Using Data to Mitigate the High Cost of Onboarding
The cost of finding, training and retaining a new sales rep is a six-figure proposition for most organizations according to research from DePaul University. Moreover, the typical onboarding process can take nine months or more. The longer this rolls on, the bigger the impact on revenue, especially if the company learns too late that the new rep may not have what it takes to sell its products or services.
In a hurry to get sales reps in front of customers faster, many organizations resort to taking shortcuts that only lead to poor performance and high turnover. This not only keeps them from achieving their goals, but it eventually costs the organization more in the long run.
To mitigate these high costs, some companies are taking a data-driven approach to onboarding that not only helps to reduce costs, but also shortens the time to sales readiness and improves engagement. With this four-step approach, organizations can ensure sales reps are integrated quickly, are well informed and have the opportunity to successfully grow their careers – and commissions:
- Establish a baseline: For even the most experienced rep, it’s a new job, a new company, and there’s a lot to know. Undertaking a brief assessment of their responses to typical buyer scenarios prior to boot camp sets a baseline for the new reps’ proficiency, engagement and confidence against the selling capabilities that matter most. With only a week or two to absorb market information, product messages, competitive differentiation and more during initial training, this baseline helps the team to tailor the most effective program for new recruits.
- Measure, manage, repeat: It’s often been said that at the end of sales training, reps are at the worst they should ever be, and hopefully not the best they’ll ever be. As new sales reps progress through their onboarding program, a measurable reinforcement strategy helps to ensure retention, provide practice opportunities in a controlled environment and help managers to proactively understand what new reps are ready to bring to every client interaction.
- Facilitate coaching insights: The power of having a patient, knowledgeable mentor can’t be underestimated. Sales coaches are key to helping new reps develop the critical skills, knowledge and strategies they will need to drive buying decisions “in the wild”. Data-driven coaching platforms can effectively augment observation strategies by continually measuring rep competencies, engagement and confidence, and by instantly pinpointing for managers and coaches the most important areas of development for each individual rep.
- Correlate sales metrics: From the perspective of a sales manager, the ability to correlate sales capabilities data with sales metrics, such as those tracked in CRM, is the best indicator of onboading success. This data can help track some of the most important milestones, such as pipeline growth, time to first deal, activity levels, and whether your new sales reps are focused on the best buyer targets.
Every sales leader aspires to hit quota, but also to successfully coach and grow the biggest number of individual contributors who can reach their goals. With proactive data-driven insights, organizations can more easily develop individual coaching plans, assess under-performing reps faster, identify the optimal hiring profile and speed time to productivity for new hires. When it comes to mitigating onboarding costs, that’s a force multiplier you can’t ignore.