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Have you ever joined a new company only to soon realize that you’ve made a serious mistake? You’re not alone. In fact, nearly half of all new employees at any organization feel unsure of their future, and within the first six months of employment decide whether or not they are in it for the long haul. Of the top reasons given, inadequate training and management are almost always cited for why an employee leaves a company soon after joining.  

In today’s light talent market, you can’t afford to lose new employees, and that’s why companies are focusing on their onboarding programs. When planned and executed well, these programs have a dramatic impact on everything from employee productivity to retention to employment brand to customer care to future hiring success. Yet, if there is a breakdown in the program and your newbie leaves, it can cost you up to 150% of the departing employee’s salary to replace that person. A few key losses, and it doesn’t take long to see how cost effective a successful sales onboarding program could be.

At Salesforce, we take pride in sales onboarding, and as workplaces (and employees) evolve, so does our program. We strongly believe in “Good, better, best,” and are constantly reinventing our program to keep it fresh to champion our company culture, acclimate new employees to the company, and give them a reason to want to stay.  

Customer often ask us, “What’s the one thing we can do to take our onboarding program from good to great?” Our response? Make managers, not new hires, the focal point of your sales onboarding story. Here are the reasons why:

You need manager buy-in from the start.

No matter how wonderful your sales onboarding program is, there needs to be a strong level of commitment from the managers of new hires. This starts at the top with an executive sponsor from sales. Having your sponsor come from sales provides credibility, and employees look to their leaders to be visible sponsors of change. Make sure the sponsor has time to dedicate to this role, given everything else on that person’s plate. It’s important that the sponsor aligns the project’s goals with company vision and values, and brings other sales leaders along for additional support in the project — giving sales “skin in the game” and confidence in the program.

Set expectations early and often.

Be clear about what’s expected of new employees from the beginning. Some 23% of employees that left companies within the first six months say that clear expectations about their responsibilities would have changed their decision to leave. Showing new employees what good looks like, how to “get it done and do it right,” as our sales executive Tony Rodoni likes to remind us, is key to producing master account executives. Work with managers to make this clear with their new employees from day one.

As important as it is to clarify expectations with new employees, make sure to clarify manager responsibilities in the onboarding process as well. Companies grow, processes evolve, and even the best of managers with the best of intentions about bringing a new employee on board often aren’t sure about their role in the process.

Some ways you can help:

  1. Create a workflow that sends managers reminders of new employees’ progress in the onboarding cycle, upcoming milestones, and needed manager actions.
  2. Put important actions directly on manager calendars.
  3. Provide managers with access to new employee tools and guides.
  4. Create a manager’s guide to onboarding with an alternative “Cliffs notes” version for tenured managers who may just need a reminder on assessments, timelines, and key contacts.

Communication is key to coaching.

Treat your communications like a mirror: Remember, people want to see themselves in everything you put out. They will search for what’s in it for them and their new employees, and they’ll be more inclined to read your updates and messages instead of hitting delete right away.

If you coach the managers, they in turn coach their new employees. At Salesforce, we send managers a “report card” that shows a new employee’s performance to date and offers course corrective tips. It can be transformational for them to see the reality of how their new employee is doing, pairing the score card with coaching recommendations to get them to where they need to be.

Showing new employees what good looks like, how to 'get it done and do it right,' as our sales executive Tony Rodoni likes to remind us, is key to producing master account executives.”

Beth Kaplan | Senior Director, Enablement - Global Strategic Programs & Onboarding, Salesforce

Learn More

The 7 Sales Skills That CAN’T Be Taught By Dan Ross,
Sr AVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce
Why It’s Now or Never for Social Selling with LinkedIn’s Mike Derezin Interviewed by Laura Fagan,
Product Marketer, Sales Cloud, Salesforce
Making the Tricky Transition from Sales Peer to Sales Manager By Keith Rosen,
Author of "Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions"



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