In parts one and two of this series, 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, connected the onboarding and SFP dots and reviewed the trends in onboarding. Now, in part three we’ll share some best practices companies are using to get results.

Onboarding is essentially a commodity function. That is not to say your program doesn’t need to be tweaked and customized to fit your culture and business. In fact, we’ll see later how some big-name companies do exactly that. However, the fundamentals of good onboarding do not vary much from business to business and industry to industry. In other words: Don’t reinvent the wheel. Successful onboarding is as much about imitation as it is innovation. “Best” practices are called that for a reason—they’ve been proven successful.

There are plenty of lists out there of what one authority or another thinks is best. So rather than give you THE list of best practices, which probably doesn’t exist anyway, we suggest you check out the links at the end of this post for a cross section of what’s been proven to work in various situations.

Before you do, keep in mind a couple of fundamentals. We learned from the research cited in Part II of this series that structured formal onboarding programs applied consistently outperform those rated lower in these categories by nearly 40%. And we know that firms onboarding in this manner lop off almost three and a half months from the ramp-up time to productivity for new hires.

That means that you have a useful yardstick for measuring the lists of best practices you will find out there. For example, one list of best practices we like comes at the end of a report titled “Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success” from the SHRM Foundation, an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management. You can find it here. But there are others. You may find these useful as well.

Onboarding advice from:

Common Good Careers

When I Work

Talent Culture



So now that you’ve seen how other companies add their own creative twists to the fundamentals of good onboarding, you’re ready to explore the fourth and final installment of this blog series: How to build a killer onboarding program of your own. In Part IV we’ll show you how to use basic onboarding building blocks to create a program that integrates new hires effectively, simultaneously laying the groundwork for commitment, satisfaction and retention.