*** Originally posted on Growth & Associates by Tom Ohai

Onboarding is a vampire project.

In other words, you can stab it, shoot it, and burn it with fire. But it will keep coming back to life.

Why is this? Can onboarding actually be so hard to do effectively?

Yes and no.

Do onboarding wrong, and it will crash mightily. Until someone else gets assigned to “fix onboarding.” And repeats the cycle.

At the same time, no, it’s not that hard. You are only trying to get people to the most basic level of proficiency so that they can enter their role with the foundation to thrive.

So, why is onboarding consistently on most sales enablement to-do lists?

Because the solution that is called onboarding doesn’t address the actual problem you have to solve.

What is the problem? Well, in our practice, we see five interconnected issues that define the problem. This blog is going to be about the first one – which is the most common mistake we see.


Onboarding Mistake #1: The focus is on the product – instead of the customer

How many of your salespeople struggle with shoving their product knowledge ahead of their customer’s perspective in sales conversations? If you are like many companies, it’s a lot.

The impact of this mistake? Slow ramp-up times, stagnant pipelines, messy forecasts, and ultimately high employee turnover.


Think of your current onboarding right now.

Ask yourself, “On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being perfect), how well do our graduating sellers understand our customers’ top challenges as well as, if not better than, they do?”

Now, ask yourself, “On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being perfect), how well do our graduating sellers understand our products/solutions?”

If the answer to your second question is higher than the answer to your first question, you have a problem. A problem with creating a product-focused sales force, instead of a customer-focused sales force. A problem that will slowly erode the quality of every sales conversation that new hire will have. A problem that your top sales managers and top sales reps will have to undo. And a problem that your worst sales managers and sales reps will reinforce.

If you liked our approach to onboarding, you have three things that you can do.

  • First, join the discussion and share your perspective. Comment below (and share/like this blog). We love engaging in a great conversation.
  • Second, download the infographic. Get a peek into where we are going with this whole topic and use it to get a jumpstart on diagnosing your sales onboarding.
  • Third, be on the lookout for registration details for our webinar on How to Build World-Class Sales Onboarding with a panel of true experts on Thursday, September 23rd, 2018. Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more…
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