For many companies hiring has been temporarily slowed, which makes it the perfect time to assess and address deficiencies in your onboarding process. After all, the first steps in successfully meeting (and beating) sales objectives are taken during onboarding. But not every company makes that crucial first step successfully. Worried your company is getting off on the wrong foot with new hires? 

Here are 5 reasons that your company’s onboarding process may be failing everyone from the CEO to the new employee who just walked in the door:

Onboarding Mistake #1: Focusing on the Wrong Things

Getting a new hire up to speed – and decreasing time to sale – is a priority for sales organizations. So onboarding processes are typically focused on making sure newbies get a complete download on the industry, company, product, and market.

Is that a problem? No. But it’s the wrong thing to focus on.

Knowledge about the company, product, and the competitive landscape is crucial information for a new hire. But, it’s not a one-way street. The organization also needs to take the time to understand the sales skills and selling judgment of every new sales hire. You don’t want your onboarding to end without administering an in-depth sales assessment.

Widening the focus of the onboarding process to include an assessment of selling skills and judgments, and prescriptive sales development for any identified weaknesses can help head off underperformance and the ultimate lagging indicator – poor sales results.

Onboarding Mistake #2: Skipping Out on Measurement

Can you imagine a sales plan without benchmarks and goals? Of course not! Your company’s onboarding process should be no different. 

Roleplays, whether live or simulated, must include measurement. Metrics-driven goals aren’t just for the sales organization as a whole; they should also be used to measure an individual rep’s sales development.

If your company doesn’t have skills-based benchmarks for new hires, then your onboarding process was doomed from the start.

Onboarding Mistake #3: Lack of Communication with the Sales Leader

We talk to a lot of sales leaders. One frustration we hear repeatedly is that there is a lack of information passed from both HR and the learning and development teams in charge of onboarding to the sales leader. If your organization suffers from communication issues, your onboarding process is suffering, too. 

When sales leaders are in the dark about a new hire’s background, skills, and sales knowledge (or the results of sales training conducted during a rep’s tenure), it wastes precious time that could be spent performing prescriptive sales coaching to skill deficiencies and knowledge gaps. Make sure sales leadership is involved in every step of the onboarding process.

Onboarding Mistake #4: Taking a Herd Approach to Onboarding

Too often, here’s how onboarding goes: reps are divided into large groups and herded into a room where ideas are presented, products are introduced, and role-plays are played out. At the end of a training session like this, the reps may all leave more informed – but the company and sales leadership is in the dark on the individual needs of each rep on the sales team. 

Don’t let your company be a cowboy. Avoid onboarding reps by the herd. Or, if you must conduct large-scale training, supplement it with ongoing, personalized, one-on-one, prescriptive sales development and sales skills reinforcement.

Onboarding Mistake #5: Forgetting to Engage

This may require a bit of a mindset shift within your company’s HR and learning & development departments. Instead of thinking of those undergoing onboarding as learners, think of them as an audience. Audiences crave engagement. Evaluate not only the onboarding content but also the approach to disseminating that content.

Flat presentations laden with statistics are soon forgotten. Find ways to incorporate important facts and lessons into stories that onboarding reps can absorb, relate to, and remember.

Made Some Mistakes? Make Some Changes!

Stumbling out of the gates with onboarding new hires can have serious consequences. At best, they could take longer to be effective, which significantly hinders their (and your sales team’s) potential performance. At worst, they could fail to gel and fizzle out before they have a chance to succeed.

Don’t be afraid to try a new approach to engage this crucial audience. Adding elements like gamification and eLearning can help increase onboarding engagement. Doing so during this slower hiring period will ensure your company is better prepared to onboard successfully once hiring ramps back up.
What onboarding mistakes have you seen companies make? Share your stories with us on Twitter @Selleration.