Consistency Is Key to Sales Onboarding

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

My last post discussed the importance of devoting time to onboarding. Consistency is my next nugget of advice. This normally elicits an eye-roll or a “Well, duh!” expression from most, but you would be surprised how often it is forgotten.

So, what do I mean by consistency? I mean consistency in the entire onboarding experience—everything from the program brand, the process, naming conventions, navigation, structure of the courses, tone, language, and the like. Something that seems so simple and so obvious, yet has a huge impact on the learner as well as the enablement team.

With consistency, you will all be communicating using the same language and vernacular. Set definitions up front as to what each term means, regardless of what “they called it at their last job.” Create and agree on a template; fill it in and repeat so you can be sure the experience is the same as you add new roles, paths, courses, or modules in the future.

Consistency serves the learner. Most people like predictability, and the onboarding experience should be just that! A predictable experience will speed up your learners’ ability to absorb information versus them wasting time trying to figure out why you used a different word for something in module one and module five. Yes, some folks will gloss right over any inconsistencies; but there will be many who don’t and then fixate on it, causing confusion and questions, slowing down their progress, and perhaps impacting their understanding and absorption of the materials.


My advice is to have your most detail-oriented person review what you created in the role of a new learner and scrub everything for consistency.

Are you calling the training items courses or modules; job aids or sales tools; learning plans or learning paths; activities or actions; leaders or managers, and so on? Is your process consistent for each role? Are your modules laid out in a similar structure? Are your reports set up in the same way regardless of level?

Remember, a consistent onboarding experience benefits not only the learner, but you and your team as well.

Want to learn more? Join me November 6-7 in New Orleans for the ATD SELL conference.

About the Author

Kym Wood is principal and founder of Comhar Consulting, and a former director at Splunk.

For seven years, Kym led the award-winning global field enablement team that is responsible for creating and delivering high-impact field enablement programs focusing on sales process, execution, and solutions at Splunk. Splunk is the leading platform for operational intelligence. The organization enables the curious to look closely at what others ignore—machine data—and find what others may never see: insights that can make companies more productive, profitable, secure, and competitive.

Prior to Splunk, Kym worked for 16 years at BMC Software, seven of which she spent as the senior director of worldwide sales enablement. She was responsible for designing, building, and delivering sales onboarding and enablement globally. In the course of her 20-year career in IT, Kym has received numerous accolades; however, her favorite was when her team won the Excellence in Practice Award in Sales Enablement from ASTD in 2013.

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