In our Hacking Your Onboarding post we discussed the importance of developing an effective onboarding process for your new sales hires. While offering resource materials like case studies, industry-specific information, and a complete sales playbook can go a long way towards preparing your new rep for success, developing an onboarding strategy which offers hands-on experience for your new hires and tracking the right KPIs will ensure that they start delivering as soon as possible.
After completing your strategic interview and hiring process for your new sales rep the next step is implementing an effective onboarding strategy which will help them settle into their new role and start delivering as soon as possible.
Neglecting to build an effective onboarding strategy doesn’t just improve employee performance by up to 11%, but successful onboarding increases employee retention by 25%, and makes your new hire 69% more likely to stay with your company up to three years.
Surprisingly, 60% of companies fail to set goals for new hires. When goals are paired with an effective, trackable onboarding process, sales reps are able to review their successes and shortcomings, and speak with their mentor about how they can streamline their strategies and improve their skills to meet ramp.
When it comes to setting goals that are visible for both the sales leader and the new sales rep, tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) provides a clear insight as to where a sales rep must improve in order to start closing sales, and how sales leaders can improve their onboarding strategies to optimize ramp time..
Although revenue-per-rep, rate of contact, and lead response times are all vital KPI’s to measure for measuring both individual and overall success, there are 4 specific KPI’s that sales leaders should be tracking during a new hire’s ramp time.
If these core KPI’s are lacking somewhere within a trainee’s personal metrics, sales leaders and team managers can trace these issues back to where the onboarding process or training is failing, or whether or not the new rep is attending the amount of training sessions necessary for efficient skill development in comparison to previous, proven analytics of other sales hires.
Here are the 3strategic KPI’s to track during the onboarding process of your new sales hires to help them reach your organization’s ramp, quickly and effectively.
1. The Number of Top Performer Sales Calls Observed with Written Feedback
From their first day of experience within your company, new sales rep hires should be discovering the ins and out’s of your organization, the service or product that you provide, and the specific industries and clientele that sales reps will be working with.
This step is critical, as a CareerBuilder report found that 60% of employees believe their skills will be learned on the job, which means that pairing new rep’s with some of your top sales team performers, will allow them to see how to funnel “typical” and qualified leads through the sales funnel, and gain a good grasp of your organization’s sales pipeline and core messaging.
As a sales leader, decide on a specific number of calls which should be observed by new sales reps should attend during their ramp period. You can base this number on the amount of sessions attended by previous high-performing hires who reached ramp at a good pace. The key to making this really effective is to chunk what they are listening for into something very specific within the sales process. Don’t ask them to try to process everything and instead have them focus on one section and send out recaps on their takeaways. This ensures they are getting the concept and allows for a manager to course correct.
In this case, exceeding the amount of sales calls performed by a top performer attended by a sales hire is a non-issue, as these discovery calls supply more real-time conversations and selling experiences for the new sales hire to engage with.
However, for new, but experienced, sales reps, the number of observed calls required may not need to be as high, since they have prior experience with the skills needed to generate sales and create good relationships with potential clients. Error on the side of more than less though as experience can vary greatly from person to person.
2. The Number of Coaching Sessions/Role Plays Completed
Nearly 74% of leading sales organizations reporting that coaching and mentoring new sales reps is one of the most important roles that sales managers play. Coaching and mentorship sessions are the first points of a new hire’s insight into the professional sales skills that are necessary to find success as a sales rep within your organization.
In the same way that sales leaders and team managers should be determining the amount of sales call observations, they should also be discussing the amount of coaching or mentor sessions necessary to optimize the new hire’s ramp time.
Throughout coaching and mentoring, include sessions with both the sales leader and top-performers, as discussing strategies and performing role-playing selling sessions adds variety to their training and diversifies their sales skill-set. According to 46% of sales reps, coaching by their sales manager is one of the best ways to reinforce new sales skills.
For example, perform a mock-call where the the sales leader or top-performing mentor is taking on the role of a difficult type of customer that your organization often deals with. Review the call together afterward and provide feedback as to how a sales rep can approach these stressful calls and add value to the client’s needs. Again chunk it into bite size chunks and focus on giving feedback on a part of each call instead of trying to overwhelm them with everything.
In The Talent Code they go to extreme and amazing depth in discussing the importance of chunking up big tasks into small pieces and focusing on mastery of each piece. Drill on one section after the call in detail to make sure the concepts are heard and being worked through. Have them talk about to you correctly and then go again, again and again. This helps to build muscle memory for when they are in the real world.
These sessions allow new employees to develop tactics and selling skills that are specific to your sales organization, and allow them to experience the communicative methods needed to increase their overall performance and close deals.
3. The Quality of Early-Stage Pipeline Generated
Sales pipelines should be predefined by a company and accessible to all members of the organization.
During onboarding, new hires will be able to see this pipeline and experience the different facets that create a complete process through coaching, role-play, and by researching your organization’s content library. However, the most important part of this learning process is experiencing how to generate actions from leads that move them down the sales pipeline.
In most cases, sales organizations refer to three stages of the pipeline: the early-stage, middle-stage, and end-stage. For sales reps, knowing how to effectively generate interest from high-quality leads during early-stage pipeline processes, such as:
Generating this interest early on is key, as capturing as many leads as possible from the stream of prospects sent to sales by marketing allows these new hires to experience complete movement of leads through the sales cycle, and master the techniques on how to best interact with prospects to close deals.
If your reps aren’t generating pipeline as they grow, it can help you to pinpoint exactly where they need help. You can dig into which stage leads are stalling out and focus your efforts there.
You do need make sure they aren’t stuffing the pipeline as well with deals that won’t close to hit this number. If you have rigor in your stage progressions and required fields then you should be OK, but you should audit as well weekly.
Using Tech to Optimize KPI’s in New Hires – A Few Quick Shoutouts
By measuring sales KPI’s throughout a new hire’s ramp time, sales leaders can establish a trusting and professional cadence, while preparing them to utilize data and metrics to optimize their performance and results.
Using the right tools allows sales leaders to track their new sales hires’ progress and data, and can be essential for honing your business’ onboarding experience.
CRM and pipeline management tools like SalesForce and InsightSquared provide data and reports to optimize your funnel, manage and track your rep’s pipeline, and develop a better understanding of your organization’s sales processes. This information can provide excellent insight into the KPIs you should be tracking as part of your new hire’s onboarding process.
Understanding where new hires fall flat is just as important as tracking their success. Successful sales leaders should use tools like Chorus.ai to track calls and automatically record all calls and use the data to deepen their understanding of their rep’s strengths and weaknesses without spending the extra time shadowing them on every call.
For long-term learning and success, tools like SalesHood allow leaders to develop micro-courses for sales onboarding which can include videos, exercises, and testing for new hires. This tool ‘gamifies’ learning by providing structured and role-based onboarding paths which will set your new reps up for success.
The measurable results sales leaders receive when tracking these metrics can highlight bigger issues within an onboarding process as well, as in instances where an organization is experiencing a high turnaround. With up to 20% of employee turnover occurring during the first 45 days, implementing a successful and measurable onboard strategy early on helps retain your new hires and create a stronger sales team.
If you’re a data-driven sales leader who wants to optimize the onboarding process and downloading our free ebook, Hiring Superior Salespeople.