How To Improve Your Sales Rep Onboarding Process

Very few people like change. And bringing a new salesperson into an already-established territory can be daunting—for both your business and the new hire. Will they be a good fit? How will clients react to the new face? What information do they need to succeed?

First, take a deep breath. The good news is, you don’t have to roll the dice. With just a little bit of planning, you can be confident that you know the answers to these questions long before you new salesperson hits the streets. This article will take you through the process, step-by-step.

If you had to write one mantra on a sticky note and put it on your mirror for all of eternity, this should be it: successful transitions don’t happen overnight.

There isn’t a magical introduction that leads to rainbows and exponential sales team efficiency. But you can line yourself up for success with a well thought-out and executed strategy--all without driving up training costs.

1. Have a Team-Focused Approach

Never, ever anchor relationships within a territory to one specific person.

Obviously, one rep will be your leads’ and clients’ primary point of contact for your company, and that’s totally fine. But don’t let them be the only one. Because when a single salesperson comes to represent your whole company in your clients’ eyes, they become something more powerful than a mascot—they become your company.

While sales is a relationship-based business, the objective is to build a relationship between the client and the company rather than the company and their rep.

In cases where this is misaligned, it’s only natural that swapping out salespeople causes tension. The clients may feel like the rug has been ripped out from underneath them—and once you’ve alienated them by making them feel abandoned, there no going back.

Worst case scenario, your ex-salesperson feels like an independent operator and becomes confident that they can take those leads with them to their next company. And that’s certainly not good. (More on that later.)
To avoid the drama and maintain sales team efficiency, be intentional about presenting a complete sales team to leads and clients in each territory from the very beginning.

Now, do you literally have to introduce each client to your entire sales team? No, of course not. But you should present a unified front.

Aim to create present your business as a team from the beginning.

Encourage reps to always introduce themselves as part of a larger team and reference the larger team when possible. It can be as simple as shifting from first-person singular language to first-person plural:

  • OLD: I’m so happy to finally speak in person.
  • NEW: We’re so happy to finally speak in person.

By doing this, not only do you make the new salesperson’s life easier—you protect yourself from any funny business down the road and ensure your clients have a more seamless experience that fosters trust. And, as you probably remember from before, maintaining a high level of trust is a key piece of the foundation that will help your new salesperson immediately dive in and get to doing what they do best: sell.

So, what might this look like?

It can be as simple as ensuring all reps wear company-branded attire, mention your company name in communications (“Hey, it’s Alexie from Map My Customers and even having clients occasionally communicate with other people on the sales team (for example, “I’ll have Bob send over a sample.”)

Action Step

If the clients in a territory are already concerned or nervous about losing “their rep,” it will only slow things down. Make sure you have a team-focused approach in each territory from the beginning, and your sales team will keep chugging along smoothly!

If it’s an option, one of the best possible plays is having your previous rep introduce the new salesperson to the established clients in the territory. With a little luck, your clients will welcome your new salesperson with open arms.

2. Share (and Protect) Collected Data to Foster Relationships

This next step happens during the actual transition: when you’re saying goodbye to your previous rep and giving your new hire the lay of the land during rep on-boarding.

There are two sides to this coin—one that relates to your former salesperson and one that relates to your new one. Let’s get the less pleasant one out of the way first: your former salesperson.

Now, in the perfect world, your former salesperson is either transferring internally or moving on to completely new ventures. But unfortunately, sometimes things are more complicated than that. If your former salesperson went to a competitor or started off on their own, then it’s not uncommon for them to bring their current clients, leads, and contacts with them.

That’s a no-go.

One of the cleanest, easiest ways to protect yourself against something like this is by keeping all client information in a centralized database with controlled permissions. For example, in Map My Customers, everything is stored in an easy-to-access shared system.

Your sales manager can toggle on and off access to any and all information, like contacts. While they’re part of your team, salespeople have immediate access to anything and everything they might need—but the moment an employee doesn’t need the data, they no longer can reach it.

And just like that, you’ve nipped any sketchy behavior in the bud.

You, carefree because your data is protected.

Now, let’s look at the other side: rep on-boarding.

Because your new hire is taking over an established territory, you should already have data collected about the work your company has done there, as well as the relationships previous reps built and maintained. Pass it on!

To keep training costs down, you want to get your new rep up-to-speed quickly. Don’t skimp out, though! Building their confidence is one of the most important components to maintaining sales team efficiency.

