How many of you have worked for a start up? When you interviewed they told you all about their start up culture, ground floor opportunity, stock options and the benefits of "getting in early." These are all very exciting things and should absolutely be part of your decision making process. Start ups can have the coolest new product or service and global domination may be on the horizon, but if their on-boarding process is not defined or even worse vacant, your chances of hitting quota decrease dramatically. My advice to all start ups is to develop an on-boarding process during the infancy stages of your venture. You can always modify the process as your business matures and you learn more. If you're expecting a sales rep to take the plunge and attach themselves to your dream, you can at least train them on your industry, company objectives and how to properly position your offering to potential prospects. Show them what has NOT worked and the pitfalls they should avoid. The outcome will be an increased opportunity at hitting quota. Lastly, collect feedback from your sales reps and apply this data to your on-boarding and training process.
What if your company is an established player with industry credit, a recognizable brand and a kick ass product? What if your company has competitors and product displacement is the name of the game? What if your product is complex therefore a complex sales process is the norm? Or, better yet, you sell over the phone and web demo? Should this be the case then the on-boarding process has never been more critical. The best on-boarding process is made up of 4 parts: Company Introduction, Industry Introduction 101, Product Positioning vs. Competitors and finally The Sales Process.
Company Introduction: Articulate your companies history, how it started, it's core values, cultural positions and what makes it remarkable. Have your executive team present one at a time and hold a Q&A session for the new trainees. Transparency is rare in most companies yet it has a lasting imprint on your new hires. If I could define Company Introduction with only word, it would be Transparency.
Industry Introduction: Educating new hires on your industry and how it has evolved is crucial to their ability to properly sell your products and services. How can you sell within an industry if you don't fully understand it? For example, before you sell Inbound Marketing Software to marketing professionals it would be wise to understand the impact such software has had on the industry to date.
Product Positioning vs. Competitors: This one is pretty self explanatory. Sometimes it's almost better to know your competitors products better than your own. Well...maybe. The point I want to make is to be sure you educate your new hires on your most viable competitors. Define with specificity why your product wins over theirs. Test your new hires on this knowledge.
The Sales Process: I don't care where you've worked before. I don't care what % of quota you were at during your last job. Every company should have it's own well defined sales process. Methods for winning deals vary company to company. Well established companies usually know what works vs. what doesn't (based purely on experience and data). It's often very hard for new hires, especially sales reps to break away from their traditional methods of selling. This can sometimes lead to new sales reps failing early on. However, those who embrace the sales methodology and process of their new company will increase their chances of hitting quota consistently. It is important to approach each new job with a clean slate and open mind.
As always, feel free to contribute your ideas and comments.