#89: Listen as Tyler Lindley, Sales Coach and Podcast Host of The Sales Lift, discusses sales onboarding. He explores how playbooks, planning, knowledge, tools, and sales processes all play into setting reps up for success.
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Check out the full transcript of this episode below:
The Sales Lift Podcast
The 5 Pillars of Great Sales Onboarding w/ Tyler Lindley
Hosted by: Tyler Lindley
[00:00:00] Tyler Lindley: Hey Sales Lift Nation, it's your host Tyler Lindley. Today I have a solo episode with just me and we're going to be talking about sales onboarding. Before we dive in, I want to remind you that all these show notes are firstname.lastname@example.org. That's the T H G sales, S a L E S lift L I F t.com. So make sure you go there to check out the.
The newsletter updates and more. So I look forward to connecting with you there. If you ever need help or have any questions about how I could help you with your sales efforts or help your team grow in any way with some strategy coaching, please reach out and felt for the website. Awesome. Dive into sales onboarding, which is a topic that's near and dear to my heart.
I work with a lot of brand new sales reps, and I work with a lot of smaller sales teams that are trying to figure out their onboarding process. And to me, onboarding is one of the most pivotal moments. In a sales reps, tenure with your company. It's that first impression it is that first introduction to you and your company and their experience.
And it's important. It's important on both sides. It's important for companies to get this right, because companies that do onboarding. Retain their new sales reps and retaining great sales reps is key to growth. It's so hard to scale and maintain your sales team and your efforts if you're always having turnover.
And that starts with the first impression. So you want to make sure you have that great first impression. And then for sales reps, this is a really pivotal time because this is how you get out of the gates quickly. This is how you understand and learn about what kind of organization you're working for and what do they sell?
What's the go to market here? What kind of conversations do I need to be having with prospects? How do I figure this out and get out of the gates quickly? Because it's important. I think to get off to a strong start, as you can, now, you don't have to light the world on fire from day one. Plenty of great sales reps out there who've gotten off to slow, starts at a new car.
And that's totally okay. I'm one of them when I was at HubSpot got off to a really slow start, I thought, oh man, here comes the imposter syndrome. I can't do this. I'm not cut out for this. I can't make it here. I can't make it in the big leagues, but push through and got through it and just kept staying the course and got through the rest of that.
So I want to make sure that you sales reps out there know that onboarding is important, but it's okay. If you get off to a slow start and your new sales ramp and your new job, but this is such an important process. And I want to talk about five key pillars of sales onboarding that I think can make for a great experience on both sides, both for the company and both for the sales rep, that's getting onboarded.
The first key pillar of sales onboarding is you need a. You need something to give that new rep on day one. And that playbook to me should include a lot of things that should include background of the company. It should include a little bit about the mission, the values, why we're here, what are we working towards?
I think it should also include what is this job? It's an SDR role. What is the prospecting look like? How do we want to do that? What channels do we use? What software tools do we use? What's the process detailing out what the role looks like. If it's an eight-year-old, tell me a little bit more about the rest of the process, right?
The closing and everything, the demos, the closing, the product. So you want it to give them. Overview of everything and it can be that reference document. It doesn't have to be a super long document for those just getting started. Your sales playbook can just be a few pages. It could be just a couple pages giving something to the rep that they can go back and reference.
And here's the thing you can build these playbooks over time. But I've seen some playbooks that are heck 50, a hundred plus pages, and they've got a ton of information in there. So you want to have at least a playbook build the sales playbook that your company is ready for. Cause you may not be ready for that 50 or a hundred page sales playbook because you may not have all that figured out and that's okay.
But at least put something together, put a few things down on paper so that your new sales reps have something to refer to during their onboarding. It also just feels a lot better when you can put that in front of a new rep and it gives them a little clarity. On what they should be doing in their role.
To me, the sales playbook is number one. And if anybody out there needs help figuring out what a sales playbook looks like, hit me up on LinkedIn email@example.com. We'd love to chat more about what that playbook strategy could look like, but make sure you've got a playbook in place. No matter how simple and short it is or how long and detailed are, just have something you can give to the reps.
So to me, that's the first key pillar of sales onboarding is a good place. Second key pillar is you need to give the rep an idea about how to plan their day. So let's say you have a new team of SDRs. What does that SDRs day look like in an ideal world? Actually go through and build out some calendars of what some time blocking could look like, how they should manage their time.
