Onboarding a New Salesperson

Onboarding a New Sales Person

I heard a story from a colleague about her first day as an outside sales representative. “I was supposed to meet my new boss at a local coffee shop at 9:00 am. I waited for him to arrive for about 30 minutes and then called him, somewhat in a panic, thinking that I was at the wrong meeting place. No answer, no response. Around 3:00 that afternoon, he called me back to tell me that he was confused about the day, had other stuff going on, and that it would be better if we met a couple of days later.”

Hearing this story almost sent me into a state of shock. What kind of message did the “no-show” deliver? What did it do to her level of enthusiasm and motivation, right out of the gate?

While this story is undoubtedly out of the ordinary, many managers do rush through the onboarding process in hopes of getting the new person up and running—out selling, as quickly as possible. When designed with thought and intention, the onboarding process provides the foundation for future success. Pulled together haphazardly, or not done at all, it has the potential to be a costly mistake.   

Here are my Do’s and Don’t’s when onboarding a new salesperson:

  1. Provide an Overview of the Onboarding Period. You need to have a plan for the training/onboarding, ideally in writing for easy reference. Establish goals.  Articulate what you want the employee to have learned and mastered by the end of the period. Doing so demonstrates that you are serious about success and have given thought to what it will take.

  2. Plan, but be Flexible. As important as it is to have a plan in place, recognize that everyone learns differently, and at a different pace. Also, business needs may cause you to move things around. Communicate this on the first day.

  3. Share Your Mission and Vision. When employees feel connected to a purpose beyond their actual responsibilities, their motivation level increases. The best time to lay this foundation is on day one. Consider the Bricklayer parable:

    Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?” The first says, “I am laying bricks.” The second says, “I am building a church.” And the third says, “I am building the house of God.” The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling.

  4. Build Connections and Relationships. As much as you want your employees to feel connected to your company’s purpose, you want them to connect with the team and the other players. As part of the orientation, build in time for genuine relationships to blossom. Schedule team lunches, job shadowing, etc. Establishing a mentor can be a huge win. The new employee has a second resource. You can delegate some of the training responsibility. The mentor has an opportunity to develop and feels valued.

  5. Celebrate. A small welcome gift or a note expressing your excitement demonstrates that you are a class act and look forward to more celebrations to come.  

Starting on the right footing does not guarantee success, but it serves as a great foundation. Take advantage of this opportunity to take the next step in building a top-performing team and culture.