What to Expect from the Sales Rep Onboarding Process (And Tips to Improve It)

Sep 16, 2019

You know the importance of bringing the right talent into your company. However, without an effective onboarding process, you’re hurting your potential talent and ultimately, your bottom line.

The values that you instill in your new hire and the tools you give them to succeed will largely determine how successful your company is.

What is the length of time it typically takes to onboard?

The onboarding process for new sales reps is more than handing them an employee handbook and access to your CRM. According to a survey of 384 companies, the average length of time it takes to ramp up a new sales rep is 4.5 months. However, almost 20% of companies take longer than seven months to get their sales reps up to speed.

Is your sales team getting the most out of your onboarding process? Read on to find out everything you need to know about onboarding and why it’s essential for your company growth, plus a checklist and tips to make sure you’re reps are getting all the information they need.

What is the Onboarding Process?

Once you start to hire employees to your company, you need to know what an onboarding process is. The definition of onboarding is the process of training a new hire and assimilating them into your company.

The process includes training on your products, technology, and company values. It should also involve selling techniques and tips to give your sales team everything they need to succeed. Your onboarding for reps should increase your retention rate and boost productivity.

The right onboarding process is vital to your organization’s health. A poor onboarding process can create disengaged employees and a high turnover rate. This is a costly mistake for companies. The average turnover costs approximately $115,000 per sales rep. Between the cost of to find, hire and train a new sales rep, plus the lost sales in the territory while getting a new rep into place, turnover can be a significant cost.

Source: Emerge360

In addition to keeping new employees, the right onboarding process will help boost their productivity. New employees don’t have to waste time and resources trying to find the best way to accomplish their job. They can glean from the experience of others and build off of their knowledge. As a result, they can take your company to new heights.

What Should Your Onboarding Process Achieve?

However, you can’t create the right onboarding process without knowing what it’s meant to achieve. Some goals of your process should include:

Understand the Company and Goals

Company culture is vital to a thriving company. Your new hire needs to understand what your company culture is. What are your values? What are your expectations for them?

Your sales reps need a clear understanding of your company and what you stand for. They should also know what you expect of them and how that fits into the organization goals.

Increased Engagement

Your onboarding process should foster a team environment. Employees who feel engaged and connected to the company they work for are less likely to leave. It creates a healthy company culture from the start.

Your new hire should come out of their training knowing where they can go for support. They should feel connected with the sales team and organization.

Better Retention

If your turnover rate is high and your sales team seems to be struggling, it’s time to take a look at your onboarding process. Especially if they’re leaving right out the gate, you can’t afford to not look at how you train new hires.

Your onboarding process should leave them feeling challenged, supported, and inspired. A high turnover rate could be symptomatic of a boring, unengaging, or overly competitive onboarding process.

The Onboarding Checklist

A checklist helps keep a streamlined and thorough onboarding process. It makes sure that your new hires have everything they need to be successful in your company.

You need a checklist to make sure that everyone receives exactly what they need and gets the same training, especially if you’re growing at a rapid pace.

Your checklist should include:


Your onboarding process should start before the first day. According to a survey of 736 new hires at various organizations, over 67% were disappointed by their first day. Most of their disappointment was because the managers didn’t have time for them. By setting up everything ahead of time, a new hire can come in prepared and excited instead of waiting around for someone to take notice.

A pre-start could include having email already set up so they can access it right away. Sending relevant information and paperwork ahead of time will also make for a smooth first day. It gives your new sales reps information on where they need to go and what to do their first day.

You can also include some training before their first official start day. For example, they could shadow another rep or get a “day in the life” to get a look into what leadership expects of them. Your sales reps can get a sense of their duties and roles.


The first day should be about broader issues in your organization before getting to the specifics of their role. They should initially learn about the company, goals, culture, etc.

Start broad, then move on to more specifics.


Some of the training for your sales should include:

For most sales reps, their strong point is in people skills and not necessarily technology. You shouldn’t expect your salesperson can automatically adapt to your technology. Avoid wasted time with a thorough demo of all of the technology you have and the most productive ways to use it.

The technology should include your CRM, phones, videos, and computers/ tablets you use. They should know how to troubleshoot issues with customers to avoid missing sales.

Sales Process Overview

Do you have a sales process? What is the typical sales journey for your customers? Take the guesswork out of sales and give them a thorough understanding of how you want your product presented and sold.

