Employee turnover in sales is overwhelmingly common and expensive.
For your company to be successful, it is critical to invest time and money in acquiring and keeping the right people.
Giving new hires a strong start at your company with a well-conceived onboarding plan will help you hang on to the great salespeople you fight so hard to attract.
The first few months of a new salesperson’s time at a new company are inherently overwhelming, but it is also when employees are at their most malleable.
Set your new hires up for success with structured onboarding and training to help them develop good habits and connections from the beginning.
Avoid these common onboarding sales management mistakes to help your company hang on to new hires, and give your salespeople the best chance of becoming successful fixtures within your company.
Top Onboarding Mistakes in Sales
1. Letting Basics Slide
Most companies have some form of employee orientation that usually covers legal requirements, reviewing the benefits package with HR and setting up a workstation. All these things are certainly important, but they represent the bare minimum of what is required to bring on a new hire.
It may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how often these basics are left insufficiently covered. Of course, if you do not have a protocol in place to handle these basic items, sort it out as soon as possible.
2. Neglecting Purpose
Beyond basic job requirements, your new hire needs to know how his/her role fits into the larger company picture.
Managers sometimes assume that broad company information is unimportant to a new salesperson, but understanding how her job contributes to the company’s mission gives her a sense of purpose and scope, both of which are critical when she is overwhelmed with the details of a new job.
3. Being Unclear About Performance Requirements
Your new sales hire should assume that she will be expected to bring in new business, but you need to be explicitly clear about how much she will need to bring in, especially in her first few months on the job.
New salespeople will certainly need time to orient themselves and get into a good workflow, so set your expectations and theirs accordingly.
4. Failing to Provide Sufficient Resources
Your new salesperson will have a lot of questions during the first few months on the job. If you cannot make yourself available to answer all of her questions in person, you should collect a few resources that she can turn to while she learns.
Google is the resourceful employee’s friend, but it will not help her understand company culture or protocol, so try to anticipate questions and provide appropriate tools for new hires so you can minimize interruptions to your already busy day.
5. Not Managing Progress Expectations
Good salespeople are inherently results-oriented and competitive, so the learning-intensive onboarding and training phases of employment can be frustrating for them, particularly when they see colleagues making impressive numbers and commissions to go with them.
Make sure your new hire knows how much time it will take to hit her stride and let her know that not only is it ok, it is important for her to focus on learning at the beginning so she can flourish long term.
6. Stepping Back Too Soon
Nobody likes being micro-managed, but at the beginning of a new salesperson’s time at your company, it is better to provide too much guidance than too little. It is dangerous to assume anything about your new hire’s skills until you see her work.
If you can sense her bristling at the idea of so much structure, remind her that it is only temporary. Check in frequently and relax the structure of the onboarding phase as she shows her understanding.
7. Discouraging Socialization
Employees spend half their waking hours at work, so it is important for them to have opportunities to form friendships and social support within the company.
As a sales manager with numbers to hit, it might be hard to appreciate the importance of socializing when there is so much work to be done, but keeping good salespeople at your company is easier when they feel connected to more than their paycheck.
Socializing is especially important for new hires who could otherwise be overwhelmed by the new information, new faces and new culture to figure out.
8. Failing to Make Important Introductions
Nobody wants to commit the faux pas of saying the wrong thing to the wrong department head at a new company, so take time at the beginning of your new salesperson’s onboarding to introduce her to key players. If you have a company photo you can label with names and titles for last minute refreshing before important meetings, even better.
9. Glossing Over Perks
There are probably lots of advantages to working as a salesperson at your company, so play them up and help new hires take advantage of them.
Landing talented salespeople is tricky. It is up to you to help them see the benefits of staying with your team for the long haul.
10. Forgetting to Assign a Mentor
Hard resources are great for teaching best practices and protocols, but nothing is more valuable for practical learning than candid advice and encouragement from a knowledgeable peer. Assign one of your strong salespeople to work with your new hire and teach her the daily tasks and cultural quirks of your company.
You should consider giving your assigned mentor a lower numbers requirement during training to emphasize the importance of being a good teacher. A few months of slow sales for the assigned mentor are more than worth it to create a robust onboarding experience for new hires and lower your turnover.
11. Sticking to the Script Too Rigidly
The necessary length of the onboarding process can vary from salesperson to salesperson based on prior experience, the position being filled and her aptitude for the job.
Establish a guideline for what you feel is an appropriate length of time for most new hires to meet training benchmarks and adjust it as you see progress.
Just as anemic onboarding can set a new salesperson up for failure, overbearing onboarding can drive capable salespeople away.
Getting Driven salespeople on your team is critical to your success as a sales manager.
After interviewing promising candidates and testing their aptitude for sales, you should have a clear idea of who has the potential to be a great.
If you can then avoid common sales management mistakes during onboarding, you will increase your chances of keeping those great people around long term and build an unstoppable sales team.