The Sales Onboarding Checklist Designed to Take Onboarding from Good to Great
October 21, 2022
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A poorly-run sales onboarding program is worse than no onboarding at all.
A good sales onboarding program ensures your new hire can do their job quickly, but a great onboarding program can benefit your team and organization by building a sense of community, providing ongoing mentorship, and equipping new hires with the skills to solve problems during onboarding and beyond. It’s the key to developing and retaining top talent.
Use the strategies and action items below to accelerate new hire success.
In this post:
How can onboarding increase sales?
So what’s the secret to creating a sales onboarding program that works? We’ve taken the guesswork out with our sales onboarding checklist. But, before we get into the specific steps, discover how to structure your sales onboarding program for maximum success.
How long should sales onboarding be?
The onboarding process varies dramatically between companies, but having a strong onboarding experience is essential if you want sales reps to succeed. Effective onboarding lowers turnover and can decrease ramp time by up to two months.
What should be included in sales onboarding?
Most organizations want onboarding to be as focused as possible so that sales reps hit the floor quickly. However, there are elements that you cannot afford to overlook if you want your onboarding process to be effective.
Beyond the normal new-hire paperwork, sales onboarding should include:
- A clear understanding of company culture, goals, and expectations. This can help shape new hires to avoid a poor fit or attitude
- Engaging, easy-to-understand training that is consistently reinforced. An engaging onboarding program can help you train new hires effectively. Remember to follow up consistently to ensure it sticks
- A variety of training approaches. No one likes piles of paperwork or staring at a computer for hours. Use roleplaying, gamification, and more to engage reps in a variety of ways
- Seasoned mentors. Experience isn’t the only mentorship prerequisite. Mentors need a positive attitude about the company and their work to inspire and motivate new hires
- A clear understanding of the ideal customer. Sales reps must have confidence in approaching leads and identifying ideal customers, especially if they will be involved in social selling
- An understanding of how to find and customize sales materials. Unfortunately, many reps say sales materials are irrelevant or difficult to customize, so they don’t use them. Make the most of your efforts by organizing sales materials and teaching reps how to find what they need when they need it.
Note: Don’t forget to measure progress. Get feedback from new hires on how they feel about onboarding and test their knowledge and training. This allows you to fill any gaps in the onboarding process.
How do you create a sales onboarding plan?
To create a successful onboarding plan, include stakeholders from several departments. For example, HR will have requirements for all new hires, and marketing might want specific guidelines shared to maintain sales/marketing alignment.
Once you’ve gathered everyone’s requirements, look at the bulleted list above and ensure each of those elements is included. You can then map each step into a three-month calendar to ensure everything fits, and nothing is accidentally skipped.
Over time, you can refine and improve your onboarding process as you gather feedback from both sales reps and stakeholders.
Sales onboarding checklist
Learning about best practices is important, but knowing how to implement them is even more essential. Discover the steps you can take to create the best possible onboarding process for your new sales reps.
Onboard in cohorts
Research shows that employee performance improves up to 22% when they feel connected to the organization and its culture. Placing new reps into onboarding groups encourages collaborative learning, creates an immediate sense of camaraderie, and fosters a strong culture.
A good first step is to carve out virtual spaces for new hires to spend time with one another. “When you’re a part of a cohort, you have the same Slack group, you’re having the same conversations,” says Petek Hawkins, Head of Enablement at Melio, formerly at Zoom and Fivetran. “So you can help each other, and it gives people that belonging right away, and it just makes them feel like they’re engaged right away.”
Use the items below to start implementing cohort groups into your onboarding strategy.
- Create new hire groups of 3 to 10 employees.
- Create new Slack channels for each cohort so the new hires have a space to chat, ask questions, and bond.
- Assign training activities or projects for the cohort to work on together.
- Schedule weekly group coffee chats for the new hires to discuss wins, goals, and challenges.
Assign an onboarding buddy and coach
97 percent of Microsoft employees said that meeting with their onboarding buddy eight or more times in the first 90 days helped them quickly become productive in their role. Onboarding buddies help new hires get comfortable settling into the company and its culture. They might introduce the new hire to teammates with similar interests or field questions the new hire might not feel comfortable bringing to their manager.
Additionally, new hires should have a dedicated coach to focus on building sales skills and successfully ramping up into their new role. The coach should regularly meet with the new hire to provide individualized coaching, set goals, and review progress. They can also set aside time to review standard training and ensure the new hire understands key sales processes and concepts.
Add the items below to your sales onboarding checklist to ensure your reps feel comfortable within the organization.
