Three Reasons Why Sales Managers Should Care About Onboarding

Tony Hsieh, CEO of billion-dollar e-tailer Zappos, pays new employees $2,000 to quit. Almost all new hires take less than a few measly seconds to say, “No thanks!”

What about you? If I walked into your office and asked your newest hires if they’d quit for $2K, are you confident 97% of them would say, “No thanks!” like Tony’s?

Or would they sleep on it…?

If you’re like most companies, you have new hires that’ll leave for free. They won’t even need the allure of a $2K bonus.  We could quickly run through the numbers and roughly calculate how much sales turnover is costing you, but it’d only put you in a really bad mood.

When you’ve worked hard to recruit top talent for your sales team don’t leave new beginnings up to chance.

Let’s look at the facts:

1. Onboarding Programs Get New Sales Hires up to Speed Quickly & Increase Sales Performance

Texas Instruments found that strong onboarding programs increased new-hire’s productivity by two months! People work harder, perform better, and make more sales when they feel like team members. Helping employees through the initial adjustment process amplifies performance, speeds up learning, and elevates company loyalty.

2. Onboarding is a Preview of Your Management Skills and Sales Culture.

In a nut-shell, a big part of any sales manager’s job is to provide clear goals, support, structure, resources, and accountability for the sales team. Relationships between sales reps and managers start on solid ground during the recruitment process and continue building momentum during the first few months of employment. If you’re not actively involved in the first 90 days you’ll lose opportunities to bond, establish trust, smooth out problems, and address difficulties that are bound to surface.

3. A Solid Onboarding Strategy Reduces Sales Turnover

The first 90 days of employment are critical for any new sales hire’s success. New employees are still getting recruiting calls from previous job search activities. They need to feel confident turning down suitors and letting potential employers know they’re officially off the job market. When new hires feel like a valued part of the sales team, and not a short-term resource, closing down the job search becomes effortless. Quality onboarding can improve your retention metrics by two to six percentage points according to Mark Stein and Lilith Christiansen, authors of “Successful Onboarding.” Top-notch onboarding processes save time, resources, and additional recruiting work over the long-term.

The Darwinian Approach Can be Costly

Many of today’s companies use a Darwinian onboarding philosophy and expect new hires to readily adapt.  The question sales managers raise frequently is, “If we’re hiring the right people, shouldn’t they be able to figure things out for themselves?” Although this method sounds logical the data almost always confirms it’s an ineffective strategy over the long-term. The company’s external reputation suffers, turnover rates skyrocket, and the recruitment cycle becomes highly inefficient.  

Strong starts happen by design, not by accident. Successful onboarding is not a ‘department thing,’ a human resources’ problem, or even a trainer’s job. It’s a corporate philosophy, core value, and part of building a successful culture. If you want to keep your $2 grand, and compete with guys like Tony, work on improving your company’s onboarding process. Everyone in the company needs to participate and actively contribute to a new hire’s success. As you continuously improve your onboarding program, you’ll watch your company grow, sales turnover will decrease, productivity will escalate, and the results will speak for themselves.

Next Week: Action Items for Onboarding Success

Caring in a business world grown numb, is an almost unfair advantage.
— Jim Cecil