Why onboarding is so critical to successful B2B sales recruiting

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 8-Apr-2014

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Other than making sure you recruit the right people in the first place, how you go about on-boarding new sales people makes a huge difference to their chances of ultimate success. Yet far too many companies seem to believe that a little product training is all that is required to equip a new hire to succeed.

It’s a subject that deserves more attention, and that’s why I was very pleased to be asked to contribute to Brainshark’s excellent new eBook “Prepare Your Sales Force: Ideas for Enabling B2B Reps With More Effective Onboarding and Training”.

Brainshark_eBookThe book includes insightful contributions from Trish Bertuzzi of The Bridge Group (the leading inside sales consulting firm) and Dave Stein of ES Research Group - rated by Inc. Magazine as “The World's Top Sales Training Expert”. I strongly recommend that you download your copy here.

But as a taster, I thought I'd share my short contribution with you: 

Sharing the lessons from your top sales performers

"Let's work on the assumption that you've hired a sales person that already has the necessary general sales skills that are required to sell your product. I believe that the most important thing you need to do when on-boarding new hires is to share the accumulated knowledge of your existing sales team with them.
Although product knowledge is important, it's never enough. You need to help them come up to speed as quickly as possible with what they need to do to target, identify, engage, qualify and close the right sort of prospects. This involves helping them understand what an ideal customer looks like, who the key stakeholders are likely to be and what is likely to matter to them, and the symptoms that suggest a product or service fit.
You'll also want to help them understand what trigger events might cause prospects to recognise the need to change, how they can best qualify prospects, and what the key stages typically are in the buying process. If you leave the new hire to try and pick this essential information up for themselves through trial-and-error, you'll undoubtedly delay the point at which they can become truly productive. In fact, you might end up turning a potential success into a failed hire.
I'm seeing more and more organisations - particularly the ones that are regularly adding to their sales teams - capturing this "tribal knowledge" in the form of sales playbooks, but even an informal attempt to share this sort of information can be invaluable. My final thought? Please don't imagine that on-boarding is complete when you've briefed the new hire about your company and its products. The journey has only just begun".

Our experience of onboarding

When we work with clients to help them put together an effective onboarding process, we start by focusing on intelligent targeting: being clear about the problems you solve, what an ideal prospect organisation looks like, who the key stakeholders are, what trigger events cause them to recognise the need for change, and how the buying process is likely to unfold.

Then we work with them to equip sales people to embrace the key "the challenger sale" behaviours of top-selling B2B sales people: Teaching for differentiation, tailoring for resonance, techniques to take control of the sale and the power of shared stories and anecdotes.

Finally, we find it helpful to package the lessons learned into sales playbooks that are backed by sales enablement and skills development programmes - and help them configure their CRM and Marketing Automation systems so that they fully support the revenue management process.

We believe that these are the essential foundations to building scalable businesses - and to accelerating revenue growth in any size of organisation. If you want to review how well your current approach stacks up against the best-in-class, why not invest 10 minutes in completing this self-assessment - and then drop me a line with your thoughts.

Topics: B2B Marketing, Sales Enablement