Where should they be devoting their time? Because a lot of new sales reps don't necessarily know what the priorities are. So I think it's on the company to give some initial direction as to what that day should look like. So I'm a huge fan of talking and mapping out. What can that day look like for that brand new SDR, that brand new AAE, let's talk about some best practices and that can be from reps that are already on the team.
Let's just go and ask them and borrow from best practices that already exist from our best. Or if you're building a team from scratch, it means you need to think about what are all the different activities that I want my sales reps doing and how do those activities drive to those key outcomes of results that we're actually looking for, whether that's booked meetings or whether that's closed deals, revenue, whatever it might be.
We want to think about what are all those inputs, what are all those KPIs, inputs, activities that lead to those outcomes that we're looking for? I think teaching reps how to plan their day and manage their time is so. Crucial cause honestly, it's the most important thing in a rep's role is where are they spending their time?
What are they doing on a daily basis? And I think as a company, you can give them best practices as reps. You need to figure this out, you need to go in and figure out what are some of those activities. You might get some, a little bit of direction from your company might get a little, might get a lot. How should I be planning my day?
How should I be spending my time? Based on some of those KPIs and based on some of those activities that I know I need to get done to me, that's the second key pillar of a sales onboarding process is planning your day. So first key pillar sales playbook. Second key pillar is enabling reps to plan their day and teaching them some best practices around time management.
The third key pillar is product industry, company knowledge notice, I didn't say just product now. Because that's, I think where a lot of people go in their sales onboarding is straight into product knowledge. Let's teach them everything possible about the product demos soup to nuts, the technical stuff, the back end, everything that's in the knowledge base.
We need all of this product knowledge because they need to be talking to customers in a smart and efficient way. They need to be able to have all these conversations, answer all these questions from day one. And I totally disagree. Product knowledge is important up to a certain extent. You need to know what your product does.
You need to know who it's for. You know what, as I said, product industry and company knowledge, what industry are we playing in? These new reps might not be from this industry. So teach me about the industry, teach me about how it works. Teach me about the nuances, the players, the conferences, the other competitors teach me the landscape of what this industry looks like and where do we fit into it?
Where do we fit in today? Where are we going? And then also the. Teach me a little bit about the company, your company's history. Why are we here? Why are we founded? Some of that should be in the playbook, like I mentioned earlier, but we want to have a good feel for the company because at the end of the day, that's what we're representing is the company where sometimes that first human contact point for the company.
So we want to be able to speak intelligently about when the company started and why was founded and that short little elevator pitch about the company and the background, I think is really important. And don't just focus on product knowledge here, focused on the product industry and company. Here's another key thing.
Highlight the problem. That you solve for your prospects and highlight the key differentiators that you have against your competitors. If a new sales rep knows the key problems that your company solves and then knows the key ways in which your company is different from the competitors, from the alternatives that those prospects could be choosing, that is enough to be dangerous, to get.
That is enough to get on the phone with a prospect and start having conversations, especially for those SDRs out there. STRs don't need to know everything about the product. If a prospect asks a question, a technical question that the STR doesn't know the answer I don't know is fine, actually. Hey, that's a great question.
I'm actually not too sure of that answer, but fortunately, I've got some people on my team that I can introduce you to, and they actually know a lot about. Feel free to tap a friend phone, a friend, cause there's somebody else at the company that knows way more of the product. And I think companies fall into this trap of just need to teach our reps all about the product, because they're going to be talking to customers about the product.
They're really going to be talking to prospects about their problems that we help them solve. They're really going to be highlighting the differences between choosing us versus choosing an alternative a competitor, the status quo. We need to make sure we can have those kinds of conversations. The product knowledge will come with time and experience, but I see so many onboarding plans and programs that is just, oh, we're drinking through a fire hose, right?
It's product knowledge, product knowledge, product knowledge, I've learned a lot. How does that help them have better conversations in the first few weeks in their role? If anything, it's going to inundate them with all of this unnecessary information. And then if they do happen to get on the phone with a prospect, guess what they're going to regret.
All that product knowledge, which is not the conversation we want our new folks having. We want them talking to our prospects, like a human being. We want them educating them on what problems we help them solve, highlighting some of those differences. And then eventually getting to a point where if we need to get into a technical discussion, let's loop in a friend let's phone, a friend bring in that AAE, bring in that more senior sales rep bring in a sales engine.
