Set Aside Time for Onboarding

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

“Time is our most precious asset, we should invest it wisely.” —Michael Levy

When new field sales reps come on board it is critical to set them up for success from day 1! We often forget that this is the only time they will ever get to be focused solely on learning the business and product, its value, and the sales process, as well as getting the tools in place to help them succeed, before all the distractions of day-to-day business come into play. Often new sellers are immediately thrown into prospecting activities, pipeline days, and forecast meetings before they have any grounding in the fundamentals.

There are 365 days in a year, and assuming you are generally not closing business on the weekends, that leaves a balance of only 260 selling days. When you remove additional days (for both you and your prospects and customers) like public holidays, corporate holidays, vacation, sales kickoffs, internal meetings, “admin days,” sick days, and the like, more often than not, you are left with only about 180 days to actively sell and meet your quota.

If you have a yearly quota of $1,000,000, that means that you need to average $5,555 a day toward retiring your quota. For fully onboarded, ramped, and experienced sellers, this is probably not a big deal. But a new hire in a new organization can be doomed for failure if not given the proper amount of time and support to come up to speed.

Just like the saying “you have to spend money to make money,” I believe you have to grant time to a new hire for onboarding in order to reap the benefits of consistent performance and attainment.


My advice is to try and give a new seller a minimum of 30 days just to learn. This can be accomplished through a virtual onboarding program where they can view training modules about their role, the company’s expectations, your products and services, the supporting teams involved, and the systems and tools in place to help them be successful.

Next, give them 30 days to practice. This can be accomplished through activities like a new hire bootcamp that is role-play based, ride alongs with experienced sellers, shadowing deal review meetings, stand-and-deliver exercises, certifications, and the like.

Finally, give them 30 days to implement. This can be accomplished by reverse shadowing exercises, coaching sessions, mentoring sessions, and other evaluations to ensure their implementations of the skills and behaviors taught are correct and supporting your business and their success.

By staging out the learning, practicing, and implementing elements into manageable chunks of time, your enablement team and leadership team can generally spot issues early on and offer up coaching, training, or other support where there may be a skills gap. Also, this gives the new hire adequate time to focus and feel supported in their new role and set up for success.

Of course, the timing may vary based on the nature of your business; however, the commitment to giving time to a new hire to onboard is the key.

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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