In a recent post, I mentioned that it takes, on average, around 11 months for new SaaS sales reps to reach their full potential. Significantly longer than what most sales leaders would consider ideal. But as I also pointed out, having a strong onboarding process can slash this time in half.
But what exactly does that entail?
Here’s an actionable checklist so you’ll know step-by-step how to quickly onboard new SaaS sales reps and get them up-to-speed.
Provide a Single Orientation Resource
First, create a 101 level resource that provides new hires with a basic overview of their position.
Topics to cover may include:
- What your company’s mission is
- What your philosophy and values are
- What your culture is like
- What the SaaS sales rep’s role is
- Specific job duties
- Management structure
- Tools and software the rep will be using
- Training materials
- Who to reach out to for questions
- Staff email addresses and phone numbers
- Answers to FAQs
Most SaaS companies find that a digital hub is the best way to go here (as opposed to a traditional employee handbook) because it’s dynamic where updates can easily be made. The goal is to focus on the essentials without overwhelming new SaaS sales reps, and give them a resource to turn to as new questions inevitably arise.
Offer Training for the Software They’ll Be Selling
In order for a salesperson to thrive, they need to:
- Know your SaaS product inside and out
- Know key features and benefits
- Fully grasp your unique value proposition (UVP)
- Know the context of how your product fits into your leads’ lives
- Know what differentiates your product from what other competitors offer
- Offer engaging demos
It will obviously take time to learn the full details, and it’s not something that can be taught overnight. That said, offering formal training on your product will reduce the learning curve and create a level of cohesiveness among your SaaS sales reps.
Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to compile a list of links to landing pages, product videos, blog posts, and so on for quick reference. Then, offer either video-based or expert led training on product essentials to help new hires get their bearings.
Offer Training for the Software They’ll Be Using
Besides selling software, salespeople will likely be using it on a daily basis for operations. This could include a CRM, a scheduling app, a lead scoring platform, or project management software. Most SaaS sales reps will have a basic understanding of how to use these, but it’s smart to provide training on the specific features. That way they can leverage the full functionality of the platform and reduce unnecessary friction.
Software walkthroughs tend to work well, as does a knowledge base of tutorials featuring screenshots.
Educate New Hires on Buyer Personas
Next, you’ll want to ensure SaaS sales reps have a clear understanding of:
- Who your ideal prospects are
- Their specific pain points
- What they’re looking for in a SaaS solution
- How to effectively approach them
- Common lead objections
The best way to quickly do that is to give them buyer personas to reference.
Here’s a simple example.
As for developing buyer personas, they “can be created through research, surveys, and interviews — all with a mix of customers, prospects, and those outside your contacts database who might align with your target audience,” explains Pamela Vaughn of HubSpot.
Check out her in-depth guide here.
Explain Key Competitor Strengths and Weaknesses
Again, understanding your company’s UVP is an essential component of succeeding as a SaaS sales rep. This will guide their initial outreach and discussion with leads. It will also ensure they can swiftly disarm any objections leads may have.
A big part of a rep crystallizing the UVP is knowing the specific areas where your product outshines your competitors. To quickly get them up-to-speed, you’ll want to create a list of competitor strengths and weaknesses.
Dan Shewan of Wordstream highlights precisely what to focus on when doing this, saying for strengths, pinpoint:
- What each competitor does well
- What their UVP is
- Internal resources they have (e.g. skilled, knowledgeable staff)
- Proprietary technology they use
As for weaknesses, identify:
- Areas where each competitor lacks
- Resource limitations
- Where they fall behind in proprietary technology
Critique a Rep’s Product Demo
Once a new SaaS sales rep has digested the essentials and learned the ropes of your product, have them perform a demo and critique it. This is a great way to gauge their level of comprehension and quickly determine what they’re doing right and what needs improving.
It also allows you to assess how they perform under pressure, so you’ll know what areas they should fine-tune before having conversations with actual leads.
Maybe, for example, their talk talk-to-listen ratio was too high. Research from Gong.io found top reps spend 46% of the time talking and 54% of the time listening, while bottom reps spend 72% of the time talking and 28% of the time listening. That would be a specific area of focus.
Setting the Stage for Success
A big part of achieving that is having a streamlined, systematized formula to use with all new hires. This checklist covers all the major points and should help you get them firing on all cylinders lighting fast.
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