At Lucid, we are constantly growing our team. We hired five new reps and added a brand new manager to our sales team last quarter, and even now, we’re still hiring.
The challenge, of course, is getting new reps up to speed and productive as quickly as possible. Like you, we’re looking for the best way to reduce ramp time while ensuring that our onboarding practices are thorough and efficient.
Fortunately, we’ve developed some strategies that not only reduce ramp time but also provide more comprehensive training so our reps start selling on solid footing.
In this article, I’m going to share seven sales onboarding tips we use to consistently reduce ramp time and set up our reps for success.
- Develop your A+ players
- Think about where new reps sit
- Prioritize product training
- Create a single source of truth playbook
- Define the theory and methodology that underlies your sales process
- Balance training with practical application
- Encourage new reps to take calls on the floor
Let’s dive in.
Tip #1: Develop Your A+ Players
The first step to helping your new reps onboard quickly and be successful members of your sales team is not actually about them at all.
It’s about having a strong network of A+ players for them to work with. This is essential to any future onboarding strategies, and all the tips that follow are built on this core foundation.
How do you build a strong foundation of A+ players?
First of all, dedicate time and effort to developing the top performers on your team. Training shouldn’t end with new-hire orientation.
Create continuing education opportunities for your top sellers, and show them you’re invested by sponsoring external certifications and endorsements. Set aside time in your 1:1s to discuss career advancement and leadership development.
The ROI on this effort is a built-in crew of top sales performers, prepped and ready to help support your B and C players. With their experience and the additional training you’re providing, you’ll have all the help you need to onboard new reps and get them closing deals quickly.
On the flip side, your new hires will be working with top performers who show them every day what success looks like. Instead of only having access to one executive source of guidance, your new reps will have a whole team ready to answer questions, give feedback, and provide encouragement.
Tip #2: Think About Where New Reps Sit
Remember elementary school seating charts? You always wanted to sit next to your best friend, because school was more fun if you could sit next to someone who laughed at your jokes, shared their stash of supplies, and helped you figure out that math problem that was giving you trouble.
Workplace seating is no different. Be mindful with your seating arrangements and surround your new rep with people who will set them up for success.
Assign new reps a mentor, one of those A+ players you’ve been training, and make sure they sit right next to each other.
Now your new rep will have someone to reach out to with on-the-floor questions. They’ll have someone they can count on for immediate feedback.
Then continue your purposeful seating arrangements beyond the new hire stage.
If you just promoted a rep to a manager position, find a mentor for them, and seat them next to each other. Team members are more likely to take advice and incorporate feedback when it comes from people they’ve watched succeed day-in and day-out.
I keep track of my team’s seating arrangement and how it has evolved with a simple seating chart, and I encourage other sales leaders to do the same. Update it as your team grows and don’t be afraid to move people around from time to time.
A new desk assignment means new opportunities to listen in on call strategies and learn different strategies from team members. They’ll get to know each other better, and your team will be closer (and more effective) for it.
Note for Remote Teams
While you may not need to create a seating chart for remote teams, do assign mentors and have them set up regular chats with new reps. Use group chats on Slack or Microsoft Teams to encourage communication and connection beyond scheduled meetings.
Tip #3: Prioritize Product Training
Comprehensive product training is a must if you want your reps to succeed. Before you task them with studying your sales playbook, make sure your new reps undergo thorough product training.
Your product training should include four basic components:
- How your product or service solves business problems
- Product features, and the use cases for each feature
- How your product or service impacts the market
- Who your customers are and their motivations
My team is required to complete bridge courses that help them become well versed in our product. The courses includes marketing collateral and product education videos to help reps understand our customers and the value our product gives them.
The courses also include hands-on activities that get reps into the product — and creating assets that are actually graded by our product education team.
We take this product education one step further and have our reps share best practices inside our products during standups and team trainings. Often, the best way to internalize content is to teach it to others.
Once your new reps have been trained on your product, cement that learning by having them use the product as much as possible in their own workflows.
