Onboarding remote sales reps is an increasingly common challenge this year. I’ve been fortunate to manage remote sales teams for years, and I’ve learned a lot about the best practices for onboarding reps when you don’t have the advantage of being in person. Here are my top six:
1. Establish crystal clear communication
New reps are swimming in new information, and they’re often overwhelmed – not just by learning new sales information, but with human resources demands, learning new technical programs, and other logistics. Make sure you cut through the noise by setting expectations upfront. What will the next days, weeks and months look like? What are their requirements and communication protocols? Give all new sales reps an upfront overview of the basic dos and don’ts of the position.
Also, establish your communication processes early on. If you over-communicate early, it will save you a lot of grief later on. Introduce new reps (virtually) to the people they should know in the office – the HR team, the technology pros, and team members who can give them a better understanding of clients and how to achieve success. When communicating, utilize video as much as possible, versus chatting over Slack or email.
2. Have a solid training agenda
It’s critical to have a written agenda that a remote rep can follow and reference as they’re learning the role. This is their training guide, and their go-to for common questions. The agenda should establish the expectations and timeframe for quotas and revenue — and provide a pathway to achievement. It should also note daily, weekly and monthly to-dos, as well as ramp progress: Where should a rep be after x weeks or x months on the job?
Include marketing collateral in your training guide, as well as links to any other helpful resources. The more information, the better. In an in-person environment, reps have the benefit of being able to consult the colleagues sitting next to them. When they don’t have this resource, the training guide can be a great substitute.
3. Create a library of recorded videos and tutorials
This is a great source of information for a new rep. You should record product demos as well as situational demos and scenarios. It’s also helpful to have a video tutorial on best practices and FAQs, like objection handling. Make sure these videos are easily accessible by your remote reps. They are also a great opportunity to “introduce” and showcase sales leaders and others on the team with helpful knowledge.
4. Make new reps part of the team
Include your new reps in all appropriate meetings, and go out of your way to make them feel included. It can be especially hard to acclimate to a new team when working remotely, so the more virtual meetings the reps can attend, the better they will get to know the team.
You can also ask your new reps to sit in on demos. Schedule debrief sessions afterward with the new reps and the person giving the demo, so reps can have a chance to ask questions and reflect on what they learned.
Some members of your team are more likely to help ramp a new rep than others. Assign each new rep a mentor on the team who can guide them through any questions or issues. Be careful not to overwhelm your team; however, this can also be great leadership experience for your current reps.
5. Have sales tools ready to go on day one
Make sure, on their first day, that your reps have access to any sales tools they will need for the role. Make sure they have all necessary login and technical information. Schedule training time, even if they are familiar with the tools, to make sure reps know the processes specific to your company. Assign a go-to if the rep has outstanding questions.
6. Established KPIs
It’s also important, when onboarding new reps, to lay out KPI expectations from the start, like rate of new contacts, number of new leads, meeting conversion rate, and average deal size. They should understand the business reasons for why certain data points are being tracked, how often KPIs will be reported, and what the result of these KPIs will be: What happens if they are underperforming, and are there rewards/promotions for excellent performance?
Onboarding new reps remotely takes preparation ahead of time – like creating a training guide or training videos. But that investment will pay off in the long run, through more sales, higher revenues, and great team cohesion.
Once you’ve got your team up to speed, learn the best practices for Leading a Remote Sales Workforce