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When Sales Onboarding Becomes Completely Virtual

Tuesday, March 31, 2020
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Raise your hand if you have ever had to onboard a new sales employee during a global health crisis. This is likely a new challenge for you and there’s good news: You’re not alone. As we navigate this uncharted territory, we’re discovering new best practices.

According to the Brandon Hall Group COVID-19 Pulse Survey, for organizations with more than 1,000 employees, interruption to learning and training is the third biggest challenge. Training a new sales employee comes with its own set of unique challenges. Consider each experience they have when they onboard: their interactions with their new team, in-person learning events, office tours, meeting members of leadership, and the breakroom introductions. These experiences will help you win the heart and mind of your employee, so how can we continue to offer them?

1. Setup for Success

Ensure their remote setup is fit for their role. Do they have a headset to make calls and a computer to log in to your CRM? Just as you would in the office, verify they’re logged in to all sites and software and add them to all team meetings and standups. Most importantly, provide them with your organization’s preferred communication methods (Teams, Slack, Zoom, and the like) so they can join the conversations right away.

2. Remain Available

This may be new and uncomfortable for sales employees who are used to a more traditional work environment. Keep them engaged by making them as comfortable as possible. This means showing up and being available. It’s important that you start and end each day with cameras on. Encourage most conversations take place virtually as well and not through email or Slack. Keep your availability status updated throughout the day and give them a “go-to” in your absence.

Begin each day by reviewing the agenda, answering their questions, and pairing them up with tenured reps. Don’t let virtual stop you from having them shadow their teammates. Screen sharing through Zoom works well for this.
Before the close of business, meet again to review what they learned. What surprised them? How did they disconnect today to get recharged? Give them a virtual high five.

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3. Continue Office Introductions

You may not be able to give that office tour right now, but you can get them acquainted with your people leaders. Encourage them to set up the meeting themselves but provide them with high-level information about each leader’s role in the organization. Ensure they make a great first impression by setting expectations for virtual etiquette and brainstorming thoughtful questions to ask.

Most importantly, schedule a “team hangout” to introduce them to their new teammates. Veteran team members and a mentor should be included to help communicate business goals, values, and serve as a continued resource. These relationships are more important now than ever to an employee’s job satisfaction and performance.

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4. Keep It Social

The day-to-day interactions are gone, but your time together as a team should be a priority. Consider doing your team meetings daily instead of weekly and keep the agenda agile.

“We’ve begun to meet every morning now, and I’ve become a bit more relaxed on our daily standup agenda. I will kick it off with any new updates and do a quick pulse check of everyone. I’m trying something new where I have opened it up and encouraged anyone to step up and lead a stand up. It could be about sales, podcast, books, tactics, and so on, but I’ve also welcomed a healthy mix of fun days too, like a mini session of yoga,” says Kayla Rehmeier, sales development manager at Quantum Workplace.

Don’t let the employee bonding decrease. Instead, create an open online meeting room for anyone in the organization to join at any time. They can have lunch or chat with their co-workers as they would normally. Host a virtual happy hour and discuss your favorite drinks together. The options are endless.

What are you doing differently to onboard your new sales employees while offices are closed? What has been the biggest challenge to onboarding remotely?

Source: Brandon Hall Group Pulse Survey, HR and the Impact of COVID-19

About the Author

Amber Watts is the sales training manager at InfoGroup. After 10 years in sales, she employs what she learned along the way to develop sales professionals with consultative skills and business savvy. Prior to InfoGroup, Amber built an extensive, award-winning training curriculum at a start-up HR software company, experiencing firsthand how sales teams learn best.

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