In Sales Training

Donald Kelly, Jim Ninivaggi, BrainsharkOnboarding new hires is a crucial process every company should have, big or small. But this is something a lot of salespeople struggle with, worse, several companies don’t have an onboarding process at all. Today’s guest is Jim Ninivaggi and he shares with us the importance of having an onboarding structure to ensure that your new hires are confident and ready to sell. Structuring

Jim is the SVP of Business Development at Brainshark, a software company focused on sales readiness and they help clients build learning and training modules for salespeople, deploying those modules to the rest, and tracking the ability of the salespeople through a video coaching tool.

Here are the highlights of my conversation with Jim:

The importance of having a structure for your sales onboarding:

Without a good onboarding process, you’re letting your prospects and customers onboard your salespeople. Experience is a good teacher, but it may not be always efficient. This is an expensive way because every time they make a mistake, it costs the company real money.

You want to accelerate that time to full productivity.

Why many companies fail at building an onboarding structure:

  1. They underestimate how hard it is to get productive.

Trust but verify. It’s great if somebody you hired has got experience but verify that they can not only sell products but that they have good fundamental sales methods and habits.

  1. It takes a lot of work to design it, build it, and deploy it.

You have to take an assessment-centered approach in your onboarding.You don’t necessarily have to take courses but you have to pass the assessment so the company can understand whether or not you can present or negotiate effectively.

 

Strategies for building an onboarding structure:

  1. Pre-boarding

This starts before the rep begins. Send your new hire a kit that includes papers, pens, vests, etc. to get them excited about joining your company. Give them some reading you want them to do or a podcast they need to listen to in order to prepare them for that first day.

  1. Make sure their first day is orchestrated.

Make sure there is somebody in the office to welcome them and make them feel good about the decision they made and to ensure them that they don’t think about what their next step is. Structure the onboarding in a way that it’s a learning system or portal and everything is laid out for them in terms of the things they need to do.

  1. Do as much upfront work on knowledge transfer ahead of then coming to headquarters.

Their first two months should be for them taking learning courses, shadowing other experienced reps to see what good looks like, being coached by the manager, and a boot camp at your headquarters.

  1. Restructure the boot camp.

Make it an interactive boot camp to give them the opportunity to practice, to get certified, and to be a little uncomfortable. For learning to happen, you have to make the learner uncomfortable which means standing up and delivering and doing role plays. Then have a final certification at the end of that week.

  1. Make sure you provide continuous learning.

The salesperson doesn’t have to worry about what to do next or what to learn next. It should be managed for them. Managers play a critical role of coaching to help you, give you advice and feedback to get better every day.

  1. Determining the time period for your onboarding process

Are you hiring experienced people or hiring people who have never sold before? Do you have complex, long sales cycle or are you selling something very transactional?

Start with your sales cycle and use that as your gauge in terms of how long the potential onboarding period should be. Start with territory management, account planning, and prospecting skills right through to account-based selling and marketing and all things in-between.

Look historically and take the average revenue production for a new rep and do for month 9, 12, 18, and 24 and start to get a sense of the ramp-up time so you can use benchmarks to improve upon.

  1. The onboarding process doesn’t stop at the “onboarding process.”

Regardless of what you’re selling, it takes experience before reps really figure out how to effectively sell, most importantly, how to qualify. While the onboarding process might be deemed to be done in month 6, you still want to have a strategy in place from month 6 to 36 to ensure reps get what they need to get truly productive.

How Brainshark Uses Its Video Coaching Solution:

Using their video coaching tool, they send out every other week an informal challenge in the form of a question to the reps, and they answer it as they video record themselves. Then Brainshark aggregates the best of those and turns them into learning content. So they’re creating a library of pure learning to help reps engage with one another and learn from one another.

Implementing the pure learning program:

You have to make it super easy for the reps to share their best practice. Reps love to be acknowledged and they would be happy to share but you have to make it easy for them.

Jim’s Major Takeaway:

Make your onboarding process assessment-centric. Rather than tracking whether a salesperson consumed learning, focus on can they do the job? Build an assessment so that the salesperson can opt out of the course once they pass the assessment

Episode Resources:

Connect with Jim on Brainshark through email at jninivaggi@brainshark.com and on Twitter @jninivaggi.

Register for their webcast on video sales coaching on www.Brainshark.com.

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