How to Transform Your Sales Onboarding Process with Conversation Intelligence
It’s Monday morning, your new start class is bright-eyed and eager to learn, but your trainer is nowhere to be found. No one else knows how to run onboarding with the new sales reps… now what?
You could send the new hires home or have them sit on the floor all day, painstakingly trying to learn something from ride alongs with seasoned reps. Either way, you lose a day of productivity, which ultimately leads to lost revenue.
Even if this is an unlikely scenario at your organization, your onboarding process probably has room for improvement. Every sales rep onboarding program has three key elements:
Learning the organization’s product(s) and services
Developing sales skills and understanding the buyer
Tutorials of internal processes and systems
Many tools on the market are leveraged for one or two of these areas, but Conversation Intelligence technology is one the few which can be applied in all three. It transforms onboarding new sales reps from an arduous task list into a fun and interesting way for them to achieve mastery.
Because the onboarding experience sets the tone for your reps’ tenure with your organization, it’s important that you nail it.
The Backbone of Great Onboarding Programs
Most onboarding programs put the primary focus on learning products, services, and internal processes/systems. The real magic of onboarding happens when reps learn how to understand the buyer, the ideal customer profile, and personas. Only then can they align their sales skills to the nuances of your unique buyer’s journey.
To build a great onboarding curriculum, start with this simple exercise. Finish this statement until you have an exhaustive list:
“By the end of onboarding, the reps will know how to…”
These statements, known as learning objectives, document everything a rep needs to know how to do in order to be successful. This includes things like:
- How to use the CRM
- How to generate 15 completed first appointments per month by prospecting
- How to do effective discovery
- Uncover a prospect’s key challenges and the business impact of each
- Demo 10 key features without feature dumping
As you build out or review your onboarding program, take a look at the mechanisms and methods used to complete these learning objectives. Is there an easy way for reps to revisit lessons when they need to brush up on a specific topic? Conversation Intelligence platforms provide the right answer every time, unlike their notes and peers which are susceptible to drifting off base.
Utilizing Conversation Intelligence Technology During Onboarding
When Conversation Intelligence technology is used, organizations can cut onboarding time in half. This is because reps learn faster and respond better to real call examples than roleplaying.
Current onboarding programs heavily rely on acting out specific skills and situations in the classroom. Reps often don’t take it as seriously as a real call and they miss out on the nuances of selling including pace, pitch and tone.
Here are ways some best-in-class teams are using Conversation Intelligence technology during onboarding:
For Product Overviews
Instead of going over your products and services with the trainer, have your reps learn your offerings by listening to real sales calls. They’ll learn exactly how the team is positioning the product with buyers and get a great introduction to important skills like discovery and objection handling.
In the Classroom
Cut down the time your reps spend in the classroom by teaching them the skills they need to master your sales process and then reinforcing them with real call examples. Many skills specific to conversations such as using pre-call research and setting next steps are learned more easily when observed in live calls.
By letting reps sink their teeth into real examples of competitive deals, deep discovery to gain an understanding of industry verticals, and setting next steps within the Conversation Intelligence platform, they learn how to apply those skills on their own calls much faster.
What makes or breaks reps is how they translate those skills from the classroom to the sales floor, so they must learn what ‘good’ looks like from the beginning.
Conversation Intelligence software enables trainers and managers to take onboarding to the net level with ‘homework’. Build out a call listening schedule that leverages your best practice call libraries.
Reps should listen to the library that corresponds with the current lesson or skill they’re working on. Hold them accountable for completing the homework by asking them to leave a comment or reshare the call with their trainer when it’s completed.
Roleplaying has been determined to be less effective than live conversations for sales onboarding and training, but it is still an important piece of the onboarding process. Make roleplaying more effective by changing the way you execute them:
Have the rep sit at their desk and call a peer or manager on their cellphone and capture the call with Conversation Intelligence technology. Repeat this 4-5 times with different people on the line for each call, if possible.
After the exercise is completed, have reps review their own calls, adding comments, highlights, and completing a scorecard. Then bring the reps back together to review the calls, highlighting what went well, and suggesting any skills they can continue to focus on.
Certification & Sign-Off
Across many sales teams, reps can pass the initial certification, but fail the same evaluation 30 days later.
Traditional certifications and sign-offs rely on reps cramming the night before, just like they would for a test in school. They know the material now, but ultimately won’t be able to recall it, thanks to the forgetting curve.
Conversation Intelligence technology can help transform certifying reps from a midterm exam to an ongoing skills assessment.
For initial certifications, ask the rep to nominate their best roleplaying call for review. Have the trainer fill out a scorecard for the call and determine if they’re ready for the floor.
Ongoing Evaluation of Skills & Activities
Time to productivity is critical for the overall success of any organization, which is why it’s important to evaluate their skills as they ramp up. Conversation Intelligence software allows managers, and the reps themselves, to track progress. This level of visibility makes it easy to identify where a rep is struggling so that they can focus on improving that specific skill.
Evaluations should include reviewing call scorecards and activity dashboards. Managers should look at individual reps as well as the whole start class. Should there be an obvious shortcoming in one area across all the new reps, the manager can bring them back into the classroom to go over that skill or methodology again.
How reps’ perceive their own performance during onboarding is important to their long-term success. The Dunning-Kruger effect shows us that reps who over-estimate their skills are less likely to try and improve them. If a rep is scoring their calls significantly higher or lower than their manager or peers, managers need to identify what’s going on and work to get the rep re-aligned.
Sales managers who regularly track a reps’ performance can better pinpoint causes behind drops in performance. Every rep will have a bad month eventually. When you can determine if it’s a drop in activity, a regression of objection handling skills, etc. you can help the rep get back in the groove much faster.
Effectively onboarding new sales reps is critical to your organization’s success. Enhancing your program with Conversation Intelligence technology will make it easier to onboard new hires, move reps into new verticals, and refine the process as you scale.
How long does your current onboarding process take? What would happen if you reps’ reached full productivity in half the time?