We’ve all heard the saying ‘You don’t get a second chance at a First Impression’. So why do sales organizations worldwide spend great deals of time, money and resources in looking to find that great salesperson or employee only to get them on board and absolutely blow it.
A good onboarding experience is crucial to the success of every new employee. Since a new hire will generally decide within the first year (or sooner) whether to stay with a company, an effective and inviting onboarding process is key to improving employee morale and retention.
For sales persons, even more so than other employees, a good onboarding process also separates those who will make it and those who likely won’t. The earlier strong or under-performers are recognized within the onboarding is when the company’s true colors will shine through.
Let’s go through a typical starting timeline. Employee is hired; first day they go through HR; they spend days or weeks on product, company and industry training; additional time on script, how to overcome objections, presentation skills, contracts and all kinds of information from the playbook (if there is a playbook); then likely sometime in the field shadowing a professional who will guide them properly. Then they are set free with all the skills and knowledge to take on the world.
So how can most of the skilled professional salespeople who went through the culling process of company hiring; trained by the company’s greatest minds and skills absolutely blow it and 6 months to a year later the company realizes they had made a mistake. That ‘that dog wasn’t going to hunt’.
If you have an appropriate On-Boarding (and ‘Orientation or Probation’ period) you likely have established measurements and metrics to identify those non-performers and the system is rigged to off-board these individuals as quick as possible. Possibly, you are in an organization where non-performers can actually ‘hide’ for some time and go through the motions of showing necessary numbers until sales figures actually show what’s real and not but at some point the pretenders have nowhere to hide.
So two questions arise:
How did we Hire the Wrong Person? - Which is not the point of this article but of another
How did we Hire the Right Person and it ended Wrong? - Which is the point of this article
Well the answer absolutely goes back to Day One. Not the day the person started but Day One when the individual first made contact with the Candidate.
I wrote an article recently what salespeople really look for in a company.So if we hired the right person they will be looking for these things.From day one have we created the impression of trust, caring, vision, fun, teamwork, fairness, an environment to succeed, doing everything we said we would do.
The Onboarding Process
Onboarding starts the moment we begin contact with the candidate. The candidate and future employee is keeping score.Is this the company that satisfies those traits the employee is looking for?
So what is the onboarding process?
It starts with 3 Phases each with it’s own set of processes.
The process at each phase are topics for future articles, but at each step in the process the company is ‘on stage’. For that first year particularly though, the future or current employee is evaluating everything… The Management team; how employees are treated; how customers are treated; does the company listen; are there promotions, terminations, and every other little thing. A lot of pressure to put on an organization, particularly those growing so quickly they can barely keep their head above water. On the flip side, the proper onboarding process will also be providing the new salesperson every opportunity to shine and show their ability to perform, while also vetting those that will not be able to provide the best service and delivery to their customer base. At the early steps these employees should be provided all the training, mentoring and coaching reasonably possible. This will show both performing and non-performing employees the company is there for the employee and provide them all the opportunity to succeed, but will also show that the company does not reward non-performance and at some point there are repercussions. Serious performing salespeople will recognize ‘tough love’ for what it is and appreciate a company where performers can grow and not hide.
With an appropriate onboard process, the very best companies have figured it out. Employees that know the company has their back and provide all the opportunities to meet their goals and succeed in a company they can be proud of will stay. They recognize a company that sets high expectations, rewards achievement and provides recognition for success from day one but also doesn’t keep those who can’t succeed in that environment go early enough to help both the employee and the morale of the company.
If your onboarding is off-boarding those you want to keep but doesn’t off-board you don’t want to keep, should it?
Bill Morgan brings over 20 years experience in every area of sales and sales recruiting from rep to business owner. He currently is under contract to recruit great sales people for one of the top solar installation companies in the U.S. and helps many organizations understand how to stop hiring sales people but hire people that will sell.