Congratulations, you did it! You have an accepted offer for a new sales rep. You just know they are going to succeed based on all you learned during your selection process and reference checks. You can already see the big bonus in your paycheck when they drive sales higher for you.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Not so fast, this is where hiring a top performer may be the toughest. It doesn’t matter what they did before, it matters how well they sell for you now. And your efforts in getting them up to speed will largely dictate how quickly that happens.

welcome aboard

To onboard and ensure your new sales reps are up to speed as quickly as possible, you need a plan. (If you aren’t familiar with the term onboarding, it is the new term used for orientation and training of new employees. It is the process through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders. )

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Start by answering these questions:

  1. What do they need to know?
  2. What do they need to skillfully do?
  3. How can I leverage other people?
  4. What’s the schedule for the entire onboarding (specifically for the first few weeks)?
  5. How will I measure and monitor progress and results?

Then take those responses into consideration along with the questions new employees have:

  1. What do I need to know?
  2. Where can I find the information when I need it?
  3. Who is the best person to ask for answers, resources, and help?
  4. How do I successfully perform?

Create your effective onboarding plan using the 6 P’s for new sales rep onboarding:

  • Practicalities. The “what’s in it for me” and logistics of their role. Confirming compensation, pay dates, insurance specifics, benefits including paid time off, logistics of work area (home, car, company office), and schedule. If you’re fortunate, these may be handled by HR.
  • Philosophy. The foundation to build on. Explain “why” the company exists and what it strives to do for clients, your community, and the world. What is the mission, vision, and “heart” of your company?
  • People. I call this the “Cast of Characters.” The names and contact information for the people who can help with questions, resources, troubleshooting, and general help. These are also the key people to know within the first few days to make them feel welcome.
  • Product. What will they sell/service? Product categories and specifics. Identify how much they need to know early on and then how to deepen the knowledge over time.
  • Playbook. A guide to process, policies, systems, templates, Q&A for the objections they may hear most, and possibly scripts.
  • Performance. The clearly defined metrics for which they will be evaluated and compensated, as well as consequences for achieving more and less than expectation.

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A few tips to make the P’s most effective:

  1. Help them learn. Instead of giving word-for-word answers and exact scripting, focus on frameworks and templates that they can make their own. It helps them easily adjust during the sales conversation to the situation and person. For example, Enterprise Car Rental provides a manual of questions for their new employees. The employee needs to ask a couple of people who do something well, how they do it and take notes. Talk about retaining information! Most people will retain far more when they have to get the answers.
  2. Make the first days welcoming. Employees who do not feel they were welcome have a negative transition. Plan a buddy for lunch for at least the first week—who would be good for them to know and learn from?
  3. Allow opportunities for questions. Don’t assume they will ask. Set the expectation that you want questions.
  4. Plan for different learning styles. Provide information in multi-communication modes to make sure it is absorbed.
  5. Be very clear on objectives, learning outcomes, and how you will assess progress. This is especially important to communicate to the rep and others you involve in the onboarding.
  6. Conduct regular check-ins. An effective onboarding will have the new rep working with different people in the company, check-in with the various trainers/educators and the new rep to verify the information exchange is productive.
  7. Teach them what to do, then how to do the what. It’s not just a tongue twister; employees can’t effectively deliver sales and wins until they know what they need to do.

onboard flow

It may seem like an uphill battle. The work that goes into engaging and retaining those hard-sought hires will save you from having to hire for that position again. The good news is once you have a good onboarding plan in place…you can rinse and repeat for future hires.

Let’s get the conversation started! What do you think? What are some tips for getting new hires up to speed fast? Add your comment below.

4 Success Drivers You Need to Know...and Grow


How do you strengthen this "Will" among your sales associates? How does the lack of drive impact your daily life? I discussed this and so much more on a recent virtual training event you can access below. It's valuable information for any business leader who needs to maximize performance of their people to grow their company.

Click here to access the replay.