking about and talking about at my blog, or follow me on LinkedIn. I publish on LinkedIn. Follow me on Twitter @DavidABrock.

Kevin W Grossman: Excellent. David, thanks again and I look forward to meeting you in person some day.

David Brock: Oh, terrific. Thanks, Kevin. I appreciate it.

About the Canadian Professional Sales Association

Since 1874, we’ve been developing and serving sales professionals by providing programs, benefits, and resources that help you sell more, and sell smarter.

Contact us today at or 1-888-267-2772 to see how we can help you and your team reach new heights in sales success.

Copyright ©2016 by The Canadian Professional Sales Association

For permissions, contact


This content is exclusive for CPSA members

Become a Member

Already a member? Login to see full the article.

About the author: Podcast

Related Resources

Need to get in touch with us?
Toll free number
1 888 267 2772
Membership Access
Sign in or join us to unlock over 3,000 tools, resources and more!