Salespeople are expensive. Their salaries and benefits packages are hefty investments that can weigh on the company. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) estimates that in the United States, the annual expenditure on sales training is $15 billion.
Obviously, businesses are spending this sum because they want to end up with a strong return on their investment, and with new, lucrative accounts as fast as possible.
But there are problems getting to that goal: Brainshark’s Molly Buccini states that "Three out of five sales reps don't ramp up for at least seven months." And this lag is costly for companies to absorb.
That's why businesses striving to shorten the training process for new hires in the new year can realize greater rewards by putting proven strategies in place to train their B2B hires. Here are seven B2B sales onboarding tactics you should implement now.
1. Roll out your company's culture information early.
Immersion in company culture should begin even before the start date. Hiring managers should share information about the culture as early in the process as possible, or risk investing in a salesperson who might clash with the team, leading to employee turnover.
A new sales rep's understanding of your company's hierarchy, expected behavior and each department's role will play a part in whether he or she is successful.
2. Create a solid, comprehensive training guide
Haphazard training -- done only when hiring managers have a few extra minutes -- is a surefire way to set yourself up for failure. Rather, it's essential to set up a scheduled time line for a new sales rep's training, and stick to it.
Incorporate sales training, product knowledge, role-playing and information about inner company processes. Make certain the new hire knows who does what in the organization, what is expected of him or her and whom to reach out to for questions.
3. Digitize your new hires' onboarding experience.
Nothing drains enthusiasm more than a mountain of boring paperwork. Instead of weighing down a new hire with endless forms and documents, optimize the experience by offering a digital alternative.
Especially with millennial hires, such alternatives are an increasingly crucial action because it lets them handle the necessary onboarding materials faster and more easily. The other good news about digitizing the new hire's experience is that, once it's created, it can be used over and over with every new hire, eliminating that "first day burnout" of hand-cramping paperwork.
Lonely new hires can feel isolated and disgruntled, which doesn't bode well for their tenure at the company. According to Human Resources Today, 59 percent of new hires want a buddy or mentor their first week on the job.
The good news is that this is an easy fix. Tap your experienced A-players to assist with onboarding efforts. These employees can be a priceless resource to the new hire in terms of getting questions answered, gaining insight into the company culture and learning the business from a different perspective besides just sales.
5. Provide automated, learn-at-their-own-pace training.
New hires are no longer limited to hours of listening to their boss talk, or poring over procedural manuals. Instead, integrating video and other engaging training opportunities is a smart way to keep the onboarding process fresh and interesting.
Videos are an especially welcome break in any training process, with the added benefit of the new salesperson being able to rewind the portions he or she didn't understand the first time. Gamification of the onboarding process is another automated way to keep the new hire focused and interested in learning.
6. Make sure new hires understand your customer.
One of the biggest obstacles confronting new B2B sales reps is the customer. Unfortunately, many training efforts are geared toward product information instead of a customer focus. This sets up the newest member of the sales team for failure.
Add buyer personas into the training, and build other training facets around them. Sprinkle customer information into every aspect of onboarding, focusing on the importance of the customer's pain points and objections. This will empower the new employee to start off faster and with a better framework for how to close his or her first deal.
7. Closely review and measure progress.
Crossing your fingers and hoping you picked a winner is not the way to ensure a new hire's success. Ask for periodic feedback from the employee himself (herself), any mentors and other colleagues who have direct contact with this person.
Set up tests to gauge how much product knowledge has been retained, and conduct role plays to make sure the salesperson understands your buyer, and your processes. Measure the results, and use the information for specifically targeted follow-up training to shore up new hires' soft points.
Training new B2B salespeople isn't easy, and much is at stake. By developing a comprehensive training system, adding engaging aspects and including your seasoned sales veterans, you will set up fresh recruits for long-term success.
Put these seven B2B sales onboarding strategies into play today, and you’ll see your most junior salespeople ramping up more quickly and closing deals faster.