When you bring on new sales reps, a sales onboarding plan can help them get up to speed as quickly as possible. A well-thought-out plan should help new hires understand your company’s services, products and technologies, and how they can help advance your sales team.

According to Sara Christopherson, a professional services consultant with MindTickle, effective sales onboarding encompasses traditional onboarding with continual learning. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Christopherson’s thoughts on how to build a solid framework for your sales onboarding.

Map out activities. The first step in a sales onboarding plan should be listing each activity by sales stage. From there, you can define the competencies and skills needed to complete each task, says Christopherson.

Develop a timeline and priorities. Consider what sales reps should prioritize their first week, month and quarter. Christopherson points out that many people forget most of the information they receive within a week and most will forget it within a month. When you prioritize the important topics, you can determine the appropriate recall or application.

Vary your delivery formats. It’s important to incorporate different types of content in your sales onboarding, from slideshows to videos. In some cases, scenario-based approaches are best. Everyone learns differently, so varying your delivery formats also increases the odds that the information will stick.

Engage sales leaders. Christopherson recommends getting leadership buy-in early on. Help them see how programs tie to sales metrics and how effective enablement will help sales reps meet their goals. When sales leaders understand the return on enablement, you can often make a better case for the time sales reps spend on training activities instead of active selling.

Set the standard. If you want to blend onboarding with continual learning, you should strive to make it part of your culture, says Christopherson. Make it so that onboarding is not an optional activity, but one that is valuable and required.

Make your onboarding engaging. If your current sales onboarding program has become a little stale, try breaking things down into smaller pieces. Christopherson notes that shorter content has a considerably higher completion rate. You can start by breaking up videos or slide decks with knowledge checks and reinforcement questions. Sometimes just a few questions in between topics can keep reps interested and engaged.

Practice, reinforce, repeat. Christopherson recommends giving sales reps many opportunities to practice skills they will need on the job. Scenario-based activities are especially helpful because they allow reps to practice their pitches while giving managers a chance to provide constructive feedback.

Whether you want to create a sales onboarding plan from scratch or you are updating your team’s current plan, think about what works for your organization. When it comes to initial training and continual learning, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The goal is to make learning part of your culture so that even when reps gain their footing, they will continue to develop their skills.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Sara Christopherson is a professional services consultant with MindTickle.