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Sales Enablement

The Sales Onboarding Checklist Designed to Take Onboarding from Good to Great

The Sales Onboarding Checklist Designed to Take Onboarding from Good to Great

A poorly-run sales onboarding program is worse than no onboarding at all. A good onboarding program ensures your new hire can do their job quickly, but a great onboarding program builds a sense of community, provides lasting mentorship, and equips new hires with the skills to solve problems during onboarding and beyond. It’s the key to cultivating and retaining top talent

Use the strategies and action items below to accelerate new hire success.

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.

Cohort Checklist

  • 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% 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 as they settle 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 meet with the new hire regularly 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 formally 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 with 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 the worry of 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% 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.

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 from your employees.

  • Encourage questions and help reps find resources and answers.
  • Recognize and reward employee development.
  • Set mandatory continuous learning sessions — make sure to differentiate your learning formats to keep reps engaged!

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