Hiring customer-facing employees is both a gamble and a long-term investment. Companies hiring new employees might have to wait up to six months before breaking even. The risk of frequent turnover, a slow burn to full productivity, and changing market norms that make it feel like sales teams are constantly playing catch-up with customer expectations can make that extended timeline difficult for companies in competitive markets. For sales managers, this translates to the need to shorten the sales training onboarding cycle without compromising on quality—you need your new and old reps to perform at their best, and you need it now.
In this guide, we explore why sales training onboarding is so pivotal in getting employees up to full productivity; it can even help with turnover and address lightning-fast changes in customer expectations. Then we’ll outline the five essential steps for shortening time to productivity with a structured, AI-powered sales training system. Let’s get started on making your sales onboarding process stronger right away.
The Growing Role of Better Sales Training Onboarding
Training and onboarding are vital processes for every employee in your organization. The necessity is obvious: your sales reps must know how to do their jobs. But investing time and effort into improving the sales training onboarding can bring additional benefits, from internal to customer-facing to revenue-based. Tell key stakeholders in your organization about these reasons why a better program is an immediate business necessity:
Creating a Comprehensive Training Program Is Better for Everyone
Sales training benefits more than just customers and your bottom line. It also helps your team. According to UrbanBound’s guide to onboarding, “This is critical to retaining employees – in fact, research shows that 28% of employees will leave their job after three months due to poor onboarding experiences.” With better onboarding, you retain employees for longer and improve their experiences. This has a host of secondary effects, such as reducing turbulence, lowering stress for HR, and making business more predictable.
Develop Soft Skills in Addition to Hard Tactics
Hard tactics and a sales-forward approach have been the norm for decades. But over the past few years, it’s become clear that sales conversations, soft skills, and relationships drive better sales and profits. Better training sequences allow you to assess your team’s baseline skills, provide personalized learning, and continually augment their skills. Without training, sales reps might default to the old norms they learned in previous positions.
Providing Company-Specific Product and Approach Details
The worst onboarding processes leave sales reps unsure what to say and how to act. If they don’t know product information, promotional details, or the next step in the sales process, customers will pick up on that and lose confidence. Better sales training onboarding will include the following:
- Continually updated resources about products
- Shared resources with marketing so everyone knows about current promotions
- Living policy and strategy documents
Never Train on Real Prospects
Every employee needs to practice job skills to be good at them. Experiential learning offers business-critical advantages, including:
- Teaching reps adaptability and flexibility
- Turning theory into practical knowledge
- Helping sales reps become more confident and capable
- Facilitating more detailed assessments and sales team performance reviews
However, the way sales reps gain experience is by selling. With robust training sequences, you can prioritize simulations and virtual exercises that allow practice without making real prospects and clients the practice subjects. Implementing this single aspect—practice simulations—can dramatically transform your onboarding process and your company’s sales results.
Ensure Sales Reps Are Ready for Prospects and Existing Clients
Appropriately implemented, there can be a lot of overlap between sales training for new hires being onboarded and continuous sales training for other sales reps. High-quality sales training resources that are up-to-date and full and helpful information are valuable for everyone on the team, not just new hires.
Even better, those same simulations and practice exercises that guided new hires can be made available to experienced salespeople. They can learn new skills, practice different pitch strategies, and become even stronger sellers without experimenting with their clients. This encourages sales reps to leave potential ruts and have a safe space to experiment and fail without ruining their numbers.
Develop Personalized Skills and Learning Profiles for Each Employee
Baseline data is essential for any campaign or project. Your marketing team uses baseline data to measure the effect of brand awareness campaigns. Every manager refers to past performance reviews to gauge progress. Your sales training onboarding is no exception. You can improve your efforts by assessing employees’ skills before they begin training and then continually throughout the process. Benefits include:
- Increasing employee engagement in training
- Personalizing learning tracks based on each employee’s needs and strengths
- Evaluating your training program’s effectiveness
This process is made more accessible by incorporating AI-based training programs and online platforms that automatically assess and track data. Relying on in-person evaluations and manual assessments makes this virtually impossible—or at least highly inefficient and incomplete.
