Business owners and CEO’s of companies generating $3 to $50 million in annual revenue were recently asked ‘what is the most frustrating position to hire for within their company?’.  The answer was ‘salespeople.’  Most managers have paid their dues and worked their tails off, clawing their way up the corporate ladder.  However, most managers were not brought on to their company with a solid, structured, onboarding program.  Most managers don’t know how to build a successful onboarding program to make a newly hired salesperson’s journey easier.

Here are ten tips to successfully onboard new salespeople:

  1. Give sound bites Don’t put your new salespeople in the position of having to figure things out.  Give a written, audio and video version, so they can get to work.
  2. Teach your products and services Do your new salespeople need to use them, and can they learn how youbuild them?
  3. Create structured conversations Supply a list of questions to assist them in creating conversations, when they are getting to know people and different departments.
  4. Test their learning Keep in mind that the goal is that your salespeople have a working knowledge they can draw on with faced with different scenarios.
  5. Understand your salesperson’s strengths Under pressure we revert to our most natural ways of being.  If you know your salesperson’s strengths, you can utilize them to teach new skills.
  6. Reward behaviors and actions It is too late to reward the results.  Reward the behaviors that lead to the results, and you will get more results faster and more consistently.
  7. First teach the ‘must have’s’ Keep it simple.  Your salesperson is eager to prove themselves to you and their coworkers, and to themselves.  They want to validate that it was a good move for you to hire them; and that it was a good move for them to take the job.
  8. Set realistic expectations Give them a tangible and realistic goal “By the end of your first month you should be able to accurately input a customer request, demonstrate mastery executing each step, and clearly articulate your value proposition.”  “You should also have a list of 500 potential prospects in your territory.”
  9. Identify a ‘company culture mentor’ Take responsibility and assign someone to teach them the culture of your company.
  10. Ask for their feedback If you are not constantly improving based on what you are learning, you are missing the boat.

Though the focus of this article is onboarding salespeople, the reality is that in today’s competitive landscape, companies need a professional onboarding strategy for every role in the organization.

Creating a structured onboarding program that orients a new sales hire so they can ramp up quickly and achieve success in the first 90-days gives you a solid HR solution that you will use forever.  It is always easier to edit an onboarding strategy than to start one from scratch.  Once you know how to orient a new hire, and it is well documented, than you have more freedom to constantly be on the hunt for top-performing salespeople.  When word gets out that you have a well-structured orientation and onboarding program, the top-performers will be on the hunt for you.


Merit Gest is President and Founder of Merit-Based Development, a Denver based firm specializing in onboarding top talent.  She is one of a small handful of specialists in the world certified and trained in both Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Transformation Tools, giving her a unique perspective for hiring, onboarding and retaining top talent.

Reach Merit at 720-980-1286 or


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