Sales Onboarding Advice from the Experts (+ Free Sales Onboarding Template)
Good sales onboarding doesn’t just improve ramp-up time for new hires or increase sales; it also functions as a tool for talent acquisition and retention. Use our free sales onboarding template to get started.
Get started with a template
After years of experience in B2B sales, Daniel Basilio has seen it all in sales team onboarding—from month-long, customized training at enterprises to “sink or swim” attitudes at scrappy startups.
The best sales onboarding experiences always helped his team become better salespeople much faster. “Obviously, it takes much longer for new hires to start performing without training,” Daniel says. “And sometimes companies don’t have patience for that, especially startups in a hyper-growth stage.”
For Daniel and many others, quality sales onboarding is now one of the key factors to considering a new position: according to research by Siriusdecisions (published on Hirebox), “49% of high-performing sales reps identify the availability of onboarding as extremely important when considering a new position.”
In other words, building onboarding your sales team will love doesn’t just improve ramp-up time for new hires or increase sales (though it does that too). Sales onboarding also functions as a tool for talent acquisition and retention.
“A good onboarding experience shows you that the company cares about you,” Daniel says. “They’re investing the time in training you. You feel like the company is committed to seeing you succeed. When a company doesn’t invest in onboarding, you can tell they’re expecting turnover. As an employee, you can tell the difference.”
To build sales onboarding that shows employees you are invested in their success and improve sales outcomes, you’ll need to bring sales leadership in from the start, use social learning to help sellers grow, and communicate the goals and outcomes of the training clearly.
We put together this resource to help you build your company’s sales onboarding program. In it, you’ll find:
- Eduflow’s free sales onboarding template, designed to help you build, customize and run a professional sales onboarding
- Advice from sales managers and instructional designers at top companies like Google on what every sales onboarding should include
- The do’s and don’ts of sales onboarding
To download and use the template right away, create a free-forever Eduflow account. For everything else, keep reading.
Welcome to the Sales Team!
📖 Our selling philosophy
💬 Meet the team
Product and Customers
✏️ Learn about our product
👬🏻 Understand our customer personas
👬🏻 Read about real Eduflow customers
❓ Quiz about product and customers
🤑 Commission structure
✍️ Signing contracts
📅 Monthly 1-on-1s
💻 Practice: Hubspot in action
💬 What makes a good pitch
📚 The anatomy of a good pitch
📹 Record your own elevator pitch
🙏🏽 Peer review
💭 Reflect on your feedback
Dealing with objections
🙅 Objection handling
👹 Respond to the following objections
✍️ See how others responded
🤔 Reflect on your feedback
📚 Further reading
💬 Knowledge sharing
Get started with a template
Good sales onboarding aims for specific outcomes
The goal of onboarding is to have a trained, competent salesperson working to close deals as quickly as possible. The best way to do that is to be clear on the skills and outcomes you want your team to cultivate.
Involve leadership before you start
When Jodie Bennett was the lead instructional designer working to revamp the onboarding for Google Sales School, she and the team started by talking to sales leaders within the company. “When designing any kind of sales program, it's important to understand their selling philosophy,” she says. “We needed to be sure we were clear on any models they used that they really liked.”
For Jodie, talking to sales leadership should always be the first step to building (or updating) a strong onboarding program. She recommends talking with managers about the most critical behaviors they expect out of their team. That way, she can learn what metrics sellers are going to be measured by, whether that’s the number of calls they make in a day or closing a certain number of deals. “It's important to know what it’s really important for a seller to demonstrate,” she explains, “so I just start by asking a lot of questions.”
Build goals and milestones into the onboarding process
Once you understand how sales success is measured and what skills your team needs most, you can use that information to start building the structure of your onboarding. The key is to build goals and milestones into the process so that both managers and the new reps themselves can easily track their progress and see where skills gaps remain. “If you can’t measure what’s happening related to what new team members are learning, then how will a manager know what their new team member can or cannot do, or how to coach them toward success?” Jodie explains. She suggests building a process that captures assignments and milestones related to specific abilities, like storytelling skills or negotiation skills.
One way to do this is to use certificates. When your new hire completes a module, both they and their manager are sent a completion certificate. That way, managers can easily see that their new hire has acquired a new skill.
Learn more about how MetaMap uses certificates in their employee onboarding.
