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A great sales onboarding process instills confidence in your new hire and builds momentum for future success. Here are six tips for how to create your own.
A well-rounded sales onboarding process is equal parts administration, relationship-building, and enablement. That's because these three areas represent the tools, support, and knowledge that every salesperson needs to feel productive in their new role. Striking the right balance is vital for quickly onboarding a sales team and setting each new hire up for long-term success.
Whether you're ramping up one new sales team member or adding several cohorts to your sales organization, here are six tips for quickly onboarding a remote sales team:
One objective for sales team onboarding can be to get every new hire up to speed as fast as possible. But an equally important objective is ensuring they feel welcomed and mentally prepared for what they're jumping into.
Focusing on your new hire's needs makes the process more enjoyable for them and it sets a positive tone for the employee's entire experience with your company. The good news is that you can address all of these objectives by creating a well-paced onboarding schedule that is shared with your new hire from the very beginning.
Pacing your onboarding schedule makes it less likely for you to rush through or miss important topics. And being transparent with your onboarding plan sets expectations, mitigates first-day nerves, and reduces any other worries your new recruit may have about stepping into their new role remotely.
Anthony Martin, CEO of Choice Mutual, stresses how important an onboarding timeline is especially for remote hires:
"Create an onboarding timeline to set expectations for yourself and to ensure your new hires are not overwhelmed. Pacing the onboarding process is necessary as you or the manager will not be there in person to walk new hires through the process. In a system like this, spacing out the briefing process can give your new hires time to understand how things work and for you to put their doubts to rest before you move on to the next step."
The administrative part of onboarding isn't fun. Still, it's an indispensable part of a smooth start for any new sales team member. In fact, doing most of the administrative set up ahead of time helps maximize the time your new employee can spend on doing more impactful things like learning about their role and fostering relationships. Who wouldn't want that?
So go ahead and set up their computer and email address, give them logins to tools, and sort out their company phone number before their first day on the job. That way they'll have the tools to perform and also feel valued from day one.
New sales team members are usually prepared to absorb lots of new information in a short period of time so they can dive into their new roles. However, not every onboarding process tees up the information they need in an organized and efficient way.
Don't ignore this opportunity. Make learning easier for your new sales recruits by organizing their training materials and offering them a variety of ways to learn about your company, your products, and their role. That could include sharing audio or screen-sharing messages through Yac or Loom, pointing them to a company knowledge base or wiki, or arranging for different stakeholders to walk them through topics one-on-one.
Nico Blier-Silvestri, Co-founder and CEO of Platypus, says that presenting information thoughtfully during onboarding sends a positive message about your company:
"Create a flow of information that signals to the newcomer that the company is in control so they don’t need to be."
Blier-Silvestri adds that offering a structured but consistent flow of information is key when remote onboarding.
"Set up a series of emails, Loom videos, and a Notion-board that creates a flow of information for the newcomer imitating the guidance of an in-office reception. Build a very structured process where you're giving people a look ahead at what they need to know. And make sure you're very deliberate in the hierarchy of communication."
As self-sufficient as a salesperson can be, they perform so much better with the support and camaraderie of a team. It's human nature. Having people in your corner helps you learn faster while making your losses more bearable and your wins more fulfilling.
To set the foundation for strong relationships between your new and existing team members, make introductions early in the onboarding process.
Martin suggests doing it through video. "Prepare loom videos that give your new hires a glimpse of the company culture and a brief introduction to key members of the company. This will give your new hires a chance to get comfortable with all the new faces and brace for brand new conversations in the orientation phase of joining."
Another idea is to make a tradition of assigning an onboarding partner or mentor for each new hire. With an existing team member as their guide, your new hire gains a more genuine and intimate glimpse into the true team culture and how work gets done in your organization.
Blier-Silvestri finds value in rituals like a buddy system and daily stand-ups. "Create a buddy system so newcomers can create bonds with people outside of their immediate team. Have daily stand-ups at the beginning of each day, for specific teams or departments, make sure every member on a Zoom call has a say. Recreating social bonds and imitating social traditions is one of the big differentiators of remote-first and office-first organizations."
A natural and consistent way to build team connections over time is through Kona. The team at Happy Money knows that all too well — they use Kona check-ins to help the team build relationships, support each other with words of encouragement, and have sincere discussions among teammates.
David Friermor, a Product Manager at Happy Money, pointed out the shift Kona created:
“I could see a huge difference before and after [of using Kona to build team relationships], we’re a lot more empathetic for each other. I don’t know if we’d get there as quickly without Kona.”
Every salesperson has their own way of working and their own selling style, even when existing sales processes and traditions are in place. That's why it's especially important to let them steer some of their own onboarding.
Some ways you can accomplish this is by blocking off self-study time in their onboarding schedule and eliciting their feedback directly.
Blier-Silvestri also promotes getting employees' feedback and having an iterative approach to onboarding.
"Experiment, test, get feedback, and improve. Not every action is going to suit everyone, so constant testing and monitoring will help improve your remote culture, everything from communication, to leadership values, relationships, and collaboration, he explained.
“By engaging and listening to your people will help gain trust and confidence in the organization."
An effective sales onboarding process typically takes at least a couple of weeks. But whatever length the official onboarding time frame is, know that your new team member will still be getting acclimated for much longer than that. That's why it's crucial to align on specific goals related to their onboarding.
Having goals as part of your sales onboarding helps set clear expectations for your new recruit. It focuses your onboarding activities around things that matter. And just as importantly, it demonstrates your commitment to their growth and success if you're there to help them keep track of their progress and see it through.
Some example goals for new sales hires include:
Sharon van Donkelaar, CMO and Head of Growth at Expandi, is a fan of role-playing exercises during onboarding.
"My sales team involved a lot of role-playing training during our onboarding for new teams. It got people more used to speaking online, and we shared our tips and tricks on how to create smoother meetings."
When you're hoping to quickly onboard a remote sales team, remember that it isn't just about throwing information at them and hoping they can start selling ASAP. Onboarding should instill confidence and build momentum that lasts well beyond the official onboarding period. These six tips for quickly onboarding a remote sales team will help you create a remote sales onboarding process that both your company and your new hires will feel great about.