How to Onboard B2B Sales Reps for Long-Term Success

 In Sales Training

Congratulations!  You just successfully recruited and hired a young hot shot.

But the hard work is far from over. 

Developing fresh talent can be among the most rewarding aspects of a sales manager’s job.

Because it really pays to get things off on the right foot, I find the first day is tremendously important.

Follow these tips for a fantastic first day that will serve as a strong foundation for your onboarding efforts.

Onboarding starts before the first day

HOW TO ONBOARD ROOKIE B2B SALES REPS FOR LONG-TERM SUCCESS

Despite what many firms think, onboarding actually starts before the first day.

In the period between when the offer is accepted and the new recruit’s first day, anything can happen.

Perhaps a competing job offer comes through.

Maybe friends and family aren’t so keen on this role.

Or maybe they are getting cold feet because the role is commission-based.

Check in with your new recruit once or twice before their start date to see how things are going. 

Did they have to move to take the position?

Ask how they are getting settled in.

Will they need certain clothes to fit in at your firm?

Guide them on where to find a proper suit at a good price.

And if you have certain rules-of-the-road, like special parking spots, or expected start times, make sure they are expressed clearly prior to the first day. 

Remind them how excited you are that they joined the firm and how confident you are that they will be successful.

Make them feel like more than just a seat-warmer and you’ll help solidify their trust in you.

After all, they have put their career in your hands.

Don’t drop the ball.

Thoroughly plan their first day

HOW TO ONBOARD ROOKIE B2B SALES REPS FOR LONG-TERM SUCCESS

Do you remember your first day on the job?  It can be especially nerve wracking for someone new to sales or fresh out of college.

It should be your goal to make sure the first day goes as smoothly as possible and that it is impactful.

For that to happen some planning needs to take place.

Will there be first day paperwork?

Make sure that first day paperwork will be handled with a shadow, preferably by someone in HR, you, or someone you really trust from the team.

Make sure all of the particulars on expense accounts, commission percentages, mileage logs, etc. are explained thoroughly and are understood.

Remember that it can be embarrassing for a new rep to say they don’t understand what a draw means.

Anticipate walking through this carefully with the assumption it may need to be explained more than once.

Is their workstation all set up?

Make sure you aren’t making a bad impression or losing valuable time fussing with cords, cables and calls to IT by making sure all is ready to go.

Will they be shadowing someone?

Then carefully pick who you want your new hire to learn from.  Don’t just grab whomever is free on the sales floor.

They should embody the good work habits and positive attitude necessary to succeed.  

Prepare the people your recruit will be shadowing, so that they can do the best possible job talking through any nuances of the role that are critical for success.

A little bit of advance preparation will keep your team from getting frustrated and focused on giving your new hire their very best.

Take them to lunch and bring some of the best influences from your team.

This is an easy way for everyone to get better acquainted in a relaxed setting.

At the end of the day, walk them to their car or escort them out of the office.

If they are new to the area they may need directions to their next destination or some other advice.

Walking them out also gives you an opportunity to get a read on how their first day went. Try to get feedback and learn of any adjustments you may need to make to your onboarding process.

Wish them well and let them know you’re looking forward to seeing them again the next day.

Positive commentary and unexpected attention from their new boss is likely to make a big impact on their first day. It will likely make a lasting first impression.

Make introductions to the right people

HOW TO ONBOARD ROOKIE B2B SALES REPS FOR LONG-TERM SUCCESS

Make sure everyone knows your new recruit’s name and why you hired them.  They’ll start to feel like part of the team right away.

“Today is Matt’s first day and we are lucky to have him aboard.

He got his degree in sales and management, so he’ll fit right in. 

Plus, he’s into music like you Mark, so you guys should have a lot in common.”

Also use this opportunity to talk up your staff.

You don’t want your new hire thinking that they have joined a weak team. 

Most importantly, they need to see that nobody is superhuman and that any successes had by the team are through working the systems you have in place.

“Matt, meet Mark.  He’s only been with us a year, but he’s already in the top 5 percent of our sales team. He paid a lot of attention in the beginning and it’s paying off.”

Introduce them to all of the superstars and tie their successes back to your system.

Always be reinforcing that those that are successful aren’t lucky, just good students of your training and really hard workers.

They need to know success is attainable.

Find them a work buddy or two

Make sure your hire’s seat is next to someone you think they would gel with.

(They should also be a good example of the company’s values.)

It is crucial in the early days that they envision some of their new teammates as future friends.

Comradery is important in the early days, especially for those fresh out of college.

Seat them next to someone you think they’d enjoy going to lunch with a couple times a week.

The faster they establish a support network, the better for them, you and the entire team.

Coach your team on how to treat a new hire

Your whole team needs to understand that they have a role in making your new recruit feel at home. 

If you don’t want a revolving door, it is important they also understand how critical the hire is to the team’s long-term goals. 

That means no cursing, or harassment or practical jokes.

Again, first impressions count.

Get your team to understand the investment that goes into a new hire so they understand that bad behavior isn’t acceptable.

Get them used to using your CRM ASAP

Sales organizations are increasingly data driven.

It’s important that your new hire learns early on that if it’s not in the CRM, it didn’t happen.

Help them understand that there needs to be a method to track their activity and follow up and that this is an invaluable tool meant to help, not hurt.

It’s much easier to teach this habit in the first week than to focus on it in month three.

Teach the value of a great attitude

HOW TO ONBOARD ROOKIE B2B SALES REPS FOR LONG-TERM SUCCESS

From the first day, it’s important that your new hire understands that it is only by practicing positivity that they will become a successful salesperson.

It’s also a great life skill to have.

But having a great attitude isn’t naturally engrained in everyone.

For most, it’s a muscle that needs to be built over time. 

The prospect of getting rejected 80-90 times a day can be daunting for anyone, but especially a sales newbie.

Make sure you aren’t losing YOUR attitude over small issues or deals that go south and you’ll be a great example for your new hire to follow.

Show them first-hand how you deal with rejection.

Illustrate how to protect their attitude by helping them identify a real “no”, from someone who just wasn’t qualified for your product or service.

Most importantly, show them how much fun you are having. 

Sales really can be a good time, even if you aren’t making one-call closes.  

Demonstrate how when the day is approached with a stellar attitude, more doors will open and wins will be easier to come by.

Conclusion

Onboarding a new B2B salesperson successfully is a must-have skill for sales managers looking to take revenue to new heights.

Set your new hires up for success with the tips above and you’ll find your team getting an unfair share of business for years to come.

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Matt Holmes
Matt has been at BuildCentral since 2018 and oversees the marketing function at BuildCentral. He has his Bachelor's Degree in Electronic Media Sales & Management from Ball State University and has been in customer acquisition for over 20 years serving the broadcast communications, hospitality, e-commerce and AEC disciplines.
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