Customize your onboarding to your employees
For Jake Prince, co-founder and senior learning consultant at Elevos, standardizing onboarding and training too much is inefficient and wastes both the new employee’s and the organization’s time. “We strive to always build training programs that are customizable,” he says. “We don’t want to put people through a blanket training program that ignores their background and existing skills. We want to make sure we’re getting people productive as fast as possible.”
Jake recommends working with the new sales employee to figure out which skills training or modules they could benefit from. “It’s usually more of a dialogue between the new employee and the hiring manager,” Jake says. “We try to assess what someone already has in terms of skills.”
Good sales onboarding is social
Selling is all about relationships, and salespeople are notoriously social–one of the keys to successful sales is positive, productive interactions, not just with their clients but also with each other. Plus, it’s no secret: people learn more from social interactions than they do from top-down, lecture-style learning.
Encourage peer-to-peer learning
Create opportunities for your sellers to connect with each other during onboarding so they can start building relationships with their teammates, giving each other feedback, and collaborating.
If you use an LMS for onboarding, choose one that has social features. When Jodie and her team chose Eduflow for Google Sales School, she says the platform’s social features allowed learners to build trust, both inside and out of the classroom.
“Eduflow helped connect learners with others in their cohort in class,” she says, “and it also helped them connect offline and outside of class, because of the trust they had started to build by giving each other feedback using this tool. A lot of sales-focused learning is grounded in connecting with each other and building relationships."
Use group practice sessions and exercises
All of the experts we spoke to unanimously recommended incorporating group practice sessions into sales onboarding. Role-playing can help new employees practice unexpected scenarios and see how others deal with tricky interactions. “There are a lot of open-ended, challenging situations in sales, and you can’t prepare for all of them,” Jake explains. “But you can do simulations and role-playing games to try to predict some of the more common situations and get comfortable with how it feels to be in those situations.”
Daniel, now working in business development for the startup Cooltra, agrees. “We organized mock calls with the whole team, which were very helpful,” he says. “We also listened to recordings of real calls and then gave feedback and discussed the positives and negatives of the call as a group.” These calls helped them learn from each other and see different scenarios and sales techniques applied, he says.
Harness the power of observation
One of the most effective tools for sales onboarding is having new employees shadow more experienced sellers on the floor—as long as those sellers have good habits. “Whoever they’re watching needs to have the habits you’re teaching in class to help reinforce that. Otherwise, you’re just shooting yourself in the foot,” Jodie says. “Getting them on the floor and familiar with their team and observing others is the one thing I’ve noticed that really accelerates ramp-up time.”
Eduflow’s video activity is a great tool for this: new sales hires can watch recordings of more senior team members on calls directly within the LMS. Then, they can submit their opinion on what went well (or badly) on the call.
Good sales onboarding is all about communication
Another thing our experts agree on? Sales onboarding requires transparency and communication at every step of the process in order to be effective. Make sure your playbook includes everything you want your team to know about your product and company, including key features, your value proposition, and your ideal customer. “Sales is kind of the focal point for the whole organization,” Jake Prince explains. “If we can’t get them to really internalize the company’s culture and its practices and its value proposition, then it’s going to be hard for anyone to do that.”
Don’t forget to teach common objections, too, says Brenton Thomas, founder and CEO of Twibi. “This way, they'll be prepared to handle them in a professional and effective manner.”
Clear job descriptions are also helpful, both for employees being onboarded and for the company building out their onboarding. “The easiest way to build a training program is to start with a clear understanding of the responsibilities for a given role. And if you don’t have those, that’s a great place to start,” Jake adds.
Keep managers in the loop
Whether your onboarding is five days or five weeks long, make sure managers understand where new employees are in the process every step of the way. “It's really important that managers know what their people can do outside of a learning experience, so they can just coach them,” Jodie says. An LMS can help managers easily track activity completion and see where new hires are in the process at a glance.
Finally, teach them the tech
This one seems obvious but is easy to overlook. Many companies assume new employees already know how to get the most out of their tools, whether it’s something as simple as their calendar or as complex as a CRM. But even small inefficiencies can cause bigger problems down the road. Add tech training, and especially CRM training to your onboarding to help your employees be more efficient in the long run. “If you don’t know how to use your tools, you might take ten minutes to do something that could be done in seconds, and that’s time you could be selling,” Daniel concludes.