By now you are probably familiar with the saying, “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” This statement couldn’t be more accurate than in the onboarding process for sales new hires, yet many organization finds their new hires aren’t excited about or fully invested during the onboarding process.
Believe it or not, it starts as early as the offer letter and continues through succession planning. Imagine receiving an onboarding letter that opens like this:
Dear New Hire,
Congratulations, we are excited to welcome you to our team. Your official start date is Monday, August 6, 2018. You will spend your first two weeks in our home office in Raleigh, North Carolina where you will learn all about our products and technology. We can’t wait to see you!
Signed – The ACME Company
Sound familiar? Truth be told, if you’re like the majority of new hires, while you are excited about your new role, you aren’t thrilled to spend the next two weeks being tested and quizzed on your product and technology knowledge, especially after the daily experience of ‘death-by-Powerpoint’ style delivery from a sales trainer. This approach creates a room full of disengaged learners.
So why do organizations continue to be hyper-focused on product training rather than taking a customer-centric approach to emphasize how their products help customers solve a problem or avoid a consequence. The answer may surprise you!
Creatures of Habit
Many sales training organizations continue to do, what they have always done; therefore they continue to get, what they always got – in the form of attrition, knowledge retention, and application. We can all agree that product knowledge is essential in the sales process. However, it is more important to understand how our products, solutions, and services enable our customers to achieve their specific goals. Therefore we must reconsider how we onboard new employees with a focus on the customer.
Getting a Head Start
Chances are the new employee is sincerely excited about this unique opportunity to become part of your organization for many reasons. One of the most compelling reasons is typically their passion for what your products do and how it makes a difference in the lives of others. Clearly articulating and building your story through your new hires presents the opportunity to convert them from ‘employees’ into brand ambassadors. They become the lifeblood of the organization sharing stories of impact, change and outcomes using the product, solution or service as the backdrop. World-class organizations are hyper-focused on connecting their user/customer stories to outcomes as a result of purchasing and using a product. The same opportunity is present when you build your sales enablement program.
How to Assess Your Current Onboarding Strategy
Often we find many blogs excel at identifying the “problem,” yet they are lite on providing useful insights that readers can apply immediately. As a resource, we strive to provide real, practical ideas that anyone can apply without signing up for an email, etc. (don’t get me wrong, we would love to stay in touch).
Here are five strategies to help you enhance current onboarding strategy:
- Share Your Customers’ Stories – Kick-off your new hire program by inspiring your new colleagues with stories compiled from customer testimonials. Highlight the critical differentiators of why your customers choose to partner, trust and purchase your products.
- Create Relevant Sales Conversations – Create multiple activities, exercises, and interactions for your new sales representatives to cultivate and develop sales conversation including your customer stories and experiences. These sales conversations are great opportunities to incorporate data into their discussion and the results your customers achieve.
- Provoke Engagement – Knowledge, skill, and ability can be presented in numerous ways to create social engagement within the learning environment. Leverage multiple modalities of learning to challenge the way your new hires think and interact with one another. This will provide them with insights and strategies beyond their own experiences. Allow participants to openly share their strategies and justifications for tactics while allowing others to provide competitive responses.
- Coach, Coach, Coach – Did you catch that? Coach. Coach them in each phase of their transition into the organization. Coaching should start as early as the interview process and should be infinite. As the coaches increase their skills and abilities, they become mentors to the next wave of new hires.
- Keep it Real – We’ve all been there before, being the new person in the new environment. Use your interactions to help answer questions, provide reassurance and debunk myths. New hires don’t want “training”, they want to be inspired! They want to know that the decision they made to become part of your great organization has a purpose and mission aligned with yet greater than their own.
Let’s revisit our opening scenario for a moment. How would the following statement impact your next new hire engagement during onboarding?
Welcome to the team, our customers will be delighted to work with you. On August 6, 2018, you will become part of our family and rich culture of helping our clients live a better quality of life, not defined by their illness. While our products and services are world-class, we will focus on the success stories of our clients to help you learn about the impact of our solutions, products, and service. As a brand ambassador to the ACME Company, we will support your growth beyond the classroom with mentoring, self-paced learning and topnotch coaches to help your clients make a difference in the lives of their patients.
Now, that’s an onboarding letter that will spark engagement and foster excitement about helping customers, because it’s focused on the customer first not the product or solution.
We would love to hear your strategies and stories below of how your organization creates an engaging new hire experience from day one – if we select your story as our favorite, we’ll send you a small gift as a way of thanking you for your time.