There are four foundational steps you need to take before you fully launch your onboarding program. Here we go.
Set the Stage
Take time to set your onboarding program up properly.
Onboarding can make or break new employees. It’s their introduction to your culture, quality standards, communication style, and everything else that distinguishes your organization.
Want to boost their performance right out of the starting blocks? Make sure they know you’ll invest in their success from the get-go and on an ongoing basis. Build that support into everything you do. Here are a few of the ingredients you’ll need to make that work:
- A Well-Defined Culture
Your team has a culture. Period. Make sure it’s well-defined and that its tenets are clear to new hires and emphasized from day one. If you give your team culture the attention it deserves, you’ll have happier and more productive reps. When new hires come on board, they should recognize instantly that there’s a positive culture they’re expected to live up to—one that permeates the entire team and its interactions.
Clarify your culture and work style before you go any further with your onboarding program. Write down the principles and approaches you use to create an exceptional and positive culture. When those are clear, run them through every aspect of your program. That consistency is key to having reps fully and deeply understand your organization and how it works.
Humor, games, competition, and creativity are your friends in this endeavor. They all play a role in helping you get to know new reps while teaching them about your organization.
- Clear Onboarding Objectives
Reps can’t hit their targets if they don’t know what they are. What exactly do you want them to achieve in their first days, weeks, and months? Which skills will you assess and which criteria will you measure reps against during the onboarding process? Having polished answers to those questions helps you outline your onboarding program and consistently communicate clear expectations to your reps.
- A Program Outline
You and your new hires both need a high-level view of your onboarding plan. It’s the path you’ll take from start to finish, including facilitated and online sessions and test points along the way. Your program outline should include details about each section, such as title, agenda, presenter, length, format (LMS, in-person, outside activity), prerequisites, etc. A top-notch program outline also explains how each section helps the new rep achieve their onboarding objectives. They should walk into each session with a sense of what they’ll get out of it.
- Across-the-Board Involvement
You’re not creating a one-person show here. And you’re not going to rely solely on a learning management system (LMS) to onboard your shiny new reps. (Don’t even think about it!) Involve others from your organization in the onboarding program so they’re invested in its success. Ask reps, managers, and executives to run onboarding sessions. That keeps the sessions fresh and interesting and it connects new hires with the organization’s leaders. Be careful no to rely too much on others, though. Asking leaders to participate once in a while is flattering. Slotting them into more than a couple of sessions each month will evaporate their goodwill.
Plan the Logistics
Onboarding programs can easily go off the rails if they’re haphazardly designed. Detailed planning takes time, but it pays off BIG TIME, particularly if you use it to create a checklist for future reference. New sessions are much easier to create or replicate when each essential step is outlined in a checklist.
Here are the basics you should include in your checklist. Add more details as required for your unique purposes:
- Define your culture clearly and precisely (maybe in a one- or two-pager).
- Set onboarding objectives.
- Draft a program outline.
- Book presenters 4-6 weeks before their facilitated session.
- Send them the draft program outline.
- Book comfortable conference rooms 4-6 weeks out.
- Finalize your program outline 2 weeks out.
- Send calendar invites, the program outline, and a working link for the meeting (if it’s available remotely) to the presenters one week out and again, one day out.
- Send the same items to new hires on their first day, and again, one day out from each session.
- Use video conferencing if necessary during in-person sessions, and work through any logistical issues several weeks in advance.
- Record the sessions so absentees can catch up.
- Send links to the recorded sessions to the presenters and new hires. You can send them out one by one or when all the onboarding is complete.
Make New Hires Feel at Home
Starting a new job is awkward. Your first step in making a new hire comfortable is prepping their desk at least one day before they start. Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Coordinate with facilities
Update the seating chart and check that the work space is clean and free of the previous occupant’s personal items. Make sure any IT (computer, phones) are in place so the new hire can jump in straight away.
- Drop some swag
Order swag 6-8 weeks before new hires come on board. Make it good swag … stuff your new hires will be excited to mention on social media.
- Personalize their welcome
Have your team write personalized messages on a card and leave it on the new hire’s desk on day one. It’s a small gesture that goes a long way.
Create a Call Library
Ever heard of a call library? It does wonders in terms of getting new hires up to speed as quickly as possible. That means they’re hitting quota faster than you ever imagined.
One of the biggest obstacles in onboarding reps is waiting. New hires wait for permission to join live calls, they wait for schedules to align, and they wait to hear a full spectrum of calls across the sales process. When they do join calls, it’s often not the "right call" from them to learn from—maybe it’s not in the right sequence for your sales process, or maybe it doesn’t include the right talk tracks.
Having a curated call library solves all these issues. When it’s done right, you know that new hires are ramping up using best-in-class calls, listening to your preferred talk tracks.
What’s more, they can listen to an entire sales process in the right order, from discovery to close. That never happens with shadowed calls, and certainly not in 1-2 days like it can when you use a call library. Gong’s call library fast tracks your onboarding program by also letting new hires review calls by topic and skill.
You choose the best moments from your team’s recorded calls. That’s the roster your new hires learn from. Give them only the best ones, so they’re not searching through hundreds of calls. Here’s how to set it up:
- Create a master “Onboarding” folder with subfolders that align with your sales process. Think opportunity stage (discovery, demo), topic (value, the competition) or skill (negotiation, handling objections). The calls you select for each folder should highlight winning strategies to combat typical roadblocks.
Curate great content over time.
- Some teams create a “Suggested Calls” folder where team members offer up calls and the manager reviews them and organizes them into onboarding folders. Ask team members and managers to add their best calls to the library so everyone can learn from them. Encourage everyone to make notes highlighting the important takeaways from each call, and note the time stamp for the most relevant call segments.
This is one of the most efficient ways to crowdsource great moments that everyone can learn from. This method also offers a couple of other benefits: the calls stay up to date and reps get a chance to self-promote and highlight the great things they're doing. This really encourages a culture of feedback.
In both cases, you want to guide team members to relevant segments and highlight the key messages they’ll learn there.
Highlight Best-in-Class Deals
Every company has a set of deals they hang their hat on, and they’re typically won through hard-fought sales cycles. Create a bank of those critical deals and review them using Beat.
Within their first month, new hires should review everything that’s important about those deals, from the initial outreach email by a sales development rep to the final negotiation call by the AE who won the contract signature.
There’s no better way to get a sense of the collaboration, grit, and team behaviors it takes to win than seeing it visualized in the Beat timeline.