Onboarding buddy and coach checklist
- Have onboarding buddies and coaches meet with new hires weekly their first month and bi-weekly in months 2 and 3.
- Have onboarding buddies set casual lunches or quick check-ins.
- Have coaches conduct call reviews and goal-setting meetings.
Diversify training formats
Onboarding, especially remote work, requires a careful balance between hands-on and go-at-your-own-pace learning techniques.
While a learning management system (LMS) is an essential tool for independent learning, sales enablement managers must think creatively about experiential training. For example, Box leverages a Salesforce sandbox simulation during onboarding. New hires are instructed to create an opportunity for a hypothetical meeting in the sandbox. This allows new hires to practice without worrying about messing up the actual platform.
Many organizations turn to their tools to help break up lengthy onboarding meetings. For example, Fivetran uses Zoom’s breakout session feature to place employees in smaller meeting groups to collaborate on a project or discussion. “Creating smaller breakout rooms gives everyone a chance to speak,” Hawkins explained. “The more people speak, the more people are involved and doing hands-on experiments, the more learning happens.” Breakout rooms are also a great place for coaches and new reps to debrief or do role-playing activities.
Mix up your learning style using the checklist below.
Training format checklist
- Invest in an LMS so new hires can learn independently.
- Create opportunities for hands-on learning, like sandbox training.
- Use software that encourages collaboration, like Zoom.
Optimize your internal knowledge base
In a recent study, 60 percent of employees reported difficulties getting the information needed to do their job from their coworkers.
By making resources like process documents and best practices readily accessible, employees don’t have to stop their workflow to hunt down information. This is especially important for onboarding new reps who need startup instructions and answers to frequently asked questions.
Upgrade your knowledge management with the items below.
Knowledge Base Checklist
- Gather necessary onboarding materials (instructions for software adoption, sales process documentation, prospecting tips, etc.) and store them in a central location.
- Create a FAQ section in your knowledge base to answer questions people typically ask during onboarding.
With an all-in-one LMS like the Learning Cloud from WorkRamp, you can create, manage, and deploy your learning content on a single platform. That means sales reps have on-demand access to onboarding materials and, after the onboarding process, can also access sales enablement content to help them connect with prospects and sell more effectively.
WorkRamp CMS is a unified LMS + CMS for all of your revenue enablement needs, from training to sales assets. Learn more about WorkRamp CMS.
Use surveys and assessments to gauge efficacy
Surveys and assessments help you evaluate the effectiveness of your onboarding programs. This feedback can reveal ways to maximize training time and minimize learning barriers.
Surveying new hires provides valuable insights into the success of your program. Encourage new hires with questions such as:
- How do you feel about the learning pace?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed?
- Rate how comfortable you feel doing your job on a scale of 1 to 10.
You can also track new hire competency using applications that allow for assessments, like WorkRamp’s challenges. If reps don’t pass assigned checkpoints, then you know to shift your curriculum. Box uses challenges to deem new hires ready for new onboarding sessions. “It is really exciting to see if what they are learning is resonating,” said Gabriella Petrone, Senior GTM Enablement Manager.
Check off the items below to gain insights into your onboarding program.
Surveys and assessment checklist
- Create surveys, at least once during and after onboarding, asking about new hires’ experience.
- Survey sales managers to find areas for improvement.
- Identify checkpoints in your program to make sure the content resonates.
Foster a culture of continuous learning even after onboarding
Once new hires are up and running, they may start setting training aside. Instead, instill a culture of learning in the flow of work. For example, create opportunities for employees to quickly find information or learn a new skill that helps them solve their problems rather than wait for the next group training session.
Use these final checklist items to instill curiosity and an interest in development.
- Encourage questions and help reps find resources and answers.
- Recognize and reward employee development.
- Set mandatory continuous learning sessions—differentiate your learning formats to keep reps engaged!
Empower your reps to succeed with an effective sales onboarding program
A sound onboarding program equips employees with a strong foundation, helps to lower turnover, and gives them the best chance to succeed.
Looking for more resources to help new reps get up to speed quickly? Download our free Go-To-Market Onboarding Playbook.
Discover how the Learning Cloud can help you develop on-demand training to increase rep efficiency, drive revenue performance, and close more deals. Contact us to schedule a free, personalized demo.
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Maile TimonContent Strategist, WorkRamp
Maile Timon is WorkRamp’s Content Strategist. She has over 10 years of experience in content marketing and SEO and has written for several publications and industries, including B2B, marketing, lifestyle, health, and more. When she’s not writing or developing content strategies, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her family.
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