How Sales Acceleration Technology  Speeds Up the On boarding Experience for Companies with 500+ Products

Congratulations – you’ve made the job offer to a new salesperson. They accepted.

Now, it’s a matter of figuring out the quickest, most effective way to prime them for selling, because the amount of revenue they generate is effectively zero until you can get them fully functional in the field. 

The more tools, time, and people involved, the more bogged down your entire on boarding experience can become, which typically leads to two possible outcomes:

  1. You spend more time and money than necessary to get your reps “field ready,” thus delaying any ROI on your new hire, or
  2. You deploy reps into the field that will kill deals and miss opportunities because they don’t have the necessary tools available to them.

Believe me I know, because I own a mobile sales tool company with sales people in the field and, I’ve felt the pain of this.

For years, we failed to use our own sales acceleration tool to onboard our new people.  We expected they would somehow magically learn to use and sell FatStax through osmosis.

Thanks to Mark Shalinsky, our inside sales guru, we have made huge steps to fix our own on boarding problem by using our sales tool.

In hind sight, it makes perfect sense, why would we not use the sales tool our reps will end up using in the field to answer customer’s questions to implement a systematized approach to on boarding. (Despite my PhD, I am certainly slow some times.)

What’s so special about on boarding, anyway?

“What will it take for you to reach the break-even point more quickly?

What are some traps you might encounter, and how can you avoid them?

What types of transitions are you experiencing?

Which are you finding most challenging, and why?” 

These are the questions posed by Michael D. Watkins in his book, The First 90 Days, Updated and Expanded: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter. The answers you come up with can help you tailor, and ultimately guide, a successful on boarding strategy.

It’s important not to confuse on boarding with training. Rather, on boarding is the initial period where your new hires become comfortable in their positions, and training should be viewed as a part of the overall on boarding experience.

Experts typically agree that the first 90 days is the most crucial for a new hire, but many sales positions are seeing an onboarding period of at least twice that long.

Alarming research from CSO Insights states that an astounding 71% of companies take 6 months or longer to on-board sales employees, with more than a third of those companies surveyed exceeding 9 months.

“Making sure your new team members have the tools and know-how to succeed within your organization is critical to their longevity,” says Chris Buttenham, CEO and founder of Tasytt. “Ensuring they feel comfortable, assimilated and welcome is equally important during this stage.”

And the more time it takes for an employee to feel confident in the job they’re doing, the longer it will be before you can expect a solid ROI from your hiring decision.

But a good initial experience can go a long way in setting the stage for success.

So where do the sales acceleration tools come into focus?

Mobile devices, in all their infinite capabilities, have transformed the way people do pretty much everything, and on boarding is no exception. 

Hopefully, your candidates researched your company before they ever interviewed for the job, but there’s only so much they can learn from your About Us web page. To get to the heart and soul of your company, they need to immerse themselves in every aspect of your company culture. 

And a sales app can serve as the prime portal to their cultural involvement.

For starters, mobile approaches integrate with actions already familiar and established for most people.

With more than 77% of the US population now owning a smartphone, using mobile devices for daily interactions is already common practice for most people. Which means implementing mobile actions to your on boarding experience may come off more like business as usual.

Using living breathing apps, in particular, to round out your on boarding process gives insight into aspects of your company that no Powerpoint slideshow or training manual could come close to replicating.

Basecamp’s Jason Fried knows why: “‘Here’s what our product can do’ and ‘Here’s what you can do with our product’ sound similar, but they are completely different approaches.” 

Sales acceleration tools offer the latter, show-and-tell approach that helps your new hire visualize what they signed on to.

On boarding via mobile sales tools isn’t just for new employees.

On boarding new employees isn’t a single event; rather, it’s a process spanning the course of several weeks or months, with the sole purpose being that the employee can become acclimated to their new employer and job functions quickly.

