Onboarding your first sales rep
Part 2 of the 3-part "Renaissance Rep" series
The numbers tell the story: 1 in 5 new hires leave in the first seven weeks of employment, while 70% of employees state that after a structured onboarding process, they are likely to stay with the company for at least three years.
In short, onboarding really matters. We’re all moving fast, and it’s very easy to overlook onboarding. But setting up your recruiting process, finding the right candidate and getting them to accept your offer is just the beginning of a plan that can last at least 90 days. Creating a repeatable process for onboarding employees is critical to the long-term success of your business.
Checklists, Intros, & Gifts
When bringing on your first sales reps, you likely do not have a clear onboarding plan in place, but that doesn’t mean you have to appear unorganized. If you don’t already have an employee onboarding checklist then start building one asap.
Start your checklist with simple tasks like:
Compiling a list of systems this rep will need access to in order to effectively perform in their role
Sending a welcome email with information employee needs for setting up these systems prior to day 1, so they’re ready to go when the workday begins
Introducing the employee to others in the company through a message in your native communication platform (Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc.)
Sending the employee some cool swag or welcome gifts (Shout out to Goody for making sending gifts to employees and clients super easy.)
Schedule daily standups on your calendar until an ideal customer profile is identified and a clear sales motion is outlined. By the time you have both of those, you’ll likely have a sales lead in place but until then co-founders are the acting player/coach in the sales department.
Keep it simple and iterate fast. At this point, you really don’t know what you don’t know so whether it’s transactions, discovery calls, or deals signed, set a target and sprint at it together. Review your progress weekly and make adjustments as you learn.
PRO TIP: Commit to a strategy and goal for at least 4 weeks before deciding to change direction
Metric expectations range drastically from SMB to Enterprise reps. I recommend startup clients aim for smaller organizations to start, as the deal cycle tends to be faster and getting a few wins under your belt creates positive domino effects.
At this stage the goal is to be overbooked with discovery calls to learn. Set the goal of having 1-2 discovery calls daily and let the renaissance rep work backwards to figure out what he/she needs to do to get there. Nothing has to be perfect just start reaching out and having conversations with people. Default to action.
The sooner you can see what’s doable from your renaissance reps the faster you’ll learn, be able to set daily metrics for future reps, and roll out a standardized compensation plan.
Pipeline Creation & Co-selling
Work with the renaissance rep to build the initial pipeline of prospects and what your hypothesis is for the ideal customer profile. This will likely be a manual task, but commit time to researching accounts, identifying who in the organization to reach out to, and using your network to find ways to get in the door for a meeting.
Founders know the ins and outs of their business and have likely made the first sales happen themselves. Because of that, it's critical to be able to pass on your knowledge to replicate your early success. The best way to do this in the earliest stages is co-selling, which is where both the rep and co-founder join all the calls together.
Building the Playbook
As the founder there are a lot of little details you know about your product that you take for granted. As you sell into the market more of that detail will become clear. If you document every step of the process now, you’ll have the framework for your first version of a sales playbook that can be used for future onboarding and training.
I speak to founders all day, and many will tell me that they don’t believe in playbooks. Most employees need structure when it comes to being successful, and giving them a proper outline for success is only going to benefit them - and you - in the future as you scale.
Say yes to deals, even if they’re partially service-based in the beginning. To some readers, this will be controversial, but in my view this is a time of discovery. As you acquire clients, you build momentum, learn, and give yourself and your team an opportunity to earn referrals down the road. Set expectations as best as you can upfront with these clients.
Push yourself and your reps to sell to a client’s pain points vs a specific feature you’re building. You want to solve a problem for your clients. Selling the features of your product could inevitably send you down a rabbit hole vs having a focused pain point you’re targeting to solve for.
If you missed part 1 of our 3-part series, you can read it here: Hiring your first sales rep
Thanks for reading The Advisor! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.