For example, Lucidchart offers a solution specifically for sales teams. So, I make sure my reps are using Lucidchart Sales Solution to manage their accounts. That way, they develop a deep understanding of the product, can better answer questions from prospects and customers, and can speak personally to the value the solution provides.
Tip #4: Create a Single Source of Truth Playbook
Now that your new reps understand the product or service they will be selling, it’s time to introduce them to your sales playbook. This should be a one-stop resource that addresses all the details of your selling process and sales resources.
While a playbook might seem overly prescriptive, it’s better to answer as many questions as possible than risk deploying unprepared reps. This is your opportunity to provide your reps with everything they need to build successful patterns and ramp up quickly.
Here are some sales playbook must-haves:
- A clear table of contents
- An introduction that outlines how to use the book
- A list of links to any software or tools that your team uses on a daily basis
- A flowchart outlining the rep’s daily workflow
- A list of prospecting tips and best practices
- A script for a basic discovery call
- An explanation of your team’s sales methodology (see Tip 5 below)
- An org chart listing out everyone in your sales department and their job titles
I also recommend incorporating visuals where possible to make the information presented in your playbook easy to digest. Visuals will also help your reps commit new information to memory.
Tip #5: Define the Theory and Methodology That Underlies Your Sales Process
Never assume that your reps, especially new members of the team, will automatically understand your sales methodology. Take time to explain the reasoning behind your chosen process — the theory behind your methodology.
This will contribute to greater buy-in across the board.
For example, here at Lucidchart, we’ve implemented ProActive selling. In order to start having the right conversations with prospects, our sales reps need to understand the basics of this theory, things like talking to value rather than features.
If your methodology has a standard reference text or book, like ours does, make sure you get each rep their own copy to mark up and reference.
Helping your reps develop a strong understanding of your sales methodology also facilitates coaching and training. Now you have specific goals, best practices, and tools that you can bring to the table when you’re providing guidance and feedback.
Finally, encourage your reps to make your methodology their own once they have a solid understanding of its basic principles. The best reps develop their own method for selling within the framework of your chosen methodology.
Tip #6: Balance Training With Practical Application
As you teach your new reps about your product and methodology, make sure to incorporate opportunities for them to practice what they are learning. This will help the information stick and gives them a chance to see the principles at play in the real world.
Repetition is central to successful training and application. Teach skills and processes, and have your reps practice the basics over and over again.
We encourage practice on our sales team in three ways:
- With daily role plays
- Having reps prepare talking points and scripts ahead of calls
- By listening to Chorus calls in our 1:1 meetings.
As managers and team leads, it’s up to us to constantly reinforce best practices.
This means continually training reps even when they have more experience under their belts. Without this constant push to improve, it’s easy to stagnate. Keep your reps sharp with continual practice.
Tip #7: Encourage New Reps to Take Their Calls on the Floor
Sales is all about momentum and morale. So, encourage your team to take their calls on the floor when possible and appropriate. This provides a great learning environment for new reps, who often learn best by eavesdropping on calls happening around them.
If a rep is afraid to take a call on the floor, there may be an underlying fear issue that needs to be addressed. You may need to provide additional coaching or support to help them be comfortable taking calls in front of their teammates.
Additionally, managers should be willing and available to jump on a call and provide help if needed. This builds credibility with your team, and it can be a great coaching opportunity that leads to higher team morale.
It Starts With You
As sales leaders, our job is to make sure our teams have everything they need to succeed and hit their numbers. Thorough onboarding is key to establishing a foundation for future success.
Take the time and effort to mentor your A+ players, build out a comprehensive sales methodology, and get it all down in writing in a playbook.
And don’t forget the little details. Something as simple as a seating chart can make a huge difference in your team’s performance. And daily role-plays can get your reps comfortable with the performance aspect of selling and taking their calls on the floor.
Onboarding a new rep takes serious investment from you and the rest of your team. But in the end, if you follow these 7 tips, you’ll have a rep who is primed for success — and that’s a fantastic ROI.