Using sales apps as part of that process literally puts a portion of the learning responsibility into the employee’s hands. And they aren’t the only ones who benefit from that power:

The New Hire Wins (Naturally)

  • Gain exposure to the company culture – If mobile apps are a part of your company culture, then, by all means, you should be using them as part of your on boarding. Via a sales portal, employees can glean inter-company communications, learn collaboration skills, and get an overall feel for the daily workflow.
  • Enjoy self-initiated learning – Employees can explore the company’s customers, products, and sales collateral to help them find solutions at their own pace. Sales positions typically require a self-starter mindset, and using a mobile sales app from Day 1 gives them advanced opportunities to adopt initiative early on.
  • Become field ready faster – Interacting with mobile sales tool gives new employees real life scenarios to apply what they are learning. They have to learn how to use the tools anyways, right? As the age-old adage goes, “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.” And there’s nothing that can prepare for real life more than real life.

Managers Win, Too

  • Establish a resource hub – Your sales reps can find everything they need to sell on any device, at their desk on their laptop or at the airport on their phone. 
  • Shed the Q&A shackles – Managers spend a chunk of their time answering questions. And while some questions simply can’t be answered from the resource library, funneling queries through a sales tool first can cut the Q&A time, especially if they can share answers with the whole group at once via top down messages.
  • Track and measure productivity – If you want to know how your new employee is stacking up, a quick check in the sales app analytics could tell you everything you want to know. You should be able to tell which areas they struggle with, and see what you can do to help bolster those weaknesses.

As a prime example of managers win too, one of our inside reps was struggling recently to hit quota on setting up meetings.  A quick look in Analytics showed he had never even downloaded our Inside Sales Training App. What the…?  It’s pretty hard to work for mobile app company successfully and never even install their own training app. 

Let’s examine what a mobile-first approach to on boarding could look like:

Scenario #1 – A New Entry-Level Employee 

For a fresh new face of a company’s sales team, the same questions tend to arise: Who am I working with? What am I selling? To whom am I selling? 

Your sales app can help cover some of the basic questions before your new recruits have a chance to ask them. Not only is this a huge time saver for everyone involved, it also teaches your new hires how to use their available resources efficiently from the start.

Scenario #2 – A Merger of Two Companies

Whether your company bought or sold to another, a merger can create chaos for everyone involved. But business has to keep moving, and both parties must take initiative to seek out the resources and information needed to stay afloat.

Your sales app suddenly becomes a beacon of hope amid the turmoil, helping you tackle sales questions, find product information, touch base with your contacts, and overall retain your selling livelihood. Harboring those resources within your mobile sales tools can provide a single go-to point of reference for everyone involved, making the transition to the new regime a more organized one.

Scenario #3 – A Promotion to a Leadership Role at a New Company

Leaders don’t get to the top by coincidence: their diligence, innovation, and initiative drive them miles above the rest. Using the company’s mobile sales tools as a form of “self-on boarding” can demonstrate those qualities that originally landed you in your new position.

If your new company doesn’t use mobile sales tools, your first 90 days gives you the best chance of procuring them. Budgets are magically more flexible, minds are more receptive, and your exhibition of a “getting things done” mentality can help fuel your reputation for success.

Before we close, there’s one small caveat worth mentioning:

As much as digital technology, especially mobile technology, has streamlined and polished the way we handle business, it’s still not a full replacement for human interaction. New hires are new relationships that need to be carefully nurtured to the benefit of both parties, and it takes the involvement of many people for that relationship to grow and prosper. 

Rather, using sales acceleration apps in the on boarding experience should be part of a multichannel strategy that encompasses the best features of both of human and machine.

It’s up to you to decide which one should handle each part of the process.

 

SOURCES OF RESEARCH

List of all links used to complete research for this article:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/12/evolution-of-technology/

http://savogroup.com/blog/5-sales-onboarding-tips/

https://salesdrive.info/reason-sales-jobs-difficult-fill/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecomaford/2016/06/18/how-leaders-can-engage-retain-top-sales-talent/#1ab156615cbb

http://www.cio.com/article/3006767/hiring/app-claims-to-cut-onboarding-costs-and-time.html

https://www.salesforce.com/quotable/articles/onboarding-salespeople-faster/

https://salesbenchmarkindex.com/insights/10-causes-of-high-sales-rep-turnover-which-one-is-yours/

http://www.manpowergroup.com/talent-shortage-2016

https://www.clearslide.com/view/mail?iID=D65JjPkkVp9393FS26SP

http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/the-true-cost-of-not-providing-employee-training