6 Tips for Building a Remote Sales Onboarding Plan
September 29, 2021
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Don’t pack up your home office anytime soon: research shows that productivity and employee satisfaction rise with remote work options. So, it’s no surprise that 71% of employees and managers desire flexibility to work from home post-pandemic.
Given that remote work is here to stay, sales enablement professionals need to update their onboarding strategy. The best way to give new sales reps an enjoyable, productive onboarding experience is to build a sales onboarding plan that balances flexible individual opportunities and hands-on activities.
1. Invest in Virtual Tools
72% of executives plan to increase their investment in virtual tools to help remote teams collaborate. These kinds of tools provide quick, cost-effective ways to welcome new hires, get them up to speed, and help them start working with their teammates—even when they’re spread across the globe.
Software for Internal Communication
Strong communication from the start will set the tone for your culture and help new hires connect with the team.
Here are some of our favorite internal communication tools:
- Zoom: Our favorite video conferencing platform for remote sales onboarding is Zoom. With their break-out room and Q&A features, it is easy to make onboarding sessions collaborative. Many companies already use Zoom, but you may not know they have a live transcription feature for global organizations that need training in multiple languages.
- Slack: Slack is our favorite team collaboration software for onboarding, thanks to all of its integrations. From day one, you can welcome your new employees and give them tasks via GreetBot. Plenty of integrations promote employee interaction, such as Donut, which sets up virtual watercoolers.
- Yammer: The social network of corporate communication tools, Yammer allows for informal connections among coworkers. It functions a lot like Facebook, where employees create their profiles, post status updates, and join/create groups for their interests. For remote new hires, Yammer acts like an instant community.
- Survey Monkey: You can gain insights into your sales onboarding plan with SurveyMonkey. This application creates easy, templated onboarding surveys to see how new hires feel and where they need help.
Streamline Paperwork, Payroll, and Benefits
Streamline operations by using software that can alleviate time-consuming onboarding tasks. Check out our favorites below:
- DocuSign: You can avoid sending documents back and forth by digitizing your paperwork. DocuSign makes automating new hire forms and offer letters simple.
- BambooHR: The ultimate HR management software, BambooHR does everything from tracking employees through the hiring process to helping create onboarding tasks and lessons. It also includes analytics tools to measure employee engagement. WorkRamp recently partnered with BambooHR to offer an automated, integrated HR/learning solution for new hires.
- Gusto: Create onboarding checklists, organize important documents, and quickly get new hires on payroll using Gusto.
Software to Facilitate Learning
Use a learning management system (LMS) to ramp up new sales reps quickly. An LMS makes it easy to create courses, track employee learning, and facilitate learning-as-you-go training styles. There is a lot of great LMS software out there, but WorkRamp is one that’s specifically designed with sales teams in mind.
2. Centralize Company Information and Processes
Employees spend 19% of the workday looking for information. Avoid this misuse of time by compiling resources into a central place accessible to all employees.
Employees often spend so much time searching for answers because company information is scattered and disorganized. Avoid this misuse of time by creating a company wiki, or internal knowledge base.
Not sure where to start? Here are some good first steps:
- Compile information new hires need to succeed in their role. Typical information includes org structures, frequently asked questions, troubleshooting tools, process documents, and instructional videos.
- Survey current sales reps and managers to see what they wish new hires would learn during onboarding. Find common themes that these employees mention and make sure to include those topics.
- Enlist the help of top sales reps to create documentation, videos, or tutorials for needed resources. Consider investing in knowledge base software to streamline this process.
- Include a place for new hires to leave feedback on how to improve the company wiki.
3. Share a Detailed Onboarding Schedule
Skip new hire uncertainty by mapping out their first 2-3 weeks and sharing it with the new hire, their manager, and anyone else involved in their onboarding.
It’s unproductive for everyone involved if a new hire sits around or constantly pings someone for their next task. Our Director of Enablement, Stephanie Middaugh, advises, “almost over schedule them and give them a guiding path, so they know where to go instead of just flailing in the middle of the new-hire ocean.”
Middaugh likes to document meetings, training, and downtime every day of the week. It serves as a checklist that new hires should be completing every day or every week. “Even if you don’t have it mapped out, give new hires a list of topics: where to go, how to find the information, or who to talk to to find the information. It can live anywhere but make sure they know what they could and should be doing during onboarding.”
4. Use Blended Learning
Microsoft reports that concentration begins to dwindle 30-40 minutes into video meetings. So, incorporate various formats into your sales onboarding plan to avoid disinterest and longer ramp-up time.
Diversify your sales onboarding plan by incorporating online learning in your LMS, webinars new hires can watch on their own time, and video calls with coworkers to practice sales techniques. Sometimes all it takes for new hires to master a concept is a change of format. For example, Middaugh worked with her boss to transform a 60-slide training deck into an engaging video series at a previous company. They uploaded it to their LMS and, “the team loved it. We saw an increase of 140% of pipeline generation after we rolled it out.”
Another way to keep learning engaging, which makes employees 22% more productive, is to gamify meetings. Gamification gives game-like elements to something that is not typically associated with gaming, like learning. It makes tasks seem less stressful and encourages people to be open with their coworkers. One example of how to do this is sending new reps whiteboards to bring to meetings. Ask reps questions about their training and see who can reveal the answer the quickest. Prizes are a great way to keep the games competitive.
5. Incorporate Breaks and Informal Meetings to Avoid Information Overload
Studies show that the human brain is only capable of processing 3-5 meaningful items at once. Therefore, incorporating time for new hires to debrief is key for them to retain what they learn during onboarding.
“Anytime that you’re learning new information, especially as a new hire, you have so much information coming at you,” Middaugh said. “Provide some space for breaks and activities so that it gives their brain time to soak in the information.” Breaks can be anything from lunch to informal get-to-know-you calls with coworkers.
Check out our top 5 virtual onboarding & team building activities to try with your remote team.
6. Incorporate Checkpoints to Test Competency
Only 12% of employees think their company does a good job of onboarding. If your employees are part of the 88% that don’t like the way you onboard, you want to find out sooner rather than later so you can make changes.
Establish key points during onboarding to assess the new rep’s capabilities and the effectiveness of your sales onboarding plan. Many software includes ways to test employees like WorkRamp’s Challenges. This feature allows you to personalize questions, give certifications, and share results with managers.
Some sales enablement experts prefer a hands-on approach. During the sales onboarding process, Middaugh likes to bring reps into training sessions as subject matter experts. She observes them as they teach back to the most recent new hires. If they can teach the necessary topics, it is a good indication they are ready to start. If they struggle, it’s an opportunity for managers to do more coaching.
Lean on the Sales Enablement Community to Help Refine Your Sales Onboarding Plan
If creating a sales onboarding training plan seems overwhelming, you’re not alone. Many sales enablement professionals face similar challenges, and there are communities to lean on for advice, resources, and solutions. “The great thing about the enablement community, in general, is that everybody is really willing to help each other,” Middaugh said.
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