4 Action Steps for Remote Sales Onboarding

4 Action Steps For Remote Sales Onboarding

The global pandemic has forced most organizations to move their workforce entirely remote and many have had to make changes to their organizations such as furloughs or layoffs.

Most organizations have sales teams that work primarily from in the company’s offices and sales reps working from home covering a certain territory.

When onboarding a new remote sales rep, that typically meant that they would fly to the company headquarter to participate in a new hire orientation, but now that is no longer an option.

Recent research found that about two-thirds of employees (66%) are currently working remotely at least once per week as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and by the end of 2021, 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week. Needless to say, working from home seems to be here for the long haul, which means organizations will need to hire and onboard sales forces virtually.

As the pandemic continues and proper protocols are being put into place, many organizations have decided that remote work is permanent. While new business models are put into place to adapt the business strategy due to ongoing changes in the world, the need for new talent is on the rise.

Whether it’s hiring new sales reps with skills the business needs or to bring back furloughed sales reps that need re-boarding to refresh their knowledge, all of this learning is to be managed remotely. This will require training on how the business has changed and to help employees adapt to new business conditions.

Traditional sales onboarding usually requires the sales rep to be present in the office where they attend training, immerse themselves into the company culture and learn about the industry, company’s sales methodology, sales process, and products.

Now that sales reps are fully remote for the time being, sales onboarding is even more important than it has ever been. If a sales rep has successful sales onboarding experiences while being remote, it will be a major factor for them to get up to speed to start building pipeline and bringing in revenue faster. The best way for any sales organization to create a great remote sales onboarding program when hiring new reps is by focusing on the learning experience. Here’s where learning technology such as microlearning comes into play.

However you decide to deliver your sales onboarding content to your new sales rep, we’ve came up with four critical action steps to ensure that they’re receiving the proper knowledge to ramp up faster.

1: Personalize the remote sales onboarding experience

New hire orientation and sales onboarding is usually a one-size-fits all training session. In a new hire orientation class, you’ll have reps who are selling different product portfolios, serving customers with different needs, and ones who may already have knowledge in the industry you’re selling into.

Now being remote, organizations have the ability to use microlearning technology to make sales onboarding personalized to each new hire. Sales reps who are onboarding need to know what they’re going to face on the job, so shaping your content into scenario-based training helps prepare them for what’s to come while they’re selling in the field. This allows them to practice what they learn and develop the critical thinking skills to help the sales reps prepare and practice how they will communicate in front of a customer beforehand.  

Before a new sales rep comes onboard, be sure that your sales onboarding content and programs are relevant to the rep’s role and are related to new business models or goals affected by the pandemic.

2: Build a remote onboarding program that focuses on continuous learning and improvement

Sales onboarding is commonly looked at as a one- time training event which turns into too much information being shared with sales reps in a short period of time. The most effective sales onboarding is a continuous process and provides a faster delivery of training content.

For content to be easily retained by sales reps, sales onboarding needs to be spaced and repeated from the time information was first presented until the sales reps first time interacting with a customer and even after they’re fully ramped. The best sales onboarding programs are improving their proficiency of knowledge and skills in order to perform in any customer situation.

Even when information pertaining to the business and products evolve, content needs to be updated and delivered to sales reps in a timely fashion. Sales training and enablement teams are able to break down the amount of information being presented to them over time so that it fits into a new hires schedule so they can respond and participate in a time that’s convenient for them.

Although learning and practice is the most important thing to make sales reps better, the goal for any sales leader is making sure sales reps are spending as much of their valuable time interacting with customers so it’s important to make sure learning is embedded into their day and is easy to respond to with the intention to keep them productive focusing on revenue generating sales activities.

Learning can still keep sales productive if it’s delivered to their mobile device, email, or other systems that they are using throughout their day and pushes a gentle reminder that a quick learning activity awaits.

3: Create a friendly competition and a sense of collaboration amongst other new sales reps to increase engagement in learning​

Most sales reps are competitive by nature. Game mechanics such as a point system and leaderboard are a great way to get them excited when learning during sales onboarding. Additionally, game mechanics motive sales reps to stay engaged with learning and creates a sense of competition between other new sales reps.

This is a fun way to turn learning into a collaborative exercise to eliminate new sales reps from feeling isolated from being remote. Giving sales reps the opportunity to collaborate by using social learning like discussion boards to discuss the learning materials with other learners allows for them to share their ideas while being distant. By implementing these gamified and social learning tactics, sales onboarding will become a fun learning experience and make people want to engage and return for more learning.

Engaging new hires from the beginning is critical to their success and to start contributing to revenue for the business.

4: Communicate and coach regularly based on the learning needs of each new sales hire

Sales reps need to form a connection with their manager, and a manager needs to provide the support to their new hire based on their learning needs. But being distant shouldn’t be the barrier to managers giving their new sales team member the coaching they need.

To make sure new sales reps are ramping up, communication is a critical component to onboarding remotely. Without proper communication, a new hire may have trouble adjusting to their role and struggle meeting the needs of the customer and discussing the value of the products they’re selling to them. Throughout a sales onboarding process, there should be endless opportunities for sales reps to connect with their managers on specific training topics so managers can give them real-time feedback and further training related to onboarding content. Providing feedback will help them gain a better understanding of the onboarding materials and how to perform on the job.

How are managers able to coach and know what knowledge or skills sales reps need additional coaching support on? A quick assessment on a sales reps proficiency on the topics they need to know will help a manager pinpoint the areas they need to spend time coaching the new hire on.

Final Recommendation

While onboarding new sales hires remotely may not be your first choice, it’s important to think outside the box and implement new ways to deliver an engaging experience without losing the benefits of being in-person.

Learning technologies like microlearning is a cost- effective method to remote onboarding programs that creates a more personalized and continuous learning model to help new sales reps be successful at your company.

Turn a sales onboarding program into an engaging and continuous learning experience using microlearning. Get a feel for what mobile microlearning looks like in this 2-minute video.

Kayla Shelton Pic for Remote Onboarding Article

Kayla Sheldon

Marketing Program Specialist

Qstream is a microlearning solution proven by science and in practice to boost learner performance through knowledge reinforcement, engagement, and analytics. 600+ organizations rely on Qstream to build high-performance teams by delivering a microlearning experience that reinforces job-critical knowledge in minutes a day, exposing a real-time view of performance readiness.