Back to Posts

Creating a Winning Sales Onboarding Program {Video}

5 min read
Updated Aug. 25, 2021
Published Jun. 20, 2018

Onboarding is one the most important aspects of any sales enablement program. Developing an effective onboarding program ensures that new reps have the skills and market knowledge in place to be successful.

In the video below, Shawn Fowler, Director of Sales Enablement at Salesloft, shares with us the three most important aspects of a winning onboarding program. Focusing on measuring success, developing market knowledge, and setting expectations all contribute to decreasing ramp time and increased sales success.


Hey, I’m Shawn Fowler. I’m the Director of Enablement at Salesloft and today we’re going to be talking about onboarding.

Onboarding is one of the most fundamental aspects of any sales enablement program. In fact, it’s one of the two most fundamental, in my opinion. The other one being a sales playbook. You want to establish what people are going to be doing in their daily lives as part of their job and also, what expectations are there.

When you think about expectations, the first thing you need to do when developing a program is decide what expectations you and the other stakeholders in the company have for the onboarding program. If you are like most people who are involved in sales enablement, then one of the main things you want to focus on is going to be ramp time. I typically focus on time to first deal, time to full monthly quota, and finally, time to full pipe coverage. Maybe that’s three X, maybe that’s five X, depending on your conversion rates. But, those are the three things that I measure as part of the effectiveness of my onboarding program.

Once you’ve established expectations for your onboarding program and how you’re going to measure it, you need to figure out what you’re going to teach. I like to focus on the fundamentals. The things I focus on are number one: sales skills. Those basic sales skills are going to be things like discovery, having a solid conversation, and pushing back on your customers. Just the basic things that salespeople do. It’s never a bad idea to have a refresher on those things.

The second thing I typically focus on is market knowledge. This is often the most important part of the sales onboarding process. Because, even if someone’s been around for a while in sales and they have a lot of good solid sales skills, they may not have sold in your space before. Which means they don’t necessarily understand who your customers are, how your customers make money, what their business challenges are, and what the trends are in your market. Understanding who your customers are and what their challenges are is the most important thing you can do as a salesperson. Only after that do I start to move to product.

I don’t care actually if my new hires understand the product until they’ve understood the market. As you go through the onboarding process, it’s important to certify your reps throughout the entire process. Certification does a few different things. Number one, it provides them with a point of focus for their learning efforts. Number two, it forces them to apply the things that they’re learning. So, when I’m going through the onboarding process, I typically focus on two different types of certification.

The first is a discovery certification, and this gives me the opportunity to really look and see how well they actually understand those market challenges we were talking about earlier. The second thing I focus on is a demo certification. That way I can make sure that they not only understand the product, but they figured out how to talk about the product in a compelling and succinct way, and that they can talk about the product in a way that aligns what the product does with the challenges those customers have.

The last and probably the most important part of creating an onboarding program is really more of an emotional thing. For your new hires, this is their first experience of the company and you get to set the expectation of what is going to be like working at the company. And, frankly, what you expect of them as well. In sales, you can work in a lot of different places and you can make money. So, your reps have to have a strong reason they should come and give their best every day at your company.

Those are the basics of creating an onboarding program. Hopefully, you found this useful. Feel free to leave comments below. Thank you, and have a great day.

Need help developing cross-generational sales teams? We’ve got you covered in our new eBook!

attract motivate retain talent