The average ramp-up time for salespeople is between six and nine months. That’s a lot of lost revenue for your company. So how do you maximize the investment you’re making in sales new hires? Below is a guide to accelerated ramp-up time for your salespeople (along with some examples of how HubSpot trains their salespeople).
It takes time. It might feel like you’re over-communicating. But the payoff is salespeople who understand your business, your customer, and your sales methodology -- a wicked combination that leads to bigger returns, faster.
Onboarding Checklist for Sales New Hires
Before They Start
Pre-week training - This gives your sales reps context around their roles and what they’ll learn during training. New sales hires at HubSpot experience “a day in the life” of a HubSpot sales rep before their official first day. From technical setup to call observation and activity shadowing, new reps get an up-close look at the end goal of their training period.
Orientation & Day One
Email and administrative preparation - A recent Sales Benchmark Index survey of almost 800 new hires revealed that more than two-thirds were disappointed by their first day. The main complaint was that managers were too busy to give new hires the support and guidance they needed.
To combat this, make sure your new rep’s email account is accessible before the first day. This allows you to send them new hire and HR information ahead of time, as well as an agenda for day one. That way, even if your day is packed, your new hire will know where to go and who to meet.
Orientation - Use the first day to teach new hires the broad strokes of the company. Take care of HR documentation, set them up with a computer, and introduce them to the company at a high level. At HubSpot, these are just a few of the things our new hires experience on their first day. They also have lunch with a veteran HubSpotter to learn more about the company and ask questions of someone who’s been around a while.
Product or service training - What will your rep be selling? Whether it’s pool supplies or software, it’s important to train them on how to administer, use, and see the value of your product or service.
HubSpot’s sales new hires go through extensive product and Inbound Marketing training. They learn how to use HubSpot’s CRM, Marketing, and Sales tools. The hands-on trainings have them building landing pages, setting up contacts, and presenting “final projects” at the end of their training cycle. The project serves as a benchmark for new hires. Reps get to show off their understanding of HubSpot tools, and managers get to gauge new hire progress.
Sales Methodology Training
CRM training - Teach your reps how to use your CRM, and include hands-on, project-based training (like how to enter new contacts, set reminders, and log communication). When appropriate, have them take a CRM certification exam. Most CRMs offer them, and it’s a great way to ensure that new reps understand how to use this important software. You can find HubSpot’s certification courses here.
Call reviews - Sign up new hires for call reviews -- and lots of ‘em. It’s good for them to listen to reviews from your top reps and a few from reps who haven’t been part of the team that long. This allows new hires to learn from a variety of experience levels and gives them access to different types of critique.
Sales process overview - Cover the main stages of the sales process and conversion rate benchmarks (i.e., on average, 10% of emails convert to connect calls, 20% of connect calls convert to discover calls, etc.) This tells your new reps where to prioritize efforts and what kind of numbers they’ll be held to.
Prospecting - How does your company prospect? Share common channels, number of touchpoints, and best practices. Outline how much research reps should conduct and which details they should look for.
Buyer personas - In this section of training, describe your ideal customer. If you’re a B2B company, teach your salespeople what a best-fit company looks like and which contacts they should be trying to make at that company. If you’re B2C, describe the types of consumers reps should be targeting. You should also lay out the foundation for how your organization assesses and communicates with decision makers.
Competitors - Provide an overview of your main competitors. Then share a competitive analysis that highlights exactly what makes you different. Be honest about where your product/service falls short of the competition and where it outperforms the rest of the market.
Demo training - Incorporate good and bad examples into demo training and have everyone participate in role play. Conduct reviews of new hire demos, connect calls, and close conversations. Include common objections that arise during your sales process. And let new hires respond to those objections before supplying them with ready-made scripts.
A good rule of thumb: Provide positive feedback first, then move to areas for improvement. Foster this rule in your sales organization to create a team that embraces constructive criticism instead of being afraid or resentful of it.
Technology - Learning to use team or company technology (i.e., phones, video platforms, etc.) can be a tough and undocumented process. Train new hires on how to use your technology resources, and have them showcase their skills during a demo with you. When they can troubleshoot basic issues -- like asking prospects to mute their microphones if an echo arises during a presentation -- they’re one step closer to being ready for a live call.
Negotiation - Even experienced reps need to know how your company approaches the negotiation phase. What are your parameters for discounts and sales? What kind of judgement calls can your reps make regarding discounts? And what is the etiquette for discussing these topics with prospects?
Onboarding - Will your reps be in charge of onboarding new clients? Share best practices and responsibilities that accompany this role. If there’s a hand off to a renewal manager or customer experience rep, make sure both parties understand what that process is as well.
Certifications - At the end of their sales training, hold a certification exam. Have your reps role play an exploratory call, demo, negotiation, and closing call. This allows you to gauge whether a rep is ready to start representing your company in front of prospective clients.
By the end of training, HubSpot reps are both inbound sales and inbound marketing certified. They’re also certified in giving HubSpot Demos. Certain passing scores must be met and managers are notified if further training is necessary.
Vertical-, role- or territory-specific trainings - Make sure each new hire receives relevant supplementary training for role-specific duties. If you’re onboarding a BDR, provide further training on how to qualify prospects by asking the right questions. And train your reps on specific verticals or territories they’ll be targeting (i.e., when prospecting in the pacific northwest, phone calls convert at a higher rate than emails.)
Leadership/management training - Everyone should move through basic sales training to understand the goals, values, and customers your sales organization prioritizes. But if you’re bringing in a manager or executive, further training may be required to set them up for success.
Set clear expectations & goals - Set 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals. Calculate ramp rate based on the average number of months it takes a new salesperson to hit 100% (or close to) of quota. To make this more accurate, segment average ramp period by experience -- for example, it might take the typical veteran salesperson four months to ramp, while a freshly-minted college grad requires nine months.
Establish a new-hire mentor - Assign every new salesperson a mentor who’s senior to them. Mentees can bounce questions, comments, and new hire growing pains off their mentors. Mentorship provides new hires with perspective, guidance, and advice from someone outside their management team.
At HubSpot, every new hire is paired with a mentor. Beyond the first few weeks, mentors can offer career advice, make important networking connections, and save salespeople from burnout. Pair new hires with mentors, and you’ll set them up for a longer, happier career with your company.
Ramp up for salespeople is tough. But if you do it right, you’ll see huge ROI on the time and efforts you invest in new hires early on. Don’t skimp here, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of talent retention, high morale, and overall quality.
Originally published Aug 16, 2017 7:30:00 AM, updated August 16 2017