Or someone technical to answer those questions. Cause I don't know, as a financer for a brand new sales rep, I think onboarding, this goes for companies and sales reps out there brand new sales reps. Don't focus too much on just learning everything about the product you need to understand. What are the problems you solve for your prospects?
What are those key differences between you. And the other competitors, and then understand your prospects, understand the buyers, spend more time focused on them on the who, who we're talking to and less time worried about what our product does and every single feature and benefit of it. Focus on them, focus on their problems and learn about how you can have better prospect conversations.
And that's what the onboarding should be geared towards. Who are our prospects? What do we do for them? What industry do we play in with our company, all of those things equally, not just product knowledge, but more about that holistic feel of all of those things, product company, industry, and also our prospects.
That to me is the third key pillar there for great sales onboarding. The fourth key pillar is tools. We've got to enable our teams with tools. Most reps, these days are working remotely or working hybrid situations. So they need. Typically hardware that might be computer laptops. It might be headsets. It's definitely going to include some software tools like your CRM.
LinkedIn sales navigator data aggregation tools. There's a lot of tools out there that you can arm your team with, but just make sure that's a part of the consideration and getting folks up to speed on those tools. The great thing about a lot of tools out there, lot of software tools is that these companies have knowledge bases and academies and free resources online to learn how to use their.
So enable your folks. It doesn't mean you necessarily have to build this library of internal training on these tools. I think there should be some internal handoff here's the introduction to the tools, but then point them to those resources available directly from those software companies and then have your reps self-train themselves and then come back to you with questions.
But I think that getting them up to speed on the tools is very important because that goes back to number two, planning your day. If you don't know how to use the tools that you have available. It's going to be really hard to be efficient in those different time blocks when I'm using my CRM or doing research on LinkedIn, or I'm creating a video with video card or whatever, it might look like all of those tools and understanding how those tools work alone, but also understanding how those tools work together and just, how do they fit into your day?
I think that's really important. And you also want to. For you reps out there. You're going to be in a lot of zooms and Hangouts and teams meetings. Make sure that your setup is ready. Make sure you're ready to be on video both yourself, but make sure your audio is good. Make sure that the lighting's okay.
Everyone can understand you clearly. I think that's often overlooked thing of just a basics. How do I sound when I pick up the phone and cold call that prospect, what is the look and feel that I'm giving off? Whenever I'm in a zoom meeting with a new person. What brand impression am I making? He said the brand new sales rep.
A lot of times you are one of the first human faces and voices that they're seeing for a company, especially SDR. So I think you have to make sure that you're making that positive first impression. A lot of that comes to what hardware and software tools are using. And then just on a personal level, what are you doing to prepare yourself to be ready for that day of getting your voice ready?
Having some water, getting some good rest, showing up ready for. These are all important things. And sometimes they're often overlooked. So make sure you have both the tools and the daily preparation to be ready for those things that you're going to be doing throughout your sales day. The fourth key pillar was tools.
The fifth key pillar is sales process. What does the process look like from getting a prospect from point a to point B, if you're starting an SDR team, what does that process look like? All their outreach. Where are they tracking that activity in CRM? And then what does that meeting booked process look like?
What does that handoff process. SDR to AAE look like you want to make sure all of that's clearly defined. So for SDRs, a lot of that top of the funnel prospecting type stuff for AEs to be the rest of the process, what are those different stages of the sales pipeline demo and negotiation proposals, all that good stuff you want to make sure you have that clearly defined because if you don't, it's really hard.
There's no map for that new sales rep to know what does ideal look. What does an ideal process look like from taking a prospect from start to finish in terms of what I'm doing, make sure that you have that process outlined and make sure that your CRM is clear on how they navigate. I get that process and move prospects from a to B, to C, to D and just all of that is included.
Now, I think that should also be included in the playbook, ideally, and as you're doing some of the tools training, you want to introduce that process. But to me, sales processes, Fifth key pillar of what you need to be teaching and educating during a great sales onboarding program. So to recap, we've got five key pillars for a great sales onboarding program.
The first is playbooks to make sure that they have a playbook to give to your new reps. The second is teach reps how to plan their day and actually work in their day. What good looks like they're from time management time blocking and where they should be devoting their time. The third is that product prospect industry, company knowledge, all of those things that you can do to educate new reps on who we're going to be speaking with and what kind of conversations they should be having and giving them a little bit of product knowledge enough to be dangerous, but not a ton, but just highlighting those key problems and differences.
