The Case for Sales Onboarding and How to Do It Right

By Joni Santos

The business case for good employee onboarding is nowhere more glaring than in the sales organization. Companies spend more to hire talent in sales than in any other part of the organization and also experience some of the highest turnover rates (25% to 30% annually). When a seller leaves, the departure can cost a company between $75K to $300K each year, before considering lost revenue.1 After hiring a replacement, it takes an additional three to six months for a sales rep to become productive.

Benefits of Good Onboarding

Experts agree that a well-executed onboarding program can reduce risk, accelerate the path to productivity, and reduce attrition. CEB research on sales onboarding tells us that engaged employees are 9 times less likely to leave, and effective onboarding programs have the potential to increase employee performance by 15%. Research by Glassdoor found that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent.

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9 Steps to Improving Your Virtual Sales Calls: For a "Better Normal"

By Rachel Cavallo

We know many sellers who are about to bust down the doors of their home offices … craving the ability to shake a (sanitized) hand and engage with more than a head on Zoom.  Unfortunately, this may not be possible for a while longer.

See our 9 steps for improving virtual sales calls in a handy infographic.

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Descartes Philosophy: Applied to Modern Sales Challenges

By Hope Eyre

“Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” -- Morpheus, The Matrix (1999)

Last week, we attended our first large-scale virtual conference.

Organized by an industry association client of ours, it was in every way analogous to a sales kick-off meeting. About 8000 attendees registered. At any one time, 1800-1900 people were viewing a main-stage event, attending education sessions, browsing exhibitor booths or virtually networking.

The conference interface was intuitive and easy to navigate. You could go into and out of live sessions as easily as walking into or out of a hotel ballroom – easier, actually. You didn’t disturb anyone by opening a physical door. If you wanted collateral or presentation material, you picked it up and dropped it into your virtual briefcase for later viewing. You could chat with just about everyone.

Who would have thought 4 ½ months ago that an organization could pull this off virtually?

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Sales Leaders: Assess Skills Gaps Now to Avoid Pipeline Issues Later

By Hope Eyre

We suspected this would happen, and then we got confirmation from the Sales Ops team at our largest client.

“Some of our best sellers have become some of our worst,” they said.

The client was describing a subset of sellers who had historically been star performers based on the strength of their relationships; especially those who had relied heavily on face-to-face socializing.

“It’s the ones who never had to lean into any technology, because they were successful without it,” the lament continued. Pipelines already under stress were absolutely going to be affected.

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4 R’s of Building Trust and Customer Relationships in a Virtual Environment

By Rachel Cavallo

What if today’s unprecedented circumstances could actually help us to build stronger relationships with our customers? What if today, when faced with insurmountable barriers like quarantine and social distancing, we could actually get to know our customers better and be the type of sellers we always say that we want to be – the type of sellers who genuinely care about our customers’ success, who empathize with their challenges, and who bring vital information that is insightful and highly relevant to the situation our customers face today? But how?

The general presumption among sellers has long been that if you really want to develop relationships, you have to get face-to-face. While we find that many sellers interact with their customers over email, text, and phone, they really rely on those face-to-face moments in the office or over lunch to build strong relationships. But maybe today, when we take away the “easy” part, we’re actually left with what really matters… it’s not the lunch or the warm smile and firm handshake (Yikes! Where’s the sanitizer? Will we ever do that again?), it’s the trust and the value that really matter… that’s what builds and sustains a firm foundation.  We can build solid relationships remotely… in fact, we might even be able to do it better – we just have to adjust our approach.

The fundamentals don’t change. We believe there are 4 key components – We call them the 4 R’s: Be Relevant, Be Real, Be Relatable, and Be Reliable.

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How Do Sales Leaders Stay Credible and Legitimate?

By Hope Eyre

There’s this TED talk I like by General Stanley McChrystal called “Listen, Learn… then Lead.” We assign it as homework in our Leadership Academy, a 6-module program we’ve run for years at individual clients to ready their next generation managers for leadership positions across a variety of functions.

General McChrystal (who knew he was funny?) has several poignant messages delivered compellingly against the backdrop of combat, but his key takeaway is this: Leaders are good when they’re willing to learn.

“How," he asks, "does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven’t done what the people (they’re) leading are doing?”

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Global Sales Program Roll-outs: The Good, the Complicated and the Overlooked

By David Szen

Sales organizations of all sizes have the desire to transform, train, and develop talent, but rolling out a sales program in a global firm can get hairy quickly. While global sales transformation initiatives are exciting and ideal projects for outside consultants (like us), there are definite pitfalls. Whether you are responsible for planning and rolling out a program, or a sales manager leading your team through it, you play an important role in the successful execution and adoption of the desired change.

Having participated in our fair share of these global deployments, here is a list of lessons learned, organized around “the good, the complicated, and the overlooked”.

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Making eLearning Work for the Busy Sales Professional

By Rachel Cavallo

So you need to train your sales force, but you want to minimize their time out of the field. eLearning is the perfect answer, right? In today’s world of cost and performance pressure, eLearning can easily become the silver bullet to “check the box” on sales training. After all, IBM saved $200 million, a 2/3 savings, by adopting a virtual training program for its employees (Source: IRRODL). But beware… you can easily make a significant investment that won’t move the needle as much as you think.

The other day I was sitting near a friend who had to complete “mandatory eLearning” on a new trend his company was trying to position with clients. As someone who is generally on the other end of these courses (the designing and building of them), I was fascinated by his running commentary. I listened to a few of the videos and heard some of his frustrations along the way, and it crystallized my perspective that there are some right and wrong ways to do eLearning.

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Prepare Your High-Potential Sellers for the C-Suite

By Hope Eyre

It started with a small group of high-potential sales leaders: seven VPs and directors our long-time client wanted to ensure they retained, because losing even one would have a pronounced effect on revenue.

The company had been heads down for three years on a strategic and operational transformation designed to boost profitability. And it worked. In that time frame, their stock price had gone from $6 a share in 2014 to a high of $38 this past April, a phenomenal turnaround.

Early in this effort, the president realized the company had little in the way of succession planning, and he was concerned about the risk this posed. The topic came up during one of our periodic conversations.

“I have some extra money in the budget, and I want to invest in training. Can you build a business acumen program?”

Sure, we do that kind of thing all the time. It’s usually a multi-day class on customer economics. It’s designed to help sales professionals change how they discuss value by using insights to show how their offerings can impact the customer’s business, financially.

“I was thinking more like a mini-MBA.”

Wait, what?

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Back to the Future – The B2B Sales Imperative

By Warren Shiver

“Whoa, this is heavy…There's that word again; "heavy." Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the earth's gravitational pull?" -- Back to the Future

A recent HBR article, The New Sales Imperative got me thinking about the classics. Seems like the “new” B2B sales imperative looks a lot like the old one. It reminds me of NBC’s great slogan in the 1990’s when they would show reruns of their must-see lineup on Thursday nights (the era before Netflix, streaming, etc.), “If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you.”

I’m not quite sure of the original source, but we were working with sales teams to define their buyer-aligned sales process with supporting “customer evidence” back at OnTarget in the late ‘90s for clients, such as Microsoft, IBM, and HP. There are reasons that good ideas are enduring, especially in sales where there are such clear scorecards.

Back to the Basics

We are often asked about the latest sales trends and pushed by clients, especially those focused on Learning & Development, to offer the latest sales technique, program, or approach. Increasingly, we are recommending a back-to-basics approach for many of our clients.

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