An effective sales onboarding program can be the difference between a company’s success and failure, but getting it right isn’t straightforward. The average ramp-up time of a “successful” enterprise salesperson is approximately 11 months, and even then, true sales success is achieved only 55% of the time. As Bob Kelly from the Sales Management Association says “it’s just about the same chances of flipping a coin”.

But the benefits from getting sales onboarding right go far beyond driving revenue — it’s also an effective strategy for ongoing sales development. The faster you help salespeople succeed, the more likely they are to be satisfied in their job versus looking for a better gig. So, how can you make sure your sales training matches the standard of industry leaders? What makes one program more successful than another?

Incorporating these four elements into your sales onboarding process is just the start to an adaptive, effective sales training or sales enablement program that can impact sales metrics.


You might be surprised to learn that there is an extreme lack of formality when it comes to onboarding in the industry. According to a recent survey by the Sales Management Association, only 55% of surveyed firms have a defined onboarding program and only 58% of team members are actually put through a formal program after hire. Without an established and official program, a lot of valuable information can lack consistency, may be misrepresented, or, at worst, not make it to the new sales hire at all. This could be crippling.

2. Clarity

In the same study, less than half of surveyed firms say they give salespeople clear performance expectations when they join. But how can goals be reached if they are never set? At the start of your sales onboarding program, be sure to communicate expectations and the overall sales metrics you are accountable for. Leave no question left unanswered and nothing open for interpretation. By letting your team know exactly what you expect from them, they can set expectations for themselves.

3. Consistency

The ultimate goal of a sales manager is to provide sales performance coaching that brings each salesperson to the same level of proficiency. Sales training content needs to be consistent, cohesive and challenge critical thinking to effective. But it is hard to level the playing when sales managers don’t have insight into individual proficiency gaps to don’t know who, what and when to coach.

4. Customization

While the overarching content of your program needs to be uniform, there is no “one size fits all” sales onboarding program that effectively fills knowledge gaps and develops the sales skills for each individual rep. The most effective sales onboarding programs are adaptive and customizable at scale.

While these four traits may seem obvious at first glance, the Sales Management Association’s research reveals that sales organizations large and small are failing to implement them. Taking the time to establish a clear, consistent, formal and custom sales onboarding program is the key to increased sales proficiency, more successful salespeople, and improved sales performance.

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