The fourth is tools. Make sure that your brand new sales reps know how to use the tools that you have. Given them create any internal tools training that you need to, but also point them to those external resources directly from the software companies that you bought. And then finally, the sales process, you need to have a fifth sales process in place and make sure that process is clear on how do I take from prospect from point a to point B?
And then what does that look like inside of CRM? As a new rep. I know what good looks like. What's an ideal situation. And then how do I move someone throughout my CRM? So make sure as you're building out these five key pillars of a great sales onboarding program, make sure that you're considering all of these things.
The first impression is so important and for all the reps out there listening. Make sure that you're taking advantage of these resources. You may not have all of these things, but you need to be thinking about them. If you don't have them, you should be creating them yourself or asking folks to help you in these areas, because these are the things that are going to be important for you getting off to a really hot start in your role and making sure.
Building a strong foundation. Remember sales onboarding is all about building a strong foundation that then you, the rep can build on. You want your reps to have a really strong foundation and all these things create that foundation. And now I can start framing up the house. Now I'm ready to take those next steps and really start accelerating my progress.
Putting more. People into the funnel and finding great new prospects, starting good conversation, moving people throughout our sales process, but it starts with building that strong foundation. Make sure you're taking the time and care both from company's perspective and from the rep perspective, make sure that you're treating your sales onboarding program with the care and respect.
It deserves. Because that first impression is so important when you want to make sure you're building a team of strong sales reps that have that strong sales foundation that starts with a great sales onboarding program. If you want to learn more about how I can help you with your sales onboarding program, again, hit me firstname.lastname@example.org.
That's T Y L E R at the T H E sales, S a L E. Lift L I F t.com. I'd be happy to chat with you and better understand how you could build out some of these things for your business. No matter where you are. No matter if you're just getting started and you're building a team from scratch, or you've already got a program in place, but you feel like it needs to be optimized.
We'd love to chat further. So connect with me on LinkedIn, Tyler. Shoot me an email or visit the sales lift.com and check out more. I really appreciate you listening to today's episode and you can find all the show notes and sign up for the email@example.com. Thanks so much. And I hope your sales onboarding program is a little bit more ready now that you know, these five key points.
Thanks for joining.
Thank you so much for listening to today's show. You can find all the links discussed and the show firstname.lastname@example.org. That's the T H E sales S a L E. Lift L I F t.com have questions for me. Email email@example.com. We look forward to seeing you back here next week, and we hope today's show brings you the sales lift.
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Don’t feel like listening? Read the Episode Cliff Notes instead below:
Onboarding is one of the most pivotal moments. That first impression; it is that first introduction to you and your company and their experience.
Companies need to get this right because companies that do onboarding. Retaining their new sales reps and retaining great sales reps is key to growth. It’s so hard to scale and maintain your sales team and efforts if you always have turnover.
This is a really pivotal time for sales reps because this is how you get out of the gates quickly.
The Five Pillars of Sales (2:39)
The first key pillar of sales onboarding is you need a playbook. You need something to give that new rep on day one. It should be an overview of everything, and it doesn’t have to be a super long document for those just getting started.
The second key pillar is enabling reps to plan their day and teaching them some best practices around time management.
The third key pillar is product industry and company knowledge. We need all of this product knowledge because they need to be talking to customers innovatively and efficiently. They need to have all these conversations and answer all these questions from day one.
Highlight the problem. That you solve for your prospects and highlight the key differentiators that you have against your competitors. If a new sales rep knows the key issues that your company solves, they know the key ways in which your company is different from the competitors.
The fourth key pillar is tools. We’ve got to enable our teams with tools. There are a lot of tools out there that you can arm your team with, but just make sure that’s a part of the consideration and getting folks up to speed on those tools.
The fifth key pillar is the sales process. What does an ideal process look like from start to finish regarding what I’m doing? Make sure that you have that process outlined and make sure that your CRM is clear on how they navigate.
The first impression is so important for all the reps out there listening. So make sure that you’re taking advantage of these resources.
Sales onboarding is all about building a strong foundation that you, the rep, can build on. So you want your reps to have a really strong foundation, and all these things create that foundation.