10 Ways to Reboot Your New Hire On-Boarding
If your staffing organization is like most then going through the first few days and weeks of your sales and recruiter on-boarding training is probably like drinking water through a firehouse. And that means your new hires walk away feeling the same as when you walk away from Thanksgiving dinner; fatigued and bloated!. The question is, what happens next?
According to a study by CSO Insights, the average time to ramp up a new sales rep is 10 months! And a study conducted by Sales Performance International shows that new sales reps lose 84% of what they learned from their new hire sales training within 90 days. Regardless of how thorough your on-boarding program is, your new hires still have a steep hill to climb before they will be selling or recruiting at the same proficiency level as your tenured employees. So it is here where the real work not ends but actually begins. Rather than focusing on "time to training completion" and approaching new hire on-boarding like a sprint, managers should approach new hire on-boarding as it were a marathon. Organizations that adopt a holistic approach and long term mind set actually accelerate new hire ramp-up and reduce turnover. Here are 10 steps to reboot your new hire on-boarding.
1. Practice and When You are Sick of Practicing Keep Practicing.....More...And More....And More
If you're a basketball fan than you might remember the famous interview with Allen Iverson (NBA All-Star) who years ago skipped practice. The media was all over him asking questions about why he skipped practice and Iverson famously said "We're talking practice" as if practicing was a a joke and an insult to him. This is what you should NOT do.
Becoming a superstar in sales is much more about practicing than the training itself. When you go to the gym you don't just do one rep and go home. You do ten or twelve reps and multiple sets. Why? Because it's the repetition that builds the muscle. Just like a pro golfer or major league baseball player takes thousands of swings every week on the driving range and in the batting cages, sales reps and recruiters need to apply repetition after repetition after repetition. This applies for your pitch, value proposition, case studies, rebuttals, you name it. Do it until you can't do it no more. Managers need to create structured coaching time for practice on a daily basis.
2. Create a User Adoption Plan
The "honey moon" effect of new hire training and on-boarding often starts to lose it's appeal after a couple of weeks where reps tend to lose their initial enthusiasm. To avoid this pitfall managers must plan out in advance a user adoption plan that includes the specific exercies, games and competitions that the new hire will do each day and week to practice applying what has been taught in order to reinforce the training. To give you an idea, many of our training classes are followed by weeks (4-6) of reinforcement before allowing the rep or recruiter to move on to a new class and begin working on a new skill set. To drive adoption and see results you must practice.
3. Create Engaging Content
To ensure your new hires don't get bored and lose their enthusiasm it is important that you create challenging and engaging content like the online role play missions you see to the right that exists on our training platform. Your training material including your exercises need to challenge and inspire your learners and clearly demonstrate how it is applicable to their day to day activities.
4. Digitize and Social Your Training
There is no avoiding it, many of your new hires are millennials and they love technology. But most likely your existing training materials are way outdated (think old word documents collecting dust in a 3 ring binder)! To connect with your new hires you need to incorporate video, socialization, gamification and collaboration tools to drive engagement and adoption of your training material including your sales methodology. Training is far more successful when it speaks the language of the learner.
5. Share Tribal Knowledge
Tribal knowledge exists in every sales organization. The question is, is that knowledge being passed down from your tenured and top performers to your new hires? You can share your best practices, tips and ideas at scale by posting videos and other content on a centralized LMS (learning management system) for all team members to see and consume.
7 Benchmark Your Success
How do you know your sales and recruiter on-boarding program is working and producing improved results? Create an on-boarding scorecard that will allow you to quantifiably track and measure the key behaviors that lead to success. Track these metrics over time to determine how sales behaviors change over time. Seek out correlations in the data between how your new hires performed during on-boarding and their actual performance. For more on new hire on-boarding metrics click here.
8. Create a Mentorship Program
Most companies have a mentorship program or a "start group" intended to support the new hire in his or her development. These relationships can lend a strong support system for new hires not only for their first few weeks and months on the job but throughout their tenure with the company. But you need to go beyond simply "assigning a mentor." The key is to be sure you create structured opportunities for the mentor and new hire (or start group) to meet and work together on exercises and provide peer to peer support.
9. Focus on Selling (or Recruiting) Skills
This one sounds obvious right? Wrong. Earlier this summer I hosted a worskhop where I asked a room of approximately 85 staffing leaders what their new hire training consists of. None of them mentioned anything about teaching sales skills. I was as shocked as you! They all reported that their new hire on-boarding focuses on their company background, history, service offerings, industry terminology, technology and customers. ZERO sales training! To further support my findings a report by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) indicates that sales reps spend on average 19 hours in product training but only 14 hours in sales training per year. Perhaps this is why there are so many sales reps out there pushing their product rather than having business oriented conversations. Start your sales training by ensuring your sales reps understand your sales process. You can also check out this blog on how Menemsha Group went about building a sales methodology for the IT staffing industry.
10. Ask Your New Hires to Plan Their Success
When managers assign a new sales rep or recruiter a goal or quota it can often seem overwhelming for the new hire. Why? Because they just started and they have no idea what they will need to do to hit the goal. To empower your new hires with taking control over their goals managers should encourage them and work with them to create a plan or road map that spells out exactly what they will need to do to hit their goal. In fact, the second class in our sales methodology training program is titled "Maximizing Sales Results." The entire class focuses on teaching sales reps and recruiters how to "back into" hitting their goal or quota. Encourage your new hires to participate in this exercise and they will feel much better about their goals (they will stop believing they are just pie in the sky numbers) and it will increase their confidence because they will know exactly what they need to do to hit their goals.
Start incorporating these into your new hire on-boarding program and I'm confident you will see the results. What are you doing to accelerate new hire ramp up in your company? Let's start a conversation in the comments section below.
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.