Sales Training: Onboarding Methodology, Tools and Assets
Jan 6, 2020 6:45:00 AM
A crucial part of sales onboarding is ensuring that your team has the information they need not only on your products or services, but also your sales methodology. This itself is a fundamental of sales enablement — the idea that supporting reps with data and communication tools can help overcome common sales challenges, leading to shorter sales cycles and stronger relationships with customers.
But what if your sales reps stem from different backgrounds and selling styles? In a “golden age” of digital advertising, sales reps joining your team from the same company and background could have vastly different experiences, as well as expertise.
These various strengths can be utilized as specializations within your sales department; however, reps should share the same foundational knowledge of processes, the marketplace, and your brand. That all starts with inbound sales training.
Different sales methodologies call for different training techniques. Ideally, your sales training should be customized for your internal processes and communication style, in addition to your sales tools and software. However, customized training for your specific processes isn’t always realistic.
Training sales teams with new processes, sales enablement technologies, and entire new ways of thinking is difficult, to say the least. Not only is training a great undertaking for each individual sales rep, but it’s also expensive, and something many organizations abridge (or skip altogether) due to time and resources.
Sales enablement can remove these common barriers to training, as it effectively documents your entire sales process, reinforces core branding and concepts through content, and provides a more concrete roadmap for growth. Information is the heart of sales enablement and the foundation of any sales training strategy.
Onboarding: Sales Methodology
When developing a training program for sales reps, it is imperative that businesses provide reps with resources on current processes and sales methodologies. This includes information on lead generation sources, lead qualification/lead scoring, and internal processes, such as contact ownership between marketing and sales.
In the initial weeks of employment, certifications and online training should be a significant part of each individual rep’s workload, in addition to real-world training with your current sales team.
Mastering methodologies should be your first training priority. Before your new reps dive in with sales software, for instance, they should understand your sales process. This learning is essential for reps transitioning from outbound to inbound sales, or vice versa.
In some cases, sales methodologies are closely linked with technologies and existing training programs your company uses. This is the case with inbound sales and HubSpot CRM; HubSpot has extensive training on the inbound methodology and its implications for sales, in addition to training for their software. Various vendors offer training for different methodologies or more niche sales tactics, such as sales prospecting email communications.
All aspects of your sales process should be communicated, from prospecting to internal hand-offs between teams. Sales benchmarks (such as close rate, sales cycle length, and deal size) provide transparency for new reps, as well as a clear understanding of expectations in their first months of employment and beyond.
To help new reps fully understand their role, allow them to shadow your sales team by inviting them to discovery meetings and new client onboarding/briefings, and involving them in documentation and proposals.
Onboarding: Sales Tools, Systems, and Technology Implementation
In addition to learning your methodologies and broad sales concepts, reps should also train to use your sales systems and various tools. Introduce and train your reps on your sales software, such as your company’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform, or your email/conference solutions.
Do you use Zoom, or UberConference for video meetings with sales prospects? While it may be second nature to you and your current sales team, your new rep may have limited experience with setting up their own video calls or calendar invites through a third-party software.
In addition to understanding your software, reps should also learn how customers interact with your brand. What tools are they using to receive email communications, or interact with your company’s website or social media accounts?
If you really want to give your reps an overview of customer interaction, give behavioral analytics a try. Tools like HotJar, which record mouse movements, clicks, and website interactions from anonymous users, provide a literal glimpse of individual user sessions on your website.
These kinds of innovations are common in inbound or other largely digital sales organizations, and worth trying out if you’d like to give your sales reps — old and new — useful information on your leads.
Branding, Positioning, and the “Why?”
It’s important to tie all of this training and online learning to your brand. Provide ample time and resources to train reps on your company’s values, messaging, and personality.
When speaking with prospects, keep in mind that sales reps are representatives of your organization. To perform effectively in their roles, new reps must understand how your organization speaks to every aspect of your product and industry — they are a true extension of the business, and their understanding of your business and its customers is critical.
Provide resources for reps to understand your buyer personas and their pain points, as well as up-to-date information on competitors and new products in the market. In many businesses, reps are hindered by lack of information — they do not have assets to understand your products and their benefits, or valuable resources to share with prospects, asking the right questions and push them closer to a positive buying decision.
- Case studies
- Product reviews
- Blog articles
- Video demos
- Product support and tutorials (even in the sales process, prospects want to know their buying decision is supported by a dedicated team, with the resources to use and benefit from a product)
Understanding what makes a highly-qualified lead is just as important as understanding your products. Strong alignment between sales and marketing can lead to dramatically reduced sales cycles and higher quality prospects; however, for many in sales, they may have limited experience with truly aligned teams.
Train reps to understand milestones in the sales process, and what marketing initiatives influence prospects to act.
Offer Continuous Learning
Sales training should not stop with a software certification and a first sale. Learning is a continuous process, and companies that offer periodic check-ins and leadership training support growth for the team and individual reps.
Forward momentum leads to highly-trained, highly effective sales teams; create clear goals and incentive opportunities to make continuous learning a core part of your team’s growth.
The items in this article could easily fill a new rep’s workload for the initial months of employment, which is unrealistic — they need experience with the team and working leads to be an effective sales rep for your business. To create an effective sales training program and sales techniques, consider prioritizing and staggering this learning based on your unique processes.
For example, for B2B sales and businesses with long sales cycles, the first month of employment could be dedicated to understanding messaging and methodologies, while month two could be more focused on specific software and technology.
No matter how you choose to train your reps, as long as your training is executed with clear expectations and a shared foundation, those reps will be set on the right track for success. Need help on aligning your marketing and sales strategies? Reach out to us today!