Three Ways Your Onboarding Program Drives Sales Results

In a recent blog post, Seleste Lunsford shared insights based on our 2018 Sales Talent Study centered around the question “You Hired the Right Salespeople. Now What?”. She mentioned the role of sales enablement, especially the role of their onboarding program for new hires. Today, let’s look more closely at the latest onboarding data and why it matters.

Whenever an organization hires new talent, a lot of money is spent during the hiring process, and sales leaders know that the new hires’ ramp-up time to full productivity will require an additional investment.

Based on our 2018 Sales Performance Study (requires membership), the average sales cycle length to close business with new customers (the usual scenario for new hires) takes a few months. Only 24.2% of sales cycles are shorter than 3 months, 29.3% last between 4-6 months, 28.0% between 7 and 12 months, and 18.5% last even longer than 12 months.

Think about your business and your average sales cycle length for new customers. Enabling new hires to be fully productive quickly is critical for you to achieve your desired sales results. Moreover, onboarding new hires also means that your existing sales force, especially the top performers, have to make an extra effort to close the revenue gap during the ramp-up time of your new hires.

For these reasons, it makes a lot of sense to design and implement an outstanding onboarding program that addresses what the new hires really need to have valuable, relevant and differentiating conversations that matter in your buyers’ context.

Now, let’s see how effective onboarding programs are based on the latest data of our 2018 Sales Enablement Study (requires membership). We asked the study participants (who have various roles) to rank the effectiveness of enablement services in four categories: exceeds expectations, meets expectations, needs improvement, and needs redesign. Onboarding services were ranked in the middle, with 52.9% of participants reporting their onboarding services to be in the “meet/exceed expectations” category and 47.1% ranking their onboarding in the “needs improvement/redesign.” More interesting is the question, does it matter, and if so, how?

Effective onboarding services that are ranked to meet/exceed expectations can improve quota attainment by 16.2%.

Organizations that ranked their onboarding services as meet/exceed expectations achieved an average quota attainment rate of 57.3%. Compared to the group with onboarding services that were ranked as need improvement or even redesign, it’s a difference of +8.0 percentage points, which is an actual improvement of 16.2%.

Effective onboarding programs speed up the ramp-time to full productivity by 17.9%

Based on our 2018 Sales Talent Study we learned that those organizations that agreed or strongly agreed that they had a strong onboarding program reported getting salespeople up to full productivity in 7.8 months. Those who disagreed/strongly disagreed took 9.5 months. Organizations that report having an effective onboarding program ramp up their new hires 17.9% more quickly, providing nearly two additional months of full productivity.

Ineffective onboarding services increase your voluntary turnover rate from 7.9% up to 14.2%

Based on our 2018 Sales Enablement Study (requires membership) we also learned that effective onboarding services are crucial to managing the voluntary turnover rate. When onboarding services were ranked as “needs major redesign,” the voluntary turnover rate jumped from the average of 7.9% up to 14.2%. This creates a vicious circle in which onboarding becomes even more important because a greater percentage of the sales force is new.

If you make your business case for hiring new sales talent, please factor in that there is no alternative to creating and implementing a highly effective onboarding program. The three reasons I shared here should help you to make a comprehensive business case, as it tackles win rates, quota attainment and allows you to better manage the turnover rate.

Next week, we are going to discuss HOW an effective onboarding program could look like.


More details are included in our 2018 Sales Enablement Study!

If you haven’t already, have a look at our new book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. Lots of “how to” information to address the challenges mentioned here.

Questions for you:

  • How do you onboard your newly hired sales talent?
  • How do you measure the business impact of your onboarding program?
  • How well do you collaborate with the hiring managers and the sales managers to ensure that you hire the RIGHT talent?


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