When new sales reps rush through training, they’re not necessarily ready to converse with existing clients or win deals from prospects. They’re still practicing their skills, and practice always involves mistakes. This will inevitably lead to lost clients and deals-to-be becoming deals-that-never-were. This can wreak havoc on your conversion percentages, hurt the ROI of marketing campaigns, and cost a lot of money.
The complications don’t just end with fewer closed-won deals and potential effects on your brand reputation. When sales analysts have to account for marketing variables on one end and sales rep experience on the other, this confounds the accuracy of their insights.
Doing the opposite—taking the time to train reps properly, giving them virtual simulations instead of real-life prospects for practice, and achieving a measurable level of readiness before they start—makes your sales and RevOps processes more efficient.
Better Is Great — But How Can You Make It Shorter?
All of the above benefits focus primarily on quality: making your reps more experienced, knowledgeable, and motivated throughout the sales training onboarding experience. This is the best route for shortening the timeline to real productivity and value. If you need to change the focus to be about speed—shrinking Investopedia’s estimate of six months before breaking even on a new hire—prioritize these improvements:
1. Start With Objective Baseline Assessments
Training everyone on everything is inefficient. It’s slow, potentially boring, and keeps reps from learning what they need to cross the onboarding finishing line. Begin your onboarding process with baseline assessments that tell you what they already know and what their training should focus on.
2. Don’t Overload—or Frontload—Reps With Information
Change how you present information. When you want speedy onboarding, giving new hires all the information they need as quickly as possible is tempting. But employees may forget up to 70% of new information by the next day and up to 90% before the following week.
Related: What Is Effective Sales Coaching?
When you present too much information, the vast majority won’t be retained, meaning new hires will have to learn it again or simply go without. Instead, break the info down into microlessons interspersed with interactive learning opportunities and lots of practice so they can build connections.
3. Make Practice Simulations Accessible 24/7
Practice exercises are the best way to learn everything from presentation to conversation skills; most people won’t dispute that. The issue with them isn’t effectiveness. It’s practicality. Switch in-person practice to virtual practice (which can be a bottleneck even if sales reps practice pitches on each other). The right AI training software can give employees endless simulations and opportunities to practice.
Invest in mobile, cloud-based software so reps can access it whenever their schedule allows. This will speed up sales training and let motivated learners operate independently.
4. Let Reps Track Their Improvement and Set Their Own Goals
Give your new hires access to their progress metrics instead of leaving them uncertain or unaware of their progress. It can be incredibly motivating when employees can see their progress in training courses. Your new hires will know where to focus their efforts and what needs their attention most so they can progress.
5. Use the Data to Continually Improve Your Sales Training Onboarding Processes and Demonstrate the ROI on Your Training
Don’t just focus on improving your salespeople’s scores and capabilities. Sales training onboarding processes that generate much data can help you improve your program just as much. Identify areas many reps struggle with, aspects that take the most time, and parts of training where you can pick up the pace without sacrificing high-quality outcomes. Even better if you correlate the training investment with improved sales performance metrics such as win rate.
Prioritize Quality and Speed by Adding Quantified to Your Sales Training and Onboarding Processes
As you may have realized throughout this guide, there are two essential things you need to shorten the time to productivity:
- The right mindset: Focus on high-quality improvements, not just speed.
- The right tools: Switching out manual and generalized processes for technology-based learning and assessments creates better speed and sales know-how results.
At Quantified, we’re here to help you optimize your sales training onboarding with the necessary technology and training resources to see excellent results. Our AI-powered platform can set each of your sales reps on a personalized learning course based on their initial competencies, and we can improve their experiential understanding of your company’s products and best practices for sales conversations through virtual simulations. Contact us today to schedule a demo and learn more about adding Quantified to your sales training onboarding.