In part one of this series, How onboarding impacts sales force productivity (SFP), we noted the average cost to replace a sales rep ($115,000!), took a look at some under-the-radar facts about the sales profession and began to connect the onboarding and SFP dots. Now, in part two we’ll survey what companies are doing with onboarding and highlight 4 important sales onboarding trends.
In a report on the state of sales productivity in 2015 Salesforce found that companies are pouring more and more money into increasing the effectiveness of sales reps. The report includes an infographic compiled from research by Docurated showing that 79% of survey respondents listed improving rep productivity as a key driver in meeting revenue targets.
What’s more, the typical organization shells out $24,000 per person on improving productivity, even though nearly half (49%) have no or limited means of measuring productivity. Only 40% of respondents were trying to improve productivity through better training and onboarding. All of this in the face of evidence that a carefully crafted onboarding effort has a hefty bearing on bringing reps to productivity quickly.
Consider this from the Sales Management Association. “Sales forces effective in salesperson onboarding – getting new salespeople up-to-speed efficiently – enjoy surprising productivity advantages over their peers, our recently concluded research shows. These firms have 10% greater sales growth rates, and 14% better sales and profit objective achievement. But onboarding isn’t easy – just 40% of firms with formal programs believe they’re effective – nor is it consistently practiced.”
According to the February, 2015, research, structured programs applied consistently outperform those rated lower in these categories by 37%. That means that successful programs trim 3.4 months from the average ramp-up to productivity for new sales hires.
In the light of this evidence in support of formal, structured onboarding, are more companies looking to it to help solve the SFP puzzle? Are they revamping onboarding programs to strengthen them? Leveraging technology? Making programs more intentional and giving them time to work? Let’s look at some trends.
Here are some highlights from an Onboarding Trends Report from Impact Instruction Group.
- A combined 71% of survey respondents are currently in the process of updating their onboarding programs, and 86% of respondents consider their updates to contain moderate to major changes.
- Over 73% of respondents indicated that the largest catalysts driving change to their onboarding programs are to accelerate new employees’ performance and improve employee retention and loyalty.
- When it comes to technology, a combined 67% of respondents deliver less than 40% of their onboarding through technology-based solutions. However, 16% deliver more than 61% of their onboarding programs through technology-based solutions.
- The majority of respondents (62%) use a company-wide intranet for their technology-based solution for onboarding, with eLearning coming in second at 55%.
With more than 80% of respondents reporting changes to their onboarding as moderate to major, it seems clear that companies are awakening to onboarding’s potential. It follows that they are also likely retooling their programs to include proven best practices, which we’ll take a closer look at in Part III of this series.