Sales Kickoff is not the only thing consuming your time in Q1.
The expansion of budgets and new goals often means large-scale sales training, onboarding, and expansion, the growth of reps, managers, and even new executive leadership. The pattern is natural: since you are already focusing on training with Kickoff, bringing on new hires makes sense. Yet, we still face critical organizational issues when onboarding that not only lengthen the process and a rep’s time to productivity, but also take away valuable resources from your Kickoff. Instead of sticking to the old model, the -30, 0, 30 day model can dramatically decrease your ramp times and churn, building productivity faster.
Sales onboarding has not changed much. A new hire, after receiving their offer, takes a week to unwind before coming into their class with a number of other new hires. For 1-2 weeks, this class gets a treatment similar to the Sales Kickoff (in fact, they may even be combined): reps watch lectures and videos, practice sales scenarios with their peers, and engage in roleplay. At the end, reps “test” out and certify in some way, be it a simulation with their manager or an interview with an executive.
Now they’re on their own, heading off to hit the number with at best a Powerpoint and at worst no further sales training or certification. The success of the entire organization relies on how effective that onboarding process was and how much of it is remembered, but we leave reps with no true method of learning continuously. The onboarding process – as-is – remains responsible for high churn rates.
The Last Mile
This unfortunately broken process is what we call the “last mile” – a perfect business can fall apart at the “last mile” of sales training, where the success of all of your investments rests in the ability of your reps to convey and engage with the message. Data from the Sales Leadership Council suggests that reps forget 70% of all content within a week of learning it: you can expect the same return from the standard onboarding process. The results show that the current system, while certainly minimally effective, is unsustainable for any growth-oriented operation.
Simply changing the content or the focus of onboarding cannot cure the problems with this process. Instead, the concept itself is flawed, relying on a lecture and learn model that does not account for individual learning styles, social sales training, practice, or the “flipped classroom” structure that reinforces learning.
-30, 0, 30
A better approach, and the route we follow at CommercialTribe, is based on the idea of “-30, 0, 30 days.” Rather than focusing onboarding into a core two-week process, you instead spread the training process across weeks and months, starting before a new hire even joins. The process creates the necessary foundation for real learning and training.
Before new hires actually come into the team, they start practicing and learning on their own. While a system like CommercialTribe is built to support independent, pre-onboarding training, even standard practice and learning methods are effective. Supply your reps with enough independent training to walk in on their first day with your core go-to-market message and product line familiar. This “flipped classroom” concept pays real dividends.
CommercialTribe reps start this process just like our customers. Before joining, and even before accepting an offer, reps practice and record the “CT Pitch” activity, covering our go-to-market message. Once extended an offer, reps continue to engage with the market message and their new manager, getting asynchronous feedback on each scenario. By the time they walk in on day 1, they are immediately productive, with the knowledge to engage and convert.
Now that your new hires have a strong sense of the company, messaging, and products, onboarding has changed. From day one, reps are able to begin ramping into productivity faster, continuing to learn and more effectively relate the message. Given that the average rep can take as long as 10 months to reach full productivity, a methodology that reduces this time even a small amount is one with tremendous value. Reps begin to move into advanced techniques.
The link most often missed in the training and coaching process is what happens after onboarding. While the training organization focuses on new classes, reps a month or more out of training are mostly left on their own, with minimal training to reinforce past lessons or advance their abilities. We all hope that they have learned the material fully enough during onboarding to reach productivity, but know that it will take almost a full year to see a result.
Instead, practice-based, progressive, continual training can reverse the trend, with reps actually absorbing learning and more rapidly reaching productivity. While the process of continual learning requires a manual, well-made procedure, social sales training solutions, such as CommercialTribe, can make the process fit any schedule. As a result, managers spend less time manually coaching and more time getting the right content into rep hands to practice anywhere, in a safe, confident environment. Reps engage with more product lines, new concepts, or advanced sales techniques, not only increasing their confidence and effectiveness, but also delivering value far sooner than the average rep.