Four Signs Your Sales Onboarding Program Is Broken

By Ira Bernstein
Download onboarding guide
Download onboarding guide

I often get asked: what are the signs that an onboarding program is broken? Here are four signs that your sales onboarding program is broken.

People that have worked or are working for startups – do you remember your 1st day of new hire Onboarding? My guess is that if I get 10 answers to that question I will hear 10 very different stories and experiences. But why is that? After all, businesses hire employees to help the company be successful, right? How many times have we heard the line “Set you up for success”, only to look around and wonder what the “Set you up” really meant and/or consisted of? I get it – in the startup world, it’s all about “speed” and “bootstrapping” with what you got. And in the very early stages of a startup, that makes sense. But there comes a time when things need to adjust for the demands of the business and for the people who contribute to its success. In a follow-up article, I will talk a little bit about the implications and impact of not having an effective Onboarding program, but for now, let’s talk about some of the signs that you should look out for to know it’s time for a change.

Sign #1 – You don’t have an Onboarding program

That’s right… It’s more common than you think. I’ve spoken to many salespeople that have walked into their 1st day of work and been handed a laptop, shown their cube, and then guided to sit with the veteran rep on the floor and learn from them. It’s not effective, not scalable, and certainly doesn’t make the new employee feel like they are being invested in.

Sign #2 – Your last couple new hires didn’t cut the mustard

Even the best sales leaders that have great skills in hiring sometimes get it wrong. But if the performance of new hires continues to fall below expectations, it’s time to ask deeper questions around “why”. There are many variables that can impact the success or failure of a sales rep, but having a long string of unsuccessful reps should be a red flag.

Sign #3 – “Drinking through the firehose” is your company mantra

Part of the fun of working in fast-growing startups is the fact that things change every day and you get to wear many hats in a short period of time. But as with many things, we need to ask ourselves if we are taking this to an extreme. People learn in different ways and at different speeds. It’s okay to have a culture that is fast-paced and requires employees to be self-sufficient (Being able to figure it out yourself). In return, it’s critical for companies to be clear in the interview process as to what makes a successful employee.

Sign #4 – You keep getting the same simple questions from reps months into the job

If you require reps to only learn via “On the job training”, you are much more likely to get the same questions over and over again. Why? Because they likely don’t have a foundation of knowledge on which to build off of. Even the most seasoned sales professionals need to understand the things that are unique to the company they work for. Those unique things (Think vision, messaging, product) are imperative to ramping a new sales hire quickly. What other red flags do you think should be on this list?

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