One of the most important parts of a hiring plan is the bit where you hire people (strangely enough), but it’s not actually the hiring that makes your plan successful - it’s the ability to effectively onboard and ramp them.
What is Onboarding and Ramping?
Onboarding is a pretty basic concept, but one that many businesses get woefully wrong. Simply put, it’s the process of introducing new employees to their role and the company culture. Usually involving training, getting to know their team coworkers, and learning company policies and procedures, but when it comes to sales it can be a bit more complex.
For switched on sales people, they’ll begin “casing the joint” the moment they join - What’s the sales tech stack, who are the top performers currently, what’s the quickest way to success.
Ramping, on the other hand, is the process of getting new hires up to speed and fully productive in their role - It's common for new joiners to go through a ramping period, during which they’re not as productive as your more tenured team. It’s accepted and built into plans, but is it ever really understood?
A ramping period can vary depending on the complexity of the role and the individual's prior experience, how do I account for this and how can I impact it?
The Importance of Great Onboarding
A great onboarding can make all the difference, the very same way that a bad onboarding can have a great hire looking for the life-raft. With so much time and effort put into hiring great talent, it’s pretty critical to get it right.
A great onboarding for sales will ideally break the key areas up:
1. Background (Industry) Knowledge
This is knowledge of the industry in which you operate - The context behind the problems that you solve for. Without this key piece, much of what you teach may be difficult to apply. This is especially important to get right if selling within a technical industry.
2. Sales Skills
Especially in the case of SDR’s, introducing sales skills before you introduce product is a sure-fire way to get them selling to problems, not solutions.
For more experienced hires, a detailed overview of the sales process, an understanding of the skills and techniques that you routinely deploy is great here. You training should be an honest reflection of the hiring strategy that you have in place: If you hire for less experienced people it should be reflected with elevated training resource.
3. Tools and systems
It’s pretty important to help new sales hires early on to identify what they have available to work with.
Be mindful however that onboarding is overwhelming for sales people, and so introducing them to processes not relevant during the onboarding weeks (like how to close a deal…) can be a sure fire way to teach process that will be forgotten.
Show them the tech stack you’ve built, and help them to understand who uses what.
4. Product (Knowledge)
This is the final piece of the puzzle, and can be taught after covering the background understanding of the industry and some of the sales skills to uncover problems. By bringing it to the end it helps people to piece it all together more easily. Solutions to the problems. Easy.
Zero, Zero, 5K, 5k, 15K, 20K - Ramped!
Understanding how quickly someone is going to ramp into a productive state isn’t as simple as numbers in a spreadsheet, (we briefly covered this previously), ramping is a lot more than arbitrary rounded rounded numbers month by month.
There’s multiple components that make up how an individual is going to ramp, and if the person is in a revenue generating role it gets even more complex - Fully ramp someone and provide them with no leads or opportunities and you’re not going to have a productive sales person!
Once you unpick all of the factors, including onboarding, expertise, product complexity and how people are managed, you can go some way to creating a more realistic representation of how the people in your plan will get up to speed.
How to Create a Successful Onboarding and Ramping Plan
To create a successful onboarding and ramping plan, it's important to consider the following:
1. Clearly Define Goals and Expectations
Make sure new hires know exactly what is expected of them in their role. This includes setting clear goals and objectives, as well as outlining any performance metrics or targets they need to meet. Providing new hires with a clear roadmap for success can help them feel more confident and motivated.
2. Provide Adequate Training and Support
No one expects new hires to know everything right off the bat. It's important to provide new hires with the training and support they need to succeed in their role. This can include things like product or industry training, as well as ongoing support from more experienced team members. Make sure to recognise where your most experienced hires are consuming onboarding fast, and give them the resource to learn further & accelerate where appropriate (see no.4)
3. Deliver training in an ordered and deliberate way
We’ve already explained how what they learn and in what order is important - Try and build this in using Learning Management Systems (LMS’s) which can enable you to control what is learned and when.
4. Call shadowing/listening
Seeing how it all works in practice is pretty critical to helping someone go from being able to sell to “really selling”. Not providing the ability to see and mirror your top performers can add literal months to ramping and can lead to burned leads and opportunities, or create a larger burden on supporting team members through an increased need for call support.
What should I do next?
Onboarding and ramping isn’t just about getting new hires up to speed - It’s also about making sure that new hires feel valued and engaged with the company. When new hires feel supported and connected to the team, they're more likely to stay with the company for the long haul, which carries further benefit to the plan. We all know how costly and time-consuming hiring is, and hiring on top of an existing hiring plan can have a real negative impact on progress.
Ultimately, by investing in great onboarding and ramping, you can help reduce turnover, increase satisfaction and build a more cohesive, committed & productive team.
Here at Clevenue we believe that people are more than just numbers in a spreadsheet.
When businesses recognise & understand this, they enable the ability to scale in a more predictable & sustainable way.
Q: What is sales onboarding and why is it important?
A: Sales onboarding is the process of training and educating new sales hires on the company's products, services, and sales processes. It is important because it sets new hires up for success and helps them hit their sales targets more quickly.
Q: How can a company ensure they have a great sales onboarding process?
A: A great sales onboarding process should include comprehensive training on the company's products and services, as well as ongoing support and mentorship from experienced sales reps. It should also be tailored to the individual needs of each new hire and provide opportunities for hands-on learning and practice.
Q: What are some common mistakes companies make with their sales onboarding process?
A: Some common mistakes companies make include not providing enough training, not providing ongoing support and mentorship, and not tailoring the onboarding process to the individual needs of new hires.
Q: How does a great sales onboarding process impact a company's bottom line?
A: A great sales onboarding process can have a significant impact on a company's bottom line by helping new hires hit their sales targets more quickly and by reducing turnover among sales reps. This can lead to increased revenue and improved sales performance overall.
Q: What are some best practices for sales onboarding?
A: Some best practices for sales onboarding include providing comprehensive training on the company's products and services, offering ongoing support and mentorship, tailoring the onboarding process to the individual needs of new hires, and providing opportunities for hands-on learning and practice.