As a sales manager you will be tasked with bringing new talent onto your team from time to time—it’s part of the job and one that if done correctly can pay dividends for years. At the same time if you mess it up, you could lose your next great salesperson before they ever get started.
The term “on boarding” has become very cache and is almost as overused as “think outside the box”. I’m not really that fond of the term simply because it makes me thing of water boarding—which I guess could be similar if you don’t have a plan in place prior to bringing a new salesperson in.
Assuming you’ve gone through the hiring process and selected your person, the first impression you make on them is critical. During the interview process they were trying to impress you—now the shoe’s on the other foot. You need to impress them. You need them to see your organization as one that is a well-oiled machine.
Hint: It looks bad if they pull up and the guard doesn’t let them in the gate because nobody told him they were coming. You’re off to a bad start there.
There are several keys to successfully on boarding a new rep—steps you must take with every new hire no matter their level of experience or familiarity with your company, product or industry. Everyone goes through the same thing—nothing is left to assume they know. Once you get your process down it will be very similar to the sales process you teach your people and what do you tell them? No short cuts.
And it all starts before they ever show up at your door.
Have A Welcome Letter
Take the time to write your new salesperson a professional welcome letter, welcoming them to the company and providing them with pertinent information for their first day. Let them know what to expect, what to wear, who they’ll meet and give them some idea as to how the first day will flow. Remember, they are a bit nervous. Make them feel as if they are coming to a very familiar, welcoming place that first day.
Make Them Comfortable
Every new salesperson is going to go through a period of uncomfortableness at the beginning of their employment. It will take a bit of time for everything to “click” for them and the best way to shorten this learning curve is to have a well-designed, set process you use every time. That’s really what on boarding is; easing them into the company, the sales team and their new environment.
I’ve seen people thrown to the wolves and left to sink or swim. That is completely unfair to them and very unprofessional on your part. Take the time to give everyone the chance to succeed.
Notify every other department in the company the day you have a new hire coming in. It is poor form for your new salesperson (who you’ve told how professional your company is) to have to sit outside the HR office for an hour because they weren’t ready for them. Each department should know you have a salesperson coming in so it’s not a shock when you introduce them. I’m not saying people have to put on a show—just let them know what’s happening.
There’s more to just dragging them through the building, door-to-door introducing them. Let them get to know the other departments, what they do and who they are. Give them a chance to ask questions and feel comfortable around these people. Hey, they are going to need each other soon.
Have The Paperwork Ready
If you don’t already have a packet together, stop today and put some together. Include all the necessary forms and make sure they are clean copies. You want to turn off your potential next superstar? Fumble around and make them wait while you make copies only to come back with a stack of papers that look like the original got sideways on the machine in 1987.
Act Like You’ve Done This Before
You should make the on boarding process seem as if it’s second nature to you. Again, having everything planned and prepared in advance will send the message that you’re serious about what you do and you’re not flying by the seat of your pants. And, don’t give them the “I’ve been so busy…” speech to make up for lack of planning. All that says is they weren’t important enough for you to prepare for their first visit. Not a good sign.
This is the person you are going to entrust to sell your products and services. Give them an amazing first impression of your company—it will last a long time.
Go Through The Job Description & Training Schedule
Take a few moments to go through the written (yes written) job description for them and the training schedule you have lined up. This should all be done in advance and everyone they will be training with should be aware of it. I can’t stress enough how much this affects their first impression. If you have them in your office and have to pick up the phone to see if one of your salespeople can have them shadow them tomorrow, you are doing them and your company a terrible disservice. Not to mention how it looks to the representative you have on the phone.
Do your homework!
Introduce Them To The Corner Offices
Finally, before letting them go that first day, take a moment and introduce them upper management. Know enough about them to be able to talk about them without reading their application or resume and edify them in the eyes of “the bosses”. Let them know you’re expecting great things out of them and by introducing them to the key stakeholders you’re reinforcing your belief they are a valuable asset to your team.
On boarding is a necessary evil of the hiring process. Learn it. Practice it and be prepared. You never know when the next superstar is going to fall right in your lap. When they do, you should be able to open that right hand drawer—grab an on boarding packet and get started!
Butch Bellah is the owner of Dallas-based B2 Training & Development where he is a Speaker, Sales Trainer and Author. He spent almost 16 years with a large regional wholesale distributor he helped grow from $35 million in annual sales to more than $250 million before buying the company with a business partner. Today he works with organizations and salespeople to help them get more appointments, land more business and retain more customers.
His second book, Sales Management For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons) due this fall and is available for pre-order here