Now, we’re not saying to info dump on the new hire—but you do want to be thorough when showing them the ropes. Nobody likes to feel like a fish out of water and by going over the data with them, you not only can highlight what information you value, but you also demonstrate that you respect the new salesperson’s role.

If possible, it’s always great to have your previous rep for this territory walk them through the data. But regardless, this is where having all your information organized in a centralized database will really come in handy.

It’s great to have your previous rep help your new rep get acquainted.

With Map My Customers, for example, your sales manager can immediately give the new hire access to the information that is pertinent to them, like:

  • Contact information (names go a long way!)
  • Relationship history and related notes (purchases, value, etc.)
  • Lead Stages (who is cold, who is ready to bite, etc.)
  • A visual representation of their territory (think google maps with pins as contacts)

If you can incorporate a centralized database into your company’s day-to-day, it’ll have a massive pay-off at this step, as little time is needed to get familiar with the data and there are no additional training costs.

The added bonus of seamlessly passing on this information relates to the first point: maintain a cohesive brand image. By getting your salesperson completely up to speed, you help them maintain a uniform appearance and quickly win the trust (and ease the nerves!) of your valued customers.

Action Step

Consider incorporating a centralized database (with easily controlled permissions) into your company’s day-to-day. By preparing in advance, you can protect your contacts and give your new hire the ability to take over their territory with minimal hiccups.

3. Create a Seamless Brand and Culture

We’ve spoken about this a few times now, but here’s where it all comes together—the stick note on your mirror will finally all make sense.

Even after the initial introduction to a new territory, there is still work to be done in the rep on-boarding process. The final piece of the puzzle applies to your entire team . . . including yourself.

You want to be confident that every single salesperson and employee is an extension of your business’ brand and culture.

Your business has a particular way of running. You’ve developed a culture for client relations, a protocol for warming up leads, a communication strategy for prospects, and a “vibe” or personality for your business overall. Even though nobody could ever expect (or want) each salesperson to be a clone of one another, the interactions should feel relatively consistent across the board.

How can you accomplish that without creating a wildly complicated guide detailing every possible scenario?

The answer is deceptively simple: your mission statement. Your mission statement is more than a couple of sentences on your “about” page. It’s the store that powers your business’ selling engine.

A strong mission statement brings your whole team together.

With a solid mission statement, your new rep can immediately wrap their head around your company’s “why”—and as Simon Sinek said, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” When your sales team understands this fundamental piece of your business, they can the ability and freedom to make intelligent decisions based on a set of shared values.

Not only is this more effective than making everyone memorize a list of protocols—it’s more intuitive and inspires more passion in your team. But, enough with the fluffy, ephemeral theories. What does this look like on the ground?

Imagine that your company’s mission statement says, “We are passionate about helping our clients generate a solid revenue stream that allows them to employ more members of our community.”

Instead of just leaving it up to your new hire to determine the best way to approach targets or clients, a mission statement guides them.

In this example, when a new rep knows that their job helps to lower unemployment in their community, it shapes their every interaction with clients. They no longer look at clients as just their customers or targets—instead, they see them as employers who support many other local families. It adds weight and importance to the relationships and helps to define the way they play out.

If all of your employees—new and experienced—see clients in the same light, then your customer will experience a smoother transition, you’ll increase sales team efficiency, your new salespeople will feel more confident . . .

. . . And you can help strengthen the culture by keeping your mission statement at the forefront of your salespeople’s minds by living it out yourself and incorporating it into every level of your company (including how you treat your own salespeople!).

Action Step

A defined work culture is one of the reasons companies like Tesla and Pixar see so much success. During rep on-boarding, new hires immediately know what their expectations are.

Take some time to write up a solid mission statement. Then, find opportunities to remind your sales team of it every single day. And, the next time you hire, make sure you find people who can understand and fit into the work culture you’re promoting.

Bringing It All Home

Having new talent come into the picture is essential to elevating your business—but it can only work if you’ve created an environment where they can thrive. Fortunately, this can be accomplished with just a few intentional actions, before, during, and after introducing the salesperson to their new territory.

If you’re mindful of building consistency and trust of each stage of your rep on-boarding process, then your business’ relationships should grow even stronger with each new addition. Now, go get that new salesperson and help them rock their new territory—one sale at a time.