Buyer Persona

Who is your ideal customer? What are their needs and motivators? There are different ways to approach this depending on your customers. If your company is B2B, explain your ideal companies. For B2C companies, detail your ideal customer.

Your sales rep will waste time selling to the wrong person if they don’t understand who the right person is for your product.


Who will your sales rep be up against when they get to selling? By a good look at the competition, your sales rep can better explain your advantages to potential customers. They can also figure out how to get ahead of the competition once they know who it is and how they work.

Call Reviews

Once your sales rep understands everything in theory, give them a more practical education by listening to calls from your sales team. They should be listening to your top reps’ calls to understand the best way to respond to customers. Also, don’t shy away from having them review calls from more junior members. What this does is allows them to critique calls and get a more critical view.

Customer Onboarding Process

How do you approach discounts and sales in the company? How much is left to the judgment of the sales rep? They should know how much oversight and freedom they should expect to receive in their approach to customers.

Also, will the sales rep handle the customer onboarding process? If so, they need to have a thorough understanding and tutorial on how to present it to new customers.

Territory-Specific Training

If there is anything sales reps need to know specific to their area, this is the time to go over it. For example, is their demographic younger? Maybe they need to do more in social settings. Does their customer base prefer face-to-face meetings over phone calls?

Each demographic, territory, and vertical could have different preferences, cultural differences, or etiquette that your sales rep may not necessarily know. The more thorough their territory education, the less likely they are to miss out on valuable sales.


Once their training is complete, you can move on to the goals and expectations for their role. Calculate their ramp-up time to create a reasonable expectation. Also, keep the individual sales rep in mind. A veteran, for example, may be able to ramp up significantly faster than someone new to sales. The goals should be challenging, not frustrating.

Also, take this time to set your new hire up with a mentor or create a team. They can be valuable for advice that can increase productivity and prevent burnout. A more senior sales rep can also help make network connections for new team members.

Tips for a Better Onboarding Process

A better onboarding process may not necessarily be faster, but it will create a more productive sales team that is there for the long-haul.

Read on to find ways to make sure that your onboarding process is as efficient and effective as possible.

Create a (Written) Game Plan

A focused, long-term curriculum makes sure that the learning curve doesn’t end and the new hire’s excitement wanes. Create a curriculum that will build enthusiasm instead of diminishing it.

Your curriculum needs to be written. Your sales rep can be expected to memorize it, and in the beginning, they might not be sure what critical things to write down. Have the documents they need ready when they start:

·     An FAQ based on feedback from previous sales reps and customer questions.

·     Written phone scripts

·     Email templates

·     Sales objections and how to overcome them

Don’t leave early sales up to trial and error. Give them the information they need.

Your sales curriculum should reinforce the basics, but training should build on itself and create new learning opportunities. Create new challenges in their training, inspire them, and allow for plenty of practice.

Boredom with curriculum will ultimately leave them disengaged and bored. Create an environment where learning and challenges are encouraged in a deliberate plan.

Have Success Markers

Create an onboarding scorecard with specific goals. A scorecard gives new sales reps a chance to see how they’re doing, where they need to improve, and what ways they can challenge themselves. Set clear expectations from the beginning and make sure that their expectations align with corporate goals.

A scorecard also gives management a chance to see where they may need to focus their training and provide the new hire extra practice. They can also monitor trends in the scorecard to see if some part of their training needs to be improved.

Create a Team Dynamic

Bring your successful sales reps and encourage them to be involved with new members of the team. Create videos, how-to’s, and scripts with them to help spread important tips and tactics. Openly praise your sales reps that do well to encourage the rest and highlight what they are doing right.

Team up your new reps with the more experienced ones. It can be a valuable learning experience, and everyone in the company wins when sales reps learn from the best.

Optimize Your Process

The onboarding process is never complete. It needs to always be under scrutiny to make sure it meets the needs of your sales team. As your company grows and modern culture changes, your training and onboarding process should change as well.

As more sales reps join your team, you have a higher chance to improve your onboarding process. Get feedback on what they found helpful and where they weren’t prepared enough. Track how well your sales reps are integrating into the organization. How quickly are they making sales? Are they becoming a part of the sales team, as opposed to a “lone wolf” type?

Create a Stronger Company with Better Onboarding

As your company grows, your onboarding process becomes central to creating the right environment. It also makes sure that your sales team has the training and tools they need to be successful.

Give your company a boost with the right onboarding process.