Episode Summary

If you’ve ever started a new sales role only to be told that you’ll be on the phone in just a few days, you know all too well: There has to be a better way to onboard sales reps.

Outdated training resources. Videos about tools that are no longer used. Throwing new reps to the wolves by putting them in touch with leads far too soon.

Far too many companies toss new hires a thousand sales approaches and hope something sticks. Or worse — they don’t have an onboarding program at all.

But what if, instead of a haphazard trial by fire, we took a more thoughtful approach to sales onboarding? What if we designed SaaS sales training to help reps understand who they serve, the ‘why’ behind the process, and how well they’re actually performing during onboarding?

By providing clear expectations and learning competencies, sales leaders can set the tone for an onboarding experience that allows reps to naturally progress and grow into their position.

On this episode of the B2B Power Hour, we dive into how to onboard and train new hires so they not only thrive in their role but want to stay for the long haul.

Aspireship’s Christine Rogers and Spekit’s Zoë Hartsfield also break down:

⚡Why a culture of curiosity matters as much as (or more than) initial onboarding

⚡Who’s actually responsible for sales onboarding

⚡How KPIs play into the onboarding process

⚡How to battle the forgetting curve

⚡And more!

Tune in to find out why onboarding isn’t just about how quickly you can get reps to quota — instead, it’s about actually helping them succeed.

What they do: Christine is the President and COO at Aspireship, and Zoë is Demand Generation Manager at Spekit.

Key quote: “We need to shift learning from this destination to a practice — learning and onboarding is this ongoing, ever-evolving thing. That’s a shift I hope we see in the market.”

Where to find Christine: Twitter | LinkedIn

Where to find Zoë: Twitter | LinkedIn

B2B Power Plays

Top takeaways from this week’s conversation

🛣️ Onboarding is an ongoing journey, not a destination.

You’re never really done learning about your customer, your product, or your industry — especially in SaaS. Zoë shares that, instead of onboarding, her company has a culture of “everboarding,” focused on learning on the job and continuing to get better.

Instead of trying to find the perfect onboarding timeframe (or rushing to get new reps to quota as soon as possible), sales leaders should train reps that there is always more to learn. This helps them stay on their toes and adapt to the changes that are constantly headed their way.

💬 When onboarding, set clear expectations and outcomes.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Onboarding should be standardized enough to gauge how effective the training process is — and how well new hires are being supported.

Christine shares a few best practices for seeing how both the onboarding process and the new hires measure up:

✔️Make sure reps have the chance to learn in multiple ways throughout onboarding. Christine guides new hires through a combination of curriculum, demos, research, online training, and live training from top reps.

✔️Testing for competency is key. Set up milestones to indicate success throughout the process: Can they explain the target ICP? Can they present a demo based on a set of information with 10-15 minutes of prep?

✔️At each onboarding checkpoint, gauge whether new hires are ready to move on to the next step — and let them know how they’re doing. Having a clearly defined structure and communicating KPIs helps new hires understand their own performance — and it gives them something to aim for.

⚖️ Balance frameworks with flexibility.

While having the best teach the rest is an excellent training strategy, the goal of onboarding shouldn’t necessarily be to clone your top reps when bringing in new hires.

Sales teams should have the same base knowledge of the customer, their problem, and the solution their product offers. This shared understanding guides the sales process. But individuals can (and should) find different ways to bring their personality into the conversation. There’s room for creativity and diversity of thought within a rock-solid framework.

Episode Highlights

Inflection points from the show

[1:10] More than ramping reps: Christine shares what goes wrong with most onboarding programs and how to reframe the process for better results.

[7:05] Areas of focus: Onboarding that cuts straight to the product won’t cut it. Christine talks about helping new hires learn about the big picture first — and even letting them opt out if they don’t like what they see.

[8:20] ‘Who’ leads to ‘why’: Onboarding usually addresses how you do your job — not who you serve. When you help reps understand the prospect on the other end of the phone during onboarding, they start better conversations.

[14:49] Culture of curiosity: How long should onboarding last? (Hint: The answer might be “indefinitely.”)

[20:45] See something, say something: Someone needs to oversee each element of training, but everyone should feel a sense of ownership over keeping things updated and optimized.

[22:02] Fragmented learning: Christine shares her hot take on the proper place of mentorship during onboarding.

[27:18] Setting the tone: It’s the sales leader’s job to manage new hires’ expectations, establish a culture of growth in onboarding, and ensure reps are focused and learning.

[32:08] The onboarding delta: Glassdoor reports that a robust onboarding process makes employees 82% more likely to stay. But only 12% of people feel their company has a good onboarding program, according to Gallup.

[36:05] Battling the forgetting curve: The majority of learning happens on the job. Zoë shares how interactions with top reps can make knowledge stickier.

[47:45] Stay humble: Learn how sales leaders can create an engaging environment that also incentivizes the behaviors they want to see.